Victoria, British Columbia — As the British Columbian government pushes on with changes designed to rein in injury costs against ICBC, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that attorney general David Eby acted outside his authority when he imposed restrictions on the number of medical expert reports that can be used in auto insurance court claims.
Back in February, B.C. attorney general Eby announced an attempt to impose a limit on the number of medical experts that can testify in personal injury claims in an effort to curb the ongoing financial bleeding at the ICBC. On Oct. 24, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia slapped down Eby’s efforts, calling them unconstitutional.
The ruling could be a hurdle for the provincial government, as the change was heralded as a way to save the ICBC more than $400 million a year.
When asked whether an appeal will be filed, Eby told a local news source that the government has yet to decide what direction it will go.
“We have 30 days to make a decision about that,” he said. “It’s a very significant decision for us. It amounts to about a $400 million one-time hit to the bottom line for government.”
The ICBC reported a net loss of $1.3 billion for its 2017/2018 fiscal year. In February, it reported a net loss of $860 million for the first nine months of its fiscal year.
On top of that, B.C. drivers pay the highest premiums in the north— the average person pays more than $1,800 for auto insurance each year.
But, according to Eby, change is forthcoming. He confirmed that British Columbians will soon be able to renew their auto insurance via the web—the question is when.
“We will be looking at and introducing online renewals for people,” Eby said at a legislature in Victoria, B.C. last Tuesday. “It just hasn’t been the priority given the state of the ICBC.”
He maintains that the priority is reducing the ICBC’s financial losses.
Many of the attorney general’s suggested changes are facing opposition. Trial lawyers launched a challenge to Eby’s move to impose a $5,500 cap on “pain and suffering” awards in vehicle accidents, as well as on moving injury claims below $50,000 to a civil resolution tribunal rather than a court.
Regardless, Eby maintained that the ICBC’s finances are stable and it is projecting a breakeven year.
“We have had some setbacks, there’s no question, but there have been some really positive changes as well,” he said. “ICBC’s finances are stable for the first time in many years, without the government artificially monkeying with the rates so that ICBC does not get enough money and continues to lose money. For the first time, instead of losing a billion dollars, it is actually projecting a break-even year.”