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ICBC wants to hike rates

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Distracted driving is being blamed for increased costs. (FILE PHOTO)

Distracted driving is being blamed for increased costs. (FILE PHOTO)

ICBC is applying for the second rate increase to basic insurance premiums in two years. The insurance corporation's spokesman Adam Grossman said on Tuesday the request for a 5.2% increase is an attempt to keep up with rising costs.

"In 2013 injury claims cost us $1.9 billion ... just five years ago, our injury claims were $1.4 billion," he said. "This is pretty steady, about $100 million (increase) each year." ICBC's best guess on who's to blame is based on an increase in the number of rear-end crashes caused by distracted drivers, particularly those who use cell phones or electronics behind the wheel. In 2013, 58% of all rear-end crashes police attended, according to ICBC stats, had distracted driving as a factor.

The numbers show fatalities caused by distracted driving has dropped, however, as someone gets hurt every two times a rear-ender occurs, he said. "One single injury claim costs us $45,000 on average," Grossman said. "So let's just say we see an increase of 4,000 crashes - that's $180 million." The increase will still have to be approved by the British Columbia Utilities Commission.

Last year, rates were also increased by 5.2%. ICBC says it'll be about $3 extra per month for customers. The move was criticized by the provincial New Democrats, who said taxpayers can likely expect more rate hikes to come.

"Hikes like this chip away at family budgets and make it even harder to afford the necessities," said NDP MLA Carole James in a statement. 

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