New drivers facing big ICBC insurance bills should shop around for private optional insurance, Attorney General David Eby says.
Eby was asked Thursday about reports of large increases being faced by young drivers since ICBC’s new rate structure took effect in September. He said the largest increase in basic insurance faced by a new driver is 12 per cent, or about $200 per year.
“I’ve heard a lot of concern in particular around young drivers,” Eby told reporters at the B.C. legislature. “Most of the concern focuses on the optional side, which is above and beyond what you need to legally drive in British Columbia – collision insurance, third-party liability. This is an area where the private sector also competes with ICBC.
“One of the things that I’ve suggested is that if the private insurers believe they provide more affordable insurance for British Columbians, especially inexperienced drivers, they should do so.”
Eby said he’s open to rate changes to make insurance more affordable, but the first priority is dealing with billion-dollar annual deficits at the Crown corporation. Capping minor injury awards, diverting smaller disputes from courts to an independent panel and restrictions on expert witnesses have been imposed to slow increasing court costs.
The other big problem for ICBC is rising accident rates, and the province has focused on distracted driving, particularly cell phone use. Intersection cameras in high-accident urban zones have also been overhauled to convert them to speed cameras, generating tickets by mail in addition to their earlier function of ticketing drivers who run red lights.
The changes are designed to bring down rates over time for all drivers, including young drivers, Eby said.