ICBC's financial dumpster fire not our fault, says auto repair industry

The president of the Automotive Retailers Association says his industry shouldn't shoulder the blame for the crisis at B.C. public auto insurer.

ICBC auto repair costs up 30 per cent in 2 years but don't blame the shops, says Auto Retailers Association

Automotive Retailers Association president Ken McCormack says changes to ICBC's salvage procurement policies could cut repair costs and save the insurer millions. (Tanya Fletcher/CBC)

The president of the Automotive Retailers Association says his industry shouldn't shoulder the blame for the financial crisis at ICBC.

"Last November, we dealt with allegations by some that body shops in the province were over billing on ICBC work," said Ken McCormack, ARA president and CEO. 

"We're not the problem, but we want to be part of the solution."

Earlier this week, Attorney General David Eby announced the public auto insurer will be $1.3 billion in the hole by fiscal year end, describing the state of finances at ICBC as a "dumpster fire" started by the B.C. Liberals.

In his news conference, Eby noted vehicle repair costs had gone up 30 per cent in the last two years but McCormack is worried his industry is being scapegoated and wants the public to know it's not the shops that are driving up repair bills.

"Vehicles are getting more expensive. The demand on vehicles through automation, through technology ... not to mention composite materials and different metals that are used in the construction of vehicles, all of these have significant cost impact on the vehicle repairs," said McCormack.

He said vehicle repairs account for 15 per cent of ICBC's overall budget, and therefore shouldn't be a priority as the government looks to rein in spending.

"It is our belief that the bodily injury side — the claims — are a far more significant issue and we don't want the automotive service sector to be seen as an opportunity for government to cut cost further."

McCormack went on to say that ICBC could save money by allowing more used parts to be used in vehicle repair by changing salvage procurement policies.