ICBC sells its products through a network of 900 private insurance brokers around B.C. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

ICBC needs brokers, online renewals ‘not a priority,’ David Eby says

Crashes, court cases driving Crown corporation costs

The notion that the Insurance Corp. of B.C. could save lots of money by shifting to online vehicle insurance renewals is not valid, B.C. Attorney General David Eby says.

ICBC uses a network of private insurance brokers to sell its policies, and they are currently working through major changes as B.C. drivers come in to renew their vehicle insurance under new rules that took effect in September. Those include registering occasional drivers and paying a new risk-based insurance premium calculated on regional and personal accident records.

“Brokers are more important than ever to talk to people through these changes, to understand how listing or not listing somebody on their insurance could affect their insurance pricing and their liability,” Eby said last week. “It’s really important that people be able to talk to a real person. And if ICBC eliminated brokers they’d have to bring that in-house, it would result in very significant hiring of people at a help desk of some kind, to assist people through the online process.”

With ICBC paying hundreds of millions each year to insurance offices for their services, it’s been suggested that moving to online insurance renewals would save big money as the corporation struggles to break even. Eby says that’s not the case.

“It’s not a zero-sum game where you eliminate the brokers and then everything’s free,” Eby said. “If you set up an online renewal system for ICBC, people will have difficulty with it, they’ll have questions about it. You need people to respond to their questions, you need to train them, you need to set up the infrastructure.

“It’s a very significant project. We haven’t done the detailed work yet about how much that would cost, because basically we’ve been plugging the holes in the bottom of the boat right now, getting ICBC’s finances turned around.”

RELATED: B.C. activates speed cameras at high-crash intersections

RELATED: Eby warns trial lawyers about ICBC court challenges

ICBC reports to government show $434 million in commissions to its 900-member Autoplan broker network in 2016-17, up to $490 million in 2018-19.

ICBC pays a flat fee to brokers for selling basic insurance and a sliding scale for optional insurance, where it competes with private insurance companies. Optional commissions were reduced in September from 19.93 per cent to 19 for the lowest-risk optional customers, and from 15.5 to 15 per cent on average, an ICBC spokesperson confirmed to Black Press on Monday.

ICBC’s first quarter results this year suggested it may be getting back into the black, with a net income of $55 million for April through June 2019. That comes after two years of deficits totalling $2.5 billion, and a bailout in this year’s B.C. budget to keep the corporation solvent as it struggles with rising crash rates and legal costs.

Eby said his latest reports show a slight decrease in crash rates for the current year. The NDP government has upgraded intersection cameras at 140 high-accident intersections to run 24 hours a day, and to issue speeding tickets to the owners of vehicles that exceed the speed limit by an undisclosed amount as they pass the cameras. The province has also cracked down on distracted driving, particularly use of phones.

The main reforms to ICBC came earlier this year, as the government brought in a $5,500 cap on “pain and suffering” awards, introduced a civil resolution tribunal to keep minor disputes out of court, and imposed limits on expert witnesses for cases where injured people sue ICBC.

The Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. has challenged all three of those in court, and won a judgment on the expert witnesses that the province may appeal or overturn with new legislation.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trucking company fined $175K for Lemon Creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Interior Health leading the way with innovative therapy for stroke patients

Percentage of ischemic stroke patients who received treatment has risen dramatically

Trail open house part of Basin-wide public engagement

Trail event goes Thursday, March 12 from 2-6 p.m., and guided discussion from 6-8 p.m.

Missing Nelson woman found dead

Police say there is no evidence of a crime in the death of Heather Gunderson

Foul play involved in Slocan Valley man’s death, police say

RCMP have identified dead man as 47-year-old Aaron Graham

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

RCMP, hereditary chiefs reach deal to end police patrols of Wet’suwet’en lands

Withdrawal opens door for talks today between hereditary chiefs, province and federal gov

Should you shave your beard to stop COVID-19? The U.S. CDC has a guide

Facial hair could be a big no-no if COVID-19 reaches pandemic status

First arrests made at BC Legislature after Wet’suwet’en supporters spray chalk on property

Legislature security arrested two people, allegedly for mischief

Canada’s 13th coronavirus case confirmed as husband of 12th patient

More than 81,000 cases of COVID-19 have occurred since the virus emerged in China

Shuswap boy wins hockey stick from NHL hero with rock, paper, scissors

Chase’s Payton Koch’s exchange with Minnesota Wild’s Kevin Fiala caught on camera

Surrey will replace its RCMP force with municipal police, province confirms

City of Surrey has been authorized to set up its own city police force

UPDATE: Son, 5, dies in hospital after crash that killed dad, older son on B.C. highway

Mike Cochlin and sons Liam and Quinn were travelling on Highway 5A

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to meet today with federal and B.C. governments

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks

Most Read