Consider expanding ICBC?s offerings
Consider expanding ICBC’s offerings
September 15, 2015 04:49 PM
Re: “Stop bleeding ICBC for profits,” editorial, Sept. 13.
The editorial notes that the Insurance Corp. of B.C. will seek a 6.7 per cent increase in basic car insurance due to pressure to balance the books, given the massive increase in the cost and frequency of injury claims. That’s right, but there’s a bit more to it.
A big part of the upward pressure is ICBC’s “representation rate”— the percentage of cases where an ICBC client seeks legal counsel to resolve their claim. This number has skyrocketed in recent years to almost 50 per cent. Claims centres are understaffed and overworked so, despite ICBC employees’ best efforts, customer service is suffering. Lawyers swoop in and promise bigger settlements for their clients, increase claim costs and drive up rates for the rest of us.
Next, as the editorial points out, government draws revenue from ICBC. However, simply cutting this funding might not be the answer. Revenues lost would mean more taxes or fees elsewhere, or cutbacks to government services. What would make sense is clarity, transparency and equity in the way British Columbians are taxed.
The government should also consider expanding ICBC’s offerings to other areas of insurance and other jurisdictions, as Saskatchewan Government Insurance has done. As SGI has shown, this diversification of insurance offerings spreads out risk, lowers rates and provides increased value for consumers. Further, rather than sapping money out of government, it would provide more income to spend on key priorities.
David Black, president, Local 378
Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union