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

COVID-inspired RV sales soaring on West Shore and beyond

Health restrictions, recommendations keep Vancouver Island vacationers closer to home

New development will pay homage to fallen World War One pilot

1015 Cook St. will become 28 market rental homes with mural

PHOTOS: Families, spectators wave goodbye to Navy Task Force from Victoria shorelines

HCMS Winnipeg and HCMS Regina sailing to Hawaiian training exercise, further deployments

Saanich Peninsula business leader calls for education campaign on social distancing

Chamber boss Denny Warner says Sidney demographics make consistent safety protocols necessary

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

Cowichan RCMP use spike belts to end car chase — man in custody

The driver was arrested at the scene a short distance from his vehicle

Island youth starts virtual race against racism

Cailyn Collins says people can take part in the cause from anywhere

COVID-19 tests come back negative for remote First Nation

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Most Read