ICBC loses $860 million in first nine months of fiscal year

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      It's looking like another dreadful financial year for B.C.'s public auto insurer.

      ICBC has reported an $860-million loss through the first nine months of the current fiscal year, which ends on March 31.

      The Crown corporation is forecasting a year-end net loss of $1.18 billion.

      The minister responsible for ICBC, Attorney General David Eby, said in a statement that these losses are "unsustainable and unacceptable".

      "They are especially frustrating given the opportunity British Columbia had to avoid these losses if the upcoming reforms had been implemented years ago when they were first recommended, instead of being buried by the previous government," Eby said.

      Over the previous two fiscal years, ICBC lost more than $2.2 billion.

      A major contributing factor has been rising claim costs, which approached $5 billion in the first three quarters of this year.

      That's up $600 million over the same period last year.

      "The rising cost of litigated injury claims is the single biggest pressure currently being put on ICBC and the insurance rates British Columbians are paying," ICBC said in a statement today. "The average cost of closed litigated injury claims has risen by 20 per cent from $101,920 in 2017 to $121,826 in 2018."

      ICBC noted that a recent study of randomly selected injury files in excess of $100,000 shows that plaintiffs' lawyers retained, on average, more than six medical experts per file.

      The 39-page report, which was created by the Ministry of Attorney General's legal services branch, suggested reducing the limitation period for filing motor-vehicle claims in court to 18 months.

      Currently, plaintiffs have up to two years to file a lawsuit.