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Questions raised over lack of driver rebate as ICBC reports $329.5M in pandemic savings

Attorney General David Eby says law now requires any surplus to benefit drivers

An association representing private insurers across the country is taking aim at ICBC, calling foul over a lack of rebates for B.C. drivers despite recently reported financial savings amid the ongoing pandemic.

Between April and June, when the pandemic forced people to stay indoors, businesses to shut down and employees to work from home, the Crown insurance corporation saw a 37 per cent reduction in claims compared to the same period in 2019, according to financial reports released earlier this week.

That amounts to roughly $329.5 million in financial savings in claim costs.

But despite the savings – within a corporation which has been dubbed by B.C.’s current Attorney General as a “dumpster fire” hemorrhaging millions of dollars – the province has not announced any intention to offer financial relief to drivers anytime soon.

In a statement Friday (Sept. 11), the Insurance Bureau of Canada said that ICBC’s refusal to return COVID-19 savings to its customers stands in stark contrast to private insurers, which across the country have returned an average of $280 per eligible driver.

“Rather than supporting British Columbians in their time of need, ICBC is balancing its books on the backs of drivers in this province,” said Aaron Sutherland, association vice-president.

ALSO READ: ICBC surpluses should be hands-off to politicians, David Eby says

“Just next door in Alberta, eligible drivers have received an average of $302 in premium relief in recognition of the fact that claims are down and consumers deserve a share of those savings.”

Earlier this week, the NDP government was called out by the B.C. Liberals over unrelated rebate cheques set to be in drivers’ pockets late next year – possibly falling in line with the next scheduled provincial election in October 2021.

That rebate, announced in months past, is part of the government’s shift to a no-fault auto insurance model which officials say will save the public insurance corporation in the years to come with drivers in B.C. seeing some of the lowest rates and best benefits in the country.

In a statement emailed to Black Press Media Friday afternoon, Attorney General David Eby said after billions of dollars in losses, the province is requiring ICBC to be fiscally prudent through the current year before issuing any rebates.

“If ICBC does end up with a surplus as a result of the pandemic, combined with money saving reforms we have already implemented, we have passed a law requiring that surplus must be used to benefit drivers,” he said. “It could be through a rebate, a capital build that helps keep future rates low, or some combination of the two.”

He also cautioned British Columbians to consider the source of the criticism.

“This private insurance industry lobby group that says they’ll do a good job on car insurance in our province by theoretically providing rebates is the same lobby group that is trying to explain to British Columbians why strata insurance rates in our fully private market are climbing by 30 per cent and more with no accountability.”

ALSO READ: ICBC begins catching up on thousands of road tests


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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