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Car insurance tips

Vehicle insurance all comes from ICBC in British Columbia

Insuring your vehicle is different from the UK, and indeed from many other provinces in Canada. That is in part because all insurance comes through the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). In B.C. there is basic compulsory coverage and optional coverage. Compulsory coverage (called Basic Autoplan) is provided only through ICBC and is available through its network of Autoplan Brokers. So all vehicles must have basic insurance through ICBC.

Basic insurance covers you for:

The rates for this compulsory basic insurance will depend on your no claims record, your vehicle use, your vehicle and the area you live in.

Many people will want to top up their insurance with optional additional coverage. For example collision insurance covers damage to your vehicle, and comprehensive insurance covers loss or damage to your vehicle (other than by collision). You may also choose to increase your third party liability coverage from the $200,000 included within the basic coverage. Currently you can increase this up to $5 million.

There are also packages which cover roadside assistance.

For all of these additional insurance packages you can go to any insurer. It can pay to shop around for this. See the links at the end for some other insurers to try.

How to prove your no claims

In order to get your no claims recognized in B.C. you will need to provide acceptable proof to ICBC. This is not the standard letter you get from your insurer stating “n” years’ no-claims. If you want ICBC to accept your no-claims history you must provide acceptable proof within 6 months of first being insured in B.C. To do this you must provide a letter which meets the following criteria:

Note that the above is more than ICBC’s web site claims is needed. This is because in practice ICBC looks for more than the minimum stated on it’s web site. There is a link to a sample letter that may help if you send it to your insurer.

We did not have such a letter when we first got insurance, although we had something close. So we ended up paying the full premium and getting a refund some months later when we’d extracted the right letter from our UK insurer.

When we presented the letter, which covered both Sue and me, we got ICBC to add this to both our records so that both of us could get the discount. When we got a second vehicle, the no-claims discount was already on my record. This saved a lot of hassle as ICBC require and keep the originals of the letters.

Here's a link to the Claim Form.

Air Care

A final note on cars. B.C. does not have an MOT, but does have Air Care. This is an emissions test that applies to all vehicles before they are re-licensed. Vehicles seem to drive around with one headlight, no brake lights, etc. But at least their emissions are under control.

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