Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen Former Telkwa mayor Darcy Repen has launched a public pressure campaign to highlight what he sees as rural drivers subidizing their urban counterparts. (Interior News file photo)

Freedom of information campaign on ICBC rates started

Former Telkwa mayor Darcy Repen is recruiting people to get ICBC info for each postal code.

A former Telkwa mayor has launched a campaign to put pressure on ICBC regarding insurance rates.

Darcy Repen first started questioning the fairness of rates because Telkwa was lumped in with Prince George in Territory R (Prince George) rather than with Smithers in Territory S (north coast).

On average, according to ICBC data from 2016, motorists in Telkwa paid an average of $110 more annually than their counterparts just 14 kilometres up Highway 16.

“We thought that was nuts being a bedroom community of Smithers,” Repen said. “But while I was doing research into that issue, I found a much bigger issue that actually affects all of rural B.C.”

“The data shows the cost and the number of crashes and injuries is much, much, much higher in the urban areas and definitely disproportionate to what they pay in premiums versus what we pay. Based on the data I can access, it looks like we are just flat out subsidizing urban drivers.”

Repen believes at least part of the reason for that is an effort by the Crown corporation to offset chronic annual losses.

READ MORE: ICBC projects $1.18 billion loss for fiscal 2018

Although the average premium is slightly higher for urban policy holders, according to ICBC’s Schedule of Basic Insurance Premiums, Repen’s calculations based on 2016 ICBC data indicate the average claims cost per policies-in-force for Lower Mainland drivers was $2,102 compared to $769 for north central, meaning, he says, northerners are effectively paying up to two times more.

The latest ICBC Rate Design application to the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) indicates the insurer intends to reduce the rates for its northern territories by between 3.5 per cent per year in Territory R to 5.0 per cent in Territory V (Peace River).

“They make it very clear that rural B.C. is hugely being overcharged,” Repen said. “If you do the math on that over 10 years, they are basically admitting that they are massively overcharging us, up to 50 per cent in the Peace River region and they’re not fixing it, they’re gradually doing that over 10 years.”

ICBC spokesperson Joanna Linsangan did not validate nor invalidate Repen’s claims, but in a statement to The Interior News defended the boundaries and historical insurance rates.

“ICBC’s existing territories and their boundaries were established through a regulatory process a number of years ago by examining the electoral districts at the time and using actuarial analysis to determine which of these districts would best be grouped together to create today’s insurance territories,” she wrote. “Territory boundaries are one feature of our insurance rating system. Other factors include how you use your vehicle, an individual’s insurance and claims history, the type of coverage a person chooses, the vehicle a person drives, among others.”

Linsangan confirmed ICBC will not be adjusting boundaries, but said there is relief coming for Telkwa vehicle owners.

Telkwa insurance rates going down by 30 per cent over 10 years

“While ICBC has no immediate plans to re-examine the existing rating territories, we have made adjustments to the territory factor in response to the changes in population and infrastructure,” she said. “Starting September of this year, Telkwa residents will see a decrease of 3.5 per cent to their territory factor, and the decreases will continue over 10 years totalling 30.1 per cent.”

That is not good enough for Repen. He initially explored the possibility of a class action lawsuit, but after working with legal counsel for about a month, he said they decided it was futile.

“If we were suing ICBC it would have been a home run, but ICBC is regulated through the B.C. Utilities Commission, so what that meant was basically we would have to sue the B.C. government,” said Repen.

That does not mean he is giving up. Repen is attempting to conduct a public pressure campaign by seeking to get the ICBC data on premiums and claim costs broken down by postal code for the past five years.

He believes access to that data is essential to ensuring fairness, and is coordinating an effort to get individual citizens to make FOI requests for one specific rural and one specific urban postal code. He is doing it that way because he believes asking for all the data at once would be cost prohibitive since B.C. charges for the time spent searching for and retrieving information after an initial three-hour period. In the province, there are 191 forward sortation areas (the first half of the postal code) and up to 43 local delivery units in each of those.

Repen says approximately 10 people, including himself, have already submitted FOI requests. Linsangan confirmed Repen’s request is being processed.

“I’ve looked into Mr. Repen’s FOI request, and it is in the queue to be completed, but I should note that there is a long list of data requests before his,” she said.

The Interior News has requested access to the data outside of the formal FOI process.

Just Posted

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Bear orphanage dealing with high number of cubs

Northern Lights Wildlife Society needs fruit and vegetables for orphans

Northwest Wave Riders return from Victoria Dragon Boat Festival

This was the first time in 25 years that northern B.C. teams competed

Feds approve $4M for Tahltan protected and conserved areas

Well defined stewardship will help nation reduce uncertainties for resource partners

BC Parks student rangers complete several northwest B.C. conservation projects

This was the first time the summer program operated out of Terrace

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders says an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Province funds new shuttle buses for 13 B.C. senior centres

Activity, socializing helps maintain health, Adrian Dix says

Most Read