October 21st, 2020
With the fast-approaching 2020 Provincial Election in British Columbia, the BC Libertarian Party has launched a new campaign website endicbc.com to combat the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s (ICBC) monopoly on basic automobile insurance. ICBC has never had to face market competition driving internal administrative costs and consumer pricing to British Columbians exorbitantly high. Despite their market monopoly, ICBC had a loss of $1.15 billion last year at an additional cost to taxpayers.
ICBC was created in 1973 by the NDP government with an outlook to provide universal and affordable compulsory public auto insurance in British Columbia. Under the Liberal Party changes enacted in 2010, ICBC became the only publicly owned for-profit auto insurance provider in Canada. The Cabinet controls ICBC’s rate setting through its power to set target financial outcomes (such as capital reserve ratios and profits), and through its ability to issue Special Directives.
In 2019, ICBC overhauled its rate structure for liability insurance by shifting to a private-sector model where high-risk categories pay higher premiums. Despite these changes, ICBC has continued to offer a limited range of options to drivers, e.g. some classes of luxury cars are ignored, policies cover three month increments only, no online options to renew, individual automobiles are insured instead of the driver.
The BC Liberals, as part of Andrew Wilkinson’s platform, plan to uphold ICBCs no fault clause aka “Enhanced Care Model”. No fault is intended to limit payout for accident claims, and help ICBC’s bottom line. However, analysis of other no-fault insurance regimes in other jurisdictions, actually show that they result in higher costs in the long term. This is because a system that doesn’t assign fault correctly does not adequately discourage risky behaviour on the roads, and ultimately results in more accidents and claims. No fault insurance also increases the risk of inadequate compensation to victims by disallowing victims to seek an appropriate level of compensation for their pain and suffering, as they can in a tort-based system.
While the BC Liberals have promised to remove ICBC’s monopoly, it seems they intend to keep it propped up by taxpayers if the crown corporation can’t compete in the insurance market. The BC Libertarian Party plan goes further. Not only would we revoke ICBC’s monopoly and open the market up completely to competition, we would also move ICBC’s regulatory functions (driver licensing, road safety, etc.) to the Ministry of Transportation, and convert ICBC to a co-op, owned and operated by the drivers who decide to stay with ICBC.
The BC Libertarian Party advocates for allowing competition and innovation in all types of auto insurance through tort liability, deregulation and private enterprise. With deregulation would come decreased insurance prices and a range of options to suit each individual’s driving habits and vehicles. Taxpayers would no longer be liable to fund the inefficiently run enterprise. The BC Libertarian Party welcomes support from other parties and concerned British Columbians for their new website.
Don Wilson, Party Leader
British Columbia Libertarian Party
703-1180 Falcon Dr., Coquitlam, BC, V3E 2K7