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

Bella Coola to benefit from massive investment in coastal internet

A combined investment of $45.4 million will bring new and updated high-speed internet on the coast

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

O’Reilly trial scheduled to start January 15 for Anahim Lake murders

O’Reilly is charged with first-degree murder

School District 49 to re-open Nusatsum Elementary in September 2018

SD49 says increasing enrollment is driving its decision to re-open the school

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

B.C. commuters vote to rename bus service to ‘Jeff’

The company asked and the people of Facebook answered

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Students on the Kelowna campus were unaware of resources and worried about lack of communication

Opinion: Dare to be smarter

Just say no works for more than just substance abuse

‘Sing Me a Song’ about B.C. for a chance at $1,000 contest prize

Entries due by March 30 for lieutenant-governor’s British Columbia-themed competition

Facing reality of death, B.C. man learns real meaning of life

Even while preparing for the end, something inside Keven Drews won’t let him stop living

Most Read