'It would be nice to know the truth': ICBC rate hike leaves 'good driver' frustrated
George Power can’t understand why his ICBC insurance rates are going up.
“ICBC has been touting these new rate structures for the last eight months, saying that good drivers are going to benefit,” he said.
“I was excited, [but] when I went to renew, I wasn’t so excited anymore.”
Power told CTV News despite his unblemished driving record of 39 years, and his wife’s accident and claim-free 35 years, his rate is jumping an estimated $31 a year, to $1861.
And when he went through the renewal process, Power, who is in his 50s, said he was told he “wouldn’t experience a rate reduction unless [he] was turning 65, and [he] was driving less than six days per month.”
Since ICBC unveiled its new driver-based rate structure, which went into effect Sept. 1, B.C. motorists who consider themselves “good drivers” have contacted CTV News, wondering why their rates are climbing.
Abbotsford’s Brian Homeyer saw a jump from $726 to $754 for his basic premium, and while he acknowledged the jump isn’t large, he found the increase surprising.
So did 23-year-old Anastasia Paterson, who had a seven-year clean driving record, and saw a 20 per cent increase in her premium, up $545 a year, from roughly $2,600 to $3,100.
ICBC spokesperson Joanna Linsangan told CTV News she understood Power’s frustration.
“By all accounts, he is the definition of a safe driver,” she said, adding that his premium went up by two per cent, rather than the full 6.3 per cent rate increase that had been approved by the BC Utilities Commission.
In two years’ time, if Power continues to drive safely, she said, he can expect an bigger discount on his Basic insurance premium.
Confusion over how many drivers will see rate decrease
Part of the disappointment some B.C. drivers are facing stems from high expectations after ICBC estimated the percentage of motorists who would face lower premiums.
In April 2019, CEO Nicolas Jimenez told CTV News he estimated “two thirds of people [were] going to be better off with this rate design than they would have been,” and “about a third [were] going to pay more.”
ICBC later explained that Jimenez’s comments, which referred to Basic-coverage-customers only, meant that 25 per cent of drivers would be paying less than they did before the 6.3 per cent BCUC rate hike, and roughly 40 per cent of drivers still pay more, but less than the full rate hike amount.
Read another way, 75 per cent of Basic customers still faced some sort of increase, though not as substantial as they would have under the old system.
Last week, ICBC’s Linsangan said the new model was “working”: “We anticipate more than half (55 per cent) of customers with full ICBC coverage (Basic and Optional), will see a decrease in their premium.”
George Power says he isn’t sure whether he can believe that number.
“It would be nice to know the truth,” he said. “I want to know, with my record and my wife’s record…and our rates are going up, who are these people that are benefiting?”
On Thursday, ICBC provided CTV with updated premiums under the new driver-based model. Of the policies that have been renewed as of Aug. 31, 43.4 per cent saw an increase in premiums, 56.2 per cent saw a decrease, and a tiny 0.3 per cent saw no change.
These numbers only represent 56,488 customers, or less than two percent of the estimated 3.2 million vehicle insurance policies across the province.
ICBC plans to update them as customers renew into the new model over the next 12 months, as well as provide average increases and decreases as the data becomes available.
The provincial-owned monopoly has also launched an online tool where drivers can estimate their new rates.
Horgan: 'We haven’t hit the bar for some'
When CTV News asked Premier John Horgan about drivers that felt let down by their new rates, he pointed out that when his government came to power, the prospect was a 40 per cent rate increase.
Still, he said he sympathizes with drivers who are disappointed. “We haven’t hit the bar for some,” Horgan said. “We’re going to do our level best to make sure over the term of our government, that we keep costs down for people.”
When CTV asked Horgan if his rate had gone up or down, he responded: “I have to check. It’s not going up till later in the year. My wife’s is coming up. I’ll check with her. She’s a better driver than me.”
There is a good chance he may end up sharing George Power’s woes.
“Yes, it’s a $40 increase, but it’s still an increase,” Power said.