ICBC seeks basic rate increase

ICBC says it wants to increase basic rates for B.C. drivers, a move that would cost the average driver just under $30 per year.

Optional rates could come down

The Insurance Corporation of B.C. claims it needs to raise auto insurance rates to meet operating expenses, reports the CBC's Belle Puri 2:20

ICBC says it wants to increase basic rates for B.C. drivers, a move that would cost the average driver just under $30 per year.

CEO Jon Schubert says rates are rising because claims — mostly bodily injury claims — increased by $200 million in the first nine months of the year.

Schubert says there could be many reasons why claims have risen so much.

"We've had more precipitation in the Lower Mainland in the last 18 months, compared to our 30-year-average, lots of road construction. We see more people hurt in each crash and so we think there's more car-pooling," he said.

But Schubert says the increase may be offset by a yet-to-be determined decrease in optional rates as well.

The provincially-run auto insurance corporation's income from investments was also down by $38 million, and Schubert warned that loss could grow to $90 million by the end of the year.

"In previous years, our investment income has been strong enough to help keep our rates down, but this is no longer the case and we cannot rely on this income to the same extent as we have in previous years," said Schubert.

Without rate increases on basic insurance in recent years, revenues from insurance premiums have remained flat at $2.83 billion for the first nine months of the year.

"We have not increased our rates since 2007 and there have been a number of rate decreases during that time. However, we face a different reality today but we remain committed to providing our customers with the best coverage at the lowest possible price."

ICBC will file an application to the BC Utilities Commission in the next few days for the rate increase, and if approved it could go into effect in February, he said.

The corporation first said it would apply for a rate hike earlier this year in July.