B.C. Attorney General David Eby is responsible for ICBC. (Spencer Chandra-Herbert/Twitter)

ICBC willing to loosen grip on driver claim data, David Eby says

Private insurers say claims record monopoly keeps them out

As B.C. drivers face the new reality of risk-based insurance rates for their vehicles, and the higher rates that often go with it, private insurance companies are renewing their call for the Insurance Corp. of B.C. to loosen its hold on driver and accident records to allow more competition.

ICBC faces few competitors for optional insurance, covering collision and other risks beyond required basic liability insurance, said Aaron Sutherland, vice-president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada. The key reason is that ICBC won’t share its claims data directly with competitors, as happens in other provinces, he said.

Sutherland was responding to Attorney General David Eby’s challenge, reported by Black Press Media last week, that private insurers should step up with better deals for new drivers who are facing big increases in optional insurance coverage.

“In B.C., ICBC holds that driving record and they won’t share it,” Sutherland said in an interview. “They know that if other insurers could get access to this, they could better price. You would have more insurers coming to B.C., and you would start to see ICBC’s market share get whittled away.”

RELATED: New drivers pay most for optional coverage, Eby says

RELATED: Premer Horgan regrets big ICBC increases for young people

Eby said Tuesday he supports the idea of increased competition, as young drivers in particular find their rates going up as much as 12 per cent for basic insurance and in some cases more for optional coverage.

Eby defended ICBC’s current practice of requiring drivers to retrieve their own “driver abstract” or claims history from ICBC’s website, and sharing it with private insurers to get a quote on optional coverage. ICBC allows drivers to get it themselves or enter the e-mail address of a competing insurer so it can go directly there, he said.

Eby said he has no problem with opening driver history up to direct access by private insurers, but there has been no “policy work” done so far to make that change. And he questioned whether making drivers doing their own research is the problem.

“I do believe that private insurers don’t actually find it profitable to compete in B.C. because it’s an expensive place to write insurance,” Eby told Black Press. “If there were money to be made here, writing cheaper insurance for inexperienced drivers, which they keep issuing press releases [saying] is the case, they would be doing it, even if it was a bit of a pain for people to get.”

Eby said if the issue was so pressing for private insurers, they would have brought it up before. Sutherland responded by copying Black Press with a letter he sent to Eby on Sept. 10, 2018. (See letter below.) The letter offers to pay ICBC an administrative fee for direct access to ICBC’s database.

“In other provinces, private insurers pay between approximately $9 and $16.50 for driver abstracts,” the letter states, pitching it as a significant revenue opportunity for ICBC as it grapples with soaring costs and deficits.

Eby said the letter “rings a bell” and suggested he will look further into the situation.

Sutherland said there only two significant private insurance competitors for ICBC because customers don’t walk in to their offices with a copy of their claims record in hand. Few people will actually take the trouble to retrieve it from ICBC and share it with a competitor, he said.

The barrier for competition goes beyond individual driver records, Sutherland said. ICBC also holds the only database for high-accident locations, creating a “statistical plan” for each area where an insurance company might offer coverage.

“Other insurers can’t see that, so they don’t really know the marketplace, or the communities in which they’re going to start selling,” Sutherland said. “And then piling on that, you’ve got customers coming in your door, and you can’t verify their driving record, so you’re basically flying blind.”

IBC to Eby 09102018 by Tom Fletcher on Scribd


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Missing Chilliwack man not seen for eight days

Bruce James Madill last known location was on Paula Crescent on Sept. 16

Rivers could rise rapidly as heavy rains hit Lower Mainland

Larger rivers to reach peak levels on Thursday or into Friday, according to high streamflow advisory

Boulders near Harrison vandalized with derogatory word

Vandalism likely occured between Sunday evening and Tuesday evening

Clothing charity returns to Chilliwack to hand out free goods

Clothes2U will be back at local church to give away clothing, household items, more to those in need

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

UPDATE: Abbotsford high school killer back in court for ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing

Gabriel Klein was previously convicted of stabbing Letisha Reimer to death

Rainfall warning says significant showers forecast for entire region

Rain moving across Howe Sound, The Fraser Valley and northern parts of Metro Vancouver this morning.

‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving:’ Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Most Read