ICBC filed for basic insurance rate hike

Crown corporation blames skyrocketing claims' costs, distracted drivers

ICBC wants to hike the rate British Columbia’s drivers are forced to pay for basic insurance.

On Aug. 29, ICBC filed a basic insurance rate application with the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) asking for a 5.2 per cent increase to basic insurance rates.

If the new application is approved, the Crown corporation states it will mean, on average, approximately $3 extra per month for customers – or another $36 per year.

ICBC adds the request is needed to offset ongoing pressure from increasing injury claims costs, which cover payouts for pain and suffering, future care and loss of wages. Its bodily injury claims totalled $1.9 billion in 2013 – up by $73 million from 2012 and up by more than $500 million from five years ago.

There are various factors contributing to the increasing number of injury claims, including the rapid adoption and use of personal electronic devices behind the wheel, ICBC notes.

Distracted driving is now the second leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C., with an average of 88 people killed each year, and it’s the leading cause of rear-end crashes, which often result in injuries.

There are also various factors contributing to the increasing cost of injury claims we pay out, including higher legal and medical costs.”

ICBC will ask BCUC to approve the increase effective Nov. 1 on an interim basis while the commission reviews the full application.

In reaction to the ICBC’s Aug. 26 announcement, the NDP say the rate would be the B.C. Liberal’s latest blow to affordability for British Columbians.

New Democrat ICBC spokesperson Mable Elmore notes that while Christy Clark has been premier, her government has brought in big rate hikes in three out of four years, increasing rates by a total of 23 per cent – $140 more every year for the average driver.

Because of ICBC’s “policy of rate smoothing,” the New Democrats note drivers can expect a rate hike next year that is within 1.5 per cent of this year’s – that could mean yet another hike of as much as 6.7 per cent.

While Premier Clark claims she is not raising taxes, her government is quietly raising hidden taxes that take money directly from the pockets of British Columbians,” says NDP finance critic Carole James.

This rate hike comes on top of a 28 per cent Hydro rate hike and further increases to ferry fares and medical service premiums, she adds, and they’ve all come within the past year.