The select standing committee on provincial finance and government services held a public forum in Kelowna on Thursday to listen to public input about spending priorities for the 2019-20 provincial budget. Photo: Black Press/Barry Gerding

Climate change blamed for $1 billion annual B.C. property damage losses

Insurance Bureau calls for changes to revamp B.C. marketplace

ICBC’s monopoly on B.C.’s vehicle insurance market and impact of climate change were the focus of a submission by the Insurance Bureau of Canada before the provincial select standing committee on finance and government services on Thursday in Kelowna.

Aaron Sutherland, vice-president of the Insurance Bureau’s Pacific region, said B.C. residents are both paying excessively high rates for vehicle insurance compared to other provinces, and are incurring huge damage costs related to floods and wildfires initiated by weather pattern changes.

“With climate change, we see warmer winters and hot and dry summers in B.C. The last two years we have seen record flooding and wildfires,” Sutherland said.

“Since 2009, property damage losses have been at or above $1 billion across B.C.”

Sutherland said since the insurance industry assumes the cost for much of that damage, he called on the province to invest more money in infrastructure protection measures against flooding.

“We have seen some steps taken in that direction but we need to go a lot further,” Sutherland said.

He also raised concerns about the potential damage if a long-predicted major earthquake strikes B.C., saying only about 45 per cent of provincial residents have earthquake insurance.

“Of that 45 per cent, it increases to 60 per cent just within the Vancouver market and 70 per cent on Vancouver Island. But overall, that leaves close to one-half of the market who will need assistance if an earthquake occurs and that is a concern,” he noted, saying the government will be called on to help off-set the damage costs.

“So continuing public awareness is key and educating people to be prepared.”

Sutherland was one of a more than 20 organizations given a five-minute opportunity to make their pitch about what the provincial government priorities should be in the 2019-20 budget.

The select standing committee is chaired by Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith and includes among its six MLAs Liberal Dan Ashton of Penticton.

Similar meetings are being held by the committee across the province, with a final report submitted to the legislature in November.

Many of the speakers focused on the issues of post-secondary education, health, and youth and family services.

Sutherland’s argument about ICBC centred around a Crown agency monopoly shutting out the private insurance marketplace from competition, which has made it slow to react to changing marketplace conditions and rising operating deficits.

“Some reforms are coming for ICBC but none of them address the issue of the affordability challenge for drivers facing escalating insurance rates. Double digit increases are coming in the years ahead,” he said.

And he said the B.C. bad drivers argument doesn’t hold water, noting that in Alberta there are more accidents per capita but basic insurance rates are more than $400 cheaper.

He said ICBC is losing money despite having a monopoly because of operating inefficiencies and a lack of innovation in the marketplace, demands that private insurers respond to quicker to remain in business.

“A bad system is failing and it’s time to look outside for other solutions,” he said.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Williams Lake Take Back the Night event set to go virtual Friday, Sept. 25

Residents are being encouraged to take a walk individually and post on social media

Highway 99 closed due to Rockslide near Lillooet

Crews are currently working to clear the road

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read