ICBC to begin rate hike process following surge of injury claims

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VANCOUVER - It will be two months before the Insurance Corp. of B.C. applies for a specific change to basic insurance rates, but drivers across the province are being warned they will pay more.

ICBC has begun filing its basic insurance rate application with the BC Utilities Commission, but final parts of the application, including any request for a rate change, aren't due until the end of October.

Despite that, the provincial auto insurer said Monday that a recent leap in injury claims means that if its request were filed today, it would have to ask for a 6.7 per cent rate hike, the highest possible under current legislation.

ICBC president Mark Blucher said the corporation will work with government over the next few weeks to identify ways to reduce the impending rate increase.

The insurance corporation said costs for bodily injury claims topped $2 billion for the first time last year.

They are expected to climb to $2.3 billion this year, an increase ICBC said amounts to 64 per cent, or almost $900 million, since 2008.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the government has been informed that ICBC has provided the utilities commission with some initial documentation and a schedule outlining the information it plans to submit in the weeks ahead.

"While the number of crashes is relatively unchanged, ICBC is also reporting more crashes with multiple injuries than ever before, with more cases being potentially fraudulent," Stone said.

He said ICBC has become aware of a so-called "jump-in" scheme, when one person gets into an accident but two other relatives file fraudulent claims for injuries.

"These increasing costs must be covered by the basic insurance rates we all pay. If left unmitigated, rates could increase by a much as 6.7 per cent."

Stone said he has made Transportation and Finance Ministry staff available to work through ICBC's numbers in an effort to help identify additional strategies the corporation could take.

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