ICBC maintains performance through second quarter



    VANCOUVER, Aug. 22 /CNW/ - ICBC has reported its financial results
through the first half of 2008. Net income at ICBC for the first half of the
year was $255 million, approximately the same as the $256 million for the same
period in 2007.
    "ICBC's consistent financial performance for 2008 to date is the result
of higher premium revenue - due, in large part, to the growth in the number of
insured vehicles on the road and an increasing number of optional coverage
policies - offset by higher claims and related costs," said Geri Prior, ICBC's
interim president and CEO. "Our retained earnings act as a contingency fund
and generates investment income, both of which help to keep rates low and
stable for our customers over the long term."
    As of July 1, 2008, ICBC's optional premium rates decreased by an average
of three percent while basic rates are remaining the same as ICBC has not
proposed an increase in 2008.
    ICBC's investment income for the first half of the year was $269 million,
which is 2.5 percent lower than for the same period last year, of
$276 million. Claims and related costs for the six months ending June 30,
2008, were $1.5 billion, 3.8 percent higher than for the same period in 2007,
of $1.45 billion.
    Higher claims costs remain a concern at ICBC. The increasing numbers of
vehicles on BC's roads mean claims costs are increasing, albeit at a slower
rate than in previous years. However, for every $1.00 in premiums-earned, ICBC
incurs approximately $1.03 in claims costs and operating expenses. Investment
income helps ICBC offset some of this shortfall.
    "With recent uncertainty in the financial markets and changing economic
trends, we cannot rely on investment income to the same extent we have in the
past," said Prior. "The current downturn in the equity markets will have a
negative impact on our investment income as we move forward through 2008."

    
    Insurance premiums

    -   Premiums earned for the first six months of 2008 increased to
        $1.79 billion from $1.70 billion for the first six months of 2007, in
        large part due to the increased number of insured vehicles on BC's
        roads - approximately 80,000 more in the first six months of 2008
        compared to the same period last year.

    Operating costs

    -   ICBC continues to lead the industry in low operating costs. The
        expense ratio - operating costs, broker commissions and premium taxes
        as a percentage of earned premiums - was 18.4 percent for the first
        six months of 2008, which continues to compare very favourably to the
        insurance industry.

    Claims costs

    -   Claims costs are still increasing which is in line with an increasing
        number of ICBC policies being sold, but the cost of the average claim
        is rising at a slower rate as compared to recent experiences. While
        claims costs are lower than expected due to the unusually dry weather
        so far this year, the wetter autumn and winter months are still to
        come.

    Investment income

    -   ICBC's investment income for the first six months of 2008 was lower
        than for the same period last year. Results saw lower gains on
        equities and higher gains on bonds compared to the same period in
        2007. The current market volatility will have a negative impact on
        our investment income in the second half of 2008, even though ICBC
        maintains a conservative investment policy with the majority of
        assets invested in high-quality, investment-grade bonds.

    Customer satisfaction scores

    -   ICBC continues to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction, as
        confirmed by independent third-party research from NRG Research
        Group. Levels of customer satisfaction with ICBC for our various
        lines of business are:

        -  Insurance services: 94%
        -  Claims services: 84%
        -  Driver Licensing services: 93%

    Auto crime costs

    -   There have been significant decreases in the number of stolen
        vehicles in BC for each of the last five years with numbers
        decreasing for stolen vehicles, vehicle break-ins and vandalism. This
        trend is continuing with a 17.4 percent drop in auto theft claims for
        the first six months of 2008 compared to the same period for 2007.
        Some of the major reasons for the dropping auto crime rates are the
        success of the Bait Car program and other enforcement efforts, as
        well as the growing prevalence of immobilizers in vehicles.

    Investments in road safety

    -   ICBC continues to invest in road safety programs to reduce the number
        and severity of crashes, and to help lower claims costs. Examples
        include support for enhanced traffic enforcement by police, road
        improvements at high-crash locations, and public awareness campaigns.
    

    Note: The Statement of Operations for the six months ending June 30,
2008, accompanies this news release and is available at
http://www.icbc.com/inside_icbc/newsroom.asp.





For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Adam Grossman, (604) 982-1332

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