A crash last month at Highway 10 and Scott Road in Delta. Injury crashes and the resulting claims are driving basic rates up at ICBC.

Average driver will pay ICBC $60 more in basic, optional insurance

ICBC settles on 5.5 per cent basic rate hike, province approves transfer of $450 million from optional side

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. has decided to raise basic auto insurance premiums by 5.5 per cent, driving up the annual cost by more than $44 for the average driver.

And a further jump in optional premiums for coverage like third-party liability will add nearly $16, for an annual increase of about $60 on average.

The basic premium increase is less than the 6.7 per cent jump ICBC had warned in August might be required as a result of rapidly rising injury claims and the resulting payouts.

The hit is lower in part because the province has approved an unusual $450-million transfer of capital from ICBC’s optional insurance business to the basic insurance side.

There’s been growing financial pressure on the basic side, while ICBC has had more wriggle room in recent years to actually decrease rates on its optional side, where it does not hold a monopoly and competes with private insurers.

But officials say optional costs are now also on the rise because optional third-party liability insurance covers injury payouts over $200,000.

Adrian Dix, the NDP’s critic on ICBC, noted the average driver will be paying nearly 30 per cent more in basic premiums than they did when Christy Clark became premier in 2011.

“Overall what we’re talking about is a major, major increase in rates for the average motorist,” said Dix, who lays part of the blame on management decisions at ICBC and trouble with the rollout of its new computer system.

He noted the provincial government has not opted to forgo the $160-million annual dividend it extracts each year from ICBC’s optional side.

“They’re not sacrificing,” Dix said. “They’re doing a double dip on the optional side.”

Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesman Jordan Bateman said the continued flow of dividends to the government is particularly frustrating.

“Despite the fact we get gouged for more money each year, the government continues to suck all the profits out and puts them into general revenue,” Bateman said.

“We have a government that talks about affordability but erodes it when it comes to ICBC rates that continually jump higher than the rate of inflation.”

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said more than 80 per cent of motorists use ICBC for both basic and optional coverage and they are paying only 13 per cent more than in 2011 after recent optional rate cuts are taken into account.

Forgoing the annual dividend to government would have only trimmed the basic rate hike to 5.2 per cent, Stone said.

That 0.3 per cent reduction would have been “negligible” in terms of impact on customers, he said, but would “blow a pretty significant hole” in the province’s budget.

He called the $450-million transfer a one-time shift that can’t be repeated next year because there won’t be enough excess capital on the optional side.

ICBC officials also said they’re stepping up efforts to combat exaggerated and fraudulent claims.

A new fraud analytics tool is to be deployed early next year to use data, algorithms and statistical methods to quickly flag patterns and high predictors of fraud early in the claims process.

ICBC projects bodily injury claims costs will hit $2.3 billion this year, up from $2.17 billion in 2014. Those costs are up 64 per cent since 2008. The number of injury claims are up about 11 per cent from the previous year.

Another basic rate hike is guaranteed next year.

The province’s rate smoothing policy requires each new year’s rates be no more than 1.5 per cent above or below the previous year’s. That means ICBC will be considering an increase of between four and seven per cent next fall.

The proposed basic rate hike, effective Nov. 1, must still be approved by the B.C. Utilities Commission.

ICBC RATE CHANGES and GOV’T DIVIDENDS | Create your own infographics

Just Posted

Snow warning: Bad for the highways, great for the ski hills

Get your ski gear ready as area mountains are ready for you to enjoy all the Interior winter has to offer this season.

Christmas tree pagaent takes over the Sutton Place Hotel

The Sutton Place Christmas Tree Pagaent is going on right now until… Continue reading

Snowfall warning issued for Eagle Pass to Rogers Pass

A winter storm is expected to roll through the area today with… Continue reading

Columbia Shuswap Regional District approves cannabis business policy

Directors of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District gave unanimous approval to a… Continue reading

Revelstoke Grizzlies win two

The Revelstoke Grizzlies played the Princeton Posse on home ice on Friday… Continue reading

VIDEO: Close encounter with a whale near Canada-U.S border

Ron Gillies had his camera ready when a whale appeared Dec. 7

Out of the doghouse: B.C. city lifts ban on pup who barked too much at dog park

Cameron the Shetland sheepdog is allowed back into Uplands off-leash dog park under some conditions.

No flood of extremist returnees to Canada expected, federal report says

The report says some 190 people with connections to Canada are suspected of terrorist activity abroad

Canada-China relations turn icy over arrest of Chinese exec

The Huawei case has threatened to complicate U.S.-China efforts to resolve a bitter trade dispute.

Prosecutor signs off on former B.C. Liberal government’s quick-wins probe

David Butcher said in a statement released Monday that the RCMP recommended charges under the Elections Act

Canadian physicist who won Nobel Prize touts science for the sake of science

Donna Strickland, 59, said securing the field’s highest honour has given her a significant new platform

Cannabis store application receives approval from Summerland council

Application to Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch is for store in Summerfair Shopping Centre

Too many die in heavy truck crashes, B.C. auditor says

Province has no mandatory driver training for commercial vehicles

B.C. city considers scrapping funds for Christmas decorations

Victoria city coun. Ben Isitt doesn’t think the government should pay for any religious symbols

Most Read