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ICBC rate freeze extension condemned

Both Kevin Krueger and Mark Milke are crying foul this week about ICBC's decision to freeze mandatory automobile insurance rates for the sixth consecutive year.

Both Kevin Krueger and Mark Milke are crying foul this week about ICBC's decision to freeze mandatory automobile insurance rates for the sixth consecutive year.<br><br>"Good Interior drivers are basically shouldering the load for the bad Lower Mainland drivers," says Krueger, the Kamloops-North Thompson MLA.<br><br>"If the freeze was lifted, then rates in the Interior would go down. Traditionally it's been Interior and Vancouver Island drivers have been losing out because of the freeze."<br><br>Krueger adds premiums paid by Interior drivers more than cover the cost of claims in the region, with the excess money going to help cover other regions.<br><br>However, Insurance Corporation of British Columbia road safety officer Ted Ockenden says it's hard to say whether lifting the freeze would result in reduced rates locally as numbers aren't narrowed to each region specifically.<br><br>"There is definitely a territorial distinction when it comes to what we pay for rates. I know Lower Mainland drivers pay significantly higher rates than we do.<br><br>"If you look at it specifically, it's possible rates could be cheaper but no insurance company structures on that specific a community base."<br><br>Milke, a Cana-dian Taxpayers Federation director, says ICBC does not base its figures on individual regions precisely because it would show good regions, such as the Interior, are basically subsidizing bad ones, including the Lower Mainland.<br><br>"ICBC refuses to release figures of individual districts showing what the cross-subsidization rate is. Until this happens, ICBC's word should be taken with a grain of salt on this issue."<br><br>Milke calls ICBC "one of the largest monopolies out there" and would like to see it opened up to the private market.<br><br>"We can all insure our homes, our lives and our businesses with a variety of insurance companies. All of a sudden, when it comes to mandatory auto insurance, we're restricted to a public-sector monopoly."