Darcy Repen has launched a campaign to put pressure on ICBC to make insurance rates fair for rural B.C.

Freedom of information campaign on rural vs urban ICBC rates

Former north B.C. mayor Darcy Repen is recruiting people to get ICBC info for each postal code.

A former Telkwa mayor has launched a campaign to put pressure on ICBC regarding insurance rates.

Darcy Repen first started questioning the fairness of rates because Telkwa was lumped in with Prince George in Territory R (Prince George) rather than with Smithers in Territory S (north coast).

On average, according to ICBC data from 2016, motorists in Telkwa paid an average of $110 more annually than their counterparts just 14 kilometres up Highway 16.

“We thought that was nuts being a bedroom community of Smithers,” Repen said. “But while I was doing research into that issue, I found a much bigger issue that actually affects all of rural B.C.”

“The data shows the cost and the number of crashes and injuries is much, much, much higher in the urban areas and definitely disproportionate to what they pay in premiums versus what we pay. Based on the data I can access, it looks like we are just flat out subsidizing urban drivers.”

Repen believes at least part of the reason for that is an effort by the Crown corporation to offset chronic annual losses.

READ MORE: ICBC projects $1.18 billion loss for fiscal 2018

Although the average premium is slightly higher for urban policy holders, according to ICBC’s Schedule of Basic Insurance Premiums, Repen’s calculations based on 2016 ICBC data indicate the average claims cost per policies-in-force for Lower Mainland drivers was $2,102 compared to $769 for north central, meaning, he says, northerners are effectively paying up to two times more.

The latest ICBC Rate Design application to the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) indicates the insurer intends to reduce the rates for its northern territories by between 3.5 per cent per year in Territory R to 5.0 per cent in Territory V (Peace River).

“They make it very clear that rural B.C. is hugely being overcharged,” Repen said. “If you do the math on that over 10 years, they are basically admitting that they are massively overcharging us, up to 50 per cent in the Peace River region and they’re not fixing it, they’re gradually doing that over 10 years.”

ICBC spokesperson Joanna Linsangan did not validate nor invalidate Repen’s claims, but in a statement to The Interior News defended the boundaries and historical insurance rates.

“ICBC’s existing territories and their boundaries were established through a regulatory process a number of years ago by examining the electoral districts at the time and using actuarial analysis to determine which of these districts would best be grouped together to create today’s insurance territories,” she wrote. “Territory boundaries are one feature of our insurance rating system. Other factors include how you use your vehicle, an individual’s insurance and claims history, the type of coverage a person chooses, the vehicle a person drives, among others.”

Linsangan confirmed ICBC will not be adjusting boundaries, but said there is relief coming for Telkwa vehicle owners.

Telkwa insurance going down 30% over 10 years

“While ICBC has no immediate plans to re-examine the existing rating territories, we have made adjustments to the territory factor in response to the changes in population and infrastructure,” she said. “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 30.1 per cent.”

That is not good enough for Repen. He initially explored the possibility of a class action lawsuit, but after working with legal counsel for about a month, he said they decided it was futile.

“If we were suing ICBC it would have been a home run, but ICBC is regulated through the B.C. Utilities Commission, so what that meant was basically we would have to sue the B.C. government,” said Repen.

That does not mean he is giving up. Repen is attempting to conduct a public pressure campaign by seeking to get the ICBC data on premiums and claim costs broken down by postal code for the past five years.

He believes access to that data is essential to ensuring fairness, and is coordinating an effort to get individual citizens to make FOI requests for one specific rural and one specific urban postal code. He is doing it that way because he believes asking for all the data at once would be cost prohibitive since B.C. charges for the time spent searching for and retrieving information after an initial three-hour period. In the province, there are 191 forward sortation areas (the first half of the postal code) and up to 43 local delivery units in each of those.

Repen says approximately 10 people, including himself, have already submitted FOI requests. Linsangan confirmed Repen’s request is being processed.

“I’ve looked into Mr. Repen’s FOI request, and it is in the queue to be completed, but I should note that there is a long list of data requests before his,” she said.

The Interior News has requested access to the data outside of the formal FOI process.

Just Posted

Military called in to remove inert practice round found in Quesnel industrial park

A maintenance worker mowing the grass found the round, which turned out to no longer be explosive

Ranch Musings: No-till pasture rejuvenation and sivopasture trials

Columnist David Zirnhelt is hosting a field day Aug. 29 in Beaver Valley

Meet Tour de North cyclist Chris Fedoruk

Quesnel man is a community rider with this year’s Cops for Cancer team

Forestry Ink: Forest tenure changes are occurring throughout the world

Regular columnist Jim Hilton writes about forest tenure and ownership

Quesnel Safeway honours its volunteer shoppers

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Safeway’s volunteer shopper program

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

Most Read