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

Talks continue over new aquatic centre for Alberni Valley

Joint ACRD, City of Port Alberni committee asks for staff report on next steps

BCHL: Bulldogs’ win streak snapped by Powell River Kings

Josh Zary had the lone goal for Port Alberni

Alberni vet heading to Africa with Veterinarians Without Borders

Dr. Roberta Templeton and her vet husband will help dairy farmers in Uganda

B.C.-born hockey official talks to IIHF about switching European rule book to NHL rules

Rob Shick will represent NHL at 4th World Hockey Forum in Russia

Campbell River mom’s iPhone containing priceless photos stolen from Victoria hospital parkade

The phone contained photos, heartbeat recordings of her late son

Sail Past lights up Alberni Inlet

Annual Sail Past took place at Harbour Quay

Province sues over sailing incident that killed teen with disabilities

Gabriel Pollard, 16, died from injuries after marine lift failed

First Nations want Big Bar landslide cleared ASAP to allow fish passage

Leadership calling for urgent action and resources to remove obstruction on the Fraser

Assessed value of Lower Mainland homes expected to decrease in 2020

Other areas of province may see modest increases over last year’s values

Chilliwack family’s therapy dog injured in hit and run

Miniature pit bull Fifty’s owner is a single mother facing close to $10,000 in vet bills

Cougar destroyed in Penticton area after mauling dog, killing cat

This is the first reported incident with a cougar this year in the Penticton area

Feds not enforcing standards on Hungarian duck imports, B.C. farmer says

‘You have no way of knowing what’s in the bag’

No reports yet of Canadians affected by New Zealand volcano eruption, feds say

Missing and injured included tourists from the U.S., China, Australia, Britain and Malaysia

Vancouver Island blues musician’s mother’s home burglarized and ransacked

David Gogo’s 71-year-old mother has jewelry and artwork stolen in break-in

Most Read