Could changes to ICBC affect drivers' behaviour on the Sea to Sky?

Bad drivers will soon pay more for insurance. Will that reduce dangerous driving on the scenic route between Vancouver and Squamish?

There are a lot of bad drivers on the Sea to Sky Highway, particularly in the summer months when tourists are visiting en masse and good weather prompts higher speeds.

A taste of the kind of people you find behind the wheel: the prairie tourist who's white knuckling the winding road at 60 km/h because they're used to navigating straight, flat roads; the local with the "I like big dumps," "Squamish is full," etc. bumper stickers plastered on their Tacoma who are keen to show off how fast they can negotiate turns on their home turf; and of course the motorhome seniors who are toodling along in the fast lane taking in the view at a leisurely pace without a care in the world.

article continues below

Throw all these people together, toss in some roadwork or a long weekend bottleneck and you have a recipe for some dangerous driving.

Last week, the provincial government announced a set of proposed changes to ICBC that will — potentially — mean bad drivers pay more for insurance while experienced drivers with few or no claims will pay less.

One of the best changes on the long list is moving to a driver-based model. Currently, if you borrowed a friend's car and got into a crash that was your fault, your friend's insurance would be affected rather than your own. Under the new system, however, drivers of at-fault crashes will face penalties.

Other proposed changes include bigger penalties for those at-fault crashes; raising discounts for drivers with up to 40 years of experiences from the current limit of nine years; and bigger discounts for vehicles with original, manufacturer-installed automatic emergency braking technology as well as for those who only drive less than 5,000 km a year.

Those are just some of the highlights. In total, the provincial government is estimating that changes could lead to 67 per cent of ICBC customers seeing their premiums go down—although around 39 per cent of those drivers will see rates go down less than $50.

The flip side of that: 17 per cent of drivers will see their rates go up by more than $100. It's hard to feel too much pity for drivers with multiple at-risk crashes on their record—if you've caused more than one preventable crash, frankly, you should face some kind of punishment to motivate you to be more attentive behind the wheel.

That said, accidents happen and people make mistakes. To that end, the new system would allow for one at-fault claim after 20 years of driving experience if the driver has had a clean record for the last 10 years. It might be a bit stingy, but given the "financial dumpster fire" that is ICBC (in B.C. Attorney General David Eby's words), someone has to pay—and it might as well be those causing the problem.

The one demographic that could rightfully feel snubbed by the changes are new, young drivers—who are already facing student debt, entering a brutal rental market and working early career jobs that generally don't pay very well. According to the provincial government, "under the current model, inexperienced drivers pay less than the risk they represent—their basic insurance premiums are significantly discounted."

However, those drivers will still receive some kind of discount until their first at-fault crash. After the second at-fault crash, the discount would be entirely eliminated.

Those are just a few of the changes the government has directed ICBC to put forward to the BC Utilities Commission for review. If all goes according to plan, the new model will be in place by September 2019.

Whether or not you agree with all of the changes, it was clear that an ICBC overhaul was long overdue. After all, the public auto insurance agency was heading into 2018 with financial losses of $1.3 billion by the end of the fiscal year.

Although some people — such as B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson — argue that a complete overhaul of the system is needed (in other words, a move to a private insurance system), hopefully the changes will make an impact both on ICBC's financial situation and the way B.C. drivers behave behind the wheel.

Read Related Topics

© Vancouver Courier
Click here to take part in our readers survey

Read more from the Pique Newsmagazine


NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Vancouver Courier welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus

Popular Vancouver Courier

Sign Up For Our e-Newsletter!
Find the Vancouver Courier Newspaper