Private auto insurance no magic wand

“Alberta auto is in crisis” — a fully private insurance model

Private auto insurance no magic wand

Re: “Insurance Bureau VP touts advantages of private sector auto insurance to Cowichan crowd”, (Citizen, Jan. 24).

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is currently doing a tour of B.C. touting how the secret to solving all the challenges facing the auto insurance industry in our province is privatization — an unsurprising conclusion for the association that represents private insurers.

What IBC’s Pacific VP, Aaron Sutherland, is not telling his B.C. audiences is that his IBC counterparts are spreading similar doomsday messages in other provinces. This month alone, the IBC’s Western VP, Celyeste Power, stated “Alberta auto is in crisis” — a fully private insurance model — while the IBC’s President Don Forgeron wrote “auto insurance systems across the country are broken”. Ontario, another fully privatized jurisdiction, has just had its highest auto insurance rate increases in eight years and, despite the IBC’s claim, many people there pay premiums far in excess of those here in B.C.

There is no doubt that we have some serious, and well-publicized, challenges with our auto insurance system here in B.C. However, whether we have a public or private auto insurance system, the same underlying problems of a record number of crashes and claims, and record high claims costs, would still need to be addressed — simply making a change to private insurance would not solve these issues.

For the IBC to suggest a switch to a private insurance model is some kind of magic wand that will cure all our ills is completely disingenuous and baseless, especially at a time when they are clearly aware of the challenges facing private insurance models across Canada.

There is no doubt, there are profound financial concerns at ICBC but government and ICBC are addressing those concerns with major reforms to the auto insurance system in B.C. — reforms which the IBC has also publicly supported.

Bill Carpenter

Vice president, Insurance

ICBC

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