Should bad drivers pay more so good drivers can pay less?

The B.C. Government is seeking public feedback on whether bad drivers should pay higher ICBC premiums so good drivers can pay less for their insurance.

Province seeks public feedback on potential changes to how ICBC sets insurance rates

The province wants to know what people think about a plan to force drivers who cause collisions to pay more so rates for good drivers can be reduced. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

The B.C. Government is seeking public feedback on whether bad drivers should pay higher ICBC premiums so good drivers can pay less for their auto insurance.

A public comment period is now open on a plan to make drivers more accountable for their decisions and behaviour.

"Drivers have been saying for years that the system would be more fair if low-risk drivers paid less for their vehicle insurance, while high-risk drivers paid more," said Attorney General David Eby. 

"The question is: Who is a bad driver and how much more should they pay?"

The government is accepting public comment on its plan through an online survey, or by email or mail.

Proposals for changes to the publicly run insurer include:

  • Whether drivers who get into at-fault crashes should pay more for insurance.
  • A cap on paying for at-fault vehicle damage to avoid having it on your record.
  • Tying collisions to the driver of the vehicle rather than the owner.
  • A 10-per-cent discount for customers who drive less than 5,000 kilometres in a year.
  • An increase to current penalty premiums for certain high-risk drivers.

ICBC's auto insurance rating system is 30 years old, and while there have been tweaks over the years, the government says it's out of date.

The survey notes basic insurance premiums have increased by 40 per cent since 2007, while additional premiums that target drivers with minor or major convictions have not kept pace.

To bring this into better alignment, the province is seeking feedback about a proposed 20-per-cent increase to additional premiums in the first year for drivers with a record of infractions, followed by another 20-per-cent increase to premiums in the second year. 

The public comment period on ICBC rates is open until April 5.

"I've had correspondence from people across B.C. about how to fix ICBC and I thank them for it," Eby said. "This is one very structured way for them to provide feedback to me."

Financial crisis

The potential changes also come as ICBC faces a $1.3-billion loss by the end of the fiscal year, stoking fears that premiums will need to go up across the board to keep the corporation afloat.

The growing financial pressure is being blamed on a rapid increase in the number of collisions in the province, as well as the rising costs of those claims.

Last month the government moved to put a cap of $5,500 for pain and suffering on minor injury claims, as part of a series of reforms to fix the financial crisis.

The province has also taken steps to target drivers who won't put down their phones when they are behind the wheel.

As of March 1, the penalties for using an electronic device while driving increased to as much as $2,000 for two convictions over a three-year period.

That is an increase of $740, on top of regular vehicle insurance premiums.

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