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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.
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.
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.
B.C. mandates that all drivers have at least the following auto insurance coverage - all of which is covered in ICBC’s Basic Autoplan:
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.
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:
All insurance policies have exclusions, and these commonly include:
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.
Insurance rates, from both ICBC and private insurers, depend on:
There are a few ways to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible when buying auto insurance in B.C.:
Everyone! It’s the law for all drivers to have auto insurance in B.C.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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