Scrubbed recommendations from 2014 ICBC report revealed
Published Thursday, February 15, 2018 5:35PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, February 15, 2018 7:08PM PST
The draft of a 2014 ICBC report obtained by CTV News suggests the financial chaos that has gripped the provincial auto insurer was years in the making under B.C.'s former Liberal government.
Seven pages of troubling predictions and recommendations to address the Insurance Corporation of B.C.'s worsening financial situation were scrubbed from the controversial document before the Liberals made it available to the public the following year.
"It is bizarre to me that these pages were removed," Attorney General David Eby said Thursday. "I don't understand the reason for it."
The recommendations included caps on soft tissue injury claims, citing savings of 30 to 60 per cent in other provinces where such limits had already been implemented.
"In 2013, ICBC incurred losses of approximately $1.7 billion due to bodily injury claims for basic insurance," the report said. A graph shows as much as $238 million in potential savings, with $145 million in direct government control.
According to the report, written by consulting firm Ernst and Young, ICBC could have also reduced costs by basing premiums on driver history and behaviour rather than their vehicle.
"The impact of the current rating model is that safe and responsible drivers are subsidizing poor and risky drivers," the report said, adding that those caught for distracted driving, for example, should pay more for insurance.
The 47-page document also recommended that ICBC review its capital targets by taking into account factors such as the increasing cost of claims, its mandate "as the sole provider of basic auto insurance in the province" and its access to government support as a Crown Corporation.
Eby has been asking for permission to release the draft—which is protected by cabinet confidentiality—since the beginning of February, after ICBC posted net losses of $935 million in the first nine months of the fiscal year. Those losses are expected to reach $1.3 billion by the end of Q4—an announcement that has everyone pointing fingers about who is to blame.
"The public deserves transparency about the decisions that were taken and not taken by the BC Liberal government in relation to this financial crisis at a public company," he told CTV News at the time.
Eby has blamed what he called ICBC's "financial dumpster fire" on a number of factors, including distracted driving, alleged overbilling by auto body shops and financial mismanagement by the Liberals, who were in power for 16 years before John Horgan's NDP took over government in July.
The release of the scrubbed recommendations, Eby said, proves the Liberals didn't do enough to address the unsustainable financial trends outlined in the EY report.
"I think there's no question had the government taken action back in 2014, based on this report and particularly the recommendations laid out, ICBC would be in a very different position than it is today," he said.
Newly elected Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson wasn't available to answer questions Thursday, but said last week that he’s not troubled by the financial fiasco and that he's never seen the report, even though he was in cabinet when it was written.
"I've never seen this report that's in question," he said. "I saw this Ernst and Young report that came out in July of 2017 that suggested some changes to ICBC. That's where the story lies.”
Last week, the NDP announced a number of changes similar to those removed from the 2014 report in a move the government estimates will reduce claims costs by about $1 billion a year.
These include a $5,500 cap on pain and suffering payouts for minor injury claims that will take effect in April 2019.
Shortly after being sworn in last summer, the NDP announced a 6.4 per cent hike to basic auto insurance premiums.
The changes amount to an extra $57 per year for the average driver with basic coverage and $130 a year for the average driver using blended coverage.
With files from CTV Vancouver Bhinder Sajan