VICTORIA — B.C.’s Auditor General should probe the worseningICBC finances and problems at the Insurance Corp. of B.C., says the Opposition NDP.
NDP critic Adrian Dix wrote to Auditor General Carol Bellringer on Monday, urging her to examine the government’s financial withdrawals from ICBC and the implications to ratepayers.
ICBC released last week a hypothetical scenario that could see rates rise as much as 42 per cent by 2020, if the corporation can’t reduce claims and injury costs. That scenario, which the government described as “worst case” was built using revenue and investment assumptions dictated by the B.C. Utilities Commission, which ICBC said wasn’t an accurate or fair way to forecast its finances.
“More disconcerting than that, ICBC’s 42% forecast depends on $1.5 billion falling from the sky,” Dix wrote in his letter to Bellringer.
“Over the past few years, the Liberal government has scooped $2.6 billion from ICBC’s optional capital intended to pay for claims on the optional side of the business — $1.2 billion to government coffers and $1.4 billion to basic insurance capital.
“This is the likely source of this $1.5 billion but this is not stated anywhere. Or is the taxpayer going to be asked to directly subsidize basic insurance?”
Dix said Bellringer is needed to examine ICBC because the province’s independent regulator, the BCUC, has no authority to review the optional side of the corporation’s business. ICBC maintains a monopoly on providing basic insurance, but competes with private companies to sell optional.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone said last week ICBC is under significant financial pressure and the government will unveil several reforms in coming weeks designed to cut costs.
Stone also announced that ICBC will no longer insure luxury vehicles worth more than $150,000, because they are six times more expensive to repair than ordinary vehicles. But that change will only save ICBC an estimated $2.3 million on more almost $4 billion annually in claims, and has so far been marred by confusion and a lack of details.