ICBC is creating happy drivers now that auto insurance has dropped by 20 per cent or $400 and more under the new Enhanced Care program.
Drivers are having a rude shock when they renew their ICBC insurance.
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Based on the first few days of the new Enhanced Care approach, clients who are renewing their insurance are positive and supportive, said Megan Carter, a broker at Megson FitzPatrick Insurance Services.
She said clients have been trained over many years to expect to pay more for their car insurance every time they renew — even when they’ve gone another year with no collision or claim. Instead, “people are pretty excited” at seeing significant savings of 20 per cent or $400 a year.
“They’re getting more coverage for less, so they’re better-protected,” she said from Victoria. “They’re seeing that as very positive.”
ICBC’s Enhanced Care coverage came into effect May 1. ICBC estimates the change will save about $1.5 billion annually.
Carter, Megson Fitzpatrick’s team lead for ICBC insurance, explained that Enhanced Care means ICBC has moved away from an adversarial approach.
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“Except in limited circumstances, drivers no longer have the right to sue to recover costs,” she said. “Previously, it was a third-party system where you’d be relying on someone’s else’s insurance to cover you in the event of a loss. If someone was at fault, they would be sued so the person who was injured could recover damages.
“Now it’s your insurance that will respond in the event of a claim whether you’re at fault or not.”
It’s not accurate to call the new system ‘no fault’, she said, because if you’re not at fault in a collision, your rates stay the same.
“Holding drivers accountable helps to encourage good and safe driving practices,” she said.
If the new system delivers as promised, anyone injured in a collision will have whatever they need without having to involve a lawyer. Instead, your doctor, physiotherapist, counsellor or other care-provider will decide what kind of care you need.
“I think lawyers are probably the only ones not stoked about this and that’s understandable — it’s a big change.”
Aly Kanji, president of the Insurance Brokers Association of B.C., said people are happy they’re saving money and don’t seem to be bothered by not having the right to sue any longer except in certain circumstances.
“For the most part, the vast majority of customers are seeing it as a positive move especially when you explain to them that they got basically unlimited care for their lifetime in exchange,” he said. “I think most people are quite comfortable with the solution offered by the government.”
The insurance brokers association represents almost 1,000 brokers in the province, about 950 of whom are involved with ICBC Basic Autoplan and Enhanced Care.
Kanji said brokers are supportive of the change — even though the lower overall cost of insurance for clients translates into less money for them.
“It’s positive for the motoring public,” Kanji said. “I think it will create a system that’s overall more stable for British Columbians.”