ICBC to ask for 5.2 per cent increase to basic insurance rates: about $3 extra per month

ON Friday, August 29, ICBC says it will file a basic insurance rate application with the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) asking for a 5.2 per cent increase to basic insurance rates. If the new application is approved this will mean, on average, approximately $3 extra per month for customers.

The ICBC claims that the need for the change is due to ongoing pressure from increasing injury claims costs, which cover payouts for pain and suffering, future care and loss of wages. ICBC’s bodily injury claims totalled $1.9 billion in 2013 alone – up by $73 million from 2012 and by more than $500 million from just five years ago. The rising number and cost of injury claims is commonly the biggest single factor driving rates for all auto insurers across North America and beyond.

There are various factors contributing to the increasing number of injury claims, including the rapid adoption and use of personal electronic devices behind the wheel. Distracted driving is now the second leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C., with an average of 88 people killed each year, and the leading cause of rear-end crashes which often result in injuries. ICBC, along with government and police, will be launching a new campaign to educate drivers on this issue in September.

There are also various factors contributing to the increasing cost of injury claims that ICBC says it pays out, including higher legal and medical costs.

The basic insurance rate application will ask BCUC to approve the increase effective November 1 on an interim basis while it reviews the full application.

The proposed 5.2 per cent increase will be in addition to a deferred 0.3 per cent increase directed by the BCUC in last year’s rate decision.

In 2013, ICBC applied for a 4.9 per cent increase to basic insurance rates but the final decision from the BCUC approved a 5.2 per cent increase. Their direction was to defer the additional 0.3 per cent into 2014 basic rates.