ICBC applies for 6.3 percent increase to basic insurance rates for motor vehicles

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      The B.C. government-owned auto insurer wants to jack up rates next year—but not as high as many feared.

      In an application going to the B.C. Utilities Commission today, ICBC will request a 6.3 percent increase in basic insurance.

      It comes as the company is projecting an annual loss of $890 million.

      The biggest factor behind the large deficit is the mounting cost of injury claims, which are up 43 percent over five years.

      Next year, they're expected to reach $3.67 billion.

      The minister responsible for ICBC, Attorney General David Eby, said in a statement that had the government not taken steps to control costs, the public would have faced a rate hike of almost 40 percent.

      "What's worse is that these repeated increases could have been prevented," Eby claimed. "The previous government was presented with clear solutions to ICBC's financial crisis and warned that if it did not act, drivers would suffer the consequences. They not only ignored the warning, they hid the solutions from the public."

      ICBC is limiting awards for pain and suffering for minor injuries.

      It's also introducing a new dispute-resolution model to contain legal costs.

      "The changes being made at ICBC today are arguably the most substantial in the corporation's long history and to the auto insurance industry as a whole in this province," ICBC president and CEO Nicolas Jimenez said in a statement.

      Last year, ICBC also announced that it wanted to jack up vehicle-insurance rates to newcomers to the province. It would apply to people in their first three years in B.C.

      The justification was that people from other countries and other provinces "represent a higher risk for the first years of driving in a new jurisdiction due to changes in landscape and environmental factors".