Ex-cabinet minister named ICBC chair

Barry Penner's appointment comes as the Crown agency prepares its final arguments for a 5.5 per cent rate increase

Barry Penner has been in private law practice since retiring as B.C. Liberal MLA for Chilliwack before the 2013 election.

Former B.C. environment minister Barry Penner takes over as chair of the Insurance Corporation of B.C. at the end of March.

Penner’s appointment comes as ICBC prepares its final argument for a 5.5 per cent rate increase that it started charging in November. The increase raises the cost of basic insurance by about $3.70 per month for the average driver, and still needs approval by the B.C. Utilities Commission.

Citing rising costs from personal injury claims and fraud, ICBC proposed a maximum 6.7 per cent increase. The province gave the Crown corporation permission for a one-time transfer of $450 million from its optional insurance business to subsidize the basic rate.

“The B.C. government will continue to work with ICBC to identify and implement measures that will mitigate the causes of rate increases, to help ensure that ICBC insurance rates remain as low and affordable as possible,” said Transportation Minister Todd Stone, announcing Penner’s appointment Tuesday.

The B.C. government continues to take a share of revenue from ICBC optional insurance sales, where it competes with private insurers for collision and other coverage beyond the mandatory basic insurance.

The current budget calls for ICBC to transfer $95 million this year, $148 million next year and $130 million in 2018-19.