Richard Truscott is the Vice-President, B.C. and Alberta, Canadian Federation of Independent Business (Submitted).

COLUMN: ICBC is not just broke, it’s broken

Richard Truscott is B.C. and Alberta vice-president at Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Anyone who runs a business understands that consumers wield tremendous power.

Competition drives the creation of new efficiencies and innovations that enable companies to deliver the best product at the best possible price. Businesses that fail to adapt and change rarely survive.

However, ICBC’s 40-year monopoly on car insurance is a clear exception to this rule. It’s in a financial black hole. As its finances have plummeted, its bureaucracy has grown so much that it now employs twice as many staff as any other Canadian insurer its size.

It’s well documented that the corporation is a financial disaster. While many solutions are being put forward, ICBC’s preferred response is always the same: higher prices or worse benefits. With no competition, there is no pressure to take a hard look at its own operations to find efficiencies and savings. Rather, it continues to push big rate increases on customers as a “solution.”

This year, its basic insurance rates are going up 6.3 per cent. Since 2012, basic insurance premiums have grown a staggering 54 per cent while pleas from British Columbians for other options have been ignored.

Instead of bold leadership, we’re seeing Band-Aid solutions that will result in customers being gouged in the years ahead. In fact, ICBC’s financial filings call for an additional $1.17 billion in price increases over the next three years.

All this from a government-run insurance company that has lost more than $3 billion in the past three years. ICBC is not just broke, it’s clearly broken.

READ MORE: ICBC in ‘financial dumpster fire,’ minister says

Like many residents, business owners are fed up. A survey of independent businesses in B.C. found 75 per cent want ICBC’s monopoly ended. They want a choice in where to buy car insurance, to shop around for their insurance needs – just like the vast majority of other Canadians.

And why wouldn’t they? The Crown corporation is implementing changes on Sept. 1 that will significantly disadvantage businesses. For instance, over the next 10 years, prices for business vehicles will increase by an additional four per cent on top of all of its other increases.

It will also require every driver who may even occasionally use a vehicle to be listed on the owner’s policy. For small businesses, this may be extremely onerous. Business owners will need to provide ICBC with the driver’s licence number and date of birth of each employee, even if they operate a company car as little as once a month. In addition, 25 per cent of prices will then be based on the worst driver listed, regardless of how little that employee uses the vehicle.

As a cherry on top, the insurer is extending the time it takes to receive the full safe-driving discount from nine years to 40. Put another way, anyone who is 16 years old today will have to wait until they are 56 to receive the full claims-free discount.

ICBC says all of its changes coming next week are “revenue neutral” in the first year. That begs the obvious question: What kind of rate hikes will year two bring?

Businesses cannot afford the ICBC price increases. Or, more simply, they cannot afford the ICBC monopoly. Now, more than ever, it’s time to allow choice in B.C.’s vehicle insurance market.

Richard Truscott is the B.C. and Alberta vice-president at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo woman to compete in new season of ‘Big Brother Canada’

Carol Rosher, a cancer survivor, is one of 16 houseguests appearing on reality TV show

Nanaimo Buccaneers win in overtime in playoff opener

Bucs goalie Austin Dendl makes 46 saves to lead his team to 2-1 win over Campbell River Storm

Banned Nanaimo investment advisor accused of lying under oath to investigators

B.C. Securities Commission to schedule hearing in March

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Opal frustrations creating danger

Traffic-calming on Opal Road has increased driving speeds on Rock City Road, says letter writer

RDN bylaw allows people experiencing homelessness to camp overnight in some parks

Board of directors unanimously passes park use regulations bylaw

VIDEO: Reconciliation is dead: Wet’suwet’en supporters vow to keep protesting at B.C. legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Blockade reroutes traffic on Pat Bay Highway

About 80 people from four major Peninsula First Nations blocking major highway

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Commute in Nanaimo slowed as SUV goes up onto highway barrier, gets stuck

Accident happened at 5 p.m. on old Island Highway and Highland Boulevard

Most Read