ICBC’s new premium reform push won’t touch speeders

Auto insurer tries again to shift costs to high-risk drivers

ICBC is taking another run at reforming its premium system to punish high-risk drivers and reward safer ones, but this time it won’t take aim at speeders.

The move comes one year after Justice Minister Shirley Bond shot down a first attempt as ill-considered, particularly a proposal that just one speeding ticket trigger higher auto insurance premiums for three years.

“We heard loud and clear last year that people were uncomfortable with some of the proposals being put forward,” said Steve Crombie, ICBC vice-president of corporate communications. “The single speeding ticket option is off the table.”

This time the public auto insurer isn’t spelling out any preferred scenario, but will sample public opinion on a series of options at province-wide open houses and online consultations.

The main goal remains the same: adjust basic insurance premiums based on the driver’s history of at-fault crashes rather than just the claims against the vehicle.

The result would be a revenue-neutral shift of insurance costs onto anyone who repeatedly crashes.

ICBC says two thirds of drivers would pay even less insurance than they already do, while one third would pay significantly more.

It suggests typical low- to medium-risk drivers who are either crash-free or perhaps have just one crash over the past decade might see their basic insurance rates drop from $825 to $675, while a high-risk driver who enjoys a hefty discount despite multiple crashes may see their cost rise from $875 to $1,250.

“This is a redistribution of existing premiums,” Crombie said. “We’re hoping people look at this and agree it’s a common sense approach.”

The exact impact on drivers will depend on what ICBC proposes after collecting public feedback.

Key questions to be decided include how far back ICBC should go in counting past crashes against a driver (five, 10 or 15 years); whether more recent crashes should get more weight than older ones; and whether there should be one free crash earned (or else an added discount in lieu) after 10 years safe driving.

ICBC also wants to know whether the public supports using drivers’ crash history before the anticipated 2014 implementation of the new system – resulting in a sudden shift in premiums then – or if there should be a phase in.

It’s also asking if convictions for impaired driving, street racing convictions or excessive speeding should also be factored in to the higher premiums based on risk.

So far ICBC has no specific proposal to change the existing system of penalty points and Driver Risk Premiums for speeding and other violations.

Drivers who rack up lots of regular speeding tickets but avoid crashes would not notice any difference under the new proposals.

Officials say the changes aim to correct unfair aspects of the existing insurance system, under which 80 per cent of drivers qualify for the maximum safe driving discount.

A driver with a long-claims free history now can get into three crashes without losing their maximum 43 per cent premium discount.

A high-risk driver can also crash a friend’s or relative’s car without affecting their own insurance.

Similarly, a driver with two cars who has multiple crashes on one of them wouldn’t pay higher premiums on the other car that was claim-free.

Open houses are set for Vancouver May 22, Kamloops May 23, Kelowna May 24, Prince George May 29, Fort St. John May 30, Surrey May 31, Richmond June 5, Abbotsford June 6, Prince Rupert June 12, Victoria June 13, Nanaimo June 14 and Cranbrook June 19. For meeting dates and locations and more information see publicengagement.icbc.com.

Public comment is also accepted on line until June 22.

After the results are in, Crombie said ICBC will discuss its findings with the government and then table a proposal to the B.C. Utilities Commission, likely by the end of 2013.

 

Discussion Guide – May 2012