News Views: Going up

ICBC claims it continues to grapple with rising numbers of crashes, claims and dramatically increasing costs.

ICBC wants to increase basic auto insurance rates by 4.9 per cent.

If approved, the average customer who buys both basic and optional insurance with ICBC will see their insurance bill rise $5 a month, or $60 a year.

That would be the fifth straight annual increase.

ICBC claims it continues to grapple with rising numbers of crashes, claims and dramatically increasing costs.

Because of technology and expensive materials, repairs cost more.

There are more crashes, too – 15 per cent more in two years.

A compounding factor – the long decline of interest rates, resulting in less investment income revenue to ICBC.

That, and the loonie has sagged, and more lawyers are getting involved in claims.

B.C. is the only province in Canada where you can sue another motorist for even a minor traffic accident.

Unlike most other provinces, B.C. has a government-run auto insurance market. That means drivers have to purchase their policy from a Crown corporation.

B.C. drivers can still purchase non-mandatory coverage, such as fire, theft, and collision coverage, from private insurers.

But B.C. drivers still pay the second highest auto insurance rates in the country.

Internal operating costs have been cut by $186 million a year, and ICBC is counting on more savings ahead, through its modernization program, by more aggressively combatting insurance fraud and from a possible drop in distracted driving as motorists respond to stiffer penalties.

The government has long been accused of raising rates to balance its budget on the backs of ratepayers. But in recent years, ICBC has fallen short in transferring projected dividends.

Still, Adrian Dix, the NDP critic for ICBC, said the dividends to government have exceeded $1.2 billion since 2010 and predicted they’ll resume after next year’s election.

We’ll see.

Drive safe.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News