Pandemic reduces ICBC’s claim costs, but crashes investments, says Eby

VICTORIA _ The COVID-19 pandemic has sideswiped British Columbia’s public vehicle insurer, but the attorney general says it’s too soon to assess the potential damage.

David Eby, who is also the minister responsible for the Insurance Corporation of B.C., says claim costs are down about $160 million because there have been fewer accidents as drivers stay home.

But he says plunging prices on global stock markets have hit the corporation’s investment portfolio.

Eby says a clear picture of the pandemic’s affect on ICBC won’t be known until the end of the fiscal year in March.

At that time, he says ICBC will be in a better position to decide whether drivers will get a one-time rebate or if the money should be contributed to the corporation’s depleted surplus.

ICBC president Nicolas Jimenez says the corporation remains on track in implementing changes announced earlier this year that could save drivers about $400 a year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2020.

Fewer drivers during pandemic no excuse to speed

Fewer drivers during pandemic no excuse to speed

With fewer vehicles on our roads right now, drivers may be tempted to speed. Even though it seems safer with fewer cars on the road, it isn’t. Speeding increases your risk of crashing and reduces the amount of time you have to react to the unexpected. ICBC is asking that we all do our part to prevent crashes, keep people safe, and avoid putting additional pressure on B.C.’s first responders and medical resources.

Every year, 82 people are killed in speed-related crashes, making speed the number one cause of car crash fatalities in B.C.*

Police have observed an increase in drivers speeding since B.C. declared a state of emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is why ICBC, the B.C. government and police are launching a month-long campaign focusing on speed and urging drivers to slow down.

Speeding is a concern for all road users, not just drivers. Many families are taking this time to get outside for walks or bike rides so it’s important for drivers to be extra cautious and look out for pedestrians and cyclists.

The campaign includes radio and digital advertising plus social media reminding drivers that the faster you go, the easier it is to make a mistake. Remember, if you must go out, check your speed and drive within the limits.

Learn interesting facts, get tips and more on icbc.com.

Quotes:

Chief Officer Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee

“While everyday life has recently changed for many in B.C., nothing has changed when it comes to road safety. Speed, distracted driving and impaired driving are just a few of the high-risk driving behaviours that put everyone at risk. With the use of intersection safety cameras and dedicated police agencies throughout the province, drivers are sure to be caught and held accountable when they make the choice to disregard the rules of the road.”

Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s Vice-President Public Affairs and Driver Licensing

“Whether you’re a driver, rider, cyclist or pedestrian – we can all play our part over the coming months by only travelling when necessary, and taking extra care on every journey. Driving over the speed limit really doesn’t get you there noticeably sooner, and instead increases your chances of crashing.”

Regional statistics*:

  • On average, 26 people are killed every year in the Lower Mainland from speed-related crashes.

  • On average, 12 people are killed every year on Vancouver Island from speed-related crashes.

  • On average, 27 people are killed every year in the Southern Interior from speed-related crashes.

  • On average, 18 people are killed every year in North Central B.C from speed-related crashes.

*Police-reported data, five-year average from 2014 to 2018.

Speed includes unsafe speed, exceeding

More support for B.C. drivers as ICBC reinstates some knowledge tests by appointment

More support is on the way for British Columbians who want to take a knowledge test, as ICBC implements additional physical distancing measures to ensure the safety of customers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qualifying customers can call to book an appointment for a knowledge test at select locations beginning May 4th and at offices throughout the province by May 11th. Locations offering testing can be confirmed when booking an appointment. Scheduled appointments will allow ICBC to provide an important service to impacted customers while ensuring our commitment to adhering to physical distancing guidelines. Enhanced physical distancing measures, such as glass dividers, have or are currently being installed for the safety of customers and staff. The expansion of knowledge testing for some customers is part of ICBC’s ongoing commitment to support customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anyone with a Class 5-8 learner’s licence that expired on or after March 1st or will expire within two weeks from when they phone to book, will be eligible to book a knowledge test appointment. Translator services are currently not allowed as physical distancing guidelines cannot be maintained, however, non-commercial knowledge tests are currently translated into 11 common languages.

Customers whose Class 5-8 learner’s licence expired on or after March 17, when ICBC suspended road tests due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will not have to pay a fee for their first knowledge test. At this time, knowledge tests are not available for first-time learner applicants.

Knowledge tests by appointment will also be available for residents who are new to B.C. where there is a legislative requirement to change their licences within 90 days, and for all commercial learner class applicants, including air brakes and heavy trailer. To ensure safety and physical distancing in the offices, commercial stand-by or walk-in knowledge tests will be discontinued as of May 2nd and will then be made by appointment only.

Customers will also be able to book an appointment for their Motorcycle Skills Testing (MST), which will re-commence on May 11th. The MST will be available for those people who hold an existing learner’s licence or whose learner’s licence expired on or after March 1.

“We know many British Columbians are facing challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Nicolas Jimenez, President and CEO, ICBC. “By introducing knowledge tests by appointment we hope to support customers who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic while still enabling offices to conduct operations safely. We continue to adapt and respond as the pandemic continues, ensuring that the safety of our customers and staff remains the priority.”

Eligible customers should call ICBC’s driver licence contact centre at 1-800-950-1498 and leave a voicemail message requesting a knowledge test. Customers will receive a callback from an ICBC representative, who will identify available testing locations and book the appointment. All appointments will be 45 minutes per knowledge test and the number of available appointments will vary depending on location. Customers can book their motorcycle skills test online or can call 1-800-950-1498.

ICBC has already implemented several other measures to help British Columbians during the pandemic, such as:

  • waiving the $30 cancellation fee and $18 re-plating fee for those customers who choose to cancel their insurance during this time.

  • establishing the ability to conduct a number of transactions by phone or email, such as renewing driver’s licences set to expire, and renewing insurance; and

  • allowing customers who pay for their insurance on a monthly basis to defer payments for up to 90 days with no penalty.

ICBC continues to review its operations to support the safety and well-being of its customers and employees, and will make additional changes as necessary.

For additional measures taken during COVID-19:

B.C. securities panel orders companies, founders to pay $37 million in fines

VANCOUVER _ A group of companies and its founders have been fined nearly $37 million by a B.C. Securities Commission panel that says they misled investors, conducted unregistered trading and illegally sold securities.

The panel says it ordered FS Financial Strategies and six other companies in B.C., Alberta and Ontario to pay $32.8 million for  “making misrepresentations to hundreds of investors” as well as illegally selling securities and unregistered trading.

It also ordered company founders Aik Guan (Frankie) Lim and Scott Thomas Low to pay $2 million each, and permanently banned them from B.C.’s investment markets.

The former general manager of the companies, Darrell Wayne Wiebe, has been ordered to pay $75,000 and is banned from B.C.’s investment markets for a decade.

The securities commission says in a news release that Lim, Low and the FS Group admitted to raising over $47 million from 389 investors without disclosing that the company wasn’t profitable and was covering its shortfalls by raising more money from investors.

The panel says in its decision that it’s unlikely the FS Group can repay investors, and after the commission issued a temporary order in 2017 against the companies, the Insurance Council of British Columbia suspended or terminated licences to sell insurance for the founders and the companies.

The commission also says Lim and Low sold $29 million in securities in violation of a 2014 legal commitment to the securities commission not to trade or distribute securities until one of its companies had filed the proper documents and refunded investor loans.

“The seriousness of the misconduct was magnified by the significant amount of money and large number of investors involved, and the duration of the misconduct,” the panel says in its ruling.

The commission’s news release says Lim, Low and the FS Group admitted to the misconduct in an agreed statement of facts filed last year. In a separate agreement, it says Wiebe admitted to going along with the conduct.

The agreements led to a hearing in February to determine the sanctions.

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