Drivers in B.C. will be receiving rebate cheques from ICBC later this year.
Premier John Horgan announced Tuesday that the Crown corporation saved millions of dollars last year during the COVID-19 pandemic due to a lower number of claims, and $600 million in savings will be passed on to British Columbians.
“This will be in the form of a one-time rebate cheque averaging about $190 per policy holder, the largest single give back to policy holders in Canada through COVID-19,” the premier said, adding the insurer is in a "favourable" financial position.
Drivers who held policies with ICBC between Apr. 1 and Sept. 30 of last year will be eligible and cheques will be sent out starting in March.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the amount people receive will depend on the level of coverage.
“If you had full policy coverage during that time then obviously you would get full coverage in the rebate, which I think works out to about 19 per cent. And then if you were partially insured during that time then it would be a partial rebate coverage,” Farnworth said.
When asked why it’s taken a number of months for the rebate to be announced, Horgan said his government needed to be cautious given ICBC’s previous “volatility in their financial position.”
“We wanted to be absolutely clear we weren’t doing damage to the corporation that had just turned itself around to meet what we believe is a legitimate return to policy holders,” Horgan said.
ICBC president and CEO Nicolas Jimenez said the rebates will be calculated automatically.
“We know precisely what people paid for how long their policies were active between April and September and it is very accurate for us to be able to calculate the reduction they’re owed as a result of this COVID benefit,” Jimenez said.
The BC Liberals say the rebate is too low.
"Motorists have paid into insurance and seen a 50 per cent reduction in accidents, so would that equate to a 50 per cent reduction in premiums?” said Mark Morris, the official opposition critic for Public Safety and Solicitor General.
He also questioned why the government has not released any financial records related to ICBC.
“I don't know how the math works, but I'd like to find out,” he said.
Earlier this month, the B.C. Utilities Commission approved a 15 per cent rate cut which takes effect May 1.