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Car insurance is a requirement across Canada and each province has their own coverage mandates.
For British Columbia drivers, basic auto insurance is provided through the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), a public insurance company.
Mandatory BC auto insurance coverage includes (full descriptions below)
- Third-party liability
- Accident Benefits
- Uninsured motorist protection
However, there also is optional, and highly recommended, coverage available through both ICBC and private insurance brokerages and directly from insurance companies (i.e. Aviva Canada).
Optional BC car insurance coverage (full descriptions below)
- Extended Third-Party Liability
- Loss of Use
- Rental Vehicle Coverage
- New Vehicle Protection
For instance, mandatory third-party liability coverage through ICBC has a minimum limit of $200,000. A driver then has the option to increase their liability coverage up to $5 million either through ICBC or a private insurer. Be sure to view the table below for more explicit details.
In May of 2021, British Columbia will introduce a no-fault insurance system meaning you'll only ever deal with your own insurance provider for claims, not that you can't be found at fault. It generally limits your ability to sue for pain and suffering beyond what is available in your coverage.
Any proposed car insurance rate changes from the ICBC must first be approved by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC). Auto insurance in B.C. has a significant problem with injury claims and legal costs reaching an all-time high.
On April 1st, 2019 ICBC implemented the following in an effort to reduce car insurance costs.
- Cap of $5,500 on pain and suffering payouts for minor injuries
- A new online Civil Resolution Tribunal to deal with injury claim disputes valued at $50,000 or less
- Improved accident benefits including an increase for those unable to work, and to access home support
- Expanded treatment options – including acupuncture, counselling, massage therapy and physiotherapy
For the first time in almost a decade, ICBC did not increase rates in 2020. Currently, BC drivers pay the most expensive car insurance premiums in the country. ICBC continue to make changes to reduce premiums, such as introducing no-fault in May 2021 which promises to reduce rates by 20% by removing red tape surrounding access to care and eliminating most legal battles.
There are proponents for a Quebec car insurance system, which uses a hybrid model where the government manages personal injuries and private insurers cover property damage. The historical rate changes shown below are based on all the drivers insured each year by the ICBC.
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How to get cheap car insurance in British Columbia
Shop and compare
Research which company provides cheap car insurance in British Columbia, and also the best value for you and your vehicle. Rates may change up to four times a year, but lucky for you comparing car insurance quotes with us is free.
Stay with your current insurer
Some British Columbia car insurance companies will give loyalty discounts to drivers who remain active with them for years. Especially if they add family members or multiple vehicles to their policy.
Bundle your policies
If you use the same insurance company for both your home and auto insurance needs, your insurer will often thank you with a dip in premiums.
Get a multi car discount
If you have multiple drivers and vehicles in the same household, by putting them all on one policy can save you money.
Increase your deductible
Your deductible is the portion you pay when settling a claim before your insurer will pay the rest. If you’re willing to double your deductible, it could save you money.
Ask about discounts
If you’re a member of a large corporation, union, or a school alumnus, it could help you get cheaper British Columbia car insurance.
Pay premiums annually, instead of monthly
Paying monthly adds administrative costs to your insurer, so if you’re able to pay in full annually you can lower your premiums.
Maintain a good driving record
If you’re a safe driver, obey the rules of the road and drive according to road conditions you can reduce your chances of an accident. Car crashes stay on your insurance record for up to ten years and can result in higher premiums.
Install winter tires
You can save up to 3-5% simply by adding winter tires to your car.
British Columbia (BC) puts new drivers through a graduated licensing program (GLP) requiring each driver to progress through a 3-step educational program in order to be considered a fully licenced driver. If you are moving to BC and you have an existing driver’s license, you have 90 days to switch your valid out of province license to a BC driver’s license. You can read more about how to transfer a driver’s license to BC on the ICBC website.
The graduated licensing program in British Columbia operates as follows:
Learner's licence (or level one) eligibility criteria:
Novice licence (or level two) eligibility criteria:
Full licence (or level three) eligibility criteria:
Have you thought about BC home insurance?
Unlike BC auto insurance you have a number of options when shopping for home insurance in British Columbia. Get a free quote today to see how much you can save.
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Matt Hands, Business Director of Insurance
With 6+ years of experience at Ratehub.ca, Matt’s focus has been on growing its newest business unit, Insurance. He is a thought leader and a valuable resource to respected publications across Canada. read full bio
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