Friday, 22 June, 2018

Province announces money-saving reforms to ICBC

Province announces money-saving reforms to ICBC Province announces money-saving reforms to ICBC
Nellie Chapman | 07 February, 2018, 07:24

These reforms come following ICBC's projected net loss of $1.3 billion for 2017-18.

The Insurance Corporation of B.C. will put a $5,500 cap on pain and suffering payouts for people who sustain minor injuries in a crash, one of a suite of reforms announced by the province's Attorney General today with the goal of preventing rate increases and easing the "financial chaos" faced by the province's public insurer.

To stem the losses from rising accident rates and an 80 per cent increase in injury claim costs in the past seven years, ICBC is also introducing a claim resolution tribunal to settle disputed claims without going to court.

Also, retroactive January 1st, 2018, ICBC will double the overall medical care and recovery cost allowance to $300,000.

A move that was applauded by those advocating for the disabled.

Disability Alliance B.C. has been pushing for improvements to accident benefits for 12 years, said Jane Dyson, alliance's executive director.

"There is no reason why someone who is seriously injured in a vehicle accident should have to live with a disability in poverty, or not be able to access needed rehabilitation treatments because they can't afford to pay out of pocket to get better", he said.

The changes will save up to $1 billion annually, Eby estimated.

These reforms will require legislative changes, which will be introduced in Victoria in the spring, Eby said, and will take effect April 1, 2019.

The government says the changes will reduce the amount the corporation spends on legal fees and expenses, which have grown to consume about 24 per cent of the budget.

Minor injury claims now represent 60 per cent of injury claims, up from 30 per cent in 2000.

Eby said he will announce a program to review insurance rates within weeks, but did not say when drivers can expect changes.

Allowing people to sue for pain and suffering in vehicle accidents has been viewed as a fundamental principle in British Columbia, but that changed Tuesday when the government joined Canada's other provinces in limiting payouts to some crash victims because of a financial crisis at the public insurance corporation.

"These changes make the injured customer our top priority, by directing payments away from legal costs into significantly enhancing the care and treatments for anyone who is injured in a crash", Joy MacPhail, chair of ICBC's board of directors, and former NDP MLA, said in a press release.

Newly elected BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson called the announcement disappointing, and argued ICBC is in such poor shape the government should be re-examining the entire system. He warned that drivers could face premium increases of about $400 or more if nothing was done.