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ICBC won’t change hands soon

VICTORIA, B.C. -- In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, B.C.'s Finance Minister, Gary Collins, says the Insurance...

VICTORIA, B.C. — In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, B.C.’s Finance Minister, Gary Collins, says the Insurance Corp. of B.C. (ICBC) won’t be privatized anytime soon.

With the insurance industry still reeling from the fallout of 9/11, Collins says there aren’t a lot of private insurance companies interested in expanding into B.C.

“I can honestly say they have not been pounding down my door over the last six months looking for opportunities to buy ICBC or be a part of it,” says Collins. “That’s the reality we’re in right now. That may change in three or four years.”

There has been plenty of speculation the B.C. Liberals would introduce competition or privatize ICBC, which currently has a monopoly on auto insurance in the province. The province hasn’t ruled out the possibility, but it’s looking more and more like the status quo will remain for now.

“You’re not going to sell into a market that is experiencing trouble,” Collins tells the Sun. “There aren’t as many players with as much money available to come in and buy all or part of ICBC. It’s just not a good business case for us.”

That’s especially true in the commercial trucking segment of insurance, with fewer insurance companies providing coverage to the trucking industry. While the Crown Corporation isn’t likely to be sold off, the province continues to examine ways to increase competition.

“You can create more competition by changing the rules, by changing the way the rates are set,” says Collins. “There are lots of things you can do to increase competition short of selling ICBC.”

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