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B.C. says insurance rates to go up by 4.9% as affordability is reviewed

The provincial government has directed the B.C. Utilities Commission to approve the rate for next year for the public auto insurer, but it wants to make sure that in the long term, the rates are in line with inflation.
The provincial government has directed the B.C. Utilities Commission to approve the rate for next year for the public auto insurer, but it wants to make sure that in the long term, the rates are in line with inflation. Bayne Stanley/The Canadian Press

ICBC’s rate increase for basic insurance has been approved.

Drivers will see a 4.9 per cent rate increase starting next year.

The provincial government has directed the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) to approve the rate for next year for the public auto insurer, but says it also wants to ensure long-term rates are in line with inflation.

Transport Minister Todd Stone told reporters in a conference call that he acknowledges an increase of nearly five per cent year-over-year is not affordable for most families.

“I’ve heard the message loud and clear that people are worried about the increasing cost of living,” he said.

The government also announced a third-party review aimed at keeping auto insurance affordable.

Stone said the review will look at the entire spectrum of the insurer’s operations to come up with as many solutions as possible for reducing cost pressures.

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“We can’t keep doing things the same way and expect a different outcome, so we’re prepared to change,” Stone said.

The minister said the government does not intend to move to a privatized model of insurance through this review.

“The Liberals did this before the last election four years ago,” opposition critic Adrian Dix said. “They did a review before the election and after the election they raised rates by 30 per cent. Everybody is paying those. They were exposed a couple of weeks ago. Their plans to increase rates 42 per cent after the 2017 election were exposed.

“What did they do today? Another review and they shut down the BCUC review that forced them to tell the truth about future rate increases.”

– With files from The Canadian Press