TRANSPORTATION Minister Todd Stone tried to avoid scrutiny in the legislature by hiding information about ICBC’s $110-million blunder, say New Democrats.
“Rather than immediately notifying the public about this mistake – which meant many people were overbilled for years on their auto insurance – Minister Stone hid this information until after he had finished debating his ministry’s budget in the legislature,” said New Democrat ICBC Critic Mable Elmore. “After news broke that ICBC is on the hook for $110 million in billing errors, Minister Stone responded that he was “as angry as I expect British Columbians to be.”
She added: “It’s not good enough for the minister to come out after media broke the story and claim he is angry. We want to know why he hid this important information from the public for more than a month.”
Elmore also noted that the minister served three years on the board of directors at ICBC before he was elected, including in 2013 when the billing error first became known to ICBC.
“Rates are on the rise, with a 4.9 per cent increase last year, and another increase coming this year,” said Elmore.
“Now, ratepayers are being put last again by this minister’s decision to put political damage control ahead of accountability. People deserve better from this minister, and from ICBC.”
ICBC tried to assuage angry customers by issuing a press release stating: “As part of the move to a new computer system for our insurance business, ICBC identified less than five per cent of our optional insurance customers have an incorrect description assigned to their vehicle which impacts what they pay for their optional insurance.
“Based on analysis to date, ICBC estimates on average 1.8 per cent or 40,000 optional insurance customers per year had an incorrect vehicle description which resulted in an overpayment on their optional insurance. The average overpayment per year was $21. ICBC also estimates on average 2.7 per cent or 58,000 optional insurance customers underpaid on their optional insurance per year. The average underpayment per year was $34.”
“We are going to ensure all of our customers who overpaid on their optional insurance over the last six years receive full refunds with interest,” said Mark Blucher, President and CEO. “The modernization of our systems will ensure this doesn’t happen in the future and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused our customers.”
ICBC sais it is working on the five principles outlined by Transportation Minister Todd Stone including:
* the error will not result in higher premiums;
* all overpayments will be repaid with interest;
* customers who were undercharged are not to be billed retroactively;
* the problem will be fixed; and
* the board will appoint an outside auditor to review this issue.
ICBC said it is committed to having this issue resolved within 90 days.
“ICBC’s first responsibility is to our customers,” said Jatinder Rai, Chair of ICBC’s board. “The board and management have been working to identify and resolve this complex issue as a priority.”
Updates to vehicle descriptions will be made in the coming months. New technology will use the vehicle identification number (VIN) provided by the vehicle’s manufacturer to automatically capture the vehicle description (make/model/type). Today, this process is done manually.
ICBC said it is working to update vehicle descriptions for affected customers, including looking back over the last six years to July 1, 2008, to refund customers who paid too much for their optional insurance. Customers who underpaid will not be charged the difference for prior years. ICBC is going as far back as its insurance system is able to accurately recalculate historical premiums for our customers.