British Columbia

Telkwa mayor fed up residents' insurance rates are determined by a city 350 km away

Telkwa mayor Darcy Repen sent a letter to ICBC asking it to re-evaluate its regional boundaries because his village pays higher insurance rates than nearby Smithers due to being in the same region as Prince George.

ICBC says it's not as easy as just changing boundary lines

The village of Telkwa's mayor sent a letter to ICBC asking it to re-evaluate its regional boundaries, but ICBC isn't interested. (David Horemans/CBC)

The residents of the village of Telkwa, B.C., use the City of Smithers for recreation, shopping and work. Some of their kids even go to school in Smithers.

However, there's one thing they don't share: insurance rates.

The people of Telkwa pay more because their region is lumped in with Prince George, more than 350 kilometres away.

That's why Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen sent a letter to ICBC asking it to re-evaluate its regional boundaries.

However, ICBC isn't interested.

"Despite our argument that as a bedroom community of Smithers where our residents are spending their time driving, ICBC just doesn't seem to be willing to look at resolving the situation," said Repen to Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.

Repen says that in its letter Telkwa laid out a specific plan. He would like to see the dividing line moved to Wakefield Road, 19 kilometres east of Telkwa so the village would be included in the same region as Smithers.

The mayor is frustrated his community, which spends the bulk of its time driving in Smithers, is forced to pay more.

"When they responded to us they didn't actually mention Telkwa at all in the response. They didn't mention our specific concerns or our solutions, so it was really disappointing for us," said Repen.

Because Telkwa is included in the same region as Prince George, residents pay higher insurance rates due to the higher number of crashes in the much larger city.

Where you live is only one factor

CBC News contacted ICBC which confirmed the residents of Telkwa do pay more for their insurance than the residents of Smithers.

However, ICBC spokesperson Joanna Linsangan said that where a driver lives is only one factor in determining insurance rates.

"What actually has greater impact ... on how much you pay for your insurance, is based on your level of driving experience and the number of at-fault crashes you've been in," said Linsangan.

Along with where a driver lives and their driving history, other factors that determine insurance rates include the type of coverage chosen and whether a vehicle is used for work or pleasure.

Mayor Repen says he understands that there are a number of factors but points out where you live still contributes to how much you pay.

"When they have set a dividing line between a bedroom community and a community where those people are driving and doing their shopping and their work and schooling and recreation, that's an unfair division," said Repen.

Darcy Repen, mayor of the Village of Telkwa, says ICBC unfairly calculates insurance rates for his residents based on Prince George, a city 350 kilometres away with far more traffic and accidents. (Darcy Repen/Facebook)

'It's not as simple as just changing the boundary lines'

Linsangan says that, currently, ICBC does not intend to review boundary lines and is, instead, focusing on making insurance more sustainable in the long run.

She also adds that reviewing boundary lines is a complex process.

"It's not as simple as just changing the boundary lines. We also need to check how that's going to affect the other communities and also just the province as a whole, because if we're going to be offsetting in one territory, another territory is going to be paying more."

You can listen to the full interview below;

Telkwa mayor Darcy Repen sent a letter to ICBC asking them to re-evaluate their regional boundaries because his village pays higher insurance rates than nearby Smithers due to being in the same region as Prince George. 4:40

With files from Nicole Oud

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