ICBC situation deemed a 'financial dumpster fire'

A recent four-automobile fender bender in Surrey

John Rice, co-chair of the Trial Lawyers Association of BC's ICBC committee, told CBC News that he does not trust the numbers the insurer published.

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is projected to post a $1.3 billion operating loss at the end of this fiscal year.

Eby blamed the previous Liberal government, saying successive administrations milked the Crown corporation for more than $1 billion and then rejected and eliminated recommendations made three years ago that would have restored ICBC's financial footing.

British Columbia is unique in Canada with its full tort system, where those who are injured have the right to sue for all damages in court without any legislated cap on payments.

The insurer says the loss "is further evidence of the growing financial pressures we are under from the rapid increase in the number of crashes occurring across B.C., the surge in claims and the massive growth in the costs of those claims".

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He promised "major reforms in the coming weeks" but acknowledged it would not be "an easy path" and said that if it had been, the previous government would not have been removing pages out of previous reports recommending changes to ICBC. He noted that an Ernst & Young report with recommendations for fiscal remedies has been on Mr. Eby's desk for seven months.

Eby said the government is now not considering going to a no fault insurance system but did say that a cap on minor injury claims, something he acknowledged might not be a popular decision, and pledged to keep rates affordable. "The longer a claim takes to settle, the more expensive it becomes", said ICBC. "David Eby has a blueprint for moving forward at ICBC but keeps delaying any action and is allowing the problem to grow even worse under his watch".

Asked whether he would rule out privatizing the public insurance corporation, he said ICBC provides many important services to the public, including driver licensing, and Ontario's privatized regime has not delivered lower costs to ratepayers.

Eby said the situation at ICBC would have "implications" for the provincial budget, but he referred questions to Finance Minister Carole James, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment. "It's our intention to get management under control at ICBC".

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