ICBC and B.C. Attorney General call IBC’s auto insurance data misleading

Published: March 24, 2019

Updated: April 1, 2019

Author: Luke Jones

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There’s no hiding the fact drivers in British Columbia are paying significantly more for auto insurance that those in Alberta, and the highest rates in Canada. However, the province’s public car insurance provider has said a recent study commissioned by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) to highlight the cost gap is misleading.

This week, private insurance consumer representative, the IBC, released information following an MNP study. It found drivers in B.C. will be paying up to 60% more for the auto insurance than motorists in Alberta after April 1.

The report highlighted both provinces will offer similar protection, but despite Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) cost-cutting measures, drivers in B.C. will continue to pay over the odds.

British Columbia operates a monopoly public auto insurance system through ICBC, while Alberta allows competition from private insurance companies. ICBC is currently losing around $1 billion per year, although the government insists new measures will drive a return to profitability. IBC has long called for private insurers to be available in B.C. to increase competition.

Attorney General David Eby, the overseer of the ICBC, says the figures from the MNP report used by the IBC are misleading. He says private insurers may be available in Alberta, but they have described the province’s auto insurance system as being in “crisis”. In fact, Eby says insurers are refusing coverage to 40 percent of Albertans.

In other words, Eby says the situation in Alberta is just as bad as in B.C., even with private competition:

“I just cannot believe that the private insurers, at the same time they are aggressively lobbying for higher rates in Alberta, pulling business out of Alberta and refusing to provide insurance to Albertans, that they are saying that’s the model they want to bring to British Columbia,” Eby said.

ICBC says private insurers entering the B.C. market would struggle to keep premiums down:

“No private insurer could come into B.C. and offer the rates they offer in Alberta — our system and the cost pressures are very different — and the levels of coverage provided to British Columbians far outweigh those in other provinces,” the corporation said in a statement.

“As of April 1, for example, our medical care benefits will be six times those offered in Alberta, our wage-loss [coverage] will be almost double and our death benefits triple.”