B.C. insurer sends warning letters to worst drivers

The Insurance Corp. of British Columbia has sent etters to some drivers saying their poor records make them more likely to cause an accident.

The Insurance Corp.of British Columbia has sent warning letters to some of the province's worst drivers, telling them to improve their driving habits orpay more for insurance.

ICBC spokesman Doug McClelland said Wednesday that warning letters should get the attention of drivers. ((CBC))

"We wanted to get people's attention," said ICBC spokesman Doug McClelland. "The people who received this letter are the worst five per cent of drivers in B.C."

But being told in a letter that they are putting others at risk, and that they may soon have to payhigher premiums,has not gone over well with some of the roughly 130,000 recipients. The ICBC has received dozens of complaintsabout the tone of the letter.

"I didn't believe they were talking about me," said Larry Lee. "I've taught many friends how to drive.Both my parents are driving instructors. I'm a good driver in my opinion."

Lee has receivedthree tickets in the past year — one for speeding and two related to his commercial licence.

Larry Lee said Wednesday he was shocked to receive a warning letter from the B.C. insurer. ((CBC))

When newdriver-risk premiums go into effect next month, drivers who receive three tickets in a three-year periodwillpay an additional annual premium of $350.

Drivers who are stopped for exceeding the speed limit by more than 40 km/h will pay an additional premium of$320.

"High-risk drivers are currently not paying enough given the risk they pose on the roads," Paul Taylor, ICBC's president and CEO, said in arelease.

"Charging bad drivers moreis one way that the ICBC is working to keep rates low and stable for safer drivers."

The ICBC defines high-risk drivers as those who engage in activities such as speeding, drinking and driving, running red lights and other forms of dangerous driving.

"We know that [high risk drivers]are at least twice as likely to cause a crash," said McClelland.

If the new premiums were already in effect, Russ Paton would have been penalized.

He recently received a ticket for speeding on the Coquihalla Highway, which put him on his insurer's radar screen. He received a warning letter.

"The program is clearly not balanced, and I guess is prejudiced against what they can easily enforce," he said.

Lee wonders why the warning letter wasn't sent to all drivers in B.C. "We should all be warned about dangerous driving," he said.

ICBCis a provincial Crown corporation established in 1973 to provide universal auto insurance to B.C. motorists. In addition, the corporation is responsible for driver licensing andvehicle registration and licensing.