British Columbia

ICBC gets green light for interim 6.3 per cent rate hike

B.C. Utilities Commission approves insurance hikes effective April 1, 2019

B.C. Utilities Commission approves insurance hikes effective April 1, 2019

ICBC office at Coast Capital Credit Union in downtown Vancouver. (David Horemans/CBC)

The Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC), the province's public auto insurer, has been approved to raise insurance rates by 6.3 per cent.

The B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) has approved ICBC's request for an interim basic insurance rate increase effective April 1, 2019.

The insurance corporation applied for the proposed rate hike in December as the B.C. government attempted to address what Attorney General David Eby described as a "financial dumpster fire" at ICBC.

Eby revealed in November that ICBC was set to lose $890 million in 2018-2019, following a $1.3 billion net loss in 2017-18.

According to ICBC, the hike means "an average increase of less than $60 for personal customers' basic insurance coverage."

A BCUC panel will make a final decision as to whether or not the rate hikes will become permanent.

Effective April

As of April 1, all new and renewal policies will be subject to the rate hike.

According to the public insurer, the temporary approval "will lessen the depletion of ICBC's already low basic insurance capital while the BCUC reviews the full application."

The province has pointed the finger at the previous government for leaving the insurer in financial ruin. Since the start of the 2017 financial year, ICBC is said to have lost more than $2 billion.

In January, Eby warned drastic changes would be necessary.

According to ICBC, injury claims costs have soared by 43 per cent in just five years, totalling roughly $3.67 billion in 2018 alone.

Reforms rollout

In an attempt to stem the losses, the province has already rolled 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.

The BCUC panel has opened the door for public consultations. People who are directly affected by the interim approval can request intervener status.

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