B.C. drivers are set to cash in due to a drop in crashes on the province’s roads.
ICBC customers will receive a one-time rebate averaging $190 this spring, the government said Tuesday. Drivers will receive a cheque for each policy, which is expected to arrive in March.
The province has determined ICBC saved $600 million due to a major decrease in crashes and costs linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Drivers do not have to apply for the benefit. It will be based on policies from April to September 2020. If drivers cancelled insurance or changed a policy during that time, their rebate will be impacted by that.
“Rather than being in the red, ICBC is a favourable financial situation,” Premier John Horgan said Tuesday.
“Our work to make life more affordable for British Columbians includes fulfilling our commitment to take earnings at ICBC that are related to the pandemic and give that money back to people.”
Other than Saskatchewan, British Columbia is the only jurisdiction where drivers have not yet received a COVID-related rebate.
Tho overall financials at ICBC were partly offset by lower premium revenue due to lapsed and cancelled insurance policies.
“As people’s driving behaviours changed during the pandemic, including staying close to home and off the roads, ICBC’s savings grew,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said.
“After assessing the full benefit of pandemic-related savings against ICBC’s bottom line, we are now set to deliver a significant rebate to millions of B.C. drivers.”
There will be some exceptions on the rebate including customers with short-term, storage or distance-based policies, whose premiums already reflect lower usage.
The basic insurance portion of the rebate is subject to approval by the B.C. Utilities Commission.
The rebate is approximately 19 per cent of the premium customers paid for coverage during the six-month period. There are 2.86 million eligible customers with an active policy between April 1 and Sept. 30, 2020.
The insurer lost more than $2 billion from the start of 2018 to the end of 2019, the government said.
The province last provided numbers showing the impact of the pandemic directly on ICBC in May. At that time, the province was not ready to provide a rebate, even though crashes had been down substantially.
The public insurer’s finances have been described as incredibly volatile because of lower crash rates paired with a loss in investments and a large number of insurance cancellations. But many of those policy cancellations were re-purchased and the investments have largely bounced back.
According to the May report released by the province, 103,700 British Columbians have cancelled their ICBC policies since the start of the pandemic. The province recently waived cancellation and re-plating fees.
Lowering the insurance rate class was also popular, with 57,561 ICBC customers doing that since the beginning of the pandemic.
In May, ICBC announced it had opened 46 per cent fewer claims compared to the same time last year, with an average weekly reduction of 7,200 claims. The drop amounted to approximately $158 million in savings at the time, according to the insurer.
This one-time rebate is separate from the Enhanced Care refunds customers will start to receive in May 2021.