Proposed new ICBC rules mean one-third of drivers would face higher rates

This came out in the Vancouver Sun this morning, you may want to slow down your driving:

A single speeding ticket would equal three years of increased premiums under ICBC’s proposed new rules

"Drivers who receive just one speeding ticket can expect to pay three years of higher insurance rates if a set of major changes being proposed by the Insurance Corp. of B.C. is approved.

Scheduled to take effect by 2014, the proposed changes would mean close to 30 per cent of all B.C. drivers — those with at least one of a variety of traffic-related convictions on their recent record — would pay higher premiums for their basic insurance.

The new program would cover a three-year history of convictions, the corporation says, and will be retroactive if it’s approved. That means violations collected today could mean higher rates once the system is in place.

But, ICBC says, the new system would also reward the estimated two-thirds of people in the province who have a clean, crash-free driving record by giving them cheaper rates.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Vancouver Sun on Tuesday, ICBC president and CEO Jon Schubert said the proposed changes are meant to more fairly reflect the risk each individual driver presents on the road.

“About 85 per cent of customers want us to use factors that will ensure that safer drivers receive a lower premium, and higher-risk drivers receive a higher premium,” said Schubert, adding the changes are largely meant to improve customer satisfaction.

“If we apply convictions in a greater way to our model, about two-thirds of our customers will see some kind of rate reduction, and about 30 per cent of our customers will see some slight increase in their premiums to better reflect their risk.”

Schubert could not say exactly how much more a driver would pay for insurance over the three years following a given infraction, or how much a driver could save for maintaining a clean record, saying that information is still being finalized.

However, Cindy Brown, ICBC vice-president of communications, said later the average saving for someone with a clean record would be about 10 per cent.

She also said ICBC will collect the same amount of money under the new program, with the savings for some drivers matching the increases for others.

ICBC is still deciding what offences would spark an increase in premiums, but Schubert said non-driving-related infractions like a broken tail light are not expected to be included.

ICBC plans to take the proposed changes to the B.C. Utilities Commission for approval in August.

Schubert said up until now, ICBC has only been charging drivers additional fees when they are convicted of major offences such as excessive speeding.

He said these fees have only applied to about two per cent of the driving population, or what he called the “worst of the worst.”

Schubert said the company is looking to adopt the new model because research has shown that even the more minor traffic infractions serve as good predictors of who will get into a crash.

Information provided by ICBC on Tuesday shows that drivers with recent traffic convictions are 40-per-cent more likely to get into a crash than those with a clean record.

ICBC also said that under the current system, more than 80 per cent of drivers receive the maximum discount on their premiums, even though some of these drivers have multiple crashes and multiple driving convictions.

Given that the new system will take into account the previous three years of driving history, Schubert said: “We’re talking about it now because we want to give people a heads up.

“If convictions are going to be impacting insurance premiums it might be a good idea not to have any.”

He added, however, the company is planning a transition program so some of the worst offenders don’t get a significant price shock.

He said rate increases would be limited in these cases to about five or six per cent each year after the program is introduced.

Schubert said he hopes the new program will help make the roads safer.

“The most important thing that can come from that is less injuries and less deaths on the road.”

Schubert said another planned change will be to alter the way crashes are tracked.

Under the current system, he said, if someone borrows your car and has an accident, the crash applies to your insurance record and not to that of the person who was driving.

Under the new system, he said, the crash would apply to the driver’s record, leaving your record unchanged.

“Today, if somebody borrows my vehicle and crashes it, they get away with it, they don’t pay anything,” he said.

“We think they should pay something.”

In a later briefing note, ICBC staff clarified that if the person borrowing your car does not themselves have a vehicle, you would be assessed a one-time fee.

“When an at-fault driver is not listed on any vehicle insurance policy, there will be a one-time premium charged to the vehicle owner — reflecting the owner’s accountability for loaning their vehicle and making it easier to identify the increased cost associated with such an event,” read the briefing note.

“The crash or conviction will remain part of the driver’s record and will apply to their premium calculation when they get a vehicle,” it added."

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