Car insurance in British Columbia. Learn all about it here.

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Compare car insurance quotes to get the lowest rates in British Columbia.

If you’re a new driver in the province, you’re probably wondering how to get car insurance in British Columbia and how to find the best rates for car insurance in British Columbia. 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. Exactly how much is car insurance in B.C.? It depends on the individual and what type of car you drive, but drivers in the province pay the second-highest auto insurance rates in Canada.

Before you start searching for affordable car insurance in B.C., it's important to understand how car insurance works in British Columbia. LowestRates.ca 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 make a commitment.

If you’re looking for online auto insurance in British Columbia, or if you’ll be speaking to a B.C. car insurance broker, this page will help you navigate that as well.

Don’t forget about home insurance.

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.

Your home is likely your largest and most valuable asset — this is especially true for Vancouverites. Protect it with the right insurance policy. In just three minutes, you’ll be able to compare home insurance quotes from 75+ of Canada's top insurance providers.

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How do British Columbia car insurance rates compare to other provinces?

Not well. Despite an almost entirely government-run insurance market, BC drivers pay the highest car insurance rates in the country.

Compare the average British Columbia insurance rate to other provinces:

ProvinceAverage
Yearly Rate 1
Ontario$1,505
British Columbia$1,832
Alberta$1,316
Newfoundland &
Labrador
$1,168
Manitoba$1,140
Northwest
Territories
$978 2
Nunavut$963 2
ProvinceAverage
Yearly Rate 1
Yukon$812 2
Nova Scotia$891
Saskatchewan$1,235
New Brunswick$867
Prince Edward
Island
$816
Quebec$717

1 Insurance Bureau of Canada, BC - Better Auto Insurance (2020)

2 Insurance Bureau of Canada, (2017)

What can I do to get cheap car insurance in British Columbia?

It's easy — if you know how. Here are some of the best ways to lower your auto insurance premiums:

Shop around

We'll show you the most competitive rates from all the top insurers. Now you can compare quotes all in one place.

Buy the right coverage

Avoiding extra frills in your policy and paying for only the coverage you need will lower your premiums.

Drive responsibly

Your driving record impacts your rate. Fewer infractions and fines equals cheaper insurance.

Pay on time

Prompt payments can save you money on late fees and lower your premiums. Insurers love a good customer.

Bundle up

Adding a house, motorcycle, RV, or other type of insurance policy to your car insurance plan can lower your rates.

Be safe, not sorry

Safety features like winter tires and alarm systems can help reduce your insurance premium.

Stick with one insurer

Most auto insurance companies give special discounts to customers who stay with them for a number of years.

Take a course

A defensive driving course makes you a better driver and can significantly reduce your car insurance premiums.

Keep driving

The math is clear: more experience on the road equals lower car insurance premiums. Young drivers almost universally pay higher rates for car insurance. While it’s difficult for new drivers to secure cheap car insurance rates, you may be able to lower your rates by maintaining good grades and attending driving school.

Look at location

Where you drive affects your premiums. Some areas are associated with higher rates of car accidents and theft.

Choose the right car

Cars with high crash-test scores, low theft ratings, and less powerful engines tend to have cheaper insurance rates.

Track your driving

With a usage-based car insurance policy, you can turn your low-risk driving habits into lower premiums.

What you need to know about auto insurance in British Columbia.

Who sets auto insurance rates in British Columbia?

B.C. has a government-run auto insurance market. That means drivers have to purchase mandatory auto insurance coverage from a Crown corporation known as the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Since 1973, drivers have had very little choice on car insurance quotes in B.C. Because motorists can’t shop around for quotes from private insurance companies, this can make it hard to find cheap auto insurance in B.C.

However, you can still purchase additional optional coverage from private car insurance companies in British Columbia, such as collision coverage, fire coverage and theft coverage.

What factors determine auto insurance rates in B.C.?

Auto insurance rates in B.C. are determined by a variety of factors, including:

  • Your driving record (traffic tickets, demerit points, at-fault collisions, licence suspensions)
  • Your age and gender
  • Your driving experience
  • The type of vehicle you drive
  • Where you live
  • How you use your vehicle and how often you drive
  • The amount of coverage you select
  • Your deductible

Why are auto insurance rates so high in British Columbia?

Fraud and an increase in collisions are behind sky-high B.C. car insurance costs. Other factors that contribute to B.C.’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-run insurance market is a key contributor to high insurance rates. This can make it hard to find cheap car insurance in B.C., especially insurance for young drivers in British Columbia.

The same goes for when you’re searching for cheap car insurance in B.C. for new drivers, as well as the elderly. Car insurance in B.C. for seniors, high-risk drivers and students can be more expensive than the average rate.

Will auto insurance rates in British Columbia go down anytime soon?

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. B.C. auto insurance rate changes.

BC auto insurance rate changes

YearRate change
20100.0%
20110.0%
2012+11.2%
2013+4.9%
2014+5.2%
2015+5.5%
2016+4.9%

Source: fsco.gov.on.ca

Is auto insurance required in British Columbia?

Yes. You're required to get a minimum mandatory level of insurance coverage from the government-run Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).

What is the minimum requirement for auto insurance in British Columbia?

Here's a breakdown of the basic coverage you have to buy from the ICBC:

  • $200,000 in third-party liability insurance: covers both bodily injury and property damage. Within this amount, property damage will be capped at $20,000.
  • Underinsured motorist protection: up to $1 million per person.
  • Medical coverage: up to $150,000 per person.
  • Hit-and-run coverage: up to $200,000.
  • Inverse liability coverage: This type of insurance covers you when local laws don't let you make a claim against the at-fault party. The coverage is up to 100% of the claim, but it accounts for the degree you're partially at-fault. If you're 25% at-fault, you receive only 75% of the covered costs.

What kind of auto insurance system does British Columbia have?

What about no-fault insurance in B.C.? The province operates on a tort system, where 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, the accident benefits portion of the claim follows the no-fault insurance in British Columbia structure: the injured person can receive coverage from their insurance policy (the basic plan required by law) regardless of who is at fault.

What are the penalties for driving without insurance in British Columbia?

If you're convicted of driving without insurance in B.C., you'll pay a fine of $598. You might also be fined $81 for failing to produce an insurance document.

What is the minimum legal driving age in British Columbia?

You need to be at least 16 years old to apply for a learner's licence in B.C. Drivers in British Columbia have to go through a three-stage graduated process to get a full licence. As a new driver, your age and lack of experience will impact your B.C. car insurance estimate.

The first stage is the learner's (L) licence, which places some restrictions on new drivers. To earn an L licence, you must pass a medical and knowledge test and be accompanied by a fully licensed driver who is at least 25 years old. With a learner's licence, you also have to maintain a 0% blood alcohol concentration. The next stage is a novice licence, followed by a full licence.

How do I get a novice licence in British Columbia?

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 licence and lets you operate a vehicle on your own.

How do I get a full licence in British Columbia?

After you hold the N licence for 24 ticket-free months, you can take the last road test (Class 5). You can reduce this N licence period by six 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 B.C. driver's licence.

Does your credit score impact your car insurance rates in B.C.?

Your credit score will not impact your British Columbia car insurance rates. Because the business is regulated by the provincial government (ICBC), credit score is not usually something you’ll find on the list of criteria that insurance companies require in order to provide your rate.

What other types of car insurance are available to B.C. drivers?

At the very minimum, every driver in British Columbia must be covered by ICBC’s Basic Autoplan. This plan includes:

  • Accident benefits
  • Third-party liability coverage
  • Underinsured motorist protection
  • Hit-and-run damage and injuries
  • Inverse liability protection

You can also add additional coverage through the ICBC or a private B.C. car insurance company. This may include everything from direct compensation property damage in British Columbia to comprehensive coverage.

  • Unlisted driver protection
  • Collision
  • Hit-and-run
  • Income top-up
  • Comprehensive (non-collision damage)
  • Extended third-party liability
  • Extension underinsured motorist protection
  • Luxury vehicles
  • Specified perils
  • New vehicle protection
  • Specialized coverage, including protection for all-terrain vehicles
  • Optional insurance packages (loss of use, rental vehicle coverage, vehicle travel protection, lock rekeying, theft deductible waiver, etc.)

If you’re looking for optional coverage, don’t just go with the first B.C. auto insurance company you find — try to compare multiple B.C. auto insurance quotes to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

In addition to vehicle repairs and property damage, what else will my auto insurance policy cover?

In addition to vehicle repairs and property damage, your basic auto insurance policy will also come with third-party liability insurance in B.C., which covers repairs for the car as well as medical costs and wage losses for the person inside of it. This is important — whatever your injuries might be, you can get the coverage you need, including mental health treatment. If you miss work because of your accident, you’ll be covered by these accident benefits in British Columbia required by your insurance.

You'll also be covered for underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage in British Columbia. This is when the person that you’re in a collision with does not have enough insurance to pay for the damages, as well as for those of other drivers in your household.

Is usage-based insurance available in B.C.?

Not quite yet. The ICBC announced a telematics pilot program in 2018, and is testing it out on 7,000 drivers across the province with less than five years of driving experience. The pilot program is set to wrap up in October 2021. In the future, this may be a way for drivers to save money on the price of B.C. car insurance.

Usage-based insurance means your insurance premiums are based on how far you drive your car, or your driving behaviour. This includes the use of telematics, which uses a device installed in a driver’s vehicle to monitor driving behavior in order to determine the rate. For instance, if the technology tracks that you often drive over the speed limit, accelerate aggressively or brake suddenly, this can increase your insurance premiums. Likewise, if you consistently practice safe driving, this could lower your B.C. car insurance rate.

Is ride-sharing insurance available in B.C.?

Ride-sharing or ride-hailing companies must be approved to operate in at least one of B.C.’s five regions. For example, Uber and Lyft can only operate in the Lower Mainland and Whistler regions.

Basic insurance coverage must be provided by the ride hailing company you work for. Ride sharing companies must be approved by B.C.’s Passenger Transportation Board, and must obtain a blanket insurance certificate from the ICBC that covers its rideshare drivers when they’re on the job. Basic coverage includes accident benefits and up to $1 million for third-party liability. Ride-sharing companies can also buy optional blanket coverage to cover their drivers, such as collision and comprehensive. If the ride-sharing company you work for doesn’t offer optional coverage, you can obtain it yourself through an insurance broker.

Note that ride-sharing insurance only covers you when you’ve accepted a trip and are driving to pick up a passenger, or when you’re on a trip with the passenger in the vehicle. Ride-sharing insurance also doesn’t replace your personal policy — all drivers must have the ICBC’s minimum mandatory automobile insurance coverage in B.C.

What are the steps for new immigrants to get licensed in B.C.?

If you’re new to Canada and want to get a driver’s licence in B.C., you have 90 days to do so after moving. Though no proof of insurance is required, car insurance is required in B.C. for new immigrants. You’ll want to look into car insurance for new drivers in B.C. alongside getting your licence.

B.C. also a reciprocal licence exchange with other Canadian provinces and territories, the United States, and the following countries:

  • Austria
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Germany
  • Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Netherlands (except former territories in Antilles: Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten)
  • New Zealand
  • South Korea (not motorcycles)
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan (not motorcycles)
  • United Kingdom (includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)
  • United States (includes Washington DC and Puerto Rico)

If you’re moving to B.C. from one of these countries, you can exchange your licence by making an appointment at an ICBC office. Bring your identification, your driver’s licence, the fee for your licence, and your proof of driving experience (a driver’s licence will suffice).

If you’re not from a reciprocal country, you can still apply for a B.C. licence with the same documents, but you will also have to take a road test and a knowledge test.

If your documents aren’t printed in English, you’ll need to get them translated by an ICBC-approved translator before submitting them.

Alexandra Bosanac

Alexandra Bosanac

About the Author

Alexandra Bosanac is the Core Content Manager for LowestRates.ca. Her reporting has appeared in Canadian Business, the Toronto Star, the National Post, and the CBC.

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