EDITORIAL: ICBC can stand to use some competition

If, as claimed by successive provincial governments of differing political stripes, ICBC is an overall cheaper option, then introducing more expensive private alternatives should prove as much and secure ICBC’s status going forward, should it not?

Drivers in B.C. no doubt welcomed news yesterday that ICBC rebates are coming this spring — better later than never.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in far fewer vehicles on the road and, as a result, fewer crashes. The bottom line is that the government auto insurance monopoly, long an abyss of red ink, is now sitting on $410 million of net revenue.

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So, as has been the case in other jurisdictions, those who pay for insurance are being handed back some of their money.

On average, drivers insured under ICBC will receive cheques for $190 in March. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada that is almost $100 less than what drivers under insurance programs in other provinces have already received.

In addition to the on-time rebate cheques, the provincial government said the arrival of a no-fault insurance model this spring will see most drivers enjoy a reduction in rates — about 20 per cent, or an average of $400 a year.

While savings are always welcome, the underlying problem of no competition on basic auto insurance remains, something that was highlighted yet again by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Yes, it is difficult to determine whether basic insurance is more or less expensive in other provinces as calculations yield wildly different numbers, depending on driver age, experience, crash history, etc.

However, if, as claimed by successive provincial governments of differing political stripes, ICBC is an overall cheaper option, then introducing more expensive private alternatives should prove as much and secure ICBC’s status going forward, should it not?

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