New legislation could put strict controls on rate setting by B.C.’s public insurer. The “Insurance Corporation Amendment Act”, introduced in the legislature on Monday, would see an independent regulator set the Insurance Corporation of B.C.’s (ICBC) rates on basic auto insurance. “The new structure takes politics out of ICBC rate-setting and ensures open, transparent and independently regulated rates for basic auto insurance,” says Finance Minister Gary Collins. The move responds to insurer lobbying, with private insurers saying that greater competition on optional covers is only possible if ICBC’s optional covers are not subsidized by its basic auto program. The British Columbia Utilities Commission will set rates as of January 2004, rather than the provincial cabinet, if the legislation is passed. Despite insurer lobbying, last year the government refused to open basic auto coverage up for competition, but did agree to make the optional coverage market more competitive.