Transportation Minister Todd Stone said Monday a potential 6.7 per cent hike to ICBC basic rates is too high but gave no indication of whether the government would reduce the dividend it takes from the public auto insurer.

ICBC may hike basic insurance rate 6.7 per cent

Soaring injury costs to drive up basic premiums at B.C.'s public auto insurer

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. is warning motorists they’ll soon pay more for basic auto insurance.

Because of a rate smoothing policy introduced by the province in 2013, this year’s rate hike must be between 3.7 and 6.7 per cent – within 1.5 per cent of last year’s 5.2 per cent increase on basic rates.

ICBC president and CEO Mark Blucher said the initial calculations suggest the maximum 6.7 per cent basic rate hike is required, but pledged to work with the government to find ways to reduce that number by Oct. 30, when the formal rate application is to be filed with the B.C. Utilities Commission.

He said ICBC is grappling with “an unexpected and rapid escalation in the number of injury claims being reported to us in recent months.”

ICBC’s bodily injury claim costs, which cover pain and suffering, future care and loss of wages, are forecast to hit $2.3 billion this year, up 64 per cent since 2008.

Higher legal and medical costs, more represented claims and more complex, catastrophic claims leading to bigger settlements are among the factors blamed for the jump.

Injury claims are up 10 per cent from a year ago even though the number of crashes is unchanged. ICBC says more fraud is one potential explanation, as well as more minor soft tissue injury claims.

If regulators approve the request, this will be the fourth straight year of basic insurance premium increases following hikes of 11.2 per cent in 2012 and 5.2 per cent in each of 2013 and 2014.

ICBC has simultaneously reduced its optional insurance rates – on which it competes against private insurers – in five of the last seven years.

ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman said the net effect is the average customer has seen their overall auto insurance costs rise by less than 10 per cent since 2008.

Grossman said this year’s required increase would actually be “on the order of 12 per cent” were it not for the constraint of the rate smoothing policy.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said even the maximum 6.7 per cent this year is too much.

“We believe that’s not acceptable and the rate can and should be lower than that,” he said Monday.

Stone appointed ferries commissioner and former deputy minister Gord Macatee to help ICBC pare the hike.

Asked if the province might reduce the annual $160-million annual dividend it extracts from ICBC each year, Stone said those transfers are from ICBC’s excess capital on its optional insurance business and do not affect basic rates.

He acknowledged an optional rate cut would help ease the pain for the majority of motorists who also buy their optional coverage from ICBC, but made no commitment to enable that.

The Bank of Canada’s recent interest rate cut has significantly reduced the projected returns of ICBC’s investment portfolio, Stone added.

ICBC RATE CHANGES and GOV’T DIVIDENDS | Create infographics

Just Posted

Stage 3 water restrictions in the Comox Valley beginning September 3

Restrictions in effect until Sept. 27 for BC Hydro scheduled maintenance

Fanny Bay Challenge asks visitors to support businesses during highway closure

Community rallies as part of Highway 19A closes for six weeks due to culvert project

Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society monthly update

More than 170 birds and mammals brought to Merville centre in July

Courtenay man acquitted of manslaughter

Court accepts accused Jonathan Billy’s argument of self-defence for 2017 incident

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Business owner blasts council about cantilever option

At the Aug. 19 meeting, downtown business owner Michael Gilbert chastised Mayor… Continue reading

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

Most Read