Car Insurance BC: The Ultimate Guide 2024

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Looking for car insurance in BC? You've come to the right place.

In this guide, we'll tell you everything you need to know: How does car insurance in BC work? How much does car insurance cost in BC? What is the mandatory coverage? How to get additional coverage?

We'll also share tips to lower your premiums, find the best discounts and ways to find the cheapest car insurance in BC based on your unique needs.

Car Insurance BC: Key takeaways

  1. BC car insurance is mandatory through ICBC, a government-owned corporation.
  2. The average car insurance BC cost is $1,832 annually.
  3. New drivers pay $2,600 to $5,000 per year.
  4. Optional private insurance is available for extra coverage.
  5. Use winter tires, drive well, and bundle policies for discount.

How does BC car insurance work?

Car insurance in British Columbia works a bit differently than in other provinces because it involves a mix of public and optional private insurance. Here’s a simple breakdown of how it works:

BC car insurance: Mandatory coverage

Basic auto insurance in British Columbia is provided by a government-owned corporation known as the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). This mandatory coverage includes:

  1. Third-Party Liability Insurance: This covers you if you are at fault in an accident and need to pay for the injuries or property damages of others. The minimum coverage amount is $200,000, but most drivers opt for higher limits.
  2. Accident Benefits: This provides coverage for medical and rehabilitation costs, and wage loss for you and any passengers injured in an accident, regardless of who is at fault.
  3. Underinsured Motorist Protection (UMP): This protects you up to a certain limit if you are injured by a driver who does not have enough insurance to cover the claims.

Optional Additional Coverage

While the ICBC provides basic coverage, you can purchase additional optional insurance either from ICBC or from private insurers. Optional coverages include:

  • Collision Coverage: This covers damage to your vehicle when you are at fault in an accident or if the accident is a hit-and-run.
  • Comprehensive Car Insurance: This covers non-collision damage to your vehicle such as theft, vandalism, or weather-related damages.
  • Extended Liability: This increases your liability coverage beyond the basic amount.
  • Excess Underinsured Motorist Protection: This provides additional protection over the basic UMP limit.

Are you about to apply for car insurance to drive in your area? Never forget to compare the best car insurance plans in Canada upfront, and weigh the pros and cons of what each car insurer offers. You can use online tools like our HelloSafe free comparator to compare coverage from Canada's best companies based on your province.

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How much is car insurance in BC?

British Columbia has the highest average car insurance costs at $1,832 annually. Additional options like collision and comprehensive can significantly increase these costs. Primarily, the public auto insurance system monopoly managed by the ICBC results in higher premiums due to the lack of competition.

In comparison, Ontario and Alberta, which have purely private insurance models, also feature high car insurance costs with average annual premiums of $1,528 and $1,316, respectively.

How to get BC car insurance quotes?

Drivers in British Columbia can get car insurance through a broker, or agent or directly from an insurer. There are many online options as well.

When you request a car insurance quote BC, you will need:

  • The vehicle’s make and model
  • Your VIN (vehicle identification number)
  • Your Social Insurance Number
  • Driver’s license
  • Your previous insurance (if any)

Good to know

Your insurer in British Columbia may ask you who else will drive the vehicle, where you’ll regularly drive and how much. They will look at your driving record. Demerit points, speeding tickets, previous accidents and insurance gaps will mean higher quotes.

When buying car insurance, it's crucial to compare rates from different companies as they can vary significantly. Besides the mandatory insurance, consider adding collision and comprehensive coverage. You can also enhance your policy with various endorsements. For new vehicles, a waiver of depreciation is beneficial, reimbursing you the purchase value if your car is totalled within the first 24 months.

How is BC car insurance cost calculated?

In British Columbia, there are several factors to consider when determining the price of your car insurance. The price of car insurance in British Columbia is based on several factors such as:

  • Your age and sex.
  • Your driving record (i.e. your driving history including crashes and years of experience).
  • Your permanent address: it won't be the same price if you live in a crowded city or in the countryside.
  • The type of vehicle you drive: depending on the vehicle you drive, your premium will increase or not. If it is a model that can be easily stolen, your premium will get higher. If you drive one of the most stolen cars, it is quite certain that your premium will tend to be higher.
  • The use you make of your vehicle: are your journeys to and from work daily, for example? Do you use your vehicle for business purposes?
  • The number of people insured on your car insurance and their driving level.
  • The date you obtained your driver's license.
  • Third-party liability: Did you choose a $1,000,000 third-party liability? More? Less? This changes your premium a lot.
  • The optional coverage: Did you add accident forgiveness for example? Roadside assistance? Same, this impacts your premium.

Car Insurance Calculator BC: How much will I pay?

You can calculate your car insurance online using the ICBC Car Insurance Calculator on the website.

To estimate your car insurance costs in BC using the ICBC estimation tool or BC car insurance calculator, you'll need a current Autoplan policy and your BC Services Card or online banking credentials to log in. This tool allows you to:

  • List additional drivers and assess the impact on your policy.
  • Modify and add optional ICBC coverage levels to find the best protection for your needs.
  • Sign up for direct deposit and ICBC updates to manage and receive information efficiently.

For a precise estimate or if you're new to BC, lack a BC driver's license, or need a commercial policy, contact an Autoplan broker directly.

What other coverages can you add to your car insurance in British Columbia?

Here are some other options you could add to your car insurance in British Columbia. Most private car insurance BC companies propose this:

Car Insurance BC: Additional CoverageBenefits
Loss of vehicle insurance
Also known as rental car coverage, this covers the cost of rentals, transportation, and cabs that you had to take during the period when you were unable to use your vehicle. Your rental vehicle will be insured in the same manner as your insured vehicle(s).
Accident Forgiveness
Your first accident won't increase your car insurance premium
Replacement value for total loss
Also known as replacement value, your insurer will compensate you based on the purchase value of the vehicle without taking depreciation into account.
Alternate Transportation Benefits
if you are out of gas, stuck, or have a cracked wheel, the road assistance is there for it.
Emergency roadside
If you are out of gas, stuck, or have a cracked wheel, road assistance is there for it.
Optional car insurance bc

How to get the cheapest BC car insurance?

British Columbia car insurers offer many discounts to save money on your insurance. Here are some of the best discounts known:

  • Multi-Vehicle Discount: Save money by insuring more than one car with the same insurer.
  • Bundling Discount: Get a discount of up to 25% for bundling your car insurance with other policies such as home or life insurance.
  • Good Driver Discount: Rewards for having a clean driving record without any at-fault accidents or traffic violations.
  • Low Mileage Discount: If you drive less than a certain number of kilometers per year, you might qualify for lower rates.
  • Anti-Theft Device Discount: Savings for having approved anti-theft systems installed in your vehicle.
  • Winter Tire Discount: Some insurers offer discounts for using winter tires during the colder months, recognizing the increased safety they provide.
  • Loyalty Discount: Reduced rates for staying with the same insurance provider for several years.
  • Green Vehicle Discount: Discounts for driving hybrid or electric vehicles.
  • Defensive Driving Course Discount: A discount for completing an approved defensive driving course.
  • Young Driver Discount: While young drivers typically face higher rates, some insurers offer discounts aimed at students or young drivers who maintain a good academic record.
  • Discount for experienced drivers: You can get a discount if you have a good driving record and are over 50 years old.
  • Retiree discount: You may be eligible for a 15% discount on Accident Benefits.

What are the ways to lower your BC car insurance premiums?

BC car insurance can sure be high. However, there are ways to lower your monthly premiums. Here are some of the most effective ways:

  1. Opt for Higher Deductibles: Increasing your deductible can reduce your monthly or annual premiums, as you're agreeing to pay more out of pocket in the event of a claim.
  2. Maintain a Clean Driving Record: Avoiding accidents and traffic violations is crucial. A clean record over time often results in lower insurance costs.
  3. Reduce Coverage on Older Vehicles: For older cars, consider whether you need full coverage. Dropping collision and comprehensive coverage on older vehicles can save money.
  4. Drive Less: Some insurers offer lower rates for drivers who spend less time on the road, as this reduces the likelihood of accidents.
  5. Choose Your Car Wisely: Opt for a vehicle that's cheaper to insure. Generally, cars that are less expensive to repair or not commonly targeted by thieves have lower premiums.
  6. Regularly Review and Adjust Your Coverage: As your car ages or your situation changes, your insurance needs might also change. Ensure your coverage levels are appropriate to avoid overpaying.
  7. Shop Around and Compare Rates: Rates vary between providers, so it pays to shop around. Use online tools or consult with brokers to find the best rates for the coverage you need.
  8. Consider Telematics Programs: Some insurers offer programs that monitor your driving habits electronically to potentially offer lower rates based on safe driving.
  9. Use Public Transit More Often: Reducing how often you use your vehicle by utilizing public transit can lower your premiums by decreasing your vehicle's exposure to risks.

Private Car Insurance BC: What are the best plans?

While getting mandatory coverage is only possible through ICBC in BC, there are several companies you can buy additional coverage from. Here are some of the best BC car insurance companies that offer the most diverse coverage options to suit every need.

Car insurance companies in British ColumbiaKey Features
economical car insurance main
  • Specializes in drivers with challenges

  • Robust protection against lawsuits

  • 24/7 emergency roadside assistance program

  • Tailor coverage to your exact needs
intact insurance logo
  • Intact recently acquired RSA Canada, one of the leading general insurance providers

  • Strong financial rating of A+
  • Offers innovative insurance products including usage-based and other telematics-based services

  • Save up to 15% by bundling Car and Home insurance policies
caa logo
  • Competitive rates
  • Several discounts for CAA members

  • Flexible payment options
  • Usage-based insurance program
  • Easy and quick claims process
td car insurance main
  • Choices like accident forgiveness protection

  • Savings when bundling and driving a hybrid

  • Customize premiums based on driving habits

  • Specialty insurance for cross-country travel
pafco car insurance main
  • Caters to drivers others won't cover

  • Helps improve poor driving records over time
  • Available in ON, QC, NS, NB, AB

  • Experts find the right policy for your situation
aviva car insurance main
  • Insurance specifically for ridesharing drivers
  • Steep discounts for safe driving and bundling

  • Save up to 20% with their telematics app

  • Handy endorsements like accident waiver
sonnet car insurance main
  • Fully online process with 24/7 support

  • File claims easily by phone, email, chat

  • Customizable endorsements

  • Alumni savings for graduates
optimum car insurance main
  • Up to $2 million liability coverage

  • Discounts for mature drivers, multi-policy bundles

  • Add any combination of optional endorsements

  • Significant savings when bundling home and auto
lowestrates car insurance main
  • User-friendly online comparison tool

  • Get quotes from the best car insurance companies in BC like CAA, SGI, etc.

  • Choices for high-risk, student, and new drivers

  • Sample quotes ranged $70 - $167 per month
co operators car insurance main
  • Co-op business structure that gives back locally
  • Mandatory coverage plus helpful add-ons
  • Choices like accident forgiveness, family protection
  • Demutualized to expand nationally
all state car insurance main
  • Vast selection of coverage add-ons
  • Specialty insurance for ridesharing
  • Savings for good students and safe habits
  • Robust theft protection and parking tools
onlia car insurance main
  • Manage your policy entirely online

  • Easily customize coverage amounts and options

  • Add-ons like increased accident benefits, ridesharing

  • Digital experience without involving brokers
rbc car insurance main
  • Useful add-ons like Family Protection

  • Satellite Program for towing and repairs

  • Prompt emergency roadside assistance

  • Many choices beyond basic coverage
desjardins car insurance main
  • 5-year replacement coverage option

  • Discounts for eco-cars, bundling policies

  • Rebates available for young drivers
  • Telematics app provides significant savings
costco logo 1
  • Free Online Quotes and buy policy online in minutes
  • Insurance through Inova
  • Coverage for RV, Boat, ATV, Motorcycle, Motorhome, Snowmobile, Cottage and Rentals
  • Big discounts for existing customers
  • 24*7 support
Best private car insurance BC

FAQs on BC Car Insurance

How much is car insurance in BC for a new driver?

You might expect car insurance premiums to start from around $2,600 to $5,000 per year for new drivers in British Columbia, but this can be significantly higher depending on the exact needs and details. The premium for basic insurance for a new driver is generally higher because new drivers are considered to be at a higher risk of accidents due to a lack of driving experience.

How much is car insurance in BC per month?

The average BC car insurance cost is $152 per month. However, new drivers or those with high-end vehicles or living in high-risk areas might see much higher rates. BC car insurance rates are higher than most other provinces in Canada.

Why is car insurance so expensive in BC?

Car insurance in British Columbia is notably expensive due to a few key reasons: high rates of accidents and claims within the province increase overall costs; the mandatory insurance is provided by a government-run monopoly, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), which has faced financial challenges; and litigation and medical costs related to claims are high.

How to cancel car insurance in BC?

To cancel car insurance in BC, contact ICBC or your private insurer directly to inform them of your decision and follow their specific cancellation procedures. Always coordinate the start date of your new policy with the cancellation of the old policy so you can avoid any gaps in coverage.

Watch out!

Ensure you have a new policy lined up if you continue driving, as driving without insurance in BC is illegal and can result in hefty fines, license suspension, and vehicle impoundment.

How to renew car insurance in BC?

To renew car insurance in BC, you can visit an Autoplan broker office, where you'll discuss your coverage needs and any changes to your policy. Most policies are renewable annually, and it's essential to bring your current insurance documents and driver's license.

You can also explore renewing online if you've received a renewal reminder from ICBC with online eligibility details. Always renew before your current policy expires to avoid any lapse in coverage.

How much is storage insurance for a car in BC?

Storage insurance for a car in BC, often referred to as comprehensive-only coverage, is typically more affordable than full coverage since it only protects against risks like theft, vandalism, and environmental damage while the vehicle is parked. The cost can vary, but it generally ranges from about $20 to $50 per month, depending on the value of the vehicle and the specific terms set by the insurer. This type of insurance is ideal if you have vehicles that are not in use for extended periods.

Is ICBC the only car insurance in BC?

ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) provides the mandatory basic auto insurance coverage required by all drivers in BC, but it is not the only option for additional coverage. Drivers in BC can also purchase optional extended coverage such as collision or comprehensive insurance from private insurers. This allows for some flexibility and competitive pricing in terms of additional protections beyond the basic plan offered by ICBC.

Is there temporary car insurance in BC?

Yes, British Columbia offers temporary car insurance through Temporary Operation Permits (TOPs), which can be issued for periods ranging from 1 to 15 days. This option is ideal if you require short-term coverage for a brief period.

However, if you anticipate needing multiple TOPs over time, it might be more cost-effective to consider purchasing a three-month policy instead.

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Alexandre Desoutter
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Alexandre Desoutter has been working as editor-in-chief and head of press relations at HelloSafe since June 2020. A graduate of Sciences Po Grenoble, he worked as a journalist for several years in French media, and continues to collaborate as a as a contributor to several publications.