Auto Insurance British Columbia

There are over 3.5 million drivers in B.C., all of whom need to worry about auto insurance. But auto insurance in Canada can be a little confusing, as it differs from province to province, and it’s not always clear who needs what kind of insurance – or where to get it.

So to help B.C.’s drivers, we’ve put together a quick reference guide to help you understand your auto insurance requirements and options. Let’s start with some of the province’s private insurance providers; those listed in the table below have sterling reputations and cater to B.C. residents. Click on a name to learn more about an individual company, and peruse their products and reviews to understand your various options. And read on to learn more about insurance regulations and costs in B.C.

Best Auto Insurance Companies in British Columbia

Business Insurance Online, Home & Auto Insurance
Pricing varies by coverage needs
Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario

Auto Insurance Requirements in British Columbia

Who needs auto insurance in British Columbia?

Anyone owning and driving a vehicle in B.C. needs auto insurance - regardless of age, gender, license type, or vehicle type. Driving without proper insurance is a criminal offence, and can result in charges between $200 and $2,000, suspension of your license, and in extreme or repeat cases, a jail term.

Where can I get auto insurance in British Columbia?

B.C. is one of the few provinces in Canada that requires all drivers to have insurance from a public provider. The Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC) offers a “Basic Autoplan” that encompasses the minimum level of insurance coverage required by law, and all B.C. drivers are compelled to purchase this Basic Autoplan.

Many drivers also choose to purchase extra insurance, over and above the minimum required by law, to further protect themselves and their vehicle. This extra insurance can be purchased from ICBC, or from private insurers.

What’s in the Basic Autoplan?

B.C. mandates that all drivers have at least the following auto insurance coverage - all of which is covered in ICBC’s Basic Autoplan:

  • Third party liability coverage of $200,000
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage of $1,000,000
  • Accident benefits coverage of $300,000
  • Hit and run coverage of $200,000
  • Inverse liability coverage
  • No fault coverage

The Basic Autoplan has to be purchased from ICBC via its network of brokers, and this typically has to be done in person. However, some aspects of their customer care can be performed online or by telephone. Check here for more details.

What extra auto insurance can I get in British Columbia?

The Basic Autoplan is really intended to be a minimum threshold for insurance, and most B.C. drivers purchase extra insurance to supplement it. This extra insurance comes in many forms, and can include:

  • Increased third party liability coverage
  • Increased uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage 
  • Collision coverage
  • Rental car coverage
  • Replacement vehicle coverage
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Specified perils coverage
  • New vehicle coverage
  • Specialized coverage

Most drivers choose to shop around the private insurance providers in B.C. to get their supplemental insurance coverage, as this can save you money, but the extra coverages listed above are also available from ICBC.

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What’s not included in auto insurance coverage in British Columbia?

All insurance policies have exclusions, and these commonly include:

  • Vehicle wear and tear
  • Mechanical failure and breakdowns
  • Tire damage
  • Accidents resulting in a criminal charge
  • Accidents occurring while the vehicle was used for commercial purposes

The Cost of Auto Insurance in British Columbia

B.C. residents suffer from one of the most expensive auto insurance markets in Canada, with the average yearly cost per vehicle sitting at $1832, or $152 a month. And because all drivers in the province have to buy the Basic Autoplan from ICBC, this cost is not really negotiable.

Luckily, there has been growing pressure on ICBC to offer discounts and rate reductions, and this will help lower the cost for some. However, ICBC’s high fees mean that getting a good deal on your supplemental insurance is crucial.

How are auto insurance rates calculated in British Columbia?

Insurance rates, from both ICBC and private insurers, depend on:

  • Driver demographics
  • Location
  • Driving history - including past accidents, extra certifications, how long you’ve been licensed, etc.
  • Vehicle details - including age, model, make, safety features, etc.
  • Driving activity - how often you drive, the type of driving you do, whether you use winter tires, etc.
  • Presence of other drivers in the household
  • Available discounts
  • Type of coverage chosen

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How can I lower my auto insurance costs in British Columbia?

There are a few ways to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible when buying auto insurance in B.C.:

  • Check your details are correct 
  • Use an immobilizer to qualify for a discount
  • Maintain a clean driving record
  • Drive less
  • Use public transit for your work commute to qualify for a discount
  • Pay for your insurance annually instead of monthly
  • Bundle your private auto insurance with other insurance products
  • Increase your deductible

Frequently Asked Questions About Auto Insurance In British Columbia

Who needs auto insurance in British Columbia?

Everyone! It’s the law for all drivers to have auto insurance in B.C.

Where can I get auto insurance in British Columbia?

All drivers in B.C. are required to get a minimum level of insurance from the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC). Additional levels of insurance coverage are available from private insurance companies.

How much does the Basic Autoplan from ICBC cost?

The cost of auto insurance in B.C. averages just over $150 a month, but this can be more or less depending on individual circumstances.

How does insurance work for learner drivers?

Learner drivers in B.C. must register and purchase insurance from ICBC, and are subject to a learner premium of between $130 and $230 per year.

How can I get a good deal on my auto insurance in British Columbia?

There are a few ways to lower your costs when buying supplemental auto insurance: shop around, drive less, bundle your insurance products, keep a clean driving record, and ask about discounts.

Does my auto insurance cover me if I drive for a rideshare company?

Technically, your personal auto insurance policy does not cover you for accidents occuring while you’re driving for a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft - but provincial regulations mean that these companies have to purchase a blanket insurance policy that covers the whole company. So the company’s insurance will cover you and your vehicle.

Written By Smarter Loans Staff

The Smarter Loans Staff is made up of writers, researchers, journalists, business leaders and industry experts who carefully research, analyze and produce Canada's highest quality content when it comes to money matters, on behalf of Smarter Loans. While we cannot possibly name every person involved in the process, we collectively credit them as Smarter Loans Writing Staff. Our work has been featured in the Toronto Star, National Post and many other publications. Today, Smarter Loans is recognized in Canada as the go-to destination for financial education, and was named the "GPS of Fintech Lending" by the Toronto Star.