Darcy Repen pictured with his FOI response from ICBC. (Submitted photo)

Darcy Repen pictured with his FOI response from ICBC. (Submitted photo)

Ex-mayor says data proves ICBC discrimination against northern residents

Analyzed rural postal codes paid just over 2.5 times more in premiums than they received in claims

Discriminatory.

That’s what Darcy Repen says ICBC rates are for people in rural communities.

After analyzing the data for 18 different postal codes in the province—nine rural and nine urban—the former Telkwa mayor is concerned rural B.C. residents are paying too much for insurance.

The information was obtained through a series of freedom of information (FOI) requests, both by Repen and individuals across the province, as part of the former’s campaign to determine if — and to what degree — rural drivers are subsidizing Lower Mainland insurance costs through disproportionately high premiums.

READ MORE: Repen: FOI data proves Telkwans being ripped off by ICBC

By averaging the rural and urban data over a five-year period (2014-2018) Repen was able to calculate disparities between premium and claims costs for the respective data sets, both for raw figures and a modified set of data that includes an additional 25 per cent on top of claims costs to account for ICBC operating costs.

Repen bases this math on a statement from ICBC’s 2017-2018 Annual Service Plan Report, which states that “costs of claims incurred account for approximately three quarters of ICBC’s total costs.”

The raw figures show that, over those years, the nine rural postal codes analyzed through FOI requests paid just over 2.5 times more in premiums than they received back in claims.

When adjusted for operating costs, they paid just over 1.9 times more in premiums than received back in payouts from the Crown corporation.

“The data confirms what we had suspected, [that] Rural ICBC customers are definitely paying far more in premiums compared to claims payouts than urban ICBC customers are,” Repen said in a Facebook post that details the findings.

Data shows that, even in urban postal codes, drivers were paying more in premiums than they received back in claims, albeit at a less disproportionate rate.

When averaged together, all urban postal codes paid just over 1.5 times more than they received in claims.

That figure drops to just under 1.2 when those numbers are adjusted for ICBC operating costs.

“It was interesting to see the particular discrepancies on the urban level, where there are certain areas [such as] suburban Vancouver where it looked like those communities were still basically paying their way with ICBC, [although] certainly not paying as much as we are,” he told The Interior News, adding that the “real shocker” was downtown Vancouver.

“ICBC customers in downtown Vancouver … paid $23 million in premiums but had $40 million in claims payouts. Including operating costs, they underpaid by at least $30 million dollars.

“That’s a $30 million dollar subsidy to the drivers from just one downtown Vancouver postal code, for one year.”

READ MORE: Freedom of information campaign on ICBC rates started

Repen said he was also concerned with a message on FOI requests that went out after the first two were received cautioning against sharing the information without permission from ICBC.

“Please contact your ICBC representative if you want to share any portions of the data with other parties for which the report was not originally intended. Any intentional violation of this policy may result in discipline,” the disclaimer reads.

Repen feels the warning is inappropriate. “They’ve been well aware all along [that] we were doing a coordinated FOI campaign.”

He added he feels the message itself is contrary to spirit of FOI requests.

Lindsay Wilkins, a spokesperson for ICBC, said that was not the intent of the disclaimer.

“In regards to the disclaimer, this FOI report is approved for use by a member of the public (for public use) so there are no concerns with the recipient sharing it publicly,” she wrote by email. “We’ll review our wording for clarity.”

At their June 25 meeting, Smithers town council voted unanimously to write a letter to Attorney General David Eby and Minister of Rural Development Doug Donaldson, to formally request a public review of ICBC’s policy when setting insurance premium prices for rural B.C.

READ MORE: Former Telkwa mayor says Smithers is overpaying on ICBC insurance

Repen also requested council petition the federal NDP candidate in the upcoming election to raise the issue of amending the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to address discrimination based on geographical location or residence within the party and to request action of Eby, Donaldson and Premier John Horgan on “discriminatory rural ICBC rates.”

Council did not see fit to bring this second request to a motion, with Coun. Lorne Benson noting the spirit seemed somewhat contradictory to the first one.

“The tone of the letter is to seek information whereas this suggestion is more of an assumption that there is some degree of rural discrimination involved, and we don’t know that,” Benson said.

Repen said that because he was only able to include data from the first two FOI requests — postal codes for Telkwa and Smithers — into the submissions to council for that meeting, he understands their concern about the data not painting a large enough picture. He said he plans to address them in detail at their July 23 meeting.

In a June 21 email to Repen, Eby said that ICBC is already in the midst of a regulatory overhaul that will redefine how both territorial and individual insurance rates are set.

“Redrawing territories is a very large undertaking requiring careful and thoughtful analysis, followed by regulatory approval,” the letter reads.

“Currently, government and ICBC’s efforts are focused on implementing [changes] that will net $1 billion a year in savings. Those changes include the limit to pain and suffering payouts for minor injury claims, improved accident benefits and care for customers who are injured in a crash, as well as the use of the Civil Resolution Tribunal to resolve disputes.”

The letter adds that ICBC will not be in a position to begin any further analysis on splitting the province into separate rates for rural and urban areas, or applying premium rates by postal codes (two suggestions Repen had for reconfiguring the system, as opposed to the currently-proposed adjustment of territorial rates over the next 10 years).

An assistant from Donaldson’s office confirmed his position was in line with Eby’s above email.

ICBC has previously told The Interior News that significant changes coming to how it calculates insurance rates this September will result in two-thirds of drivers across the province paying less than they are today.

“While it’s true that where you live is one of the factors we consider when calculating your premium, it is not the most significant factor – how little or how much you pay in our new model will be based more heavily on your years of driving experience and crash history,” said Joanna Linsangan, spokesperson for ICBC, in an email.

“While we have no immediate plans to re-examine the boundaries for our existing rating territories, we have made adjustments to the territory factor in response to the changes in population and infrastructure. Starting September of this year, Telkwa residents will see a decrease of 3.5 per cent to their territory factor and the decreases will continue over 10 years totalling approximately 30 per cent.”

Repen said that while he is prepared to keep fighting for more data, he had hoped that the trends from the data he and others had already requested would inspire change.

“I don’t really think that Attorney General Eby or Minister Donaldson really knew that this was going on until we brought it forward and now I think their challenge is ICBC doing this massive other review and revamp of how they’re going to charge premiums and this is another thing that’s landed on [their] plate.”



trevor.hewitt@interior-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sexual offender Taylor Dueck has pleaded guilty to another charge after previously serving a three years and seven months in prison.
Sex offender with violent history pleads guilty to another charge

Taylor Dueck of Abbotsford/Mission was the subject of prior police warnings

Keith Carlson, chair and director of the Peace and Reconciliation Centre at Univeristy of the Fraser Valley.
UFV hosts online session about interpersonal violence

Peace and Reconciliation Centre in Abbotsford holds discussion on Thursday, Jan. 21

Singletree Winery in Abbotsford has opened two domes where customers can enjoy wine tastings and local goodies. (Photo by Megan Ashley Creative)
Abbotsford winery first in Fraser Valley to open wine-tasting domes

Singletree Winery offers two themed transparent enclosures

Two vehicle incidents eastbound on the Trans Canada Highway have been reported in Langley. (Google photo)
TRAFFIC: Two separate vehicle crashes on Highway 1 in Langley, one person taken to hospital

University Drive is closed between 216th Street and Glover Road

An Abbotsford man was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Highway 3 on Monday, Jan. 18. (Black Press file photo)
Abbotsford man killed in Highway 3 crash near Hedley

Fatality was discovered by passing tow truck driver

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

The British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) sent out a sharply worded release late last week, in which it noted that the Tourism Industry Association of BC recently obtained a ‘legal opinion’ on the matter (Alex Passini photo)
Hotel associations push back against any potential ban on inter-provincial, non-essential travel restrictions

B.C. Premier John Horgan is seeking legal advice on banning non-essential travel

Abbotsford’s Canwest Aero Inc. is offering two pilot training scholarships to celebrate the company’s opening at the Abbotsford International Airport
Abbotsford aviation company offering two free pilot scholarships

Canwest Aero Inc. giving away pair of scholarships valued at $2,500 each

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
COVID rapid tests in long-term care key during vaccine rollout: B.C. care providers

‘Getting kits into the hands of care providers should be a top priority,’ says former Health Minister

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. turns to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supplies slow

Pfizer shipments down until February, to be made up in March

B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced funding to train community mental health workers at four B.C. post-secondary institutions. (Stock photo)
B.C. funding training of mental health workers at four post-secondary institutions

Provincial government says pandemic has intensified need for mental health supports

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

Most Read