By Marco Procaccini
“Double-dipping. That’s a way to describe it.” That’s Teamsters Local 213 business representative Barry Capozzi’s response to ICBC’s new regulations for at-fault accidents that penalize commercial drivers on their personal insurance, as well as where they work.
On Sept. 1, 2019, ICBC released what it calls its “more driver-based insurance model.” It means that crash records
will now follow the driver, as well as the vehicle—including professional drivers and commercial vehicles. This is expected to affect fleet drivers in addition to non-fleet drivers and owner or lease operators.
The latter groups are likely to feel the impact first, as the new rules apply to any driver having an accident since March 1, 2017. That means non- fleet drivers involved in a crash and deemed to be even partially at fault, will now be penalized on their personal drivers’ insurance as well as their work coverage. They will be required to repay any costs that are adjusted retroactively. Owner-operators will likely be hardest hit, as they often directly insure both their work vehicles and personal cars.
“Someone’s insurance could skyrocket up to three or four times as much as on their personal insurance,” Capozzi said. “It’s like double-dipping since it affects the insurance of the vehicle and the driver.
“For example, if you borrow a friend’s car outside of work and get into an accident, you get nailed twice.”
He said fleet-insured drivers are less likely to be affected personally, since they are not assigned to a specific vehicle.
But fleet insurance tends to be more expensive than non-fleet insurance, meaning bosses, especially in smaller firms, are more likely to favour it over fleet insurance. Nonetheless, as of Jan. 1, 2020, the same policy will apply to fleet drivers as well.
“If you’re responsible for a crash while driving a commercial rate class vehicle—for example a bus—the claim will not impact your personal policies. It will only affect other commercial rate class policies where you’re a listed driver. (Fleets do not list drivers so this would only apply to non-fleet policies.),” according to the ICBC Autoplan Insurance information site.
“If you’re responsible for a crash while driving a vehicle with a personal rate class—for example, a smaller company car rated for business use—then the claim will impact all policies where you are listed as a driver (including your own personal insurance).”
Capozzi echoes the many criticisms among labour, consumer and public interest activists that ICBC bosses are implementing these punitive policies as a way to recover the costs of the appropriation of the corporation’s surpluses by the previous BC Liberal regime in an attempt to appear to balance the provincial budget. Add to this the continued reported problems of chronic poor driving habits and high accident rates, increasing the number of claims, has left the corporation looking for new methods of cost recovery. “They’re trying to find ways to claw back more money.”
In addition to lobbying officials to amend the new regulations, unions are working to get appropriate language in collective agreements to protect members, Capozzi said.
“We’re asking for language in our contracts so it wouldn’t affect our members,” he said. “We’re looking to see if it’s possible to insure vehicles in a way to take the burden off the members. What they’re doing is just unfair.”