ICBC is in terrible financial shape. In fact, last week, I described what was happening at this previously valuable Crown Corporation as a “financial dumpster fire”, after sharing with British Columbians that ICBC is on track to lose $1.3bn this year. Last year, ICBC lost almost $1bn despite the previous government promising before the election that ICBC would only be losing about $11m, and that this year a profit of $173m was projected.
Since being assigned this file, I’ve been doing my best to help British Columbians understand the depth of the problems at ICBC that were hidden from them by the previous administration.
One former Cabinet Minister actually acknowledged removing 7 pages from an independent business audit of ICBC in 2014 that warned that trouble was coming and made recommendations for reform, before releasing the report to the public).
To get ICBC back on track, I’ve been having difficult and long overdue conversations with stakeholders about runaway costs at the insurer related to legal administration and autobody repair charges. Last week, I announced reforms to limit the maximum pain and suffering awards for minor injuries like strains and sprains to $5,500, and to streamline adjudication of those minor claims through the independent Civil Resolution Tribunal.
The estimated savings from these reforms are huge, about $1bn. I’ve also released a third party business audit of ICBC that has identified another $80m in administrative savings that ICBC can implement, and more is coming, including improved road safety initiatives.
These program reforms will enable us hopefully to turn the tide at ICBC while improving benefits for things like physiotherapy and other treatments that have not increased since 1991.
While I never signed up for politics thinking I’d be working on car insurance, this is certainly important work to ensure affordable protection and good care for many people in our province, and it is long overdue.
David Eby, MLA