BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Summer, 2021
The long and bumpy road to better, more affordable
By Soren Bech, Editor, The Advocate
You have to be of a certain age to remember the days when international corporations had free rein over B.C. drivers.
In those days before most of today’s British Columbians were born:
• Young drivers were systematically discriminated against based on their age, not their driving record.
• A minor fender bender could result in a tripling of rates. (In my case, to the equivalent of three months pay.)
• You had to visit three body shops for estimates before the insurance company would cover you.
• All the profits from B.C. premiums went to Bay Street and Wall Street. There was no major insurance company here.
• Private insurers creamed the best and fleeced the rest.
Dave Barrett’s NDP government of the early 1970s changed that. They took action to give drivers better, more affordable car insurance by creating B.C.’s own insurance company, the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC).
The big insurance corporations were outraged. So were the opposition parties that counted on receiving big cash from corporations.
Since then both Social Credit and Liberal governments have consistently tried and tried to weaken and undermine ICBC. They just don’t like the idea that we are better served by our own publicly-owned corporation than we ever were by profit-driven trans-national firms. They even set up commissions to recommend ways of getting rid of ICBC – and were shocked when the commissions recommended the opposite.
The overwhelming evidence that ICBC is the best option didn’t stop them from harming the interests of B.C. drivers.
The Socreds tripled premiums. The big corporations were set free to sell optional insurance. And the Liberals siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars from ICBC’s reserves. Their decisions undermined ICBC, gave a wink and a nudge to large corporate insurers, and ignored the impact on drivers.
The small cheque we received in the mail as a pandemic rebate was the first sign we have finally turned the corner. The arrival of care based insurance on May 1 of this year, followed by one more small rebate, is another milestone.