Private insurers say they would be happy to take B.C. Attorney General David Eby up on his challenge to compete with ICBC for optional insurance, if the Crown corporation would share its driver history information directly with them.
“ICBC denies other insurers access to a customer’s driving record and accident history, as well as to the claims information that all insurers need to price and sell auto insurance,” the Insurance Bureau of Canada said in a statement released Friday. “As the monopoly insurer in the province, ICBC holds this information and uses it to price its products.”
The private insurance industry group was responding to Eby’s comments last week about big increases for new drivers as ICBC moves to a new risk-based rate structure. Eby said the biggest increase in mandatory basic liability insurance new drivers will face is 12 per cent, or about $200 a year.
It’s the optional insurance, including collision repair, where younger drivers are facing the biggest increases, Eby said, and if private insurers believe they can do it at a lower price, “they should do so.”
Vehicle insurers make driver information available between companies everywhere else in Canada, including Quebec, where the government insurer shares driver data, the Insurance Bureau of Canada says. That’s why Quebec has more than 100 private insurers competing for optional insurance, and B.C. has “only two insurers that compete with ICBC in any meaningful sense.”
Eby has argued that drivers can retrieve their own driving records from ICBC online and take them to a private insurer to compare rates. Private insurers say that is the barrier that prevents better competition in B.C.
“If the Attorney General is suggesting that he will force ICBC to provide other insurers with the data they need to sell auto insurance in B.C., other insurers will gladly provide British Columbians with the choice they deserve,” the bureau said. “Given ICBC’s current performance, it’s a choice that’s desperately needed.”