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.

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.

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.

Looking for more auto insurance info? Check out our Help Centre.

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.

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

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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