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

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

It costs as little as $7 to charge an EV at home. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Electric Vehicles a rare sight (in the Kootenays), but change on the way

Electric pickups will increase the appeal of zero-emission vehicles in years to come according to Blair Qualey of the New Car Dealers Association

Linda Krawczyk and her dad Doug Finney enjoyed a ride around beautiful Fernie on Friday thanks to Melanie Wrigglesworth and the local chapter of Cycling Without Age. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Cycling Without Age goes for its first spin

Doug Finney (86) got to enjoy a ride around Fernie

The Cranbrook Community Forest is good to go for mountain biking. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Snow’s done, time to hit the trails

South Country trails are good to go

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
VIDEO: Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
‘In grief for our dying world’: B.C. climate activists embark on 4-day protest

Demonstrators will walk through Vancouver for the first two days before boarding a ferry Sunday morning

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

Most Read