Major Financial Turnaround at ICBC Includes Both Basic and Optional Programs
This paper continues the review begun on 29 July 2021 of ICBC's 2020/21 financial turnaround. This time the results at the program level are highlighted.
This paper continues the review begun on 29 July 2021 of ICBC's 2020/21 financial turnaround. This time the results at the program level are highlighted.
ICBC's 2020/21 financial results show a marked improvement in profits and equity, with most of the improvement due to re-estimation of prior years claims costs and improved investment valuation.
In its recent three year plan, and its rate submission to the BC Utilities Commission, ICBC is forecasting significant financial improvement in the finances of the Basic program compared to 2019/20. Only by merging the two data sets can one discern the forecast for the Optional program.
This paper looks at the major increase in ICBC's back office staffing planned for the next two years.
This site provides a single source of media interviews of Richard McCandless.
The government has introduced legislation to expand ICBC's refuse to issue program to encompass unpaid fines relating to the pandemic. The government should reimburse ICBC, otherwise policyholders will be providing another subsidy to taxpayers.
ICBC has applied to the BC Utilities Commission for a 11.5% Basic rates increase to begin to rebuild the capital reserve. Yet the detail of the forecast increase in the capital available by year-end 2022/23 is much less than what ICBC proposed in its initial application. Where is the missing equity?
ICBC's financial forecast for 2020/21 and the budget for 2021/22 show a marked improvement over the significant operationg losses recorded in recent years.
A recent cabinet order has blocked any attempt by the BC Utilities Commission to lower BC Hydro's excessive profits. This is another example of the government's manipulation of the utility and the BC Utilities Commission.
Recently, the Ontario government expanded its program of subsidizing the price of electricity for residential and smaller commercial customers to include larger commercial and industrial users. Given the likely operating losses of Site C, will the BC government also subsidize BC Hydro's rates when this project is operational?
Part way into the BC Utilities Commission's review of its 2022 rate request BC Hydro has asked that any decrease to its net income be delayed. This paper reviews the situation.
The Manitoba government has sidelined the province's regulator of Manitoba Hydro, and legislated a 2.9% rate increase for the coming year. This action mirrors that of Quebec, which also "simplified" rate setting by eliminating the regulator for five years. Is there a trend?
The Saskatchewan government just announced a one-time premium rebate for Basic insurance policyholders. Saskatchewan's Basic insurance program has witnessed strong grown due to the pandemic related declines in claims costs and strong investment returns. This paper compares the rebates announced for this province and Manitoba and BC.
While the government has slackened its tight control of the BC Utilities Commission respecting BC Hydro, it shows no signs of a similar move with respect to ICBC's Basic insurance. This paper looks at recent developments.
This paper takes a closer look at the limited information available to asses the desision to provide a COVID-19 rebate.
After a two month delay, and the announcement of a COVID-19 rebate, ICBC finally posted its second quarter financial summary. It appears that the government delayed the release of a key accountability document in order to make a political announcement. See also Bob Mackin's comments of February 4, 2021; thebreaker.news/news/icbc-dumpster-spin/
In a new twist the BC Utilities Commission is creating and funding an intervener group to represent Residential ratepayers, at a time when its own analysticl staff has greatly ncreased. This paper reviews these developments, and suggests that the BCUC should improve its own accountability.
ICBC's half year financial report is long overdue. It appears that the government is withholding the Q2 actual financial results to avoid more questions about a COVID-19 rebate. Accountabiity takes a backseat to the political agenda. Rob Shaw, writing for the Orca, also commented on the missing report https://theorca.ca/resident-pod/rob-shaw-icbc-should-reveal-whats-under-the-hood/
This paper reviews how the BC government manipulated the rate-setting process to produce a high return on equity at BC Hydro. It's time to eliminate the excess profits to help stimulate the economy.
A recent report suggests that BC Hydro is winding down its costly interest rate hedging program. This paper updates earlier commentaries.
This Commentary reviews the highlights of the first six months of BC Hydro's 2020/21 fiscal year, including the effect of COVID-19 and lower interest rates.
This Commentary reviews ICBC's Basic rate request filing for the 23-month period commencing 1 May 2021. Many questions remain.
The government has delayed the release of its second quarter financial report, including the reports for BC Hydro and ICBC. As the reports are for actual revenue and expenditure information the government should allow these public corporations to publicly file their reports.
The Manitoba public insurer is providing rebates related to lower costs resulting from the pandemic. ICBC, by contrast, has an unhealthy financial position and the government should resist the urge to follow suit.
Through legislation and regulatory changes Alberta is making a number of significant changes to the auto insurance system in that province. A major change is the adoption of a no-fault model for vehicle/property damage.
In the last two years ICBC has increased the reserve for prior years claims by an extraordinary $2.4 billion. This paper attempts to find the reason for this huge increase.
Unlike most provincila Crown corporations and other public agencies, ICBC does not provide detailed service measures in its' service plans or annual reports. Occasional Paper No. 74 partially addresses this shortcoming by providing a single source of key financila data for the last seven years.
This commentary discusses the recent announcement by Intact Financial that it would stop selling Optional auto insurance in BC.
This paper argues that the net losses for Site C (whether it proceeds or is cancelled) should be covered by the taxpayer rether than expecting the ratepayers to pay the cost by increasing the cost of domestic power sold.
A committe appointed by the Alberta government has recommended that the government scrap the hybrid tort scheme and legislate a no-fault auto insurance plan as oon as possible. This paper has a closer look.
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.
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.
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.
Occasional Paper No. 73 provides a summary of changes in a number of BC Hydro's key financial and service measures for the last five years.
BC Hydro's first quarter report to June 30th shows that the losses on the hedging gamble have now reached an astonishing $1.0 billion. This paper reviews the hedging program, and how the losses will prevent ratepayers from benefiting from lower borrowing costs. See also
The Tyee of September 11, 2020, published Ben Parfitt's commentary on the geological and other risks associated with the current constructon of the Site C dam.
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.
Occasional Paper No. 72 reviews BC Hydro's financial and operational results for 2019/20. Once again, the reliance on regulatory accounting to defer expenditures assured a high net income.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We lost an important advocate for ethical government. Here is the Times Colonist obit.; https://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/integrity-b-c-executive-director-dies-at-59-he-declined-liver-transplant-1.24144797
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.
BC Hydro released a report that claims its strong financial position despite a dramatic drop in sales. This is not true; its has high debt and relies on deferral costs and recording unearned revenue to produce a high profit.
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.
BC Hydro's net income is protected against any reduction in revenue by the public utility's recording of unearned revenue in a deferral account. The resulting increse in debt is a liability for future generations.
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.
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.
This paper argues that the governent should reduce BC Hydro's profit (net income) target by 50 percent to provide $350 million in direct relief to BC residents and businesses.
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.
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.
A compendium of media reports and commentary on the change in the liability model announced on 6 Fenruary 2020.
Excluding the net income (or loss) from BC Hydro and ICBC from the government's revenue results in a significant difference in the budgeted and planned surpluses for 2020/21 and the next two years.
Finance Minister Carole James suggested that the losses at ICBC have displaced government spending on other programs. This is not correct.
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.
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.
The changes announced by minister Eby do little to improve accountability at ICBC. This paper provides suggestions to improve ICBC's public reports.
This commentary reviews a number of developments respecting auto insurance in B.C. and Alberta that occurred during the last two weeks.
The attached paper discusses the Saskatchewan government's and SaskPower's moves to reduce the dependence on coal to generate electricity. Certain financial comparisons of SaskPower and BC Hydro are also discussed.
On 29 November 2019, BC Hydro released disappointing results for April to September 2019. Transfers to regulatory accounts converted an initial operating loss of $611 million to a $25 million profit. Losses from hedging future interest rates remain a concern.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It now appears that the cabinet-ordered limit on expert reports was rushed to avoid insolvency at ICBC as of 31 March 2019.
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.
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.
B.C. Hydro's interest rate hedging program incurred dramatic losses from April 2018 to June 2020. The shareholder was protected by a regulatory account. How did the hedging program begin and why is it failing the ratepayers?
In the evolving "crisis" in the Alberta auto insurance market it now appears that drivers with moving violation convictions are being denied Optional coverage.
The new Quebec government has significantly dminished the role of the independent body that regulated the operation and the rates of Hydro Quebec. The change is reviewed in the attached paper.
This Commentary discusses key aspects of the Q1 financial report. ICBC needs to include service measures with the financial data.
This Commentary reviews the government's assumption that B.C. Hydro ratepayers will subsidize the cost of electrifying the production of oil and gas in the noeth east reagion. It is a sudsidy because the cost is greater than the anticipated revenue. The social benefit of reduced carbon emissions should be paid by the government, not the ratepayers.
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.
A new provincial auto insurance price comparison estimate showing B.C. drivers paying the highest rates is highly simplistic, as demonstrated in my Commentary. Correspondence with Aaron Sutherland of the ISB is also included. Related item;https://pressprogress.ca/bc-news-outlets-exaggerated-the-cost-of-public-car-insurance-their-numbers-came-from-a-big-insurance-lobbyist/
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.
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.
This paper provides highlights of B.C. Hydro's 2018/19 annual report. The finances are now based on public sector GAAP and reflect the one-time loss caused by the windup of the revenue deferral account.
Occasional Paper No. 69 reviews the highlights of ICBC's 2018/19 annual report and suggests areas for further review.
Auditor General Carol Bellringer has accepted the government's pledge to fully restore the B.C. Utilities Commission's authority to regulate B.C. Hydro and removed that part of her qualification on the government's 2018/19 financial statements.
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.
Despite the clear opinion of the province's auditor general to the contrary B.C. Hydro asserts that the B.C. Utilities Commission is independent. This paper looks at the issue.
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.
Both Manitoba and B.C. public power utilities are facing major cost increases as large capital projects near completion. The Manitoba regulator is raising prices to smooth the transition, but the B.C. government has chosen to keep the rate increase below the increase in B.C. Hydro's costs. The NDP approach has many parallels to that of the previous government.
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.
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?
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.
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.
B.C. Hydro has generated or contracted for power in excess of domestic sales for a number of years, and forecasts surpluses for a number of years to come. This Commentary reviews the acquisition and sales.
This Commentary reviews the recent report by the special committee of the Ontario legislature on financial transparency. The committee was struck to examine how the previous Liberal government ignored public sector accounting standards to lower electricity rates while still claiming to balance the 2017/18 budget.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Occasional Paper No. 67 reviews B.C. Hydro's new three-year financial plan and the F20 to F21 rate request filed with the B.C. Utilities Commission. The government has loosened the constraints on the independence of the regulator, but is it sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the public sector accounting standards?
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.
This commentary reviews the new five-year rates plan for B.C. Hydro, as well as the government's plan to restore the B.C. Utilities Commission's authority to regulate the public utility.
On 13 February 2019 the government released a comprehensive review of the purchase of private electricity by B.C. Hydro https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/electricity-alternative-energy/electricity/bc-hydro-review/bch19-158-ipp_report_february_11_2019.pdf. The review concluded that a) BC Hydro bought too much energy and energy with the wrong profile, b) BC Hydro paid too much for the energy it bought, and c) BC Hydro undertook these actions at the direction of Government.
https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/vaughn-palmer-ratepayers-zapped-by-hydro-report-that-reveals-shocking-interference and the response of Clean Enery BC https://www.cleanenergybc.org/reports-publications/response-to-davidsons-report