Basic ICBC premiums to jump 11 per cent

Cut in optional rates to offset much of the pain for most B.C. motorists

Most motorists will pay ICBC about $27 more in premiums next year, but the bite will be deeper for those who opt only for basic insurance.

Basic premiums will rise $68 or 11.2 per cent per customer if the B.C. Utilities Commission approves the public auto insurer’s proposed rate hike.

Optional premiums will be $41 lower on average, or six per cent.

It reflects a continuing pattern of ICBC reducing the cost of its optional insurance – where it faces competition from private insurers – relative to the basic package, where it has a monopoly.

President and CEO Jon Schubert said the two rates should be looked at in combination, because most motorists buy all their coverage from ICBC.

The combined premium hike works out to an extra 2.1 per cent, lifting the average amount most motorists pay from $1,277 now to $1,304.

Individual rates vary depending on claims history, vehicle type, region of the province, years of experience and level of coverage.

“After four years of not having to increase our rates, we now unfortunately face a different reality,” Schubert said. “We’re not happy that we need to increase our rates but the majority of our customers will be paying just a few dollars more, on average, than they did in 2008.”

He said the drop in optional rates was possible mainly due to declining auto crime and damage claims.

Overall claims costs rose $200 million in the first nine months of 2011.

“We have seen increasing pressure, in particular, from bodily injury costs,” Schubert said.

Bodily injury costs are to hit $1.7 billion this year, up $350 million from five years ago.

Low interest rates due to the global economy have also pushed investment income down.

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