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Province announces changes to ICBC, including cap on minor injury payouts

Last Updated Feb 6, 2018 at 4:00 pm PDT

(Dustin Godfrey, NEWS 1130 photo)

Province announces plan to bring in cap of $5,500 on payouts for pain and suffering for minor injuries

BC's Attorney General says cost of claims for minor injuries has risen by 265 per cent in six years

David Eby says if immediate action is not taken, BC drivers could face a premium hike of an average $400 per year

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The province is bringing in a cap on some ICBC payouts, in an effort to save more than $1 billion per year for the public auto insurer.

Pending legislative approval, there will be a cap of $5,500 on payouts for pain and suffering for minor injuries, effective April 1, 2019.

Attorney General David Eby says ICBC will have to develop a clear, legal definition of what constitutes a minor injury.

Eby says the cost of those claims has risen from just over $5,000 in 2000 to about $16,500 in 2016 — a staggering 265 per cent increase.

The province plans to double the lifetime allowance of medical care and recovery costs for those “catastrophically injured” in a car accident from $150,000 to $300,000. This change will be made retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018.

“Without today’s announced reforms, ICBC will never have the money to increase these miserly benefits without dramatic increases on insurance rates. These enhanced accident benefits will be available for all injury claims, which means any British Columbian injured in a crash will benefit. These proposals mean more money for treatments and that more types of treatments will be covered.”

Eby is also announcing an increase in coverage for treatments, wage loss payments, home support benefits, funeral cost coverage, and death benefits.

According to the province, injury claims totalled $2.7 billion in 2016, which marked an increase of 80 per cent in seven years.

Eby hasn’t said exactly how much more drivers should expect to pay for premiums.

Last week, Eby responded to news that ICBC was on track to a $1.3-billion loss for the year by calling it a “financial dumpster fire.” He says without immediate changes, BC drivers could face premium hikes averaging $400 or more.

Given the changes won’t take effect for over a year, Eby was asked whether this means ICBC is likely headed for another $1-billion loss. “It’s going to take some time to turn around the problems… I acknowledge that there’s no silver bullet that will solve things immediately.”

Eby continues to blame the previous BC Liberal government for the financial woes.

“What was turned over to me was a corporation that we were told was only going to lose $11 million. In fact, [it lost] almost $1 billion in that fiscal year and is projected to lose $1.3 billion for this fiscal year… The government received a report in 2014 that outlined that this was coming, that warned them about it, that gave them recommendations about how to address it. Instead of releasing that report to the public, pages were removed from that report. I’ve requested of the BC Liberal leader — the new leader, Andrew Wilkinson — Mike de Jong and Todd Stone that they give consent to release that report to the public.”

“Intriguingly, the people who drove ICBC into the tree are now standing on the sidelines, insisting that the fix should have happened sooner and suggesting that maybe we should sell the car. The damage is done. We will repair ICBC. We will get it back on track,” he adds.

While Eby points the finger at the previous government, new Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson is now suggesting it might be time to privatize ICBC.

“It’s a 44-year model created by the NDP… and it’s time to re-examine the whole thing. We’re now losing money every year and motorists are paying high insurance premiums and so that culmination calls for re-examination of the whole model.”