Back in November, taxpayer-owned BC Ferries announced it would cut routes, end discounts for senior citizens and install slot machines. The province’s biggest Crown corporation, BC Hydro, also delivered bad news in November: residential electricity rates are going up 28% over five years.
At the end of January, CEO Michael Graydon quit B.C. Lottery Corporation to go work for the Paragon Gaming/VOX 360 joint venture planning to build a controversial casino beside B.C. Place Stadium. Graydon got $125,000 after he quit and accused of conflict of interest by an anti-casino group. There were also changes to those heading B.C. Pavilion Corporation and Private Career Training Institutions Agency of B.C.; Dana Hayden was running the show at money-losing B.C. Place Stadium and Vancouver Convention Centre one day, and a senior associate at lobbying company Hill and Knowlton the next. WorkSafeBC, meanwhile, is under heavy pressure after investigations into deadly explosions at sawmills in Burns Lake and Prince George resulted in no criminal charges.
The latest trouble? It’s at ICBC, the province’s auto insurer and regulator. Yet another problem that Adrian Dix could have inherited had he become premier in last May’s election that was the NDP’s for the winning. Instead, it’s on the shoulders of the BC Liberals under Premier Christy Clark, whose longtime associate Jatinder Rai was named interim chair of ICBC in January.
David Carrigg in The Province revealed on April 12 how ICBC will repay $39 million to customers it overcharged after a vehicle identification system glitch. Transportation Minister Todd Stone told Carrigg that the Crown corporation also undercharged $71 million, but won’t be recouping.
I have exclusive, new information below about this Autoplan botch-up of epic proportions that has been festering for more than half a decade.
A source told me that ICBC has been working for several months on the top-secret “PINS” — Project INSurance — to right the wrong. The Insurance Pricing (Actuarial) and Predictive Analytics departments are involved in the project, which was triggered by a Freedom of Information request.
ICBC wanted to keep the SNAFU secret until summertime: letters to customers were supposed to go out in July. In the meantime, ICBC has been gearing up to upgrade servers and systems so that ICBC.com could handle a major onslaught of web traffic. Without a major capacity boost, crashes would have been inevitable. As it is, the news of the multimillion-dollar mistake will probably tax the system much sooner.
Of the 590,000 customers affected, 240,000 are to receive refund cheques. Obviously, there could be a major hit to the basic insurance monopoly’s bottom line.
I have exclusively obtained a copy of a draft of the cover letter planned to be sent to 350,000 customers from ICBC’s boss regarding the undercharging. Click below.
Dear valued customer;
To get ready for our new insurance management system, we’ve checked all of your vehicles which carried ICBC optional insurance effective July 1, 2008 and later. We’ve found an incorrect vehicle description for at least one of your vehicles, which means a portion of what you paid for your ICBC optional insurance was calculated incorrectly.
Enclosed you’ll find a table looking back over the past six years which summarizes all of your financially affected vehicles including any current policies up until the expiry date.
The net result is you underpaid for your optional insurance. However, we are waiving the outstanding balance.
Your insurance remains valid. There is no need to visit an Autoplan broker prior to renewal. When it’s time to renew, your Autoplan broker will automatically update the vehicle description for any current policy.
Thank you for your patience while we work to update our system and we regret any inconvenience caused. Further information is available at icbc.com in the vehicle registration section.
CEO and President