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ICBC rate hike renews calls for privatization, abandoning 'sinking ship'

Last Updated Dec 15, 2018 at 2:10 pm PDT

FILE: Attorney General David Eby speaks about changes coming to ICBC during a press conference in the press gallery at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., in 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

ICBC is recommending a 6.3-per-cent increase in rates, which BC Utilities Commission will have to approve

Critics are renewing calls for privatization in light of the rate hike

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — After ICBC’s announced its proposed 6.3- per-cent rate hike, critics are renewing calls for privatized car insurance in British Columbia.

Aaron Sutherland, the Vice President of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, says drivers need an opportunity to take their business elsewhere. He says our auto insurance system is in crisis, and can’t be fixed by the Crown Insurer itself.

“Until we bring that competitive incentive here to British Columbia, it’s likely that we’re going to continue to pay more than anyone else in this country for a long time to come,” he says. “Our rates just keep going up, and up, and up.”

RELATED: ICBC to ask for 6.3% rate hike Friday

Privatization, he says, will allow drivers to shop around for insurance, and that competition will bring down the price.

“(Consumers can) shop around and find the best price, because ICBC just isn’t delivering it,” he says.

He says looking to other provinces who have private insurance, following their lead on this would makes sense.

Kris Sims with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation agrees that private options — and co-ops — would reduce the cost.

RELATED: B.C. drivers could be paying more as public auto insurer asks for a rate increase

She says ICBC should be changed into a co-op, similar to a credit union, and then forced to compete with other businesses. That would give drivers options to ‘take their business elsewhere’ if they aren’t happy with the rates by the Crown Insurer.

“If they’re part of that co-op, they will have much more say over their new version of ICBC, and the rest of us, who might want to shop around elsewhere, can do that.”

BC Liberal Leader: abandon ‘sinking ship’

Andrew Wilkinson says the rate increase could be about $100 per person. He says that’s a 13 per cent increase in the last two years, and it just has to stop.

The government needs to find a way to find a more affordable option for British Columbians, he says, which means looking at what other models are being used around the world.

He says it’s a broken model because costs keep going through the roof.

“David Eby keeps putting duct tape on this sinking ship of ICBC, and it’s time to decide whether or not we should be on another ship,” he says. “It’s got to work for consumers, and if it doesn’t get rid of it.

“We’re now taping up this botched model of ICBC that’s been around for 45 years, and it’s time to fix it.”

Wilkinson also says it could be converted into a mutual insurer, like a co-op or credit union.

“We’re not the only people in the world that buy auto insurance, and it’s time to get the best deal for consumers rather than patch up this state-run monopoly,” he says.

– With files from Hana Mae Nassar, Bruce Claggett, Marcella Bernardo