Darcy Repen, former mayor of Telkwa, took FOI data showing disparity in insurance rates to argue in front of the BC Utilities Commission to address what he says is disparity in premiums paid based on geography. (Submitted photo)

Darcy Repen, former mayor of Telkwa, took FOI data showing disparity in insurance rates to argue in front of the BC Utilities Commission to address what he says is disparity in premiums paid based on geography. (Submitted photo)

Utilities commission defers former Telkwa mayor’s argument on ICBC rates to province

Darcy Repen will now seek support from local governments for review of ICBC rate design

An argument by former Telkwa mayor Darcy Repen to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) to correct an ICBC policy he says has northern motorists paying disproportionate premiums compared to southern drivers, has been dismissed.

In the BCUC’s recent review of ICBC rates to lower insurance premiums by 15 per cent, Repen was granted intervenor status.

He submitted that rural British Columbians face undue financial hardship due to an “intentionally implemented financial discriminatory policy” in basic insurance rates.

Repen based his argument on ICBC rate data by postal code obtained through the freedom of information (FOI) process that indicated rural and northern drivers are paying more in premiums per dollar received in claims than their southern counterparts.

In crunching the numbers, he found rate payers in the Lower Mainland were spending $1.35 for every dollar they were being paid. For rural motorists in general the ratio was $1.84:$1, for northerners in general $1.96:$1 and for V0J (including Smithers, Telkwa and the Hazeltons and everything north to Telegraph Creek and east to Vanderhoof it was $2.15:$1.

The BCUC acknowledged those concerns, but said the topic was “either beyond the scope of the current proceeding or outside of the jurisdiction established by the regulatory framework for the BCUC’s regulation of basic insurance.”

In short, for a change to take place, it would require ICBC to change its rate design.

Not to be deterred, Repen was back before Smithers town council at its Nov. 9 meeting looking for support for a resolution he wants to bring before the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) at its next plenary session.

A draft resolution reads:

WHEREAS ICBC and the Government of British Columbia have perpetuated inequitable regional Basic Insurance coverage value beginning in 2001 or earlier;

AND WHEREAS the Government of British Columbia, through Order in Council 458/18, directed the B.C. Utilities Commission to approve an ICBC Basic Insurance rate design;

AND WHEREAS the 2018 Basic Insurance Rate Design acknowledges but does not immediately correct the inequity:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM request that a new ICBC Basic Insurance Rate Design be developed immediately that conclusively corrects the regional inequity:

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that UBCM request that ICBC and the B.C. Government explore opportunities for regional redress such as elimination of windshield deductibles, winter tire subsidies and regional variation in low-use discounts.

Smithers council deferred the matter for further discussion to be brought forward at a future meeting. Repen plans to also take the matter to other northern local governments.