Dairn Shane was interviewed on CBC radio this week about ICBC’s current economic difficulties. You can read the article and listen to the interview here.
There has been much talk recently about ICBC’s financial future, including talk of increasing insurance premiums. ICBC`s financial difficulties are a result of numerous factors, including an increase in accidents related to distracted driving, the government siphoning $1.2 billion in profits from ICBC since 2010, and ICBC’s aggressive and litigious approach to handling claims.
In recent years, ICBC has taken a more aggressive approach to personal injury claims, which has led more people to need lawyers in order to receive fair compensation. It has also meant that ICBC pays out more in legal costs, both in hiring their own lawyers and in paying the legal costs of injured people who need to fight for fair compensation.
One option being pushed by the insurance industry is to simply take away or curtail car accident victims` rights, an approach that is hard on victims and soft on offenders. Ontario took this approach over two decades ago and it has been disastrous for accident victims and has still left Ontario with the highest insurance premiums in the country.
This is not the first time ICBC’s finances have been in the news or that people have called for drastic measures. In the 1990s, British Columbians heard similar rumblings about ICBC’s dire financial circumstances with a push to remove accident victims rights in order to save on insurance premiums. Fortunately, that campaign failed and ICBC went on to have many profitable years.
Taking away British Columbians’ rights, especially the rights of disabled or injured people, should never be an option. The focus should instead be on reducing the amount of people hurt on BC roads and reducing the cost of connecting people hurt by someone else’s negligence with fair compensation.
Fortunately, the new NDP government is implementing approaches to curb distracted driving and ICBC appears to be slowly changing their culture to be easier on accident victims, two important steps in the right direction. We encourage everyone to speak with their MLAs about the importance of reducing premiums while preserving victims’ rights and reducing accidents on our roads.