Repairing rock chips at no charge will save ICBC and its customers money on windshield replacement claims, the Crown insurance agency says.
ICBC CEO Mark Blucher and Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced the new program in Kamloops Wednesday, saying it will save 8,000 windshields a year from being sent to landfills.
Details of the program won't be released until later this spring, but ICBC optional insurance customers with vehicles up to 8,800 kg gross vehicle weight will be eligible, covering many light commercial vehicles as well as personal vehicles, Blucher said.
Windshield replacement claims jumped 17 per cent in 2016, and replacement costs have risen 28 per cent since 2010, according to ICBC. The average cost of a windshield replacement last year was $820, and a chip repair can be done for about $70.
ICBC customers with $300 deductible collision coverage pay $200 for a new windshield.
"The new program will have many benefits for our optional customers, including having no impact on their claims history or deductible," Blucher said.
ICBC basic insurance rates are going up 4.9 per cent this year, a ceiling imposed by Stone as accident and personal injury claims continue to rise.
Stone said in an interview the harsh winter in B.C.'s Lower Mainland means windshield claims are likely to continue at a high rate, while the number of glass claims in the Interior has been "relatively flat."
NDP critic Adrian Dix said the BC Liberal government introduced the charge for windshield repairs in 2001, and have been dinging customers ever since, especially in rural areas where rock damage to windshields is most prevalent every year.
"They have been sticking it to people in the Interior for 15 years, and now, a couple of months before the election, they decide to reinstate the NDP's policy," Dix said.
ICBC uses revenue from its optional coverage to subsidize basic vehicle insurance, and the offer of free windshield repairs may attract some people to switch from private competitors.
Stone said more than 80 per cent of B.C. drivers already have optional coverage through ICBC, and that share has been increasing in recent years. The main reason for the offer is an expected saving of $8 million a year by avoiding windshield replacements, he said.