ICBC move to discriminatory rates first step in dismantling of public auto insurance

July 4, 2003

(Vancouver) The announcement earlier this week by the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) that it intends to increase optional insurance premiums for young and old drivers, and for those living in higher-theft neighbourhoods, is a step towards dismantling public auto insurance in BC.

"The provincial government has decided to allow ICBC to practice discriminatory rating just as the big, private multinational insurance companies do," says John Young, author of a CCPA study published in 2001 called Down the Road: The implications of 'full competition' for public auto insurance in BC. "While this move will only apply to optional insurance for the time being, it would not be surprising if this is just the first step in jettisoning the fundamental principles underlying public auto insurance."

This policy shift would undermine a core rationale for public auto insurance, namely that people are not discriminated against based on their age or where they live, and that the cost of auto insurance is smoothed out over the course of a driver's life.

"At a time when Conservative governments in other parts of the country are belatedly waking up to the strong arguments in favour of public auto insurance, BC's government appears to be heading towards abandoning a public system that has served British Columbians extremely well."