ICBC sells its products through a network of 900 private insurance brokers around B.C. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

ICBC needs brokers, online renewals ‘not a priority,’ David Eby says

Crashes, court cases driving Crown corporation costs

The notion that the Insurance Corp. of B.C. could save lots of money by shifting to online vehicle insurance renewals is not valid, B.C. Attorney General David Eby says.

ICBC uses a network of private insurance brokers to sell its policies, and they are currently working through major changes as B.C. drivers come in to renew their vehicle insurance under new rules that took effect in September. Those include registering occasional drivers and paying a new risk-based insurance premium calculated on regional and personal accident records.

“Brokers are more important than ever to talk to people through these changes, to understand how listing or not listing somebody on their insurance could affect their insurance pricing and their liability,” Eby said last week. “It’s really important that people be able to talk to a real person. And if ICBC eliminated brokers they’d have to bring that in-house, it would result in very significant hiring of people at a help desk of some kind, to assist people through the online process.”

With ICBC paying hundreds of millions each year to insurance offices for their services, it’s been suggested that moving to online insurance renewals would save big money as the corporation struggles to break even. Eby says that’s not the case.

“It’s not a zero-sum game where you eliminate the brokers and then everything’s free,” Eby said. “If you set up an online renewal system for ICBC, people will have difficulty with it, they’ll have questions about it. You need people to respond to their questions, you need to train them, you need to set up the infrastructure.

“It’s a very significant project. We haven’t done the detailed work yet about how much that would cost, because basically we’ve been plugging the holes in the bottom of the boat right now, getting ICBC’s finances turned around.”

RELATED: B.C. activates speed cameras at high-crash intersections

RELATED: Eby warns trial lawyers about ICBC court challenges

ICBC reports to government show $434 million in commissions to its 900-member Autoplan broker network in 2016-17, up to $490 million in 2018-19.

ICBC pays a flat fee to brokers for selling basic insurance and a sliding scale for optional insurance, where it competes with private insurance companies. Optional commissions were reduced in September from 19.93 per cent to 19 for the lowest-risk optional customers, and from 15.5 to 15 per cent on average, an ICBC spokesperson confirmed to Black Press on Monday.

ICBC’s first quarter results this year suggested it may be getting back into the black, with a net income of $55 million for April through June 2019. That comes after two years of deficits totalling $2.5 billion, and a bailout in this year’s B.C. budget to keep the corporation solvent as it struggles with rising crash rates and legal costs.

Eby said his latest reports show a slight decrease in crash rates for the current year. The NDP government has upgraded intersection cameras at 140 high-accident intersections to run 24 hours a day, and to issue speeding tickets to the owners of vehicles that exceed the speed limit by an undisclosed amount as they pass the cameras. The province has also cracked down on distracted driving, particularly use of phones.

The main reforms to ICBC came earlier this year, as the government brought in a $5,500 cap on “pain and suffering” awards, introduced a civil resolution tribunal to keep minor disputes out of court, and imposed limits on expert witnesses for cases where injured people sue ICBC.

The Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. has challenged all three of those in court, and won a judgment on the expert witnesses that the province may appeal or overturn with new legislation.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Hundreds come out to Remembrance Day ceremony in Keremeos

Ceremony began at 10:45 a.m. at Keremeos Legion Branch

Empire Hydrogen bringing pollution-reducing fuel system on Okanagan tour

The company will be running information sessions starting on Nov. 20.

The SS Sicamous celebrates the season with a light-up party Dec. 14

Carollers, Santa, a holiday model train, and more will be available by donation.

Hello Santa! Artwalk features 17 local galleries

From 4 p.m. until 9 on Nov. 21 the public is invited to the free event.

KIN KITS to provide cold weather supplies to local homeless

The 100 kits will be distributed by local organizations and outreach groups

VIDEO: Hong Kong police shoot protester, man set on fire

It was the second protester shot since the demonstrations began in early June

Photos: Lest We Forget

Today, Penticton remembers those who fought for our country and way of life.

Empire Hydrogen bringing pollution-reducing fuel system on Okanagan tour

The company will be running information sessions starting on Nov. 20.

Sportsnet fires Don Cherry after negative comments about immigrants

Don Cherry had said immigrants don’t wear poppies like other Canadians do

Trudeau’s new cabinet: Gender parity because it’s 2019? Or due to competence?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will soon appoint his new cabinet

Canada among three G20 countries least likely to hit emissions targets

It says Canada, South Korea and Australia are the farthest off

Conservatives’ Scheer wants Trudeau to open Parliament Nov. 25

That’s five days after Justin Trudeau is scheduled to swear in a new cabinet

Coquihalla, Okanagan Connector drivers cautioned due to freezing rain

Special weather statement in effect for highways between Hope, Merritt, Kamloops and Kelowna

Summerland council considers change to meeting schedule

Proposal calls for afternoon session and 6 p.m. evening session for regular meetings

Most Read