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Insurance rate cuts depend on budget promise to put ICBC back in the black

(John Ackermann, NEWS 1130 staff photo)

The B.C. government's plans to cut ICBC rates depend on the Crown corporation's ability to get out of debt

The government is expecting ICBC to post a profit of $86 million by March of 2021

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A government promise to make ICBC profitable again doesn’t automatically mean drivers can expect to pay less for car insurance in two years.

Based on numbers released by Finance Minister Carole James when she tabled this year’s budget on Tuesday, the Crown corporation is expected to post a profit of $86 million by March of 2021.

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A retired public servant who’s been studying ICBC for years, Richard McCandless, says it’s possible, but reporting methods are still flawed.

“They’ve redacted some key information. It’s again difficult to verify or have confidence in their numbers. You just got to take their word for it. That hasn’t been too helpful in the past,” he says.

He tells NEWS 1130 ICBC needs to be more transparent.

“There’s a variety of things they could be doing to increase the public’s confidence in that they have a good handle on what they’re doing. We don’t have that yet.”

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James is suggesting recorded losses of nearly $1.2 billion can be erased by the end of this fiscal year.

McCandless says that depends on money-saving changes actually working.

“With the very limited information they’ve released, you know, we have more questions than answers. We’re not going to know for months, if not a couple of years,” he says.

A key change taking effect in April is the $5,500 cap on claims for minor pain and suffering which lawyers have already threatened to challenge in court, which McCandless says is possible.

“A lot of stars have to be aligned to make it happen. What they’re betting the farm on is the $5,500 cap on minor pain and suffering and with some of the other reductions they’ve announced, they’re hoping they can meet this new target of only losing $50 million in the upcoming year,” he says.

For now, most drivers are still facing a premium hike of 6.3 per cent in April.