BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson on Tuesday renewed calls for choice in the auto insurance sector following the release of a new report that says British Columbians pay up to 42 per cent more for car insurance compared to drivers in Alberta.
“British Columbians are fed up with ICBC. We are paying the highest car insurance premiums in the country in the middle of an affordability crisis,” said Wilkinson. “ICBC is no longer working for people and I’m a lot less worried about ICBC and more concerned with British Columbians being able to afford auto insurance.”
The analysis of insurance rates done by MNP, one of the country’s largest accounting firms, concluded that British Columbia and Alberta have similar insurance coverage and systems with the exception of Alberta allowing choice and free-market competition. A young driver commuting less than 15 kilometres to and from university in a 2008 Honda Civic would pay $828 less in Alberta than British Columbia for the same coverage.
“The reason we don’t have choice in auto insurance is because the NDP has a love affair with government control, they think they know what’s best for British Columbians,” added Wilkinson. “David Eby and John Horgan need to start treating the people of this province with respect. Let’s get an apples-to-apples comparison of the best insurance quotes for B.C drivers and let’s pick the ones that provide the best rates that work for British Columbians.”
B.C. motorists have seen the average ICBC premium go up a whopping 18.2 per cent under the NDP, and ICBC projects a 24 per cent increase in premium prices over the next three years.
WHAT THE NDP SAYS
THE NDP says that Wilkinson won’t tell you that his plan to privatize car insurance could result in double digit rate increases.
The Alberta Conservative government recently removed a rate cap implemented by Alberta’s NDP government, allowing rates to skyrocket up to 30 per cent.
On Tuesday, the Insurance Bureau of Canada released a report comparing the cost of car insurance for B.C. and Alberta that doesn’t factor in double digit increases that were approved earlier this month.
The authors admit in a footnote on Page 12 of the report that “the impact of the removal of the cap may not be reflected in the premiums used for the comparisons.”
With double digit rate hikes for Alberta drivers and likely more on the way in future years, Alberta is on a path towards Ontario’s private system, which has “the highest insurance rates in the country,” according to Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips.
Ontario drivers were recently shocked with rate increases by private insurers – in the case of one Brampton family, a 62.5% hike.
In fact, Wilkinson’s own BC Liberal government found in a 2002 review that if ICBC was opened up to competition, “rates would increase,” leading to “significant rate shock for a number of customers.” (ICBC Core Review Recommendations, 2002)
But Wilkinson and the BC Liberals owe a lot to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which donated $183,210 to the BC Liberal Party, including $5,000 directly to Wilkinson’s leadership bid.
The BC NDP government is working to repair the damage done to ICBC after Wilkinson’s government buried and ignored recommendations in a 2014 Ernst & Young report that could have kept rates lower for people.