Drivers in British Columbia deserve better than ICBC. The government monopoly auto insurance provider is a dumpster fire that burns hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars without providing the quality of service most drivers would expect for their money.
Between 2021 and 2022, the cost to administer ICBC came at a whopping $1.62 billion. That means ICBC spent $173 million more on overhead, red tape and bureaucracy than it did on injury claim payouts. The reason why people buy automotive insurance is to have a safety net in case a nightmare scenario happens and they get seriously injured in a car crash – not to provide jobs for bureaucrats on the taxpayer dime.
The switch to a no-fault model means that people who are seriously hurt in collisions now have to go through ICBC bureaucracy to get payments, rather than going through the legal system. Lawyers and people who have been injured in car crashes argue that this change has led crash victims to be forced to wait months to see any compensation. Legal groups and the injured have challenged the change to a no-fault model in the courts, arguing that it is unconstitutional.
Regardless of your stance on the no-fault model, it is unacceptable for bureaucrats with six-figure salaries to make people who’ve been seriously injured wait for months to see a dime.
While survivors of catastrophic car crashes are left out in the cold, top bureaucrats at ICBC are laughing their way to the bank. Nicholas Jimenez, CEO of ICBC, took home half a million dollars in total compensation in the past year. The other executives took home more than $350,000 each.
You can’t justify taking home half a million dollars while people who are paralyzed in car accidents are forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket just for the luxury of being able to navigate their own homes.
In 2019-20, the province would have ended the fiscal year with a surplus, if ICBC hadn’t cost the taxpayer $375 million in bailouts.
ICBC is bad at its job, it’s bad at supporting people who are injured in accidents and it’s bad at keeping costs low.
In B.C. the average insurance rate is $1,235 per year. In Quebec, another province that uses a no-fault model, the average written premium is $901. Even with a no-fault model, Quebec allows for competition with their automotive insurance sector, which leads to average prices being $300 lower in Quebec than B.C.
There needs to be competition in B.C.’s automotive insurance sector.
ICBC should be completely overhauled, changed from a big crown monopoly to a co-op just like Vancity Bank. Let that co-op then compete with other companies and give drivers a choice to shop around. The province needs to get out of the way and let drivers make the determination of what insurance is best for them and their finances.
Enough is enough. British Columbians deserve choice. ICBC helps to make life unaffordable for people who are injured in car accidents and for people looking for a good deal on insurance.
Carson Binda is the British Columbia director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.