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Should BC’s provincial insurer be privatized?

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By Jeff Sanford

Victoria, British Columbia — September 7, 2015 — The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) has announced that it could boost premiums for car insurance by 6.7 percent this year. This is the maximum amount allowed under current legislation.

Current Transportation Minister Todd Stone said he doesn’t believe his own government agency should be doing what it’s doing: “We believe that is not acceptable, and that the rates can and should be lower than that,” Stone was quoted as saying. “We’ve said to ICBC 6.7 percent is too high . . . it is not what British Columbians would deem as reasonable.”

ICBC suggested the need for more cash is a result of a rise in claims for soft tissue injuries as well as more fraudulent claims. The organization stated injury claims increased by 10 per cent between July 2014 and June 2015. The number of crashes stayed relatively stable—and cars have become safer to drive (according to one media report)—but the costs of injury claims registered with ICBC came in above $2 billion for the first time in 2015. That number is expected to hit $2.3 billion in 2015.

ICBC announced it started 3,200 injury-claim fraud investigations in 2014. This is the most in ICBC’s history. To detect potential scams ICBC expanded its investigations unit. More employees are looking at social media sites to find links between “a person claiming to be injured in an accident and the person driving the other car.”

Stone denied the uptick in injuries has anything to do with the recent increase in speed limits on B.C. highways.

Not surprisingly, a recent poll conducted by B.C. web-firm Castanet found “a lot of people are fed up with British Columbia’s car insurance provider.” When asked whether ICBC should be privatized a vast majority of the 4,344 who responded said “yes” (3,182). Only 1,162 said “no.”

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