In November 2017, David Eby, British Columbia’s Attorney General and Member-of-Cabinet responsible for overseeing the Insurance Company of British Columbia estimator, encouraged an investigation into allegations that the crown insurer was being defrauded hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars by repair facilities.
While the claims were quickly debunked by both ICBC executives and the BC ARA, the province did announce they would be hiring an additional 60 estimators to investigate facilities in the north of the province.
As his government’s efforts to solve the ICBC’s financial crisis, however, honed in on the need to cut down on legal expenditures and minor injury claims, Eby began to back off on his criticisms of repairers.
Just when B.C.'s collision community thought it was safe to get back in the water, the Attorney General is yet again casting doubt about the integrity of the province's repair community-as-a-whole.
Toronto, Ontario -- April 12, 2019 -- Last week, a CTV report uncovered that the Insurance Company of British Columbia had been somewhat economical with the truth regarding the reasons it had dismissed a number of estimators almost seven years ago.
In 2012, an internal investigation at the Insurance Company of British Columbia found that some of the crown corporations employees had received gifts from the owners of the bodyshops they had overseen. The investigators concluded that, in exchange for gift cards, alcohol and travel opportunities, the estimators had funneled business to the bodyshops and not conducted their estimations with the usual due diligence expected of them.
As a result, the estimators involved were fired and the bodyshops had their ICBC accreditation revoked. Rather than release the full details of the incident, the ICBC had explained the firings as being the result of the estimator's failure to perform their duties with the due diligence expected of them.
The decision to not release all the gory details of their investigation was, in my mind, the right one to have been made.
For one thing, the parties involved in the brazen—and clearly ill-considered—scheme had already been punished. Any publicity given to the brazen band would certainly reflect badly on the innocent—the vast majority of honest repairers and estimators, none of whom had been involved.
For another, it wasn't as if the insurer was seriously vulnerable to this sort of scheme. Even if it had not been so wildly audacious, the crown corporation makes use of the same checks and balances trusted by insurance companies across the globe. Unless corruption is systemic within an organization, this sort of crime can be reliably counted on to crumble, and crumble quickly.
Much to the embattled insurer's credit, ICBC declined to comment on the story when approached by CTV. Likewise, the union representing ICBC workers refused to answer questions on the matter, citing the confidential nature of the information in the inquiry.
Eby, however, was happy to indulge the reporters. As the provincial cabinet responsible for overseeing the ICBC, he was quick to turn the revelations to his political advantage.
"We’ll be reviewing the decisions that were made in that time period when the previous government was in charge," Eby said—though he didn't leave it there.
He went on to talk about how the ICBC had to be eternally vigilant about fraudulent repair bills and said that an increase in the number of estimators performing visual checks of repairs performed would help to deter fraud.
“My concern is that people have confidence in ICBC,” he said.
I just wish Eby would have some confidence in the ICBC. If he did, he might start believing the company's public statements debunking these claims of widespread fraud.
I guess we both lose.