Emergency crews respond to two-vehicle accident on Highway 10 in Surrey, July 31, 2019. (Black Press Media)

B.C. vehicle insurance remains Canada’s costliest, industry group says

ICBC monopoly needs competition, Insurance Bureau of Canada argues

Independent statistics show B.C. drivers will continue to pay the highest average insurance rates in Canada, next year and into the future, the Insurance Bureau of Canada says.

The private industry group cites the latest numbers from the General Insurance Statistical Agency, an average of $1,832 per year. Alberta comes in at $1,316, Saskatchewan at $1,235 and Ontario at $1,505.

“While many important changes are underway in B.C., none are expected to reduce the price most drivers are paying,” said Aaron Sutherland, the bureau’s Pacific region vice president. “With ICBC stating that it will need price increases to raise over $1 billion in the years ahead, now more than ever, the market must be opened to competition and choice to improve the affordability of auto insurance for drivers.”

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The average is calculated by comparing the total premiums collected from passenger vehicles in each province, and dividing by the number of vehicles insured.

ICBC is calculating rates for next year based on a new system that shifts costs to the highest-risk drivers.

Caps on “pain and suffering” payouts and an administrative tribunal for minor injury claims were put into effect in April as accident and legal costs soared in B.C.

ICBC retains a monopoly on basic liability insurance and competes for optional coverage for collision, glass and other coverage. The Crown corporation also operates driver licensing in B.C. and funds police enforcement and safety improvement projects, costs ICBC says are reflected in higher rates.

The Insurance Bureau retained accounting firm MNP to compare B.C. and Alberta vehicle insurance, with this year’s ICBC changes in effect. Their study found that insurance coverage and payouts are similar in the two provinces, except for rates.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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