Accident and injury claims have increased in recent years and ICBC is looking at a major increase to liability insurance claims. (Black Press files)

ICBC board members replaced before overhaul

Three more B.C. Liberal appointees fired

The NDP government has replaced three more board members at the Insurance Corporation of B.C., as it prepares a shakeup for the public auto insurer that is facing steep rate increases to cover its claim costs.

One of Premier John Horgan’s first moves after forming government in July was to replace the ICBC board chair, former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Barry Penner, with former NDP cabinet minister Joy MacPhail.

On Thursday, Justice Minister David Eby announced that three more board members had been fired and replaced. The new directors are Doug Allen, former executive with the TransLink and Canada Line corporations, former Hospital Employees’ Union business manager Bonnie Pearson, and Jeremy Bell, an investment consultant and former chief actuary with the Healthcare Benefit Trust.

The new directors join Cathy McLay, TransLink’s chief financial officer, who was appointed to the ICBC board along with MacPhail. Directors whose appointments were rescinded are technology executive Catherine Boivie, and chartered accountants William Davidson and Ronald Olynyk.

After being given responsibility for ICBC in July, Eby released a report commissioned by the previous government calculating that ICBC rates could go up by as much as 30 per cent by 2019. The Ernst & Young report cited increased car crashes, higher payouts for minor injuries, and a claim rate rising faster than accident rates.

“A 30-per-cent rate increase will not be happening on our watch,” Eby said at the time, echoing an NDP election commitment to rein in ICBC rate increases. He indicated that higher rates for drivers with accident claims were one remedy, but ruled out moving to a no-fault system that uses a schedule to pay claims rather than having ICBC lawyers go to court.

Eby accused the previous government of “using ICBC as a bank machine” in the years since the NDP government of Dave Barrett set up the Crown corporation in 1973. The B.C. Liberal government allowed private insurance competition for ICBC’s optional insurance coverage, and in 2015 gave ICBC permission to transfer $450 million from its optional insurance business to subsidize the basic liability insurance over which ICBC has a monopoly.