Adrian Dix, the opposition critic for ICBC will be asking the Transportation Minister Todd Stone, why ICBC’s management salaries have increased at the same time as the number of unsettled claims has increased. Dix points out that the number of ICBC employees earning more than $150,000 has more than tripled since 2006. In 2006 ICBC had 41 employees earning $150,000 or more. In 2014 there were 145. During the same time period front line staff roles have been cut by nine percent. CEO Mark Blucher’s salary went from $313,500 in 2011 to $439,095 in 2014, a 35% increase. Since 2010 $1.2 billion of ICBC profits were sent to government coffers. In 2016 ICBC is asking for an increase to your premiums by as much as 5.5%.
These are a lot of numbers but what do they mean for the individuals who have been involved in a car accident and are having to turn to ICBC for compensation? In the last 10 years unpaid claims have gone from $109 million to $523 million in 2014. A 2014 survey of ICBC employees found staff satisfaction at an all time low. Employees complain about high stress and low morale. They complain of being overworked, with too high of a file load. Have the staff cuts made it impossible for ICBC adjusters to deal with personal injury claims in a timely way? The numbers seem to indicate that. Transportation Minister Todd Stone points to potential fraud as the reason for the increasing numbers of unpaid claims rather than staff cuts. He says that although the number of car accidents has remained roughly the same, the number of claims has increased. He says that in the year 2015 there were 7000 more claims than in 2014. the statistics released by ICBC in February 2016 indicate a 5 year average from 2009 – 2013 of 52,000 car accidents resulting in injury or fatality per year. British Columbia’s population over the same time period has not remained flat, in fact it has increased by over half a million people in the last ten years with an increased population in the last five years in Vancouver of over 200,000 people. Given this is it surprising that there would be an increasing number of injury claims? Is the increased population not a more likely explanation for an increased number of claims rather than fraud? Regardless, the 7000 more claims can not explain why ICBC has five times the number of unpaid claims than what it had 10 years ago. Those unpaid claims are a sure sign that ICBC is not handling claims in a timely and efficient manner. Something needs to change at ICBC and it is not pay more salaries to top positions or funnel more money to government coffers.
The debate in the legislature regarding this issue is bound to be interesting and hopefully ICBC will be pushed to provide real statistics that help tell the real story of what is going on at ICBC.