Chief privacy czar ‘pleased’ with how B.C. auto insurer protects driver privacy

By Geordon Omand


VANCOUVER _ British Columbia’s public auto insurer is “for the most part” fulfilling its duty to protect drivers’ personal information, but there is still room for improvement, the province’s privacy commissioner says.

B.C.’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner announced in February its intention to look into the information-sharing agreements used by the Insurance Corporation of B.C. to make sure it was complying with privacy legislation.

In a report released Wednesday, acting commissioner Drew McArthur said he was pleased with the findings, which concluded that disclosures by ICBC to approved third parties were generally “reasonable and proportionate.”

“The ability for individuals to control their own personal information is fundamental to protecting privacy … and is a right that citizens value,” he added.

“Public bodies need to have appropriate controls in place to protect the personal information they hold.”

The report makes 12 recommendations on how the Crown corporation can improve its information-sharing regime.

They include better tracking and review of third-party access to information, removing duplicate and outdated access of accounts of people who no longer work with authorized third parties, and conducting internal audits of the corporation’s information-sharing systems, policies and governance.

Deputy commissioner Jay Fedorak described ICBC’s database as one of the most important in the province, after the Medical Services Plan database.

“It’s extremely valuable. It contains personal information of almost every adult British Columbian,” Fedorak said in an interview.

“We believe that it’s really important, when there is this kind of sensitive information, that the public can have trust and confidence in how this information is being handled.”

ICBC issued a statement thanking the privacy commissioner for the report and it committed to implement all 12 recommendations.

“We take the protection of personal information records very seriously and accept the recommendations made in the report,” said spokeswoman Joanna Linsangen.

“We believe they will make our procedures even stronger, and have already undertaken efforts to address the commissioner’s recommendations.”

ICBC has come under fire in recent months as successive reports forecast the need for drastic rate hikes to save the floundering corporation from economic collapse.

B.C.’s first NDP government created ICBC in the 1970s to offer affordable, universal and basic auto coverage to the province’s drivers, but critics say political government interference in the intervening years has pushed the Crown corporation into financial distress.

Since taking office earlier this year, Attorney General David Eby announced a rate increase for basic insurance by 6.4 per cent, or $57 a year for the average driver.

Eby, who is also the minister in charge of ICBC, pledged to audit the Crown corporation’s operations and look for ways to reduce collisions, including broadening the use of red light cameras and cracking down on distracted driving.

Rates to jump amid growing financial losses at B.C.’s public auto insurer

By Gemma Karstens-Smith


VANCOUVER _ Insurance rates are going up for drivers in British Columbia and the province’s attorney general says the previous government is to blame.

David Eby said the Insurance Corporation of B.C. is in crisis, with financial losses totalling more than $500 million last year.

The insurance provider is asking the provincial utilities commission to hike basic rates by 6.4 per cent this year to combat the losses.

Optional rates will also jump and Eby said Tuesday that the average driver can expect an annual blended increase of eight per cent or $130 per year.

All vehicle owners in B.C. are required to purchase basic coverage through ICBC, but they can look to private insurers for optional extra coverage.

The higher rates follow a recent report from Ernst & Young that said the Crown corporation’s finances were in serious trouble and rates would need to increase 30 per cent by 2019 to cover costs.

Eby said the public auto insurer’s problems are due in part to the previous Liberal administration’s “cavalier and reckless” attitude toward the Crown corporation’s finances.

“The former government knew years ago that issues at ICBC were spiralling rapidly out of control, yet they completely failed to look out for drivers and the road users of our province. We are paying for those short-sighted decisions today,” he said.

But Andrew Wilkinson, the Liberal’s attorney general critic, said his party took steps to keep increases affordable and stable for families when ICBC’s claims surged, totalling $2.4 billion in payouts in 2015.

“Instead of offering new ideas on how to control the cost issue, Eby is attempting to lay blame for the challenges ICBC is currently facing rather than provide his own plan,” Wilkinson said.

Fixing the public auto insurer will be an ongoing project for “the next several years,” Eby said.

First steps will include an audit of ICBC’s operations and a number of initiatives aimed at reducing collisions, including activating red-light cameras 24 hours a day and a public awareness campaign highlighting the dangers of distracted driving.

“The way we identified these specific initiatives was to ensure we could, as quickly as possible, begin bending those cost curves by making B.C. roads safer, but also by identifying opportunities for savings within ICBC to get those costs down and, as a result, keep rates affordable for British Columbians,” Eby said.

Eby wouldn’t guarantee that British Columbians won’t see rate hikes again next year, but promised that he has asked ICBC to look for ways of making the costs more fair.

“It makes absolutely no sense to me that someone with a spotless driving record should be paying the same or a similar insurance rate as someone with a careless driving conviction. We need to make sure that bad drivers pay more and good drivers pay less,” he said.

ATTORNEY General David Eby on Tuesday announced a 6.4% basic-rate increase this year.

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September long weekend road trip? Make it a safe one

August 31, 2017

Long weekends are terrific – no one can dispute this – but they do mean increased traffic on the highways and a greater risk of getting in a collision. SGI is reminding motorists to do their part to make sure everyone gets to their destination safely.

“Whether you’re driving to see your family, heading to the lake, or coming into Regina for the big game, let’s make this Labour Day long weekend a safe one for everybody travelling Saskatchewan’s roads,” said Earl Cameron, Executive Vice-President of the Saskatchewan Auto Fund. “You can do that by driving sober, avoiding distractions, buckling up and obeying posted speed limits.”

Over the 2016 Labour Day long weekend, there were 265 collisions, resulting in four deaths and 55 injuries, according to preliminary data. Alcohol or drug impairment was a factor in two of those deaths and six injuries.

SGI offers the following tips for drivers hitting the road this Labour Day weekend:

  • Drive sober – Your risk of a long weekend collision nearly doubles when alcohol is involved. Saskatchewan’s tough new laws mean penalties for impaired driving start at .04 blood alcohol content (BAC), with three-day vehicle impoundments and licence suspensions. There is zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol for new drivers and anyone 21 years of age and under. If your long weekend plans involve a few drinks, plan a safe ride. If your friend has been drinking, be a good Wingman and don’t let them get behind the wheel.
  • Leave the phone alone – You’re controlling thousands of pounds of steel and glass travelling at high speeds, so that deserves your full attention. Distracted driving is the second-leading cause of fatal collisions in Saskatchewan. If you get caught driving with your phone in hand, it’s a $280 fine and four demerit points. Experienced drivers can only use their phone if it’s mounted on the dash or visor, using the one-touch or voice-activated function. Drivers in the Graduated Driver’s Licensing program are prohibited from using the phone entirely.
  • Buckle up – Seatbelts have been the law in Saskatchewan for 40 years, yet in 27 per cent of fatalities last year, someone wasn’t restrained properly. Seatbelts are mandatory for everyone and child safety seats are required for all children under seven years old.
  • Don’t speed – Hey, it’s the LONG weekend, so you’ve got plenty of time to get there. Obey posted speed limits, and watch out for construction zones and school zones where speeding tickets are even more expensive. Also, with harvest underway, slow down and be patient around any farm equipment that may be travelling along our highways and rural roads.
• • •


Customer inquiries
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182 motorists caught speeding in work zones during July Traffic Safety Spotlight

News release:

182 motorists caught speeding in work zones during July Traffic Safety Spotlight

Aug. 28, 2017

July was another busy month for law enforcement as they focused on catching drivers speeding in both municipal and highway work zones. During the monthly Traffic Safety Spotlight, 182 tickets were issued in construction zones, all related to speeding1:

  • 177 tickets for exceeding 60 km/h while passing highway workers or occupied highway equipment within a work zone
  • 5 tickets for speeding in construction zones where a flag person is present

As there are still many road construction projects across the province, SGI reminds motorists to obey speed limits and exercise caution when driving in work zones. If the work zone is signed, drivers must slow to the posted speed limits, regardless of whether workers are present. Base fines for speeding in a construction zone are triple that of a regular speeding ticket.

Other results from July’s Traffic Safety Spotlight:

  • 5,514 tickets for speeding or aggressive driving
  • 522 tickets for inappropriate or no seatbelt/child restraint
  • 462 tickets for distracted driving (including 337 for cellphone use)
  • 382 impaired driving offences (including 327 Criminal Code charges)

Follow SGI on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for tips on how to #TakeCareOutThere with other road users.

Learn more about work zones and speeding.

ICBC – Wildfire claims status update and new policies in effect

ICBC – Wildfire claims status update and new policies in effect

As the wildfires continue throughout B.C., ICBC remains committed to its customers by providing flexible and expedient service related to this situation.

ICBC has received 124 insurance claims related to the fires so far. Most vehicle damage claims were related to extreme heat and smoke damage, with some vehicles even rendered as total losses. These claims have cost ICBC approximately $500,000 to date.

Recognizing that we’re experiencing the worst wildfire season in the province’s history, ICBC has also made the following formal changes to its policies to reflect these special circumstances for customers on evacuation alert:

Allowing customers to purchase ICBC’s comprehensive coverage after a policy expires:

  • Customers whose ICBC comprehensive insurance coverage has recently expired will still be able to purchase this coverage in most situations. Contact your Autoplan broker for more details.

Allowing customers to purchase ICBC’s optional insurance for vehicles purchased from an automobile dealer:

  • Customers who already have, or have previously purchased, ICBC optional coverage, or who have never insured a vehicle in B.C., will be able to purchase full ICBC optional coverage for their newly acquired vehicle.

“Our goal is to be as responsive as possible to our customers who are caught in these unfortunate situations,” said Mark Blucher, ICBC’s president and CEO. “We have insurance and claims experts who are focused on responding to our customers’ needs and supporting our brokers under these trying circumstances.”

ICBC’s Autoplan broker partners are available to serve customers, while ICBC will continue to review all claims on a case-by-case basis and make every effort to expedite wildfire claims. Customers with a fire claim can simply file their claim online or call ICBC’s customer service centre at 1-800-663-3051.

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