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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

BC’s NDP government plans for ICBC to deliver lower rates and better benefits - BC Liberals asks why should we trust the NDP - BC Conservatives say competition makes for an open and transparent choice

Created in 1973 by the provinces first, and short-lived, NDP government of Dave Barret, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) stated goal was to provide affordable and universal insurance for BC drivers. 

Instead, the insurance monopoly has been described as an out of control dumpster fire ... we have seen outrageous rate increases ... some (many?) have said it was on the road to insolvency ... they’ve had so-called ‘excess capitol’ siphoned off into government revenues ... some have said they are tired of going in to make a claim and being treated like a criminal ... and on it goes.

Yesterday, in a government media release, it was announced that ICBC would be going to a no-fault formula for insurance: 

The BC NDP government says they are ... Transforming ICBC to deliver lower rates, better benefits

Government is transforming ICBC by removing lawyers and legal costs from the system to reduce rates and substantially increase care benefits, making public auto insurance work for British Columbians again.

Legislation will be introduced in the coming weeks that will lower ICBC premiums by approximately 20% – an average of $400 in savings per driver. At the same time, maximum care and treatment benefits for anyone injured in a crash will increase to at least $7.5 million, and new benefits will provide care for those most seriously injured, for as long as they need it. These benefits will be available to every British Columbian without having to hire a lawyer.

These improvements will be achieved by removing the majority of legal fees and other costs associated with the current litigation-based system. The new care-based insurance system is forecast to remove more than $1.5 billion in the first full year, savings that will be passed on to ICBC customers through lowered insurance rates....

This was followed a short time later by the BC Liberals asking ... “Why should you trust ICBC and the NDP?”

John Horgan and the NDP announced they are taking away the rights of accident victims and giving ICBC full responsibility for the care for those injured in car accidents.

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson

“With today’s (Feb 6th) announcement, the NDP just abolished your right to compensation for pain and suffering if you’re injured in a car accident,” said MLA Andrew Wilkinson, BC Liberal Leader. “Under this new scheme, if you’re seriously injured in an accident the NDP will force you to deal with ICBC for the rest of your life, giving you no choice but to deal with the state-run monopoly.”

... this NDP scheme is nothing more than an election trick with sky-high rates set to continue through this year and the promise to lower them only coming after the next election ...

... why aren’t we being offered the Saskatchewan model where drivers can choose either no-fault or the current system of lump-sum settlements, with no difference in premiums? People deserve choice in insurance and they deserve it now ...”

The Province newspaper gave us ... “5 things to know about BC's new no-fault insurance”

1. BC is moving to a full “no-fault” insurance model, which means in most cases you won’t be engaged in a lawsuit after a crash to win damages ... ICBC will pay money to you directly.

2. Premiums will drop an average of 20 per cent, or $400 annually, starting in 2021, according to ICBC.

3. The change starts May 1, 2021. In the meantime, the $5,500 cap on pain and suffering claims for minor injuries remains in place, and payments for major accidents will still be hashed out in court.

4. The changes will save approximately $1.5 billion annually, much of which ICBC says will be used to boost the type and length of benefits you receive, such as visits to chiropractors, massage therapy and counselling. New benefits will include compensation for travel, personal care assistants and school fees, among others ...

5. Fault will still be determined in a crash, but only for the purpose of punishing bad drivers through increases to their premiums ...  

While Kamloops This Week headlined their news story with ... ICBC to introduce no-fault insurance

According to ICBC figures, the change in the system will save BC drivers an average of $400 per year. In addition, ICBC says the Enhanced Care Coverage will include care and treatment benefits up to 24 times higher than what exists today and wage-loss coverage 60 per cent higher than current rates ...

... their story then went on to give some of the pros and cons of the upcoming changes ...

So, we have the thoughts of the BC NDP government ... those of the opposition Liberals ... and we have what appears to me to be a neutral straight up reporting of the up-coming changes, from one of the many community newspapers across the province.

I wanted to know where the BC Conservative Party stood on this matter, as they have been consistent in taking the approach that ICBC should be turned into a co-op.  Here’s what party leader Trevor Bolin had to say, just a short time ago:

In 1973 when The Government of the day rolled out ICBC, it was the solution to a current problem, and it worked. Now 47 years later, British Columbians are paying higher rates than other comparable provinces.  The BC Liberals used ICBC as a cash cow, leaving a complete disaster that is costing every one of us more money than it should”.

In April of 2019, the BC Conservatives rolled out their 5 point “Made in BC” plan -- one of those being ICBC’s monopoly should be scrapped. No surprise then that Bolin continued by stating ...

Let’s open the market up, and allow some competition.  Competition makes for an honest, open and transparent choice for consumers”.  

The Conservative leader concluded by observing, “The NDP can play around with these little fixes, all they want, for the media.  Once they realize the only fix is to overhaul the very outdated way ICBC operates, it will continue to cost hard working British Colombians based on the mistakes of the BC Liberals and BC NDP”. 

In wrapping this up, let me say it appears that these changes to ICBC have been in the works for some time, as Attorney General David Eby was reported to already be in meetings with the heads of Manitoba and Saskatchewan’s government owned crown corporations, as early as last Spring.

Manitoba began their no-fault insurance program back in 1994, so there is over two decades of history for ICBC to draw on. Saskatchewan’s insurance program goes back to 1945 (that was a surprise to me) and the first CCF / NDP government of Tommy Douglas.

No surprise then that Eby stated, “If we were going to do a significant reform, it had to be totally credible and the only way that it can be totally credible is if it was based on real world experiences in other jurisdictions. And so, Saskatchewan and Manitoba became the models.”

ICBC has been kicked around, messed around, abused, and mis-used by government for over four and a half decades.  Maybe this time round, IF ICBC is to continue as a crown corporation, then perhaps these changes can finally address long-stated concerns.

We can only hope.


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