Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for May 28th, 2008

ICBC selling insurance to unlicensed drivers

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There is a great deal of buck passing in this story – mainly between ICBC and its broker.  When BC decided to go for public auto insurance, it made a clever decision to enlist the brokerages, which quite literally bought off the biggest potential source of opposition. It actually only makes political sense. Because the major function of a broker is to find the customer the best policy for his or her needs, and since ICBC is the only place you can buy the legally required insurance there is not a lot for the broker to do. And the fact that a lot of lawyers in BC now specialize in fighting ICBC,  shows where the brokers feel their loyalty lies. It was probably fairly sensible to use existing outlets, but then there are also other places you have to go – like the ICBC  claims centres and the province’s driver services offices.

Selling insurance to people who are not legally allowed to drive is, quite simply, wrong. Placing the onus on the customer may sound like a good practice from a business perspective

“Anybody who wants to buy insurance can buy insurance from us,” McLelland [the ICBC spokesperson] said. “The principle is we want people to have insurance.”

McLelland said the corporation does not track how many insurance policies are issued to drivers who don’t have B.C. licences. He said it also doesn’t count how may claims are denied for breach of policy because the licence isn’t valid.

BUT they did not have insurance. Money was taken from them for a policy that was worthless. If you are in a business that collects tax for the government (the ICBC brokers dish out license plates and stickers) and administers government activities such as motor vehicle registration and compliance with BC legislation (you cannot license your vehicle if it fails the AirCare test for instance) then you do not get the privilege of picking and chosing which bits of the law on drivers and vehicles you are supposed to know about.

And ICBC having taking the premiums has a moral if not a legal duty to acknowledge that its systems failed, the policy should not have been sold but in this case, the innocent victim who was badly advised by an officially appointed agent he should have been able to rely upon and he should be recompensed.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 28, 2008 at 10:53 am

Posted in Road safety

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Apply gas tax where it will work

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The Chilliwack Times manages to get itself into a froth over a recent LRC/Suzuki Foundation poll question which included the words “rapid transit out to UBC”.

The poll actually came out on May 7, so the opinion writer has had a while to find something to get offended about. And readers puzzled by the reference in this piece who rely on the paper version would be hard pressed to find out the actual context. Which of course was much more about the priority of highway expansion against transit than voting for UBC over Langley.

At least the Times is now talking about real transit options – and no longer saying we must have highway expansion becuase that is the only thing that will work out here. And of course the official position, as stated by Chillwack’s Mayor is that they do not want to be connected to other communities by rapid transit, they want to continue to be self reliant. Currently most people live and work close to home there and that is in itself worthwhile, and ought not (he says) be diluted by encouraging longer distance commuting. He may of course be a lone voice, but given his position and the undoubted virtues of his position, it does make for a harder sell for groups like VALTAC and Rail for the Valley.

I was not one of those who drafted the question, but it seems obvious to me that the intention was to draw on the current provincial government’s stated intentions. To build the Highway #1expansion and Port Mann twinning first and then turn their attention to transit – and their stated priority is the tube tunnel under Broadway. As I think I have made clear, this is not a sensible choice in transportation terms, but reflects the political realty that Gordon Campbell thinks his constituency comes first.

It was the clever boys in Vancouver and Victoria who killed the Interurban transit system that served a far less densely populated Fraser Valley half a century ago.

It’s long past time to correct that mistake.

Well reviving the interurban is certainly one option – but not necessarily the only one. Especially given the indirect routing and lack of dense nodes near the eastern section. And the general consensus at the time passenger service ended was that the BCER was losing money and ridership and was no longer necessary in a region with rapidly growing car ownership and a nice new freeway.

And if the Times really wants to make a difference to current policies it should be telling its readers to stop voting for the BC Liberals. Some of those valley seats are the safest in the province. Because it is not the “clever boys in Vancouver” who are calling the shots but the idiots you lot elected to Victoria!

Written by Stephen Rees

May 28, 2008 at 10:00 am