Minister wants answers on ICBC rates

Public Safety Minister Shirley Bond

VICTORIA – Should a single speeding ticket cause an increase in your car insurance rate on top of the cost of the ticket?

Public Safety Minister Shirley Bond says she’s looking forward to a “spirited discussion” on that point with officials of the Insurance Corp. of B.C. before it proceeds with its application to adjust rates. That meeting could take place as soon as Thursday.

ICBC confirmed this week that its application to change rates could result in a rate increase for three years after a single speeding ticket, and further rate reductions for drivers who maintain a clean driving record. If approved by the B.C. Utilities Commission, the changes would take effect in 2014, but infractions in the next three years would affect future rates.

Bond said Wednesday she questions whether the bar is being set too low.

“My concern with ICBC is there is a test of reasonableness,” Bond said. “And I’m simply suggesting that we need to have a discussion about the threshold that would be put in place for being deemed a bad driver and paying additional penalties as a result of a single speeding ticket.”

ICBC officials say 30 per cent of all drivers – the ones with some traffic tickets within the last three years – will pay more and roughly two-thirds of drivers who have clean driving records and no at-fault crashes will enjoy an increased safe driving discount, over and above the premium discounts they now get for years of claim-free driving.

Spokesman Mark Jan Vrem said ICBC has not yet determined how much it will reward good drivers and punish the bad. One report of an average 10 per cent saving for drivers with a clean record is inaccurate, he said.

The changes would take effect in 2014 and look back over the previous three years, so ICBC is warning drivers to shape up now if they don’t want to pay more later.

Even so, the full shift won’t kick in immediately.

“There won’t be sticker shock in 2014,” Jan Vrem said. “It’s going to be phased in.”

And he said a single ticket may not make much difference.

“If you have only one minor violation in the three-year scan, your rate could stay the same or go up very slightly,” he said.

Details are expected when ICBC files an application this summer to the B.C. Utilities Commission.

Existing driver penalty premiums that charge extra for the two per cent of motorists with convictions for excessive speeding or impaired driving will remain in effect, he said.

– with files from Jeff Nagel

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