Capping ICBC payouts isn't the answer, says advocacy group

Caps on so-called “minor injuries” would lump all sorts of soft-tissue injuries into one category, creating a one-size-fits-all approach that would limit the care accident victims could access.

“Minor injury” is not a medical term. It’s an excuse for ICBC to cap injury claims and restrict access to care, without any guarantee that rates will actually decrease as a result.

Capping ICBC payouts isn’t the answer, says advocacy group

Posted Jan 30, 2018 by Tim James and Dave White

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The idea of capping ICBC payouts to people with minor injuries from a car crash is not welcomed by a group fighting for the rights of accident victims.

Attorney General David Eby says doing so could be a way to reduce the blow from losses projected to hit $1.3 billion at the Crown corporation.

“The government has spoken about minor injuries — lumping all sorts of soft-tissue injuries, from shoulder injuries to neck injuries to lower back injuries — into one category,” says Louise Craig, a physiotherapist who speaks for the group R.O.A.D B.C.

She fears a one-size-fits-all approach would limit the care patients can access.

“I think it will reduce the outcomes for those people, in terms of their productivity and returning to to work — and also their quality of life, from dealing with long-term problems that can arise from that approach.”

Eby many solutions need to be considered to put out what he calls a ‘dumpster fire’ of a financial situation at ICBC.

Read the full story at News 1130:

Bring back photo radar, former police chief suggests, to help stop ICBC financial bleeding

We should be looking at different ways to reduce the number of accidents. Drastic policy changes such as caps on minor injuries won’t do anything to prevent the 800+ crashes per day in BC. Punishing victims is not the answer.

Bring back photo radar, former police chief suggests, to help stop ICBC financial bleeding

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With ICBC projected to lose more than $1 billion this year, one retired cop says we should bring back photo radar.

It’s a concept typically loathed by drivers, but former Delta Police Chief Jim Cessford argues it would generate revenue for the crown corporation, and save lives.

“We had it in Edmonton when I was with Edmonton Police. And we found that there was a dramatic decrease in the number of collisions, as a result of photo radar,” he tells NEWS 1130.

Cessford believes when people know they’re being watched, they drive more carefully.

“I know that there’s this whole notion that ‘It’s cash grab.’ Well, that’s true. Obviously, there are funds that are realized as a result of photo radar. That’s a side issue. The real issue is saving lives and we believe that photo radar did save lives.”

Yesterday, Attorney General David Eby announced several changes are in the works to cover off $1.3-billion worth of losses that he described as a “financial dumpster fire” set by the former BC Liberal government.

Eby says several options need to be considered to bring ICBC back into the black — likely meaning increases to basic rates and perhaps a cap on payouts for crash victims with minor injuries.

He’s also suggesting red light cameras will be set up across the province.

Read the full story here:

ICBC shouldn’t decide what’s “minor" for you, and it certainly shouldn't decide what’s best for B.C.

Nearly 10,000 of you have voiced your concerns about our rights as British Columbians by signing R.O.A.D. BC’s petition – yet the news, as demonstrated by today’s top headlines – continues to be dominated by ICBC and its mismanagement. As concerned citizens, we urge the government to not only stand up for our rights, but also to step in and ensure a complete and independent review of ICBC is undertaken by BC’s Auditor General and shared fully with the public before any permanent actions are taken. ICBC shouldn’t decide what’s “minor” for you, and it certainly shouldn’t decide what’s best for B.C.

Mike Smyth: Shocking massive losses revealed at ICBC, huge rate hikes feared

Published: January 28, 2018 by Mike Smyth

British Columbia’s public auto insurer has driven over a financial cliff and the damage is far worse than anyone had feared or predicted.

On Monday, ICBC will announce a staggering projected operating loss of $1.3 billion for the current fiscal year.

That’s more than $1 billion higher than projected just three months ago.

The financial hemorrhaging — the Insurance Corp. of B.C. is losing $3.5 million a day — could force massive premium hikes on B.C. drivers, and possibly tilt next month’s balanced provincial budget into a deficit.

The tsunami of red ink is revealed in a series of jaw-dropping internal government documents that I obtained.

An ICBC “statement of operations” for the nine-month period that ended on Dec. 31 shows a “net loss” of $935 million, and a projected total loss of $1.29 billion by the end of the current fiscal year on March 31.

“ICBC’s year-end loss is now projected to hit $1.3 billion,” says a private briefing note prepared for Attorney General David Eby. “Now, B.C. drivers are looking at a rate hike of at least $400 more in their premiums by next year unless we take immediate action to keep rates more affordable.”

The shocking losses are much higher than what was projected just three months ago, when the fiscal year-end loss was pegged at around $200 million.

“The dramatic increase in losses has been driven by the emergence of many large, extremely costly claims,” the briefing note says.

Eby earlier ordered ICBC to conduct a fresh review of unsettled auto-accident claims, many stretching back years, and provide a financial update to the corporation’s board of directors.

“While the rise in the number of claims and the associated costs are not new issues for ICBC, what has been unexpected is the degree of the cost escalation from these claims and the significant number of older claims — dating as far back as 2010 — that are now extremely costly.”

The ICBC board — chaired by former NDP finance minister Joy MacPhail — got the bad news at a meeting on Thursday that a source described as a “shock-and-awe moment.”

The meeting was told many claims originally classified by ICBC as “minor” have emerged as more complex and costly files known as “large-loss claims,” a category that has grown 80 per cent in the past year, and which cost an average of $450,000 each to settle.

The briefing note prepared for Eby, the minister responsible for ICBC, blamed the previous Liberal government for the mess.

“Years of bad decisions and mismanagement by the former government have meant a fiscally unsustainable position at ICBC,” the briefing note says. “We never expected to find this level of mismanagement by the previous government.”

The New Democrats are slamming the Liberals for not acting on recommendations contained in a 2014 report by consultants Ernst and Young.

The report called on the government to impose a cap on large court-ordered financial awards paid to victims who suffer “minor” soft-tissue injuries like whiplash in auto crashes. British Columbia is the only province in Canada where such awards are still unlimited.

But the Liberal government stripped the controversial recommendation out of the report before passing it on to ICBC.

“The response from government was, ‘We’re not prepared to consider that,’” former Liberal finance minister Mike de Jong told Postmedia. “There was no point presenting it as an option.”

But now the NDP says the Liberals’ inaction has plunged ICBC into a financial crisis.

“If action was taken, this situation could have been prevented,” Eby’s briefing note says.

A source tells me the NDP government now feels it is forced to move forward with the cap on injury claims and several other “aggressive” moves to slow down ICBC’s financial losses.

The measures include a tougher crackdown on distracted driving, expanded red-light cameras at intersections, increased insurance premiums for bad drivers and new rules to prevent ICBC from getting ripped off by price-inflating auto-body repair shops.

The moves will be controversial, and have already sparked a backlash by personal-injury lawyers, who started a campaign to fight financial caps.

“ICBC wants a cap system to solve their financial woes, but punishing victims is not the answer,” says the R.O.A.D. (Rights Over Arbitrary Decisions) B.C. campaign.

But the government said only “drastic” measures will prevent large insurance rate hikes of up to 20 per cent on drivers.

“The amount of basic insurance premiums ICBC is collecting from customers is not covering the increasing amount they are paying out in basic claims costs,” says the Eby briefing note.

The note also slams the Liberals for taking more than $1.2 billion out of ICBC’s accounts and transferring the “excess capital” into government coffers.

“ICBC’s year-end loss is now nearly the amount the former government siphoned out of ICBC while ignoring the needs of B.C. families.”

A government source told me the massive ICBC losses have left Finance Ministry officials scrambling ahead of the provincial budget, to be presented on Feb. 20 by Finance Minister Carole James.

James promised a balanced budget, but the source told me officials are now studying the “implications” of the ICBC losses on the commitment.

Hang on to your wallets. This one could get uglier.

Read the full story in The Province: