TUESDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — Transportation Minister Todd Stone is suitably indignant about an ICBC insurance-premiums mess that will cost $110 million to fix.
“I am as angry as I expect British Columbians to be over this operational error at ICBC, which for the past six years has been overcharging some customers and undercharging other customers for optional insurance,” Stone said in a written statement. “This is not acceptable, and British Columbians expect more from their public auto insurer. ”
During a computer upgrade, ICBC discovered it overcharged customers $36 million for optional insurance and undercharged others a total of $71 million. Add interest and other costs of fixing the problem, overtime for staff and mailing out refunds and the bill comes to $110 million.
ICBC CEO Mark Blucher promises the situation will be rectified within 90 days and that computer records only go back six years.
An estimated 240,000 customers were overcharged and 350,000 were undercharged because of incorrect vehicle descriptions. The average repayment will be $21 per driver per year for each of the six years.
Stone says that, in addition to undercharged drivers not being back-billed, the mistake won’t result in higher premiums.
“I will be watching this very carefully,” he told the Vancouver Province.
So it’s good that Stone is PO’d along with drivers but the problem didn’t become public by ICBC’s, the government’s or Stone’s doing. Only when the Province obtained an email about it and asked for an explanation did Stone acknowledge the mistake, and then promise it will be looked after.
Stone was told about it in late February. It’s unclear exactly when ICBC discovered it except that it was some time last year. The rationale for not telling the public is that ICBC was assessing the extent of the problem and working out a repayment plan and wanted to have all the details in place before announcing anything.
That’s not good enough. The public deserved to know what ICBC knew as soon as it knew it. Stone should have made sure of that. Details of what was going to be done about it could have been explained later.