Letter: Good drivers are lumped in with bad

The problem is, I still can’t help but be angry over this new rate hike.

To the editor:

ICBC recently applied for a 4.9 per cent rate hike to basic vehicle insurance coverage, an increase that comes on the heels of an 11 per cent increase in 2012.

The organization sites rising bodily injury claims with higher payouts from the many turning to lawyers to represent them to dispute insurance payouts. They also note the increase in claims as a result of drivers distracted by smart phones.

In a follow up column in the Capital News (B.C. Could Be First to Ban Cell Phone Use While Driving, Sept. 5), Mr. Paul Hergott provides his take on this recent news, reminding us all that we can raise our voices to our elected officials and call for stiffer penalties for those who risk the lives of others while driving distracted.

He notes that with a stroke of a pen an all-out ban on cell phone use while driving could be implemented.

I agree with Mr. Hergott that this is likely what it will take to stop the irresponsible drivers out there from recklessly endangering the rest of us and as a result siphoning money from our wallets.

The problem is, I still can’t help but be angry over this new rate hike.

Many people, myself included drive only on occasion, choosing to use our vehicles when needed for major errands and trips out of town while walking, biking and taking transit when possible. For a driver like myself who averages only about 7,000 km a year, I fall well below the provincial average for total annual kilometers driven, and when I drive I apply my full attention to the task, driving responsibly and aware.

So, why is it that I should pay nearly the same as someone who drives 25,000 km a year or those who chronically drive distracted or just plain irresponsibly?

I’m less of a risk to the public and to ICBC yet I continue to pay for others to drive more and those who drive recklessly.

While banning cell phone use and increasing penalties for infractions is a good step, maybe it’s time to also consider an evolution of the insurance model in B.C.

Distance based insurance (also called pay as you drive or per-mile insurance) can serve to level the playing field while, as cited by The Victoria Transport Policy Institute (VTPI), help to achieve many public policy objectives such as equity, road safety, consumer savings and choice, congestion reduction energy saving and environmental protection.

The VTPI’s paper on the subject (available online) finds that distance-based insurance is both economically and technically feasible and that the model can provide significant benefits to motorists and society as a whole.

The paper outlines the benefits and challenges associated with implementation of this insurance pricing model while providing an analysis of the relationship between vehicle kilometers traveled and crash rates and consideration for how this form of insurance could be integrated into the existing model.

The paper provides information and evidence that there may not be the expected increase in rates for those who drive professionally or those who reside in rural areas (those who by virtue of location must drive more often) as distance traveled would be compared to the average within any particular rate classification. So those who drive more than the average within their rate class would pay more while those who drive less (as I do) would pay less (more ‘actuarially accurate’ as the Policy Institute states).

A more dramatic increase in insurance costs for those who drive distracted, intoxicated, or plain dangerously is yet another means by which to more equitably recoup the higher claims costs ICBC is experiencing (or just take their licenses away for good).

In addition, maybe all of us could help to reduce the mindset that a vehicular accident and subsequent court battle with ICBC is a socially acceptable cash grab to some. This mind set should not be tolerated. The majority of those injured in accidents simply wish to seek damages that they are entitled to but in some cases, with the help of lawyers some walk away with more than justifiable compensation.

Michael Kittmer,

Kelowna

 

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