Car insurance in this province is provided by a government-run insurance company, Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Since 1973, BC consumers have had very little choice in how and where they buy their car insurance. If they are dissatisfied with the service provided by ICBC or the premiums they are being charged, drivers in BC do not have the same option as do drivers in other provinces – the option to switch insurance companies.
BC consumers do have some of the same choices available to other Canadians when it comes to optional car insurance. Drivers can purchase collision, fire and theft insurance from the private car insurance companies competing for business in BC. These companies are committed to ensuring consumers have the benefit of competition and choice, where government inaction has made it difficult to do so.
A competitive business environment is a powerful incentive for insurers to deliver the best service and to understand and meet consumers’ needs. Auto insurance is no exception to this rule. As consumers’ needs change, private sector insurance companies respond by offering innovative new products and services. Product innovations such as first accident forgiveness, replacement cost coverage, roadside assistance, and payment plans were all adopted in competitive jurisdictions long before they were available in provinces with government-run auto insurance systems.
After the BC government’s 2001 election-campaign commitment to increase competition in auto insurance, a lengthy examination of the role and mandate of ICBC was conducted. The recommendations for insurance reforms that came out of that review fell short of creating a fully competitive market and giving consumers full choice and competition in automobile insurance. Drivers in BC must still buy their mandatory insurance from government-run ICBC.
Private-sector auto insurers continue to work to ensure that consumers in BC have competition and choice in where, how and from whom they buy auto insurance.
Minimum Required Auto Insurance Coverage in British Columbia
As of May 1, 2013
|Compulsory minimum third-party liability:
||$200,000 is available for any one accident; however, if a claim involving both bodily injury and property damage reaches this figure, payment for property damage will be capped at $20,000
||$150,000/person, including rehabilitation, excluding health insurance and other medical plans
|Funeral expense benefits:
|Disability income benefits:
||75% gross weekly wages to a maximum $300/week; 104 weeks temporary disability, lifetime if totally disabled; nothing is payable for the first 7 days of disability; homemaker up to $145/week, maximum 104 weeks
||Death of head of household $5,000 and $145/week for 104 weeks to first survivor, plus $1,000 and $35/week for 104 weeks to each child; death of spouse/partner $2,500; death of dependent child according to age, maximum $1,500/child
|Right to sue for pain and suffering?
|Right to sue for economic loss in excess of no-fault benefits?
||Government (government and private insurers compete for optional and excess coverage)
Steps Required to Become a Fully Licensed Driver in British Columbia
Introduced Oct. 6, 2003
How do I become a Learner?
To enter the Learner Phase (Class 7L), you must:
- Be at least 16
- Take a vision test
- Take a driving knowledge test
- Have a parent or guardian’s consent (if you are under 19)
How long will I be in the Learner Phase?
You must be in the Learner Phase for at least 12 months. The Learner’s license is valid for two years, but can be extended if you re-qualify on the knowledge test. You can stay in this phase for as long as you like.
You must be 16 years of age (and have passed all license requirements) to enter the Learner Phase.
What are the restrictions while I am in the Learner Phase?
You must drive with a supervisory driver who is 25 or older and has a valid Class 1-5 driver’s licence. You can have, along with the supervisory driver, only one other passenger in the car with you. You cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m. You cannot drink when you are driving – your blood alcohol must be zero. Your car must have the Learner sign on it.
The minimum penalty for violating any Learner Phase restriction is a $109 fine. If you break the no-drinking-and-driving rule, you will get an immediate 12-hour driving suspension, and you will not be able to drive again for one month, on a first offense. If you break the no-drinking-and-driving rule again, you will not be able to drive for a year.
What else should I know?
If you break any traffic rules while you are a Learner, you can lose your right to drive very quickly. You will be allowed only two to six demerit points (instead of the 15 to 19 points allowed to a Class 1-5 driver). If you get too many demerit points, you will lose the right to drive for a period of time.
If you get four demerit points (this would usually happen with two tickets) you can lose the right to drive for one month. If you get more than four points you can lose the right to drive for a longer time.
You are also subject to all the penalties and fines that apply to other drivers. For a chart of these, seehttp://www.icbc.com/Licensing/lic_fines_pen_fine_chart.asp
How do I become a Novice?
To enter the Novice Phase (Class 7N) from the Learner Phase, you must pass the Class 7 road test.
How long will I be in the Novice Phase?
You must be in the Novice Phase for at least 24 months, unless you take and pass an ICBC-approved driver education course (which reduces this by 6 months). The approved course must be taken and passed in the Learner Phase. In addition, to qualify for the six month reduction, you must be prohibition free; ticket and violation free; and not have any at-fault collisions.
What are the restrictions while I am in the Novice Phase?
You can have only one passenger in the car with you, unless you have a supervisory driver who is 25 or older and has a valid Class 1-5 driver’s licence (one or more immediate family members are allowed even without a supervisor). You cannot drink when you are driving – your blood alcohol must be zero. Your car must have the Novice sign on it.
What else should I know?
If you break any traffic rules, you will go back to the beginning of the Novice Phase; you will lose all of the time you have spent in this phase.
As in the Learner Phase, you will be allowed only two to six demerit points (instead of the 15 to 19 points allowed to a Class 1-5 driver). If you get too many demerit points, you will lose the right to drive for a period of time.
To graduate from the Novice Phase, you must pass the Class 5 road test.