Accident rate is up, and injury claims, especially older claims that started out as minor. (Black Press files)

ICBC projects deficit of $1.3 billion this year

‘Massive growth’ in injury claims costs piling up

B.C.’s public auto insurer has confirmed its losses are accelerating, with annual injury claims rising from $3 billion in 2014 to almost $4 billion today.

And in addition to a continued increase in vehicle accidents, the pressure is coming from minor injuries that have developed into big demands for compensation by personal injury lawyers.

“In recent months, we have seen the emergence of many more, large and extremely costly claims, which run into hundreds of thousands of dollars each,” ICBC said in a statement posted on its website Sunday. “In particular, older claims – some dating as far back as 2010 – which were initially presented as minor injury claims have since emerged as more complex and costly, large loss claims.

“Over the past 12 months, we have experienced an unprecedented 80 per cent growth in large loss claims which have an average cost of $450,000 per claim.”

The projected loss comes despite a 6.4 per cent basic insurance rate increase approved this month by the B.C. Utilities Commission. That translates to an average increase of $4.75 per month for personal basic insurance coverage, which took effect Nov. 1 on an interim basis.

Attorney General David Eby released a consultant’s report after the NDP government took office in July, projecting ICBC rates could rise 30 per cent by 2019 if changes aren’t made. At the time, Eby rejected the idea of “no-fault” insurance that would cap the awards available for soft tissue and other minor injuries.

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates have traded blame for the soaring increase in claim costs, which has been a cause of alarm for ICBC executives since 2013.

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