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Since the provincial government is the sole provider of third-party liability auto insurance in B.C. (mandatory in the province), 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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Compare car insurance quotes to get the lowest rates 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. 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.

Who sets auto insurance rates in British Columbia?

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.

What factors determine auto insurance rates in BC?

Auto insurance rates in BC are determined by a variety of factors:

  • Your driving record
  • Your age and gender
  • Your driving experience
  • The type of vehicle you drive
  • Use and location of your vehicle
  • The amount of coverage you've selected

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

 
ProvinceAverage Rates
Ontario$1,505
British Columbia$1,832
Alberta$1,316
Newfoundland & Labrador$1,168
Manitoba$1,080*
Northwest Territories$983
Nunavut$962
Yukon$830
Nova Scotia$891
Saskatchewan$1,235
New Brunswick$867
Prince Edward Island$816
Quebec$717

Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada, 2018
*Manitoba figure is from 2017 due to 2018 not being available.

Why are auto insurance rates so high in British Columbia?

 

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.

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.

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

How can I get cheap auto insurance in British Columbia?

 

There are many ways to get cheap auto insurance in BC:

  • Pay premiums on time
  • Maintain a good driving history
  • Choose the right insurance coverage
  • Use winter tires (insurers offer discounts)
  • Complete a certified driver training program
  • Insure all your vehicles with the same company
  • Bundle your home insurance with your auto insurance

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 insurance covers you when the 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?

 

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.

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

 

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.

What is the minimum legal driving age in British Columbia?

 

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.

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 license 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 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.

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