B.C. is one of four Canadian provinces with public car insurance programs, and it extends to anything motorized using B.C. roads. Some of those roads are quite spectacular, as the Rocky Mountains dominate three-quarters of the province. Terrain ranges from near-desert climates on the Interior Plateau to temperate rainforests on the west side of Vancouver Island.
The capital of the province is Victoria, on Vancouver Island, part of only a narrow strip of the population that reaches up to Comox. Victoria is actually substantially south of the 49th parallel that defines much of the western border between Canada and the U.S. If it were on the mainland, Victoria would be closer to Seattle than to Vancouver.
Auto Plan Coverage in B.C.
The public car insurance program in British Columbia is called the Auto Plan. Basic Auto Plan is the minimum mandatory coverage required to drive legally. The basic plan has five sections to protect drivers and passengers against financial loss in most cases.
- Third Party Liability – When you’re at fault and the other driver makes a claim, this portion of coverage protects up to $200,000 of medical costs and vehicle damage.
- Accident Benefits – up to $150,000 in medical and rehabilitation costs are included with Basic Auto Plan. This is provided on a no-fault basis.
- Underinsured Motorist coverage – If the other driver caused the accident and doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your injuries or damage, this section will make up the difference, up to $1 million.
- Hit and Run protection – This coverage is available to everyone in B.C. even if they do not own or insure a vehicle. Up to $200,000 of protection is provided.
- Inverse Liability protection – This covers accidents in Canada or the U.S. where, due to local laws, you may not have the right to claim against an at-fault driver. This covers damage to your vehicle and it is pro-rated to match fault, where responsibility for the accident is shared. For example, if you are assigned 30 percent fault for the accident, Auto Plan would pay 70 percent of the cost of your repairs.
Additional and optional coverage is available both through the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), the provider of Auto Plan, or private insurers in the province.
Cost of Car Insurance in B.C.
B.C. is second only to Ontario for expensive car insurance premiums in Canada, both in actual cost and affordability. The average driver in B.C. paid $1,113 annually, according to a 2011 study, compared to $1,281 for Ontario. Insurance premiums accounted for 4 percent of that driver’s personal disposable income. This compares to 2.5 percent in Quebec, where the average driver paid only $642 for car insurance.