VANCOUVER — Transportation Minister Todd Stone says he's trying to put the brakes on British Columbia's rising vehicle insurance rates, which could have gone up by more than 15 per cent this year.
Instead, the rates are going up by 4.9 per cent, subject to a review by the B.C. Utilities Commission, said Stone. The increase went into effect Nov. 1, but could be rolled back by the commission.
Stone downplayed scenarios in documents released by the Insurance Corporation of B.C. of possible rate hikes of more than 40 per cent compounded until the end of the decade.
He said the government will not allow rate hikes at the Crown-owned insurance provider to become unaffordable, but he would not discuss rate increases beyond this year.
"I can assure British Columbians we are going to work to keep insurance rates affordable," he said.
ICBC released rate scenario forecasts Wednesday prepared by the utilities commission, the independent agency that regulates the insurance corporation.
The forecasts included three hypothetical rate scenarios based on varying assumptions, including one that suggested compounded rate increases of 42 per cent by 2020 if no efforts were made to curb costs and reduce claims.
"The (utilities commission) asked ICBC to do some rate modelling based on an extreme, worst-case, hypothetical situation and these numbers have now been made public," said Stone. "I want to reassure the public that these are extreme projections that do not consider the actions the B.C. government and ICBC are taking to reduce the pressure on rates."
Stone also announced the government's decision to no longer insure high-end luxury cars worth $150,000 or more because their repairs are too costly. He said luxury car owners will soon have to purchase private insurance to cover the costs of repairs.