` Columbia Journal - Auto Insurance in BC
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In the Public Interest:
Auto Insurance in BC

By Rudy Lawrence , President The Council of Senior Citizens' Organizations of BC (COSCO)

As the BC government faces difficult decisions over the future of ICBC, it is important to consider why auto insurance was publicly provided in the first place and why it has remained that way for three decades and seven governments of various political stripes.

There are some very good reasons why auto insurance should be managed as a public company in the public interest. Although many aspects of auto insurance have changed since the introduction of ICBC, the rate practices of private providers have remained fundamentally unaltered. Private insurers continue to base rates on age, sex, marital status, and postal code, not on an individual's proven driving record. This was recognized as a problem in 1972 when ICBC was first introduced and when the Social Credit government under Bill Bennett reversed it's commitment to return to private auto insurance, choosing instead to continue with ICBC as the public provider of basic insurance. Successive governments have continued to review ICBC and have continued to favor public provision of insurance.

More recently, the Consumers' Association of Canada (CAC) concluded the public would not be any better off under a private insurance system. In a series of two reports, one in 1999 and an expanded follow up report in 2001, the Association concluded that families and many individuals, particularly young drivers, would see a massive increase in premiums as a result of the discriminatory practices of a private insurance system. Hundreds of thousand of families and young drivers would face immediate increases of over 100%. While rates have been fairly stable in British Columbia, Ontario is facing a massive rate hike and/or reduction in benefits to accident victims.

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