The select standing committee on provincial finance and government services held a public forum in Kelowna on Thursday to listen to public input about spending priorities for the 2019-20 provincial budget. Photo: Black Press/Barry Gerding

The select standing committee on provincial finance and government services held a public forum in Kelowna on Thursday to listen to public input about spending priorities for the 2019-20 provincial budget. Photo: Black Press/Barry Gerding

Climate change blamed for $1 billion annual B.C. property damage losses

Insurance Bureau calls for changes to revamp B.C. marketplace

ICBC’s monopoly on B.C.’s vehicle insurance market and impact of climate change were the focus of a submission by the Insurance Bureau of Canada before the provincial select standing committee on finance and government services on Thursday in Kelowna.

Aaron Sutherland, vice-president of the Insurance Bureau’s Pacific region, said B.C. residents are both paying excessively high rates for vehicle insurance compared to other provinces, and are incurring huge damage costs related to floods and wildfires initiated by weather pattern changes.

“With climate change, we see warmer winters and hot and dry summers in B.C. The last two years we have seen record flooding and wildfires,” Sutherland said.

“Since 2009, property damage losses have been at or above $1 billion across B.C.”

Sutherland said since the insurance industry assumes the cost for much of that damage, he called on the province to invest more money in infrastructure protection measures against flooding.

“We have seen some steps taken in that direction but we need to go a lot further,” Sutherland said.

He also raised concerns about the potential damage if a long-predicted major earthquake strikes B.C., saying only about 45 per cent of provincial residents have earthquake insurance.

“Of that 45 per cent, it increases to 60 per cent just within the Vancouver market and 70 per cent on Vancouver Island. But overall, that leaves close to one-half of the market who will need assistance if an earthquake occurs and that is a concern,” he noted, saying the government will be called on to help off-set the damage costs.

“So continuing public awareness is key and educating people to be prepared.”

Sutherland was one of a more than 20 organizations given a five-minute opportunity to make their pitch about what the provincial government priorities should be in the 2019-20 budget.

The select standing committee is chaired by Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith and includes among its six MLAs Liberal Dan Ashton of Penticton.

Similar meetings are being held by the committee across the province, with a final report submitted to the legislature in November.

Many of the speakers focused on the issues of post-secondary education, health, and youth and family services.

Sutherland’s argument about ICBC centred around a Crown agency monopoly shutting out the private insurance marketplace from competition, which has made it slow to react to changing marketplace conditions and rising operating deficits.

“Some reforms are coming for ICBC but none of them address the issue of the affordability challenge for drivers facing escalating insurance rates. Double digit increases are coming in the years ahead,” he said.

And he said the B.C. bad drivers argument doesn’t hold water, noting that in Alberta there are more accidents per capita but basic insurance rates are more than $400 cheaper.

He said ICBC is losing money despite having a monopoly because of operating inefficiencies and a lack of innovation in the marketplace, demands that private insurers respond to quicker to remain in business.

“A bad system is failing and it’s time to look outside for other solutions,” he said.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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

Jessica Ogden, who calls herself a water protector, not a protester, has lost an internal police complaint following several interactions with the RCMP and the legal system in 2019. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Kootenay logging blockader loses police complaint, files counterclaim against company

Court actions and police complaints stem from blockades in the Balfour and Argenta areas in 2019

Nelson Amnesty is holding its annual Write for Rights campaign Dec. 12 at the Nelson Public Library. Photo: Submitted
Amnesty International Write for Rights relevant during the pandemic

Nelson Amnesty will host the annual event Dec. 12 at the Nelson Public Library

RNG plant
Construction on ground-breaking RNG plant in Fruitvale set to go in spring 2021

REN Energy partners with Calgary engineering firm for innovative West Kootenay gas plant

Katrine Conroy’s swearing in ceremony. Photo: Kootenay West Katrine Conroy Facebook
Forestry Minister West Kootenay MLA Katrine Conroy talks about her new role

Conroy will also oversee Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Treaty

This picture of Taghum resident Marc Savard was taken in February when he first spoke to the Nelson Star and little was known about the virus that had shut him out of his job in Wuhan, China. Photo: Tyler Harper
VIDEO: Once an outlier, Nelson man’s COVID-19 experience now typical

Savard was living in Wuhan, China, when the pandemic began

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

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

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Fatty Legs co-author responds to Abbotsford class assignment on residential schools

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism ‘widespread’

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

Most Read