The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (“ICBC”) has apologized to British Columbia drivers for an “operational error” which overcharged thousands of drivers on optional insurance for an undetermined length of time.
Gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, doesn’t it?
ICBC CEO and President Mark Blucher has admitted that ICBC actually has no idea how long the errors go back because it only has six years of computer records. Records beyond that time have been inconveniently—or conveniently, depending upon your perspective—purged. Mr. Blucher added that ICBC is “committed” to reimbursing overcharged drivers back as far as six years.
In addition to those overcharged, thousands of drivers were undercharged. ICBC has stated that those drivers will not face retrospective charges or higher premiums as a result. This makes the total loss to ICBC $110 million.
Instead of accepting responsibility for a blunder that cost British Columbia drivers untold millions which will never be properly quantified and thus never be paid back, Mr. Blucher placed the blame on—and I am not making this up—a “40-year-old computer system”.
Losing that warm fuzzy feeling from the apology yet?
Somehow, I very much doubt that if one could walk through ICBC’s expansive head office in North Vancouver one would see office after office with an IBM 1500 computer on its desk. Not only is the warm fuzzy feeling gone, but the apology begins to leave a bad taste in your mouth when you consider that Mr. Blucher admitted the blunder became apparent in mid 2013, but was not disclosed to the public until it was uncovered by the news media recently. Mr. Blucher has stated the reason for the delay in informing the public was “to not create too much concern and anxiety for our customers” concluding “we felt, on balance, it was better we had this issue right at the time we’re able to tell them precisely what the differences are for them, and give them a cheque and a letter outlining that for them”.
It is interesting to note that ICBC’s application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission for a 4.9% basic insurance rate increase was made in August of 2013, suspiciously close to the reported “mid 2013” time period the blunder was “discovered” by ICBC.
ICBC justifies this rate hike by placing the blame on personal injury lawyers, whom it alleges escalate settlement costs simply by being retained. This is an interesting and highly hypocritical statement from a party that, instead of offering a fair settlement at the onset, frequently increases costs by needlessly complicating and prolonging the settlement of personal injury cases. This misguided tried and true ICBC policy very often results in litigation costs far exceeding the fair amount that would have settled the matter without the need for months or even years of additional legal fees payable to ICBC defence counsel. For a comment on ICBC’s dubious justification for a rate increase, see the September 10, 2013 article: ICBC versus those Damn Lawyers.
Of course, it is quite possible that what appears to be a fairly contemporaneous realization ICBC would be on the hook for millions as a result of this blunder and an application for a rate hike could be unrelated and a complete coincidence. What do you think?
Einfeld Law is a highly knowledgeable and experienced BC personal injury law firm specializing in motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents, and other negligence claims involving bodily injury. We have successfully litigated many ICBC and other insurance claims, including out of province, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury, whiplash, soft tissue injury, and all other bodily injury claims. We have collected millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. We never act for ICBC or other insurance companies.