Car insurance tips
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:
- Third-Party Legal Liability
- Accident Benefits:
this covers medical expenses, loss of wages.
- Underinsured Motorist Protection:
guarantees you get the cover you are entitled to even if the other party is underinsured.
- Protection Against Hit-and-Run and Uninsured Motorists:
covers all B.C. residents up to $200,000.
- Inverse Liability Coverage :
this covers you in areas where you cannot sue the other party, and pays you what you would have been able to get if the accident had happened in B.C.
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:
- be on headed paper from the insurance company
- include the Policy Number.
- the start date for the insurance cover.
- the end date for the insurance cover.
- a sentence describing the type of insurance held – i.e. “fully comprehensive”.
- a sentence explaining that there were no claims made during this time. If there were any claims you will need to get details of any at fault claims.
- a sentence describing the total number of years’ No Claims Bonus gained by the time the policy ended Note that the number of years accrued must be stated, and not just a No Claims percentage bonus.
- A sentence describing the number of years’ No Claims Bonus accrued with this organization during this period - i.e. not the total no claims, just the amount earned with this company.
- if you have changed insurers, then you will want to get the same letter from each insurer as far back as you want to go
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.
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.
- ICBC Moving to BC
- ICBC Claim History Letter
As this gets moved around on the ICBC web site, my copy is here
- Sample letter for ICBC no claims
- Canadian Direct Insurance
- Insurance Brokers Association of BC
- Air Care