The select standing committee on provincial finance and government services held a public forum in Kelowna on Thursday to listen to public input about spending priorities for the 2019-20 provincial budget. Photo: Black Press/Barry Gerding

Climate change blamed for $1 billion annual B.C. property damage losses

Insurance Bureau calls for changes to revamp B.C. marketplace

ICBC’s monopoly on B.C.’s vehicle insurance market and impact of climate change were the focus of a submission by the Insurance Bureau of Canada before the provincial select standing committee on finance and government services on Thursday in Kelowna.

Aaron Sutherland, vice-president of the Insurance Bureau’s Pacific region, said B.C. residents are both paying excessively high rates for vehicle insurance compared to other provinces, and are incurring huge damage costs related to floods and wildfires initiated by weather pattern changes.

“With climate change, we see warmer winters and hot and dry summers in B.C. The last two years we have seen record flooding and wildfires,” Sutherland said.

“Since 2009, property damage losses have been at or above $1 billion across B.C.”

Sutherland said since the insurance industry assumes the cost for much of that damage, he called on the province to invest more money in infrastructure protection measures against flooding.

“We have seen some steps taken in that direction but we need to go a lot further,” Sutherland said.

He also raised concerns about the potential damage if a long-predicted major earthquake strikes B.C., saying only about 45 per cent of provincial residents have earthquake insurance.

“Of that 45 per cent, it increases to 60 per cent just within the Vancouver market and 70 per cent on Vancouver Island. But overall, that leaves close to one-half of the market who will need assistance if an earthquake occurs and that is a concern,” he noted, saying the government will be called on to help off-set the damage costs.

“So continuing public awareness is key and educating people to be prepared.”

Sutherland was one of a more than 20 organizations given a five-minute opportunity to make their pitch about what the provincial government priorities should be in the 2019-20 budget.

The select standing committee is chaired by Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith and includes among its six MLAs Liberal Dan Ashton of Penticton.

Similar meetings are being held by the committee across the province, with a final report submitted to the legislature in November.

Many of the speakers focused on the issues of post-secondary education, health, and youth and family services.

Sutherland’s argument about ICBC centred around a Crown agency monopoly shutting out the private insurance marketplace from competition, which has made it slow to react to changing marketplace conditions and rising operating deficits.

“Some reforms are coming for ICBC but none of them address the issue of the affordability challenge for drivers facing escalating insurance rates. Double digit increases are coming in the years ahead,” he said.

And he said the B.C. bad drivers argument doesn’t hold water, noting that in Alberta there are more accidents per capita but basic insurance rates are more than $400 cheaper.

He said ICBC is losing money despite having a monopoly because of operating inefficiencies and a lack of innovation in the marketplace, demands that private insurers respond to quicker to remain in business.

“A bad system is failing and it’s time to look outside for other solutions,” he said.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Market Days return Sept. 21

Street festival will once again take over downtown Cloverdale

International South Asian expo pitched for Surrey’s Bear Creek Park

Mayor Doug McCallum says the idea ‘shows a lot of promise’

White Rock council declares disapproval of ride-hailing rules

City to submit resolution to UBCM, send letter to B.C. Passenger Transportation Board

Celebration of life set for Ray Gemmill

Veteran horseman passed away July 31

Guilty plea in Lower Mainland break-and-enter spree

Gordon Vincent Gladstone, 42, was charged with 12 counts relating to a dozen incidents in late 2018

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

Vancouver police officer hit with bear spray mid-arrest

Officer had been trying to arrest a woman wanted province-wide

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

B.C. communities urged to improve access for disabled people

One in four B.C. residents has disability, most want to work

UVic students killed in Bamfield bus crash were from Winnipeg, Iowa City

Authorities said the two victims were a man and a woman, both aged 18

Most Read