B.C. announces new 'Fairness Office,' other measures to increase accountability at ICBC
VANCOUVER -- B.C.'s attorney general has announced new measures to improve accountability and transparency at the province's public insurer, including the creation of a new "Fairness Office."
David Eby said the office will address ratepayer complaints and make recommendations for changes at ICBC, and all of its decisions will be posted publicly online.
People will still have to dispute individual ICBC payout decisions in the province's small claims court, but Eby said the Fairness Office will deal with people who feel they have been "treated unfairly by some ICBC policy, or an adjustor."
"Today we're taking on the linked issues of transparency, trust and accountability at ICBC and the important need for improvements," Eby told reporters Wednesday.
"I don't think it's a secret that many British Columbians just don't trust ICBC, and that's a problem. Because British Columbians deserve the peace of mind of knowing that if they're injured in a crash and they ask their public insurance provider for help … they will be well taken care of."
The attorney general said the new Fairness Office will be more independent from ICBC than the existing role of fairness commissioner, which will be phased out by spring 2021. Eby said the current commissioner, Peter Burns, will be assisting the government through the transition.
The new fairness commissioner will be appointed by cabinet.
Eby is also directing ICBC to issue a version of its annual financial report that's written in "plain language" so it's easier for customers to understand if they choose to read it.
The attorney general said the existing report can only be parsed by "auditors and accountants." The new reader-friendly version will be released alongside the annual report in July, Eby said, and will help explain to ratepayers how their insurance premiums are spent.
In addition to those changes, Eby announced a new system of pre-litigation payments that will let some car crash victims receive a payout from ICBC without having to waive their right to file a lawsuit later on.
According to the Ministry of Attorney General, the purpose of the pre-litigation payments is to "help injured customers receive full and fair compensation as quickly as possible."
"It will also help those injured keep more of their settlement, instead of paying it to lawyer and legal fees, which can total as much as 33 per cent of the total settlement and can require a lengthy court process," the ministry said in a news release.
The pre-litigation payment system takes effect Wednesday, the government said, but won't be "formalized through legislation" until the spring.