THE Government of British Columbia is introducing changes to legislation aimed at reversing ICBC’s skyrocketing legal and administrative costs, and making insurance rates more affordable for B.C. drivers, Attorney General David Eby announced on Monday.
“Today’s legislation is about doing what’s best for B.C. drivers – both in what they pay for insurance and in making sure they get the best coverage if they’re injured,” said Eby. “For years, B.C. drivers have had to pay more and more simply to cover the spiralling legal and administrative costs at ICBC. We can’t right the past – but we can put ICBC back on track to deliver more affordable rates and better coverage for drivers moving forward.”
If approved by the legislature, the amendments to the Insurance (Vehicle) Act (IVA) and the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act (CRTA) will simplify dispute resolution processes for cases under $50,000, allowing them to be resolved in as little as 90 days, where currently these disputes can last two to three years in B.C. Supreme Court.
A limit on pain and suffering damages for minor injuries will allow ICBC to redirect resources to increasing benefits for lost pay and medical rehabilitation for all people injured in accidents.
These changes also establish the framework for the first major improvements in accident benefits in more than 25 years, and will dramatically increase the care available for anyone injured in a crash, regardless of fault. It will introduce a limit of $5,500 on pain and suffering payouts for minor injury claims.
“It is unacceptable, not just that British Columbians faced skyrocketing rates while ICBC lost hundreds of millions of dollars, but also that benefits for injured drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians have been frozen in time for a quarter century,” said Eby. “We are rebalancing where ICBC premium dollars go. We’re shifting the money out of administration, expert reports and court processes, and into driver’s pockets through stable rates and better benefits.”
If approved, the majority of amendments to both acts would become effective April 1, 2019.
* These changes will result in faster resolution of disputes and a reduction in the amount ICBC spends on legal fees and expenses, which have grown to 24% of ICBC’s total annual costs.
* Savings from the amendments and future regulation changes, net of increased accident benefits and implementation costs, are estimated to reduce ICBC’s claims costs by more than $1 billion every year.
* These changes are necessary to help address the massive growth of injury costs in B.C., which have increased 80% between 2009 and 2016, from $1.5 billion to $2.7 billion.