Changes to ICBC premiums would see bad drivers pay more

Attorney General David Eby says people need to take responsibility for their driving habits.

At-fault crashes will now be tied to the driver and not the vehicle owner

The changes are revenue-neutral, according to the government, and won't change the forecast $1.3-billion deficit faced by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. (David Horemans/CBC)

Inexperienced and high-risk drivers would pay more for their vehicle insurance in British Columbia under proposed changes to modernize the province's Crown auto insurance corporation.

The provincial government introduced the changes to the way premiums are calculated Thursday in a plan to shift more responsibility to those drivers who cause crashes.

The changes would include insurance discounts for drivers with up to 40 years of driving experience and move to a driver-based model, so at-fault crashes are tied to the driver and not the vehicle owner.

Those drivers who have caused crashes in the last decade will pay more under the new system, but they can waive one at-fault crash if they have 20 years experience and are 10 years crash-free.

Attorney General David Eby said about two-thirds of drivers would see a decrease in their premiums under the new rules. (Mike Mcarthur/CBC)

"We want to modernize ICBC so that British Columbians pay according to their crash history, driving records and level of risk, and take responsibility for their driving habits. It's only fair," said Attorney General David Eby in a statement.

About two-thirds of drivers will see a decrease in the amount they pay under the changes announced on Thursday and one-third will see an increase, Eby added.

The government says the changes are revenue-neutral, while making insurance premiums more fair, and they will have no effect on the forecast $1.3-billion deficit faced by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.

Eby and ICBC board chair Joy MacPhail outlined the changes which include the following:

  • New discounts for people with more than nine years of driving experience, disabled people and seniors driving for "pleasure use"
  • Discounts for vehicles with original, manufacturer-installed automatic braking technology and vehicles with less than 5,000 km use per year. 

Additional changes include a new premium for drivers with learners' licenses and a change to rate classes based on whether they live in urban or rural areas. 

If the proposed changes are approved by the B.C. Utilities Commission, they would come into effect in September 2019.

ICBC board chair Joy MacPhail describes proposed changes to car insurance premiums in B.C. Thursday in Victoria. (CBC)

Best course going forward?

Earlier this year, Eby called the crown corporation a "dumpster fire." The losses have been linked to increased crashes, litigation costs and payouts for minor injuries. 

The province has already announced changes that will increase the amount bad drivers with multiple penalties pay for yearly insurance, along with caps on the amount people can claim in pain and suffering for minor injuries. 

After Thursday's announcement, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson argued that ICBC needed a "complete rework." 

"When we look across North America we see that most other jurisdictions operate without a government-run insurance system, but do operate under very similar driving laws as British Columbia," he said.

"Strangely, those motorists are not facing a system that unfairly labels most of them as 'bad drivers' and forces them to pay very high insurance rates."

However, Green Party leader Andrew Weaver supported the changes. 

"These are progressive changes that will ensure that those with clean driving records will be paying less, while people who cause crashes will generally be paying more," he said. 

With files from Justin Mcelroy and Anita Bathe