ICBC projects deficit of $1.3 billion as growth in injury claims and costs piles up. (Black Press files)

ICBC reform aims to slow rising car insurance costs

‘Pain and suffering’ payouts to be capped, major injury limit to double

The B.C. government is moving ahead with promised reforms to the Insurance Corporation of B.C., which has seen a huge increase in injury claim costs and a projected deficit of more than $1 billion a year.

Attorney General David Eby introduced the legislation Monday, to act on his promise in February to impose limits on the growing payouts from vehicle accident claims.

A second bill creates allows insurance disputes of under $50,000 to be dealt with by a civil resolution tribunal. The Attorney General’s ministry said in a statement the new structure would allow these disputes to be dealt with in as little as 90 days, compared to two to three years in B.C. Supreme Court.

RELATED: ICBC to cap pain and suffering awards

The cap of $5,500 for pain and suffering and other changes are to take effect April 1, 2019, and is expected to save ICBC up to $1 billion a year. The Crown corporation has seen a steep increase in costs for minor injury claims, with the average rising to $30,000 each. A third of that cost is legal fees, which ICBC has to pay for lawyers and expert reports even if claims are settled out of court.

ICBC has also seen a steep increase in the number of accident claims in recent years, and has tracked a 30 per cent increase in body shop costs as well. The corporation is running advertisements reminding people to check the alignment of their vehicle headrests to prevent whiplash-type injuries in a collision.

The rising costs have continued after a 6.4 per cent basic insurance rate increase was approved by the B.C. Utilities Commission in January. That translates to an average increase of $4.75 per month for basic personal insurance coverage, which took effect Nov. 1 on an interim basis.

The changes include a doubling of the maximum payout for serious injuries, from $150,000 to $300,000. It’s the first increase in 25 years in the amount to pay for nursing care, medical, dental, occupational and funeral costs.

“It is unacceptable, not just the British Columbians faced skyrocketing rates while ICBC lost hundreds of millions of dollars, but also that benefits for injured drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians have been frozen in time for a quarter century,” Eby said.

“We are rebalancing where ICBC premium dollars go. We’re shifting the money out of administration, expert reports and court processes, and into drivers’ pockets through stable rates and better benefits.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf will not sail until mid-July

BC Ferries had hoped to get the vessel in September of last year, but it didn’t arrive until December

UPDATED: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian finance minister’s update comes the same day Kinder Morgan shareholders plan to meet

5 things to know about B.C. Floods 2018

Snowpacks continue to melt causing thousands to be displaced, dozens of local states of emergency

Black Press Media to launch Pipeline Full of Controversy series

Series covers Trans Mountain’s history, science, Indigenous reaction, politics and economics

B.C. RCMP swoop in to save injured eagle

An eagle with a broken wing now in a recovery facility after RCMP rescue near Bella Coola

Bug spray 101: Health Canada wants you to stay bite free

Health Canada is reminding Canadians to use bug spray and other insect repellents safely

Unions reject CP Rail contract offers

Both meeting Friday to determine next steps; 72 hours notice required before strike action.

B.C. jewellers warn public about fake gold scam

‘They are playing on people’s sympathy and their greed’

Former B.C. premier says pot industry about to enter Wild West

Mike Harcourt says Canada is about to enter a new gold rush with many dreaming of striking it rich

Hunt continues for two suspects in Ontario restaurant explosion

The explosion left 15 people injured, but all victims have now been released from hospital

B.C. teacher charged with sexual offences involving two teens

Henry Kang, 50, of Abbotsford charged with two counts each sex assault and sexual exploitation

Toronto Raptors star to hold basketball camp in B.C.

DeMar DeRozan is hosting a four-day camp for players aged 6-16 at the University of Victoria

Most Read