The Insurance Corporation of B.C. is applying to increase its basic automobile insurance rates 4.9 per cent — though the Crown agency insists 80 per cent of drivers will end up paying an average of only $0.92 extra per month.
That's because the corporation says the increase will be mostly offset by a proposed reduction in optional insurance rates by four per cent.
The provincially-owned corporation, which is the only provider of basic auto insurance in the province, says it will ask the B.C. Utilities Commission to allow it to increase its basic rates by November 1.
The corporation blames a jump in injury claims for the increase, which it notes it is the first rate hike application since 2011.
"The pressure on basic insurance rates is coming from bodily injury claims costs, which cover payouts for pain and suffering, future care and loss of wages. ICBC’s bodily injury claims costs totalled $1.9 billion in 2012 – up by more than $165 million from the previous year and more than $400 million from just five years ago," said a statement released by the government insurance agency on Friday.
Meanwhile the provincial opposition NDP says ICBC should be lowering rates, not raising them. MLA Mable Elmore says while it may be true that injury claims are up, so are profits at the Crown corporation too.
"ICBC still has generated over the last three years $677 million in profit and is projected to contribute another $500 million…in profits over the next three years. So those should go back towards savings for motorists in B.C."
Elmore argues that if the latest rate hike is approved it will amount to 15 per cent in increases over the past two years for motorists.
ICBC rates are control by the B.C. Utilities Commission, which still has to approve the changes.