Trial lawyers call for independent review of ICBC from auditor general

Trial lawyers are calling on B.C.'s auditor general to conduct an independent review of British Columbia's public auto insurer, after ICBC's losses jumped to a projected $1.3 billion by the end of the fiscal year.

'The auditor general is the only one that can get to the bottom of this,' says committee co-chair

ICBC is projected to lose $1.3 billion by fiscal year end. (David Horemans/CBC)

Trial lawyers are calling on B.C.'s auditor general to conduct an independent review of British Columbia's public auto insurer.

ICBC's losses jumped to a projected $1.3 billion by the end of the fiscal year, up from $11 million estimated by the previous B.C. Liberal government.

A few months ago, the losses were said to be $200 million.

Ron Nairne, a personal injury lawyer and co-chair of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.'s ICBC committee, says an independent review is needed to get a clearer financial picture of the crown corporation.

Nairne said there has been "no clear information or reliable information about what these numbers are — they are changing all the time. The question is, why?"

An audit, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, is expected to be released in two weeks.

But Nairne told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Editionthat he and other trial lawyers are concerned that the forthcoming audit, like previous ones, won't capture the full picture.

"We just don't have faith in the fact that those organizations will be able to access all the information necessary," he said. "The auditor general is the only one that can get to the bottom of this."

No easy fixes

The B.C. government has vowed to make changes to address the financial issues plaguing the crown corporation.

In a statement on Monday, B.C. Attorney General David Eby said he is considering caps on payouts for minor injuries, as well as improving road safety and changing deductibles for high-risk drivers.

Skyrocketing claims, both for injuries and repairs, have been blamed for ICBC rate hikes in the past. 

ICBC injury claims are on the rise and closing in on $3 billion annually. Large loss claims, with an average payout of $450,000, have gone up 80 per cent in the last year. 

Eby says that some of the proposed changes might be difficult for those with financial interest in the status quo. 

But Nairne is adamant that a cap for minor injuries is not the solution.

"You can't gloss over what's a minor injury," Nairne said. "The focus is on ensuring that bad drivers pay and … that there are fewer accidents."

With files from The Early Edition.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.