Are regular drivers' insurance premiums subsidizing luxury cars?
Published Friday, August 11, 2017 6:58PM PDT
It seems that more modest vehicles are subsidizing the cost of insuring luxury cars in B.C.—something the new NDP government is calling a “priority” to change as part of a review of the public auto insurer.
Fender-benders on Lamborghinis or Ferraris can cost more than a typical middle-class car, but the premiums charged by ICBC can be comparatively less expensive, according to figures provided to CTV News by ICBC.
That’s despite a push to increase premiums for cars worth over $150,000 last year by the BC Liberals--and it’s one that will be scrutinized as the new government tries to get ICBC costs under control.
“Part of fairness means that if you’re driving a luxury automobile, you should be paying the costs necessary to have to ensure we’re not having to pay more to replace it if it’s damaged in an accident than is coming in the rates,” B.C.’s Attorney-General David Eby said.
“Addressing this is a priority for us,” he said.
There are more high-end luxury cars per capita in Metro Vancouver than in any other North American city, according to ICBC.
And the antics of luxury car owners turn heads in Vancouver, with police often prosecuting young motorists for reckless driving, like a Ferrari clocked doing 210 kilometers an hour across the Lions Gate Bridge in July.
When these kinds of cars crash–like a Ferrari and a Lamborghini did in the Massey Tunnel in December, or a Lamborghini and a fire hydrant did in downtown Vancouver in May – it’s ICBC that has to foot the bill for the whopping costs to fix them.
Those costs can be enormous. ICBC figures show that one McLaren 650S cost ICBC $93,000 to repair and a 2011 Ferrari cost $88,481 to repair. To fix one fender on one Ferrari was $6,000, compared to a Toyota Corolla, which would cost just $160.
In November, the former government claimed costs were so high, the Liberals were looking to privatize insurance for these vehicles.
But despite the press conference and the promises by then-Transportation Minister Todd Stone, that never happened, an ICBC spokesperson confirmed.
Instead, ICBC doubled premiums of those drivers of cars worth more than $150,000 – about 3,000 cars as of 2016.
But ICBC couldn’t tell CTV News whether that was enough to cover costs. According to an Ernst and Young report, the insurer is on track to lose some $1.1 billion by 2019, which would take a 30 per cent spike in insurance to fix.
CTV News asked how much it would cost to insure this reporter on a variety of cars. A Honda Civic – a typical middle-class car valued at $16,000—would cost $1,751 to insure with a $300 deductible.
Compare that to a 2015 Ferrari 458, with declared value $699,999. The premiums for that car are higher, at $7,003, and so is the deductible, at $7,000.
The premiums for the Ferrari are four times higher, even though the car is worth about 40 times more.
The insurer is in a bind on expensive cars because the cost of writing them off is so high – and so it’s often cheaper to engage in costly repairs, said Bruce Cran of the Consumer Association of Canada.
That’s why it’s so important to set premiums according to actuarial tables, and not according to what may be popular in the province, he said.
“If you’ve got a half-million dollar car you should be paying premiums that support the repairs for that vehicle,” he said.
ICBC’s financial woes stem from higher crashes, higher payouts, and many crash victims turning to lawyers to secure payouts, which can increase settlement costs. Legal fees amounted to about 24 per cent of payout costs, according to the Ernst and Young report.
The NDP government says it’s struck a team of senior officials from the solicitor-general’s ministry, the transportation ministry, as well as experts in road safety and insurance to advise it the best way forward.
“We have committed to British Columbains that we will not have a 30 per cent rate increase as has projected and that means serious changes for the corporation and we are moving ahead with that,” Eby said.