B.C. drivers paying up to $1k more per year for insurance than other Canadians: industry

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An organization that represents Canada’s insurance industry says B.C. drivers are paying the highest insurance premiums in the country.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) figures, the average British Columbian is paying about $1,680 per year to insure their car this year. That’s compared to about $1,445 in Ontario, $1,251 in Alberta, and $796 in Prince Edward Island.

The figure comes as the B.C. government looks to minimize losses as the public insurer, which topped $1.3 billion in the last fiscal year.

After a pair of reviews, the province has implemented major changes to ICBC, which include a cap on payouts for soft-tissue injuries and shifting insurance claims out of the courts and into B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal.

But the IBC says there’s one major solution the province is ignoring: ending ICBC’s monopoly on basic insurance coverage.

Under B.C.’s insurance rules, drivers must buy basic insurance, which covers third-party liability, from ICBC, but are permitted to shop among private insurers for additional coverage.

“If we want to start talking about improving affordability in auto insurance and start driving rates down, you need to start looking at all the options,” said IBC spokesperson Aaron Sutherland.

“And one of those has to be opening ICBC to competition, really letting drivers decide where they place their business.”

The province has also significantly increased penalties for distracted driving, and ICBC has been engaged in a multi-year campaign to reduce fraud.

It is looking at additional measures to bring costs down, including raising rates on “risky” drivers and altering its discount scheme.

But Sutherland said those changes miss what’s different about B.C.

“If we look at every other province in this country, drivers pay less and the big difference here in B.C. is we have to purchase auto insurance from ICBC versus private insurers that sell it in most other provinces,” he said.

ICBC has rejected the IBC’s numbers, which it says were cherry picked to show the highest rates in B.C. versus the lowest rates elsewhere.

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