BC Government slams brakes on auto insurance competition

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VANCOUVER, Nov. 22, 2002 – The BC government remains stuck in neutral on the issue of implementing true competition and choice for BC drivers. Today’s announcement means the Campbell Government has essentially slammed the brakes on competition and choice in the province, sending a message that the government knows what’s best for consumers and their auto insurance needs.

“There is no sign of anything that is going to benefit BC drivers,” says Stan Griffin, President and CEO of the Insurance Bureau of Canada. “Where is the plan? We don’t see it. In fact, there is no fundamental change on the table – no visible plan and no timelines set out to achieve that.”

The insurance industry has also taken exception to the announcement of the government’s intent to appoint a special regulator to oversee ICBC. BC currently has a superintendent of insurance (Alan Clark) who oversees private insurers as regulator.

“There is no reason for the government not to make use of the infrastructure already in place. Appointing a special regulator for ICBC flies in the face of the rationale of having a government monopoly in the first place.”

Mr. Griffin likens the appointment of a special regulator to nothing more than one government entity being created for the sole purpose of regulating an existing government entity. “There is no efficiency – only another layer of government that will end up costing taxpayers more in the long term.”

“Private insurance companies believed they had been working with a government committed to providing consumers with choice – a choice they believed a Campbell Government would provide when the BC Liberals were elected,” Griffin says.

During last year’s election campaign, the BC Liberals promised to open up the auto insurance market in the province. That would have included competition and choice for consumers by allowing private insurance companies to operate on an even playing field.

A majority of voters wanted the Campbell government to implement change. In fact, an IBC poll shows that almost three-quarters of those surveyed were in favour of full competition and choice in BC auto insurance.

“No one can deny the overwhelming public support for a promised change for consumers who want the option of competition and choice in where and how they purchase auto insurance,” says Griffin. “We are hopeful that there will be a place at the table for private auto insurers in the not too distant future.”

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association of the home, car and business insurance industry. It represents the insurance companies that provide more than 90 per cent of the home, car and business insurance in Canada. For more information, visit IBC’s Web site at www.ibc.ca.