Risk should be driving factor for insurance rates

B.C. Solicitor-General Shirley Bond was quick to put the brakes on an ICBC plan that would have seen insurance rates rise for drivers with a single speeding ticket.

B.C. Solicitor-General Shirley Bond was quick to put the brakes on an ICBC plan that would have seen insurance rates rise for drivers with a single speeding ticket.

While the insurance corporation’s ultimate destination (reduced premiums for safe drivers) was a valid one, the route it mapped out to get there was threatening to incite road rage from the province’s drivers, ultimately prompting the Liberal government to shift into reverse.

Bond, the minister responsible for ICBC, this week ordered the Crown corporation to “go back to the drawing board and rethink its options,” adding she had not been consulted about the change to ICBC’s rate structure.

What has been lost in the debate is the fact that British Columbians with safe driving records are paying too much for their insurance.

Those at higher risk of causing an accident, ultimately increasing costs for all drivers, should face higher insurance rates. But jacking up rates for motorists who are given a single speeding ticket after what may have been 20 years of claim-free driving will do nothing to make our roads safer, or reduce the number of claims.

Drivers guilty of speeding or other infractions do face consequences, with fines and penalty points that hit them in the pocketbook. ICBC should focus its attention on those drivers with repeated violations and a history of insurance claims. An argument could even be made that those with lengthy commutes through high-congestion areas are at greater risk of being in a collision than those who only drive a few blocks.

But whatever method ICBC uses to determine those at greater risk of increasing insurance costs, drivers who have a proven track-record of safe driving deserve a break in premiums — especially considering the profits shown by what should be a revenue-neutral operation, with a $563 million surplus reported by ICBC in 2009 alone. More needs to be done to pave the way for lower rates for safe drivers in B.C.

— Penticton Western News