Early returns suggest majority of people will pay less under ICBC rate structure change

Click to play video: 'Major ICBC rate changes could lead to savings'
Major ICBC rate changes could lead to savings
WATCH: ICBC is moving to a new rate model that focuses on a driver's history, rather than the vehicle's. As Richard Zussman reports, while many could see savings, others will end up paying much more – Aug 23, 2019

Nearly 15,000 British Columbians have renewed their auto insurance under the new ICBC rate structure, and so far a majority have saved money compared to the old plans.

In figures provided by ICBC Friday, 8,406 people have saved an average of $287 a year under the new plan.

Of those who have renewed so far, 6,483 have had their rates go up an average of $205 a year, the insurer said. Just 62 people pay exactly the same under both systems.

Drivers can renew insurance up to 45 days in advance, and the new rates only apply to those who have insurance expiring after Sept. 1.

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But ICBC is not able to provide an overall assessment of what the changes will mean for all drivers.

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“One of the big changes we want customers to be aware of is that when they receive their renewal reminder in the mail, it is going to look a little bit different than they are used to,” Tyler McGilvery said.

“One of the big changes is it is not going to include a premium quote. It’s not going to have an estimate involved.”

The provincial government unveiled these changes in an attempt to make the new system “more fair.” There are some major changes involved in fulfilling the province’s goal of making good drivers pay less and bad drivers pay more.

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The most crucial change is in listing drivers. A driver’s insurance rate will be based 75 per cent on the primary driver and 25 per cent on the additional drivers listed. Drivers must be listed if they drive the vehicle and live in the same home as the primary driver.

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The changes will also have an impact on businesses that insure fleet vehicles. All employees that drive the vehicle on a regular basis must be listed on the insurance.

“When you list drivers, if they have caused crashes, expect to pay more,” McGilvery said. “[If they] have little experience, expect to pay more.”

The public insurer has also introduced a pair of discounts in connection with the new rate changes. Drivers that put on less than 5,000 kilometres a year can be eligible for a discount. Vehicles that have advanced brake technology will also lead to a discount for the vehicle owner.

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So far, the sample size provided by ICBC is very small and it’s hard to estimate the overall impact.

Former public servant and ICBC expert Rick McCandless says the new system is too extreme.

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“It’s gone too far to the other extreme in penalizing younger and drivers who have had an accident,” McCandless said.

“I think the new model has over-compromised from the model we have. Families with teenage drivers are going to be paying significantly more under the new system just because they are teenage drivers.”

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The drastic changes to the rate structure are not designed to save the company any money. The public insurer lost almost $2.5 billion in the past two years.

The company says the drastic increases came because of increased legal fees, cases of fraud and repair costs.

The B.C. government attempted to stop the loses by setting a cap of $5,500 on pain and suffering claims on so-called soft tissue injuries as of April 1. The cap is supposed to save ICBC $1 billion this fiscal year.

But the rate design will not help with the financial issues.

“It’s not designed to assist ICBC’s bottom line, it’s there to appease those complaining about paying too much for insurance,” McCandless said.

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