B.C. Attorney General David Eby announces overhaul of ICBC rates and handling of claims at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 6, 2018. (B.C. government)

ICBC improving, but not yet out of the red, B.C. minister says

David Eby refutes reports of staff increase, ‘dividend’ to province

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. is reducing staffing and other costs to the point where it’s climbing out of deficits and stabilizing its operations, Attorney General David Eby said Tuesday.

Eby said he was surprised to see the extent of legal costs when ICBC reported its detailed financial figures for the 2018-19 fiscal year, and they validate the NDP government’s decision to cap minor injury awards and attempt to restrict expert witnesses in major injury lawsuits.

“This is the first year we’ve reported these numbers, so they definitely were eye-opening for me,” Eby told Black Press. “When you look at the amount of money that was going to the plaintiff law firms, and assuming a 20- to 30-per-cent contingency fee agreement, that ends up being about half a billion dollars in just lawyers’ fees. It’s a very significant cost to both ICBC and motorists, and it should be a concern to people.”

Eby rejected media reports suggesting that staffing levels and salaries above $150,000 per year have increased, describing a misunderstanding of financial reports released by the Crown corporation last week.

“When I took over ICBC in 2017-18, there were too many people earning high-level category salaries,” Eby said. “We’ve reduced every category above $100,000 by a minimum of 10 per cent, and for those above $150,000, by more than 30 per cent.”

Another issue Eby addressed with reporters at the legislature was the emergence of a possible return to surplus in ICBC’s current year, which he said has been incorrectly reported.

“The second point of frustration I have is the suggestion that government is taking dividends from ICBC, or is planning on taking dividends from ICBC,” Eby said. “The books reflect the hope, and at this point it is a hope, that ICBC will be revenue positive. When ICBC is revenue positive in government’s consolidated books, it reflects as money coming to government. It’s how it’s reported in the books. It doesn’t mean it’s a dividend paid by ICBC.”

RELATED: Share crash data, private insurers urge ICBC

RELATED: New drivers pay most for optional insurance

RELATED: B.C. government bails out ICBC, BC Hydro

The province’s current budget, presented Feb. 19 by Finance Minister Carole James, included billion-dollar bailouts of ICBC and B.C. Hydro. By February ICBC was projecting a $1.18 billion loss for the fiscal year that ended March 31, adding up to a total loss over two years of $2.5 billion.

Legal fees is one area where ICBC is seeing an improvement for 2019-20, along with a slight decrease in crash figures that have climbed to record levels.

“We’re seeing a slight decrease in the representation rate, the number of people who are hiring lawyers, which is good news,” Eby said. “We’re seeing the first quarter, where ICBC has reported near break-even.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Horgan’s caribou liaison quits

Blair Lekstrom was appointed to ease tension between local groups over plan to save threatened herds

How often do you read the news and where do you get it from?

Mikayla Glen 100 Mile House “I read the news probably once a… Continue reading

From the archives of the 100 Mile Free Press

34 YEARS AGO (1986): The cost of insurance for the village surprised… Continue reading

Diaries of a City Kid: Siblings

As a child, I didn’t follow in my sisters’ footsteps, I ran… Continue reading

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

Most Read