Thoughts From the ICBC Rate Fairness Report

ICBC LogoI was curious about the outcome of ICBC's rate fairness survey so I checked the box to be notified when the report became available. The notification arrived in my inbox this week and I've made a quick scan of the document. The diverse opinions on who should be held accountable for what and how rates should be set is interesting.

Everyone seems to be on the same page when it comes to at fault drivers who cause crashes. 82% of respondents feel that those drivers should pay more while collision free drivers should pay less.

Overwhelmingly, 92% of respondents also feel that the cost of collisions should follow the driver, not the vehicle. This would more fairly place responsibility for crashes on the truly high risk drivers. It would encourage sharing of vehicles by reducing the consequences to vehicle owners in the event of an at fault crash.

The first question that came to mind after reading this is how would ICBC deal with drivers who do not hold a BC driver's licence?

Determining how much more an at fault driver should pay was more difficult. There was 74% support for driving convictions being used to set rates and the suggestion that the cost of a claim should be considered.

I think severity of at fault accident should be considered when considering at fault insurance increases. Backing into a pole and causing $2,000 is different than causing a major accident with tens or hundreds of thousands damage. There should be a sliding scale for at fault premium increases based on cost of settling the at fault claim.

Some felt that only serious convictions should be taken into account while others would also accept multiple less serious convictions.

Concerns about unfair policing practices, targeted enforcement or discretion in issuing a traffic ticket resulting in an undeserved increase in premiums were raised.

What constituted a serious offence was the subject of comment. One responder said:

I think classifying a serious conviction such as impaired driving the same as distracted driving and excessive speeding is a little much. Looking at your phone and drinking and driving are very different things, obviously none should be acceptable but they shouldn’t necessarily carry the same sentence or punishment.

Speeding was a major theme with mixed attitudes being expressed. While some felt that speeding was a valid risk factor, others did not.

The idea of increasing charges for drivers with speeding tickets is idiotic. Premiums should be increased only for drivers that have a history of at fault crashes or etc. Going 40 km/h over the arbitrarily low speed not something that's high risk in and of itself.

There is some truth here, but I suspect that we don't have a real appreciation for the actual risk associated with our actions.

Basing rates on the number of kilometers driven in a year tended to receive the most support from drivers who drove less. Common complaints about this gauge included no differential for city or rural driving and the fact that rural residents had to drive longer distances to use services.

The one comment that caught my eye was this:

As a quasi government monopoly, ICBC management are not incentivised to keep costs down, are not accountable to share holders or other interested parties, and are susceptible to political interference. Even though self interested unions and political parties think monopolies are great, ICBC needs competition to provide better service and lower premiums.

According to a Wikipedia article, the Cabinet of the provincial government controls ICBC’s rate setting through its power to set target financial outcomes (such as capital reserve ratios and profits), and through its ability to issue Special Directives to the BCUC.

Perhaps we also need to remove politics from the mix.

How ridiculous to try to separate different categories of impairment. Impaired is impaired whether caused by drinking, speeding or talking on the phone or involved in other distractions – such as having a pet dog on one’s lap!

They all cause serious accidents resulting in injury and death. There should be no distinction.

Anyone caught driving under any of those circumstances should have his or her car impounded and lose the right to drive for some time plus a heavy fine and in many cases imprisonment.

Let’s stop playing games and get serious!

Perhaps instead of the word "impairment" we should use the words, "intoxicated" and "distracted".

While operating a vehicle while distracted, be that by texting, lighting a cigarette, changing a CD, looking at a document, etc etc, is unsafe, the driver still has sober faculties and is temporarily conducting the distracted act.

An intoxicated person, is suffering diminished reasoning, and diminished motor functions, it is not temporary during his or her operation during the trip in the vehicle.

A big difference.

Yes, if one is struck by a distracted driver, or an intoxicated driver they are just as hurt, but the duration of the "impairment" isn't the same, thus a different risk to others on the roadway.

Clearly it is the individuals who insist on driving over the speed limit or talking on their phones, etc. who want those distractions to be considered less serious as they do not intend to change their ways. If a driver kills someone because he or she is distracted rather than impaired by alcohol or drugs is the victim less dead?

Punishment and increasing fines will help ICBC coffers deal with their debt load but it’s not the solution for bad drivers.  This report is a study paid by the Ministry of Attorney General.  The demographics are limited. The report only canvassed 35,000 citizens. (78.6%) reported that they did not have any young drivers (i.e., under 25 years of age) in their household.  Most were drivers over 20 years. The report is missing young drivers input and this is a cause for concern and alarming. What minorities contributed to this report?   We need to hear from young drivers before any decisions are made.   What about research into other countries who have better driving outcomes?   Many countries incorporate driving education into the educational curriculum in comparison to BC where driving education is privatized.   We need more studies regarding who are the "bad drivers” and target those groups.   Are more minorities and certain age groups penalize more for driving infractions?  What about seniors?  Seniors are a high risk group.  I don't believe punishment (fines and incarceration) will actually change driving behaviors, in fact, it may cause more harm than good.   It’s the lazy way of correction and it does not correct.   We have the technology to block distracted drivers but no political will.   We have the infrastructure in place to provide inclusive driver education, training, and updating.   Where are the upstream strategies that are really going to make long term difference ? 

You are driving along on a snow covered road and slide off the roadway, you hit a large rock, knock your wheel out of alignment and a small dent, a few thousand dollars.

You are driving along on a snow covered road and slide off the roadway, you hit a medium sized green box (we've all seen them, some sort of utility inside), knock your wheel out of alignment and a small dent, but the box is moved and the contents seriously damaged, a few HUNDRED THOUSAND dollars.

Before you say "impossible" I've seen it.  Telus boxes with their cables and technology in these boxes, some near the roadside with little or no real protection can be VERY expensive.

Same act, same amount of negligence (yes, icy roads do not absolve you of liability) 100,000 times more cost.

So, what do you figure ?, first scenario an increase in premiums of one hundred dollars a year, and the second twenty thousand a year ?


Must admit I am still reading through the report but the main theme I saw and with the posts here actually improving the driving ability of drivers is the least concern. Fine and or incarcerate people that do what I personally consider bad driving habits and leave me alone.

For instance distracted driving. Statistically some research has shown there is little difference between hands free and holding your phone. So would the best consideration be to isolate the driver so no one can communicate with them? Talking to a passenger may be more distracting as some drivers turn towards the person they are talking to. Dangerous.

Some of the lowest death rates worldwide have higher speed limits than Canada. Yet many feel lowering the speed limit and increasing fines is the way to go.

The last I checked I believe the lowest accident rate was for a country that drove on the left hand side of the road. So maybe that would help if we drove on the opposite side of the road.

ICBC has statistics in two reports that show that professional training is not the answer.

So maybe it is time that Canada as a nation sit down and say what can we do better and for once I would say leave the professionals out of it. Driving instructors are going to be pushing their agenda even though statistically they cannot show any improvement. Law enforcement has their thoughts but again their record over the last century has failed.

I don't have the answer, but I see nothing in this report that is going to bring about improvements just some people will have a warm fussy feeling that if people would just follow their example everything would be perfect.

I would be interested in knowing how many people were charged last weekend for driving in the left lane even when they were below the speedlimit. But as usual I saw the radar traps at the end of the passing lanes and nothing being done about drivers impeding the flow of traffic.

Nothing changed its carry on as usual.


It's a tricky one - I'm careful when I approach a situation where there is either a cyclist or a pedestrian.  Most cyclists I have seen use hand signals but in this case, the fellow didn't need to.  It was up to the driver to really look at the bike lane.  But I've also seen pedestrians and cyclists just assume you're going to stop and not take care.  Seems to me everyone has a responsibility for their own safety - everyone needs to check carefully before they proceed - make eye contact with either the driver, the pedestrian, the cyclist - if you can't do that, don't go.

I have nothing wrong with bicycles on the roads-highways, etc.  The big problem is the cyclists.  They ride the sidewalks, ride in crosswalks and never stop at stop signs.  (although I don't blame them for riding sidewalks in some cases)  

They at least should obey the stop signs.  I saw a cyclist little over a year ago riding in the opposite direction of traffic flow on a sidewalk.  I passed him about half way through the city block (Nanaimo).  I stopped at the intersection to make a left turn, had my signal on and when I was in the turn the cyclist was in the crosswalk riding his bike at the same time I was straightening out my vehicle after the turn..  Just lucky I stopped in time, didn't hit him, I swore at him, he kept going.  But here's the problem, he didn't stop at the crosswalk, just kept riding through like nothing happened. And they wonder why they get hit.  When I was a kid I rode my bicycle all over, but watched for traffic and stopped at the stop signs.  In my teens I was a Telegraph messenger and we delivered telegrams on bicycles, so we learned the rules pretty quick.  You didn't take chances like cyclists do today.  

One more further item.  With all the bicycle lanes costing cities a lot of money, cyclists should be paying for a bicycle license fee. Again, when I was a kid we use to have to have a bicycle license plate on our bikes and were damn proud of it..  That was in Nelson BC in the 1950's.   A bicycle license fee of about $25 annually would be fair and your bicycle could be registered by the serial number at the city halls. This might stop a lot of thefts too.   I am surprised the Mayor of Vancouver and some other city mayors  haven't come up with this idea.  Thanks for letting me have my opinion on this website.


One more further item.  With all the bicycle lanes costing cities a lot of money, cyclists should be paying for a bicycle license fee ... a bicycle license fee of about $25 annually would be fair and your bicycle could be registered by the serial number at the city halls.

Gosh darn it, but I agree 100%. And I see no reason why they shouldn't be insured as well.