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New Rules for Everyone

Beginning Friday February 1st, 2008, the law in British Columbia—a change in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation—will require all fuel purchases to be pre-paid. (It might be time to put a calculator into your glove compartment.) You probably cannot underpay, but if your tank was not as low as you guessed, you may be looking for a refund. 

The purpose: to prevent “gassing-and-dashing,” not necessarily out of sympathy for the losses caused to big oil companies but also to make it unnecessary for fuel company employees to attempt a courageous intervention in a theft situation. This new regulation, referred to as Grant’s law, was enacted in response to the tragic story of Grant DePatie, a 24-year-old Maple Ridge Esso station employee who, while working the midnight shift, tried to stop two teenagers driving a stolen car from gassing and dashing—$12.30 unpaid—by jumping in front of the car. But this didn’t stop them. Mr. DePatie died after being run over and dragged many kilometers.
 
The regulation also includes other provisions to protect employees of late-night businesses. British Columbia is the first province in Canada and the largest jurisdiction in North America to enact such a law. In the United States, many municipalities have enacted prepayment bylaws.
 
Insurance rules are also changing. Beginning May 1st, 2008, new rate adjustments by ICBC approved by the BC Utilities Commission will come into effect. These adjustments include an additional “Other Operator” premium for the basic insurance policy to better reflect the increased risks when additional drivers are permitted to drive an insured vehicle. “Other Operator” premiums are common in many jurisdictions. “Other Operator” includes a member of the registered owner’s or principle operator’s household who will be permitted to operate the vehicle or any non-household member who will operate the vehicle on more than 12 days over an annual policy term (pro-rated otherwise).
 
While “Other Operator” surcharges in other jurisdictions are relatively significant, during the introductory phase here, apparently without specific reference to actuarial evidence and to avoid “rate shock,” it will be limited to $25.  The basic premium will also be adjusted “within the existing rate class/territory structure to move the rates towards actuarial pricing.” This means that which of ICBC’s 14 territories you live in, your number of claims, your commuting distance and whether you use your vehicle for work or pleasure only will be adjusted according to “the actuarially indicated base rate, subject to a six percent annual cap on increases so that the result of all changes will be revenue neutral.”
 
Although these adjustments are meant to be “revenue neutral” the effect will be cost increases for some, decreases for others. For more detailed information on these changes go to the www.icbc.com, home page and click on previous news releases and media resources. This links to the full text of the BC Utilities Commission decision on the ICBC 2007 rate application.
 
In mid-February watch for a report from the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles on adding to the graduated licensing program a prohibition against talking on cell phones while driving.
 

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