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Whether you're heading up the Sea-to-Sky Highway, commuting in Vancouver, or touring the Okanagan Valley, driving in British Columbia is undeniably scenic. But it's also expensive. BC drivers pay the 2nd highest auto insurance rates in the entire country. That's why British Columbians need to shop around for their auto insurance policy.
But before you start searching for the right policy, it's important that you understand how car insurance works in British Columbia and how you can get the best policy at the lowest price. We can help with that. Below you'll find tips and key information about British Columbia auto insurance so you'll know the ropes before you buy.
The provincial government is the sole provider of third-party liability auto insurance (mandatory for all drivers). This means LowestRates.ca can’t offer our quote comparison service to B.C. residents. But don’t worry, there are still ways to save on your overall insurance costs.
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Unlike most other provinces, BC has a government-run auto insurance market. That means drivers have to purchase their policy from a Crown corporation known as the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Since 1973, drivers in BC have had very little choice on where they buy their main auto insurance policy. However, they can still purchase non-mandatory coverage, such as fire, theft, and collision coverage, from private insurers.
Auto insurance rates in BC are determined by a variety of factors:
Not well. Despite an almost entirely government-run insurance market, BC drivers pay the highest car insurance rates in the country.
The chart below says it all:
Average auto insurance rates by province
|Newfoundland & Labrador||$1,132|
|Prince Edward Island||$796|
Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada, 2017
Just as is the case in Ontario, experts blame rampant fraud for sky-high BC insurance rates. Other factors that contribute to BC's steep premiums include strict mandatory minimum liability regulations and generous accident benefits laws. Some experts also say the lack of competition in the province's government-dominated insurance market is a key contributor to high insurance rates.
Basic auto insurance rates continue to follow the upward trend of recent years. In fact, a 4.9% increase applies to all new policies that are effective on November 1, 2016 or later. ICBC cites rising injury claims and an increase in vehicle crashes as the reasons why they raised rates.
BC auto insurance rate changes
There are many ways to get cheap auto insurance in BC:
Yes. You're required to get a minimum mandatory level of insurance coverage from the government-run Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).
Here's a breakdown of the basic coverage you have to buy from the ICBC:
BC operates on a tort system: the not-at-fault injured party is entitled to take legal action against the at-fault party to recover damages for loss of income, out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering, and more.
However, in British Columbia, the accident benefits portion of the claim follows the no-fault structure: the injured person can receive coverage from their insurance policy (the basic plan required by law) regardless of who's at fault.
If you're convicted of driving without insurance in BC, you'll pay a fine of $598. You might also be fined $81 for failing to produce an insurance document.
You need to be at least 16 to apply for the first stage learner's license in BC.
Drivers in British Columbia have to go through a three-stage process to get a full licence. The first stage is the learner's (L) permit, which places some restrictions on new drivers. To earn a learner's permit, you must pass a medical and knowledge test and be accompanied by a fully licensed driver who's at least 25. With a learner's license, you also have to maintain a 0.0% blood alcohol concentration.
After 12 months of ticket-free driving, you can take the first road test (Class 7). If you pass, you get a novice (N) licence, which has fewer restrictions than the learner's license and lets you operate a vehicle on your own.
After you hold the N licence for 24 ticket-free months, you can finally take the last road test (Class 5). You can reduce this N licence period by 6 months if you take a certified ICBC driver training program. Bonus: a training program can also help you lower your future insurance premiums.
If you pass the final road test, you'll be awarded a full BC driver's licence. Enjoy and stay safe.
Which ones best fit your lifestyle?
After a nasty 100-vehicle pileup in Ontario this past weekend, we felt it a good time to share some of the best tips for winter driving, so you don’t end up like one of those poor drivers on Youtube