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ICBC to explore impact of COVID-19 on its bottom line
VICTORIA, B.C. -- With roads emptier than usual and fewer accidents, ICBC has been directed to take a look at what that means for its bottom line and ultimately may inform what drivers pay.
On Thursday, Health Minister Adrian Dix said one of the reasons emergency rooms in B.C. may be seeing less traffic than the month before is because of people staying at home.
"It’s no surprise, that there are fewer cars on the road, there are fewer car accidents, for example," he said at a press conference in Victoria.
With fewer crashes, the question is, are ICBC costs also down? CTV posed the question to Premier John Horgan this week, asking if any potential savings would be passed on to customers.
ICBC does have a deferral program available to drivers on a monthly payment plan. The premier said he didn’t know of any other plans to reduce costs.
"But that's a good suggestion. I will mention it to Minister Eby next time I talk to him," he replied.
The Ministry of Attorney General now says that idea is being explored. An emailed statement reads in part: "Given the public interest, Minister Eby has asked ICBC to provide a public update on the possible impacts of COVID-19 on ICBC in the coming weeks."
ICBC confirmed the government has asked for this analysis and that the results will be made public. In a statement Thursday, it also pointed out that, aside from the number of claims, "investment returns, the average cost of claims and premiums revenue" also impact the bottom line.
ICBC’s bottom line has been a wreck with losses of more than $2 billion in the last two financial years. In the most recent year, that loss, however, is expected to be much smaller. The pubic insurer is moving to what it calls an enhanced care model, and what others commonly refer to as no-fault. The government claims that will save drivers money.
"That is being developed right now, so we can reduce costs for people, all classes of drivers, and that is the priority of the minister at this time," added Horgan on Wednesday.
There’s another factor to consider, according to the ministry, and that is how many people may be cancelling their insurance as a means to save money amidst the pandemic.