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

Local researcher hopes history can uncover an identity for Harrison

Veronique Astles believes Harrison has more history to uncover than just the resort

Variable speed limit system coming for Highway 3 near Hope

Congestion based system in testing phase between Chilliwack and Abbotsford by early 2020

Vent du Nord comes to Harrison for Season of Performing Arts

The francophone folk group will be performing Nov. 30

Salvation Army kettles return to Agassiz

The holiday fundraiser will be back in town for the month of December

Chilliwack Players Guild presents beloved classic ‘A Christmas Carol’

The Chilliwack Players Guild brings famous Dickens tale to life at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

VIDEO: Agassiz, Harrison honour Remembrance Day

The annual ceremony took place at AESS, followed by a moment of silence at the Agassiz cenotaph

Yelling at your dog might hurt its long-term mental health: study

Researchers find dogs trained using negative reinforcement are more ‘pessimistic’

Vancouver Island soap company releases Lucky Lager beer soap

Beer-infused olive oil soap comes out just in time for holiday shopping

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Workers’ camp at LNG facility in Kitimat takes shape

Extensive worker camp now being assembled

Former B.C. youth pastor guilty on one of five sexual assault allegations

Judge cites reasonable doubt in finding Cloverdale couple not guilty of majority of charges

238 and counting: Vancouver gelato shop sets Guinness World record for most flavours

Vince Misceo has come up with 588 different flavours over the decades

Most Read