Blog

Recently Released Claims Data Explains ICBC's Improved Finances

Using claims data obtained through the FOI process, this paper summarizes the recent decline in ICBC's Basic claims and claim costs. This data should be part of ICBC's regular reporting.

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Auto Insurance Affordability is an Issue in the Saskatchewan Election

Auto insurance affordability is an issue in the Saskatchewan election, where robust capital reserves have promted the opposition NDP to pledge rebates and a rate reduction. The main parties in BC have avoided the issue of ICBC's low capital reserves.

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Media Interviews of Richard McCandless

This summary provides a single source for a number of media interviews provided by Richard McCandless.

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Liberal Party's Populist Approach for Auto Insurance Severely Flawed

The Liberal party's populist promises to remake the auto insurance market have significant problems for ICBC and for policyholdrs in general. Affordability and expanded coverage can be be achieved theough adhering to the monopoly no-fault model.

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ICBC's Q1 Results: Rebound in Investments Helps Rebuild Some Equity

The first quarter results show a marked rebound in net income and the value of the financial investments compared to three months ago. This paper highlights three areas.

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Taxpayer Federation's Call for a COVID-19 Rebate Misplaced

With a slide into negative equity, ICBC does not have any capacity to provide policyholders with a COVID-19 driven rebate as advocated by the BC wing of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. To do so would expose taxpayers to a greater risk of subsidizing policyholders.

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ICBC's 2019/20 Annual Report: Further Losses and Negative Equity

The 2019/20 annual report presents a mixed picture with a number of positive signs, as outlied in Occasional Paper No. 71. It will take some time to restore the financail health of our public insurer.

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ICBC's Premium Revenue Rebounds to More Normal Levels: Specific Operational Data Not Available

ICBC recently reported a significant increase in vehicle reinsurance reflecting a return to more normal vehicle use. Unfortunately its financial data for 2019/20 has not been released by the government, nor any service or performance data.

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Is Alberta About to Expand No-Fault Auto Insurance?

A pending report from a government appointed panel is expected to recommend an expansion of no-fault insurance in that province. The attached commentary has a closer look.

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Manitoba" Auto Insurer Plans a 10.5% Rate Reduction

The public auto insurer in Manitoba plans an overall 10.5% reduction in Basic rates for April 2021. Because the new no-fault model for ICBC is based on the Manitoba system a closer look is warranted.

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Low Interest Rates Bad News for ICBC's and BC Hydro's Balance Sheets

The prospect of continuing low interest rates will place further strain on the financial statements of ICBC and BC Hydro. The poor financial health could twart government attempts to lower insurace rates or provide cheaper electricity.

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ICBC Report Distorts the Financial Impact of COVID-19

A new ICBC report distorts the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its revenue and expenditures, presenting what is likely the worst case scenario. This further erodes the public's trust in our public auto insurer.

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Where Is ICBC's Report on a Possible Rebate?

A month ago Attorney General Eby said he had asked ICBC for a report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its finances. This commentary suggests what such a report might disclose.

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Will the BCUC be Permitted to Decide if ICBC's Windfall Savings are Rebated to Policyholders?

The government should take the opportunity presented by ICBC's windfall claims cost savings to de-politicize rate decisions. It should allow the BCUC to make the determination as to whether the savings should be rebated to policyholders.

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Will ICBC Reduce Premiums to Reflect Lower Risk and Fewer Claims?

This paper reviews the decision of Allstate Insurance to provide a premium rebate to return some of the windfall claims savings to its customers. The government has not stated if ICBC will also return some of the windfall savings to policyholders.

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Looming Insolvency: Covid-19 Threatens ICBC's Financial Health

The recent financial market melt-down has reduced ICBC investment assets. ICBC's lack of a capital reserve will likely mean that its liabilites will exceed its assets by year-end.

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ICBC Reports Show Improvement in Finances: But Not In Transparency and Accountability

Occasional Paper No. 70 reviews ICBC's third-quarter report for 2019/20 as well as the year-end forecast. There has been a major improvement in the operating results, but the lack of service measure data makes analysis difficult. ICBC has not improved its transparency and accountability.

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No-Fault Insurance; Media Comment and Background Material

A compendium of media reports and commentary on the change in the liability model announced on 6 Fenruary 2020.

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Fact Check: ICBC Losses Have Not Displaced Spending on Other Programs

Finance Minister Carole James suggested that the losses at ICBC have displaced government spending on other programs. This is not correct.

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Move to No-Fault Insurance Achieves Government's Affordability Objective

The recent decision by the government to adopt a no-fault enhanced care model marks a fundamental change for auto insurance in B.C. This paper reviews some of the benefits.

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Unlike ICBC Other Public Auto Insurers Have Much Lower Rates and Healthy Finances

This paper suggests that the arguing that private insurers could provide lower rates compared to a public model misses the main reason for the lower rates enjoyed by drivers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The lower rates are the result of the no-fault liability model.

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Restoring Public Trust in ICBC Requires More Than the Tepid Moves Announced by Minister Eby

The changes announced by minister Eby do little to improve accountability at ICBC. This paper provides suggestions to improve ICBC's public reports.

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Recent Initiatives Respecting Auto Insurance in B.C.

This commentary reviews a number of developments respecting auto insurance in B.C. and Alberta that occurred during the last two weeks.

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ICBC's Second Quarter 2019/20 Financial Results

This commentary reviews ICBC's April to September 2019 financial report to determine if the forecasted $91 million year-end operating loss is reasonable. Unfortunately, ICBC continues to restrict the information available making a proper review impossible.

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ICBC's Losses Do Not Automatically Result in a Reduction in Government Services

Public sector accounting standards require that ICBC's operating losses be deducted from the government's total revenue, but this does not translate into a reduction in funding for government programs. The accounting standard adds to the confusion about the impact of ICBC's operations on the government's finances.

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Flurry of Media Reports on ICBC's Finances

A summary of media reports from October 24th to November 1st respecting ICBC's finances. Includes comments by Todd Stone and hints by David Eby about no-fault.

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Manitoba Government Charged with Interfering with Crown Insurer

This paper reviews recent initiatives by the Manitoba government to provide direction to the Crown insurer and the provincial regulator. A comparison is made to British Columbia, where provincial governments have a been interfering with ICBC and the B.C. Utilities Commission for years. 

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Was Limiting Expert Reports Good Public Policy or a Gambit to Avoid Insolvency at ICBC?

It now appears that the cabinet-ordered limit on expert reports was rushed to avoid insolvency at ICBC as of 31 March 2019.

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ICBC Provides Details on the Expert Report Savings

On October 18, 2019, Lindsay Matthews provided a response to my questions about the estimated savings resulting from the government's limitation on the number of expert reports.

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Minister Responsible for ICBC Says Those Facing Large Premium Increases Should Buy Less Insurance

Yesterday on CFAX radio, Attorney General David Eby suggested that young and inexperienced policyholders facing massive price increases should purchase less insurance. My comments are attached.

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Higher Risk Alberta Drivers Denied Optional Coverage

In the evolving "crisis" in the Alberta auto insurance market it now appears that drivers with moving violation convictions are being denied Optional coverage.

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ICBC's First Quarter Report: Too Soon to Draw Conclusions

This Commentary discusses key aspects of the Q1 financial report. ICBC needs to include service measures with the financial data.

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Alberta Government Removes Cap on Auto Insurance Rate Increases.

The new Albetra government has eliminated the 5% limit on auto insurance rate increases imposed by the NDP government in December 2017. The limit, combined with large increases in claims costs, was causing distortions in the market, and large rate increases. The government has yet to address the coverage issues. The B.C. government continues to limit increases in ICBC's Basic insurance.

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Insurance Brokers Association Exectutive Director Supports Public Auto Insurance Model

In the August edition of The Broker magazine Chuck Byrne, the exectutive director of the Insurance Brokers Association, wrote an editorial in support of the public model for the provision of compulsory insurance. Exerpts of this editorial are attached.

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New Report Shows Auto Insurance Rates Escalating in Alberta and Ontario: Is More Competition Really the Key to Lower Rates?

A new report shows significant increases in the cost of auto insurance in Alberta and Ontario. This seems to contridict the claims that competition results in lower prices.

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Teetering on the Brink of Insolvency: A Look at ICBC's 2018/19 Financials.

Occasional Paper No. 69 reviews the highlights of ICBC's 2018/19 annual report and suggests areas for further review.

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Manitoba Insurer Plans Minor Rate Increase for 2020: Strengthened Capital Reserve.

The MPI is on solid financial footing and seeks to stregthen the Basic capital reserve. It is seeking a minimal Basic rte increase for 2020. The no-faulth auto insurance model in Manitoba is compared to the scheme in BC.

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ICBC Statistical Summary.

Occasional Paper No. 68 attempts to provide a single source of key service measure data at the program level for the last four or five years. This is to compensate for the dearth of such information provided by ICBC.

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Are B.C. Drivers Adequately Insured?

This Commentary attempts to answer the question as to what percentage of BC drivers carry additional third-party liability insurance greater than the $200,000 limit in the compulsory Basic program. ICBC does not make public its Optional sales.

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The Cost to ICBC of Aging Drivers.

The government is lowering the seniors' discount from 25% to 15%, but still requiring other policyholders to pay more to make-up for the lost revenue. What dos this subsidy cost?

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Retreat from Transparency: ICBC Deems Average Claims Data Confidential.

At a time when the concept of a public monopoly providing auto insurance is being questioned, one would expect ICBC to retain the public's support by being transparent and accountable. Unfortunately, the opposite appears to be the philosophy adopted by the management at ICBC as evidenced by witholding the forecast injury severities from public view.

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Recent Provincial Reports on Auto Insurance.

The Newfoundland and Labrador public utilities board recently released its report on auto insurance in that province. In 2017 reports commissioned by the governments of Ontario and British Columbia were released. The three reports are attached.

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Is the Attorney General Getting Poor Advice from ICBC?

This commentary explores three areas where ICBC appears to be providing poor advice, focusing in particular on financial forecasting and an apparent move to reduce transparancey and accountability.

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Request that the BCUC Overrule ICBC on Filing Injury Claim Severities.

ICBC has refused to publically file certain historic injury claim severities for settled claims. This request seeks an order from the B.C. Utilities Commission to require ICBC to publicly file the information.

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Government Extracts $70 Million from Hard-Pressed ICBC Policyholders.

This commentary explores how the government receives $70 million annually in driver license fees while ICBC's Basic policyholders must pay the cost as part of their annual insurance. The provincial fee scheme appears contrary to a 1998 Supreme Court of Canada decision respecting fees versus taxes. The government should correct this double payment.

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Insurance Bureau Report Compares Auto Rates in B.C. and Alberta.

On 20 March 2019 the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released a report that compared auto insurance rates in B.C. and Alberta. It argued that the price difference was the result of competition;http://assets.ibc.ca/Documents/Auto%20Insurance/BC-Auto/Comparison-of-Auto-Insurance-in-BC-and-Alberta.pdf. ICBC issued a statement; https://www.icbc.com/about-icbc/newsroom/Pages/2019-mar19.aspx. See also  https://vancouversun.com/news/politics/b-c-drivers-pay-more-than-albertans-for-same-auto-insurance-report.

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Observations on ICBC's Financial Forecast and the Fiscal Plan.

Occasional Paper No. 66 reviews aspects of ICBC's latest 3-year financial forecast, and suggests that the claims costs for 2019/20 are overstated. The absence of the assumptions used to develop the forecasts makes any detailed analysis impossible. Also discussed is the accounting treatment of the net income of ICBC and B.C. Hydro.

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Will ICBC Avoid Insolvency by Year-End 2018/19?

This commentary discusses two recent changes to how ICBC pays for injury claims, and whether these changes will support a lower deficit forecast for fisal year-end. Whether this will be enough to avoid insolvency by 31 March 2019 is the open question. Also included is Ian Mulgrew's report of 18 February 2019; https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/ian-mulgrew-icbc-trial-strategy-slammed 

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ICBC Now Insolvent: Is a Taxpayer Bail-out Imminent?

ICBC's third-quarter report showed an operating loss of $890 million and liabilities exceeding assests by $119 million. ICBC is now insolvent. The question is whether the coverage changes will produce sufficient savings to stablize ICBC's finances?

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ICBC Seeks to Reduce Already Minimal Optional Information.

This paper examines ICBC's request to eliminate information on its Optional program's market share in the context of the lack of information on this aspect of its operation.

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Regulator Failed to Warn of ICBC's Financial Crisis.

The BC Utilities Commission's process for reviewing ICBC's Basic rate requests is not designed to link to the fiscal year, not to multi-year forecasts. This should be reformed to provide an early warning system for the future.

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Saskatchewan Auto Fund Reports Healthy Second Quarter

The paper reviews the SAF Q2 results with the forecasted position of the ICBC Basic program for 2018/19.

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Financial Meltdown at ICBC May Force Government Bailout.

The recent 6.3% rate increase filing suggests that the government may be forced to bailout ICBC as the capital reserve is eliminated.

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Manitoba Basic Rates to Rise 1.8 Per Cent--ICBC's Increase Likely Much Higher.

The Manitoba regulator just approved a 1.8% rate increase for complusory auto insurance. Why are the Basic rate increases in Saskatchewan and Manitoba much less than for ICBC? 

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Government Requires Money-Losing ICBC to Fund More Traffic Enforcement

The government has directed ICBC to fund more traffic enforcement, but its more of a restoration. And why is the government not funding more police traffic enforcement instead of asking over-burdened policyholders to do it?

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ICBC's Q2 Results: More Red Ink and Even Less Transparency

On Friday the government released ICBC's second quarter excuse for a quarterly report, and a unsubstantiated forecast of a $890 million loss for the current fiscal year. Occasional Paper 64 reviews the numbers and suggests that the year-end forecast may be optimistic.

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Ride-Share Auto Insurance Options

This paper outlines the insurance plans in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and the blanket insurance option required by Uber and Lyft.

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Ontario Review Promises Greater Transparency and Accountability.

Commentary on certain aspects of the Ontario government's plans regarding electricity pricing and auto insurance regulation.

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New Fraser Institute Paper on ICBC.

A commentary on a paper released by the Fraser Institute on certain aspects of the finances of ICBC.

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Terminology and Perceptions of ICBC.

Driver-based penalties are increasing by 20% today, with another 20% increase planned for 2019. ICBC calls the penalty a premium, which confuses this penalty with the vehicle premium. Confusion is part of the reason for the low public perception of our auto insurer.

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Unknown Driver Fee a Symptom of Larger Problem.

Is the new penalty and protection fee an abuse of monopoly power and an attempt to achieve risk pricing perfection?

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NDP Perpetuates Liberal Practices Regarding ICBC: Keeps Watchdog Confined. September 4, 2018.

This paper discusses the fact that the NDP government is using cabinet orders to control ICBC's finances and keep the B.C. Utilities Commission confined. These were the tactics used by the previous government to avoid public oversight.

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ICBC Suffers Worst Ever Financial Year. August 28, 2018.

The just released 2017/18 annual report shows a combined Basic and Optional operating loss of $1.3 billion, and the capital reserves are now dangerously below the safety margins. Occasional Paper No. 60 reviews some of the key indicators.

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Media Commentary on New Basic Rate Design. August 28, 2018.

Some of the key media reporting and comments on the changes to the Basic rate design announced on August 9, 2018.

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Observations Respecting ICBC's New Premium Model. August 16, 2018.

The new Basic premium model targets younger drivers, and at-fault drivers to give a financial benefit to older drivers. More comments are included in Occasional Paper No. 59.

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Delayed Rate Increase to Cost ICBC up to $150 million. August 12, 2018.

The government's decision to postpone a general rate increase until April 2019 will reduce ICBC's already low capital reserve by perhaps $150 million in 2018/19.

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Positive 2017/18 Financial Results from Public Auto Insurers Contrasts With ICBC Forecast. July 18, 2018.

This paper reviews the positive 2017/18 annual reports of the public auto insurers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba for both the compulsory Basic and the optional programs. This contrasts with ICBC's forecasted combined loss of $1.4 billion.

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Why Does the Government Condone Poor Public Accountability at ICBC? June 25, 2018.

This paper examins ICBC's main accountability reports in light of the accountability model adopted by government in the early 2000's. The level of public accountability is poor, and the government should require ICBC to make significant improvements.

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Commentary on Results of Opinion Survey on ICBC Rates. May 21, 2018.

This paper reviews the key results of the government's public opinion survey on potential changes to ICBC's driver penalties and the design of Basic rates.

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Should the Government Return the $1.2 Billion Appropriated from ICBC Poilcyholders? April 20, 2018.

Between 2010 and 2015 the provincial government appropriated almost $1.2 billion of Optional policyholders' capital. Now -- with the province's finances healthy and the ICBC capital reserves almost eliminated -- would seem an appropriat time to return the funds. Occasional Paper No. 56 estimates the Basic and Optional capital shortfalls to 2021/22.

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Fraser Institute Report on ICBC's Finances: Late and Confusing. April 11, 2018.

My comments on the Fraser Institute's report "The Decline and Fall of ICBC."

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Subsidizing Seniors: ICBC and BC Ferries. April 9, 2018.

The recent announcement of an increase in the fare subsidy for seniors on the BC Ferries prompted me to review an earlier estimate on the cost of the 25% seniors' subsidy at ICBC's Basic insurance. If the government funded the sudsidy it would relieve some of the pressure on Basic rates.

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ICBC Rate Re-Design; Evidence or Populism?

Occasional Paper No. 54 looks at the current design for pricing risk and some of the changes being suggested in the current public consultation.

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Commentary on ICBC Rate Design Proposals. March 8, 2018.

My comments on certain aspects for the latest proposals to make Basic insurance rates "fairer." It seems that most of the proposals will result in less generous discounts and greter revenue for ICBC.

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ICBC's Three-Year Forecast Raises Many Questions. February 27, 2018.

ICBC's 2017/18 to 2020/21 financial forecast shows the combined capital reserve falling to dangerously low levels. However many inconsistencies make the forecast suspect. Also included is Acting CEO Nicolas Jimenez's email of March 15th, my reply of March 19th and his reply of March 28th.

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Accounting Treatment of ICBC's Net Loss Complicates Provincial Budget. February 17, 2018.

The national public sector accounting rules require that ICBC's net income or loss be counted in the government's revenue. The increase in the net loss reduces revenue, but there is no change in the actual cash being transferred (which is nil). This accounting anomoly requires further review.

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Comment: Changes Coming to ICBC's Injury Model. February 8, 2018.

On 6 February 2018, minister responsible David Eby announced major changes to injury claims process and coverage, with expanded no-fault accident benefits and monetary limits, and a $5,500 cap on pain and suffering claims for "minor" injuries. The government expects that these changes will reduce annual claims costs by approximately $1.0 billion.

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The 'Transaction' Cost of the Tort Model. February 5, 2018.

This paper suggests that injury claimants received only 57% of the $2.0 billion paid by ICBC in 2015 for no-fault accident benefits and injury claims. The balance was absorbed in 'transaction' costs.

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New South Wales Adopts Hybrid No-Fault Scheme for Auto Injury Claims. January 30, 2018.

This paper discusses the auto injury claim models in the states of New South Wales and Victoria, and in New Zealand, with possible lessons for BC.

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ICBC's Second Quarter Report: More Bad News and Less Information. December 29. 2017.

ICBC recently posted its second quarter 'Statement of Operations,' which is highly deficient as a quarterly report from such an important Crown corporation. Occasiona Paer No. 50 compares the results with Saskatchewan's compulsory insurance program in an attempt to understand the reasons for the continuing losses.

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ICBC's Capital Reserve Minimums Are Too High. December 21, 2017.

The government should lower the minimum capital targets to reduce the current and forecasted capital deficiency, Given the nature of the Basic monopoly, and the near monopoly enjoyed by the Optional program, the targets should be lower, thereby reducing the pressure on future rates.

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Alberta Caps Auto Insurance Increase at 5 Percent. December 19, 2017.

The Alberta government has limited the 2017/18 increase in the private vehicle insurance rates to 5%. It stated that the previously allowed 10% maximum increase was not inline with its affordability priority. Background and implications are provided. 

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ICBC's Financial Crisis: How Did It Happen? December 17, 2017.

This paper provides a high-level review of how ICBC's costs out-stripped revenues from 2012 to 2016/17, and focusses in bodily injury claims costs.

The paper suggests that capping pain and suffering claims for minor soft tissue injury claims will not generate sufficient savings to treturn ICBC's finances and capital reerves to a satidfactory condition. 

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Rate Increases for Basic Auto Insurance in BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. December 8, 2017.

The Manitoba regulator recently approved a 2.6% increase in Basic vehicle rates for the coming year. This paper looks at how BC rate increases compare to the publicly-owned no-fault systems in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

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Fixing ICBC's Finances: Four Changes the Government Should Make. December 4, 2017.

The government is planning changes to ICBC's insurance model to reduce costs. Occasional Paper No. 47 discusses areas where the government should re-imburse ICBC policyholders for current programs or policies that benefit the taxpayer.

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Government Considering Capping Certain Pain and Suffering Claims. December 3, 2017.

On 30 November 2017, Rob Shaw of the Vancouver Sun reported that the government is actively considering a cap on claims for pain and suffering awards for minor soft tissue injuries; http://vancouversun.com/news/politics/government-considers-cap-on-minor-injury-claims-to-fix-icbc-finances The cap would be a key part of a strategy to prevent the massive losses forecast for the compulsory Basic insurance program as discussed in http://www.bcpolicyperspectives.com/media/attachments/view/doc/commentary_icbc_s_28_nov_2017_basic_forecast_29_nov_2017/pdf

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New ICBC Forecast Confirms Financial Crisis is Worsening. November 29, 2017.

A new ICBC forecast of the Basic program shows major rate hikes are required to keep the capital reserve from being fully depleted within four years.

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ICBC's Capital Forecast: Finance Minister James Concerned. October 11, 2017.

ICBC does not publish multi-year financial forecasts, but Occasional paper No. 42 procides a scenario of the capital deletion to 31 march 2020. Little wonder that finance minister James is concerned.

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Capital Destuction at ICBC Continues September 29, 2017.

ICBC's forecast for 2017/18 shows a continuation in th loss of capital. Occasional Paer No. 41 traces the loss by program from 2010 to 2017/18, and confirms the structural deficit of approximately $400 million per year in the Basic program.

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Taxpayers Federation Wrong; BC Auto Rates Fourth Lowest, Not Second Highest. September 8, 2017.

Comparing auto insurance prices across provincial jurisdictions is a difficlut task. Occasional Paper No.40 shows that the methodology used by Mike Milke in a recent Canadian Taxpayer Federation report is flawed.

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Devlin Report on Insurance Regimes in Canada, July 2017. September 8, 2017.

Dr. Rose Devlin's 25 July 2017 report "A Comparison of Automoble Regimes in Canada" is posted with the permission of the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia.

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Government Hikes Basic Rates 6.4% and Optional 9.6%; Multi-Year Plan to Restore ICBC's Finances. September 5, 2017.

Attorney General David Eby unveiled the 2017 Basic and Optional rate increases, and outlined a multi-year plan to restore ICBC's finances, with regular reports on progress; http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/attorney-general-to-announce-changes-to-insurance-corp-of-b-c and http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/icbc-rate-increases-eby-1.4275970 and http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/icbc-rates-to-rise-6-4-per-cent-typical-motorist-to-pay-57-more-1.22443523

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Observations on ICBC's 2016/17 Annual Report. September 1, 2017.

The recently released 2016/17 annual report shows that the financial condition at the public insurer is going from bad to worse, as outlined in Occasional Paper No. 39.

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Further Questions About the Ernst Young Report on ICBC. August 20, 2017.

A more detailed review of the Ernst Young report raises serious concerns about the costing methodology, and the savings that might be achieved by capping pain and suffering awards on minor injury claims. The are discussed in Occasional Paper No.38. 

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Ernst Young Options to Increase Auto Insurance Affordability. August 6, 2017.

This paper reviews the Ernst Young report's options to increase the affordability of auto insurance. It questions some of the proposed cost savings and recoomends the adoption of Saskatchewan's dual Basic model.

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