ICBC expected to lose $890M this year

B.C.'s public auto insurer is facing bigger than expected financial losses this year, and Attorney General David Eby warns the government will need to make even more changes to how ICBC operates.

Attorney general warns government will need to make more changes to reduce cost of injury claims

David Eby says the rising costs of injury claims are contributing to ICBC's financial woes. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

B.C.'s public auto insurer is facing bigger than expected financial losses this year, and Attorney General David Eby warns the government will need to make even more changes to how ICBC operates.

Eby said second quarter results for the 2018-2019 financial year suggest ICBC is set to lose $890 million this year, following a $1.3-billion net loss in 2017-2018.

"It is now clear that this government needs to look for even more ways — beyond what is already planned — to further reduce the escalating cost of claims," Eby said in a news release.

He did not specify what those changes might entail.

He said ICBC is dealing with rising numbers and costs for personal injury claims — a phenomenon he blames on the tactics employed by lawyers for injured people.

"These trends are becoming more severe. Since March 2017, the dollar value of settlements demanded by plaintiff lawyers for litigated files increased by 27 per cent," Eby said.

The average cost of a claim rose from $100,427 in the first half of 2017 to $121,686 in 2018, according to the attorney general.

The province is currently trying to stem the losses at ICBC, rolling out a list of reforms including higher fines for repeat bad drivers, an independent dispute resolution system and a $5,500 limit on payouts for minor injuries.

Eby said he expects those changes to save about $1 billion every year, but those savings won't be obvious until the bulk of the reforms take effect next spring.