Insurance brokers fined, suspended for helping B.C. drivers avoid paying bridge tolls – British Columbia

The Insurance Council of B.C. says at least three brokers have been penalized for helping drivers avoid paying bills for bridge tolls by entering fake payment receipt numbers into the Autoplan system.

In 2015, ICBC launched an investigation after it discovered the false receipt numbers.

Following an 18-month inquiry, the corporation said it had a list of fake receipts — all accompanied by the name of the broker that authorized the transaction.

The insurance council, which regulates brokers in B.C., says it has been working to ferret out those brokers and names three who have been selected for disciplinary action.

Edmund George and Jacqueline Babcock have each been fined $5,000 for entering false information into the system 84 times between January 2014 and June 2015.

In Babcock’s case, the disciplinary order says less than eight of 50 debts authorized by the broker were paid within five days. The rest were either never paid or cleared weeks later.

Kanesaratna Lyer has been suspended for six months. A disciplinary ruling from the insurance council said he skipped paying his Port Mann bridge toll to renew his own car insurance in 2015.

He later paid the bill but was suspended for breaching his responsibility to ICBC for his own “personal benefit or convenience.”

A spokersperson for he corporation confirmed that 27 broker offices were also fined and had their Autoplan Agency Agreements temporarily suspended as a result of the investigation. 

ICBC

More than two dozen insurance brokerage offices in B.C. were penalized as a result of an ICBC investigation into false receipt numbers being entered into the Autoplan system. (David Horemans/CBC)

In B.C., drivers who have unpaid tolls on the Port Mann or Golden Ears Bridges can’t renew their licences or car insurance until they pay up.

ICBC puts a “refuse-to-issue” hold on drivers’ files, if their bills are more than 90 days overdue. To override the restriction, drivers have to pay the outstanding toll and give their official receipt number to an insurance broker, who punches it into the Autoplan system.

Valid receipts contain a combination of numbers and letters. 

ICBC ordered to pay back millions to motorists

ICBC says 27 broker offices were penalized with either a fine or temporary suspension of their Autoplan Agency Agreement for falsifying receipts. (CBC)

In May, the council sent out a notice about ICBC’s investigation, warning brokers it “will not tolerate” the misconduct and that any broker whose name came up iwould be subject to an investigation.

Neither ICBC nor the council would confirm how many licensees are on that list.

In 2015, the Transportation Investment Corporation — the Crown corporation that manages tolls — said drivers in B.C. owed about $3 million in unpaid Port Mann bridge fines.

ICBC blocked a record-breaking 25,000 people from renewing their licence or vehicle insurance that year over outstanding bills. 

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