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Skepticism rising following claims that ICBC financial 'dumpster fire' dying out

Last Updated Oct 28, 2019 at 8:05 pm PDT

(Photo by Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)
Summary

A former defence lawyer with ICBC insists they system is still too top-heavy

Attorney General says updated numbers for the latest fiscal quarter show ICBC's set to break even this year

A former senior public servant says quickest way to cancel out massive money losses is to introduce no-fault insurance

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — With the province reporting ICBC’s financial “dumpster fire” is finally dying out, a lawyer who’s worked there says recent improvements don’t go far enough.

James Macdonnell, a former defence lawyer with ICBC insists they system is still too top-heavy.

“We have a bloated corporation in management and I don’t think that bloating is going to help that corporation in any way, shape or form moving forward,” he says, adding the current rate system doesn’t go far enough when it comes to making sure the drivers of luxury high speed cars pay their fair share.

Macdonnell says when he worked for ICBC lawyers and claims adjusters were encouraged to take cases to trial — driving many of them to quit.


“A lot of them are very young, fresh out of university and they don’t particularly have a grasp of how the process really works and I don’t think there’s the training there that really gives them those skills,” he says.

Attorney General David Eby says numerous front-line workers have been hired to help reduce workloads.

RELATED: New compensation system for autobody shops part of plan to douse ICBC ‘dumpster fire’

“We’ve made dramatic reductions in people earning $100,000 plus and reducing the fat at the top leaves more money for front-line staff which we think is an important initiative,” he says.

Eby adds updated numbers for the latest fiscal quarter show ICBC’s set to break even this year after recording losses of more than a billion dollars over the past two fiscal years.

Macdonnell says Eby’s suggestion ICBC is set to break even this year “very Pollyanna” considering “the hemorrhaging of cash in claims and salaries, turnover of employees.”


However, Eby is confident a new cap on payouts for non-serious injuries will survive court challenges because other provinces have similar policies.

Richard McCandless, a former senior public servant tracking changes at ICBC, says the quickest way to cancel out massive money losses is to introduce no-fault insurance.

“But the trial lawyers will argue, justifiably, that it’s not as fair to the injured victim. That’s true, but it’s a trade off between what’s fair –if you can ever measure that– and what’s best for the vast majority of people,” he says. “Cut expenses through reducing crashes or you can reduce the amount you pay for crashes or you can increase rates, so they chose to reduce the amount they pay for crashes. That’s why they put this cap of $5500 dollars on for pain and suffering for minor injuries.”

He says other provinces including Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have cheaper rates that B.C. because they have no-fault insurance.