Remember the political fallout several months back when ICBC proposed to increase insurance premiums based on a single driving violation? The Government called ICBC’s proposal “unfair” and “not appropriate”. Something must have changed since then because the Government has now introduced a Bill to give ICBC the power to levy “additional premiums” that ICBC considers appropriate based on driving point penalties.
In the whirlwind of new Government legislation recently introduced, Bill 52 received second reading this week. This legislation seeks to drastically overhaul BC’s motor vehicle offense ticketing dispute system by taking these matters away from our Courts and instead creating administrative tribunals to process disputes.
In addition to the above, the Bill seeks to amend Section 34 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act as follows:
13 Section 34 (1.1) is amended
(a) by adding the following paragraphs:
(d.1) adopt or establish a driver assessment point system classifying drivers according to the number, nature and kind of contraventions of driving enactments under the Motor Vehicle Act;
(d.2) in respect of a driver assessment point system adopted or established in accordance with paragraph (d.1), adopting or establishing a method by which point penalties may be converted or compared to driver assessment points for the purposes of assessing and levying basic or additional premiums under the plan against drivers at the times and under the terms and conditions the corporation considers appropriate; , and
(b) by repealing paragraph (e) and substituting the following:
(e) according to any system of classifying drivers adopted under paragraph (c), a point penalty system adopted or established under paragraph (d) or a driver assessment point system adopted or established under paragraph (d.1), assess and levy basic or additional premiums under the plan against drivers at the times and under the terms and conditions the corporation considers appropriate.
In short, this law will give ICBC the power to increase premiums “under the terms and conditions (ICBC) considers appropriate“. This legislation leaves no checks and balances to ensure that what the Government recently called unfair does not become the law of the land.
While the Bill’s goal of freeing up police and judicial resources is worthwhile, the devil’s in the details. As a practical matter this is what the Bill will accomplish:
1. If a “driving enforcement officer” (ie – a police officer) doesn’t like your driving you receive a “driving notice” (ie – a ticket)
2. You lose your right to judicial challenge, instead you are now called a “disputant” and must place your challenge with a newly minted “Driving Notice Review Board“. Of note, you won’t have the right to cross-examine your accuser at your “resolution conference“.
3. If/when you lose your dispute before the Board you are issued a “monetary penalty“
4. If you cant afford to pay the penalty ICBC can refuse to issue you a licence
5. Last but not least ICBC will issue you “point penalties” and you will then pay higher insurance premiums based on whatever system ICBC develops.
This overhaul will likely bring constitutional scrutiny since the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is No Trifling Matter. As MLA Sather quipped on the floor on the Legislature this week “I wasn’t aware that ICBC had that kind of power”.