June 18, 2001 by Canadian Underwriter
Speaking at the recently held AGM of the Insurance Brokers Association of British Columbia (IBABC) in Kelowna, George Cooke of the Dominion of Canada General Insurance Co. praised the "unwavering commitment" of the province’s new premier Gordon Campbell to increase private enterprise in B.C. Specifically, Cooke refers to the new Liberal provincial government’s stated position to investigate competition and consumer choice within B.C.’s auto insurance market, which since the early 1970s has been underwritten by the government’s crown insurer, The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).
In order for private sector insurers to compete in B.C. auto marketplace, the playing-field will have to be "leveled", says Cooke. "I’m keen to compete on a level playing-field, but I do not consider a government-owned monopoly to come close to being a legitimate competitor. The playing-field in British Columbia must be leveled."
Cooke points out that, under the current ICBC-based auto insurance system, premium rates within the province are unfairly determined to subsidize "bad risks" against "good risks". His comment refers to ICBC’s practice of charging standard rates for all drivers, regardless of age. "that is wrong and unfair. Add to this that taxpayers who don’t drive at all are paying for those who do [through tax subsidies ICBC as a crown corporation enjoys]."
Furthermore, Cooke took aim at the financial structure of the ICBC. "I suggest that, as the [financial] books [of ICBC] are opened up, we will find that there is a significant, under-funded liability in the ICBC underwritten by the taxpayers of British Columbia, whether they know it or not." Cooke called on the B.C. government to act "as quickly as possible" in disclosing the financial state of ICBC to the public. He adds that this is necessary step if open competition within the province’s auto insurance market is to take place by 2003.