The B.C. government has launched a major overhaul to how much British Columbians pay for basic car insurance.
Attorney General David Eby unveiled the new rate structure that will “more fairly and accurately reflect the risk they represent on the roads.”
WATCH: Immediate changes coming to ICBC rates in September
“We want to modernize ICBC so that British Columbians pay according to their crash history, driving records and level of risk, and take responsibility for their driving habits. It’s only fair,” said Eby.
“Right now, the system is broken. A driver with no crashes could be paying the same premium as a driver with three at-fault crashes in a year.”
The changes are expected to be revenue neutral. The proposed rate changes must now go to the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) to review the proposal. If the changes are approved, the new rates are expected to phase in starting in September.
WATCH: Impact of ICBC rate changes on young B.C. drivers
The major changes proposed on Thursday include greater rate increases for drivers that are found at-fault in crashes, a move towards a driver-based model and increasing insurance discounts for drivers up to 40 years of driving increases, up from the current nine years of experience limit.
The B.C. government has also announced new discounts available for vehicles with original, manufacturer installed automatic braking technology and for vehicles driven less than 5,000 kilometres per year.
WATCH: Will good drivers see a decrease in ICBC rates?
If the BCUC approves the changes it could mean a lower rate for an estimated two-thirds of ICBC’s customers.
“The changes we are proposing are the most significant updates to how ICBC’s basic insurance premiums are set in more than 30 years,” said ICBC board chair Joy MacPhail.
The provincial government is estimating that 67 per cent of customers would see premiums go down. A bulk of those drivers, 39 per cent of all drivers, will see rates go down less than $50. As for higher risk drivers, 17 per cent of all drivers will see annual rates go up more than $100.
In April, the provincial government introduced legislation to impose limits on soft-tissue injury payout from vehicle accident claims that could save enough to cover soaring costs that led to the public insurer losing $1.3 billion in the last fiscal year. The cap on soft-tissue injuries and a shift towards shifting ICBC claims from B.C. Supreme Court to the Civil Resolution Tribunal should save ICBC around $1.3 billion. The legislation moves ICBC claim cases of under $50,000 to the tribunal, with a target of resolution in as few as 90 days.
Overall rates are also expected to go up, with the 2019 basic rate being approved next April. Eby would not rule out potential increases in the double digits, but added Thursday’s announcement was about making things more balanced.
WATCH: Some big changes were announced this afternoon at ICBC by B.C. Attorney General David Eby. Keith Baldrey explains how it will work next year.
“I don’t want to speculate about what the rate is going to be,” said Eby. “We have put the changes in effect to ensure that the rate increases are as low as they could possibly be and also to ensure that two thirds of British Columbians are better off than in other rate increase scenarios.”
The Insurance Bureau of Canada is advocating the B.C. government move away from a monopoly for auto insurance. The organization is applauding the move towards making higher risk drivers pay more but are concerned about the impact on all drivers in terms of long term rate increases.
“What is concerning is where are rates going for all drivers over the long term and the predictions are they are going up,” said Aaron Sutherland, vice president Insurance Bureau of Canada. “If we want to start talking about improving affordability of auto insurance in this province we have to look at ll the options and all the insurance.”
The B.C. Liberals are also supporting a move towards more options, falling just short of calling for full privatization of car insurance in the province. The opposition says the government’s proposal ‘blames B.C. drivers instead of fixing a broken system’.
“The heart of the problem is a structure that is too expensive to operate,” said Liberal critic Mary Polak. “And as a result it will produce pressure on rates, even if you have changed the rates to respond to risk.”
The provincial government has created examples based on the changes proposed today. These are some drivers that would pay more and those that will pay less for basic car insurance. The factors calculated are where the driver lives, who else drives the vehicle, driving history, car usage and other discounts.
Who will pay more
Inexperienced driver with no at-fault crashes: A driver that lives in Richmond, drives for pleasure, has three years of driving experience and has no at-fault crashes. Currently Pays: $1,608. Under proposed changes will pay: $1,706
Family or small-business: A primary driver with 20 years experience, no at-fault crashes, lives in Surrey, drives to work less than 15 kilometres a day and has another experienced driver (20 years) and an inexperienced driver (5 years) with an at-fault crash also driving the vehicle. Currently pays: $1,094. Under the proposed changes will pay: $1,294.
Inexperienced driver with one at-fault crash: A driver with one at-fault crash, lives in Surrey, drives to and from work less than 15 kilometres and is not eligible for discounts. Currently pays: $1,439. Under proposed changes will pay: $1,755
Experienced driver with one at-fault crash: A driver with two at-fault crashes, one waived, lives in Fort St. John, drives for pleasure and is not eligible for discounts. Currently pays: $704. Under proposed changes will pay: $811
Inexperienced driver with two at-fault crashes: A driver with two at-fault crashes, lives in Kelowna, drives to and from work less than 15 kilometres a day and is not eligible for discounts. Currently pays: $799. Under the proposed changes with crashes will pay: $947
Who will pay less
Experienced driver with no at-fault crashes: A driver that lives in Whistler with 25 years of driving experience that drives for pleasure and has no at-fault crashes will see rates go down substantially. Currently Pays: $960. Under proposed changes will pay: $803
Experienced driver with no at-fault crashes that drives to work: A driver that lives in Williams Lake with 40 years of driving experience that drives to and from work over 15 kilometres. Currently Pays: $902. Under proposed changes will pay: $815
Senior driver with one waived at-fault crash: A driver with 50 years experience, with one waived at-fault crash, lives in Campbell River, drives for pleasure and has senior discount. Currently Pays: $617. Under proposed changes will pay: $585