ICBC finally seems to be heading down the road to a more sustainable claims policy, but one has to question what has allowed the insurance corporation to get so far off course.
ICBC announced last week a change to its at-fault accident claims that would mean drivers who cause two or more crashes in a year will no longer be considered safe drivers. You read that right, the current system allows some drivers to collect the maximum safe-driver discount after causing two or even three crashes.
Critics of the insurance corporation, including this newspaper, have long argued that safe drivers’ insurance premiums were subsidizing the rates for bad drivers. This announcement pretty much confirms that suspicion.
“Drivers who make good driving decisions should pay less than drivers who cause multiple crashes,” said ICBC CEO Mark Blucher. Is this what passes for innovative thinking at ICBC?
The change won’t take effect until May 2018, if it’s approved by the B.C. Utilities Commission. At that point, a driver with 20 years’ experience who causes two collisions would see their discount reduced from 43 per cent to 15.
The change in policy seems to have been spurred on by the relentless winter storms battering the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island. ICBC’s dial-a-claim reports have jumped by 14 per cent this winter, as southern regions have dealt with multiple snow and ice storms. From December to February there were nearly 300,000 claim calls, with volume up 17 per cent in February compared to a year before.
It’s almost unimaginable that it would take a massive increase in claims for ICBC to come to the realization that perhaps drivers causing multiple crashes should pay more than drivers who don’t.
It’s been hard to find someone outside a ski hill to have a kind word to say about this winter’s weather. But if that’s what it takes to bring some understanding of the cold, hard reality to ICBC, there might be a silver lining to the storm clouds that have been battering B.C. this winter.