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Cheapest Car Insurance in Vancouver

Learn how car insurance works in Vancouver, B.C.

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Written By Joel Kranc

Updated November 15, 2023

Car insurance in Vancouver  

Vancouver, known for its urban density and ethnic diversity, can be challenging for drivers and commuters to navigate. Being a global destination, it's no surprise Vancouver has the worst road congestion in Canada: Vancouverites lost an estimated 75 hours of productivity in 2021 due to traffic, according to the TomTom Traffic Index.

Plus, drivers in Vancouver can't shop around for insurance providers. Why? B.C. residents can only buy mandatory insurance from one provider, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). A Crown corporation, the ICBC provides licensing and car insurance in the province.

Auto insurance prices are overseen and regulated by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC), an independent commission tasked with overseeing rates and service quality standards for other industries, including auto insurance.

Once the province with the highest average premium (Ontario has since claimed the top spot), ICBC introduced significant regulatory changes in recent years that have helped bring rates down.

In 2019, ICBC changed the way it tracks driving history. Now, crash history follows the driver that caused it; blame is no longer automatically assigned to the primary driver. However, to protect their driving record, the main driver must list all potential drivers on their policy before an accident happens.

Then in May 2021, B.C. switched from a litigation-based insurance system to a no-fault system. No-fault insurance means drivers in B.C. can't sue another driver for compensation after a collision to access medical treatment not covered by Medicare. Instead, your insurance company pays your liability and medical costs, regardless of who caused the accident.

By law, all Vancouver drivers must have a basic Autoplan (the name for ICBC's insurance), which can be bought from registered Autoplan brokers.

Autoplan includes:

  • Enhanced care coverage - Medical care and recovery benefits for physiotherapy, chiropractic, dental care, counselling, and more. Plus, up to $105,000 in lost wages, regardless of who was responsible for the crash.
  • Basic vehicle damage - Repairs up to a limit of $200,000 if an accident occurs and it is your fault.
  • Protection if you are responsible for a crash - Up to $200,000 for others' injuries or vehicle damage if you get into a crash and it's your fault. It also covers you if you damage another person's property.
  • Protection if the other driver does not have enough insurance - Up to $1 million if you're injured or killed by the driver of an underinsured vehicle, and you are not at fault for the crash.
  • Protection where local laws can affect your claim - Inverse liability protection covers you in parts of Canada or the U.S. where local laws don't let you claim against the person who caused your crash. Your vehicle repair costs are covered up to 100% (less if you were partly responsible for the crash).

Optional coverage auto insurance can be purchased through the Roadside Plus and Roadstar packages.

Mandatory and optional insurance coverages in Vancouver

Coverage name 

Designation 

Description 

Enhanced accident benefits 

Mandatory 

Part of Basic Autoplan. Covers medical costs with no overall limit. Ninety percent of income is replaced, up to $105,500 (higher earners can purchase Top-Up coverage) 

Basic vehicle damage 

Mandatory 

Covers the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle if it’s damaged in a collision you’re not at fault for, up to $200,000 

Third party liability  

Mandatory 

Provides coverage if you damage someone else’s property (that isn't a car) with your car.  

Also provides coverage if you get into an accident in a province or state that does permit other drivers to sue for damages.  

Underinsured motorist protect  

Mandatory 

Provides compensation up to $1 million if you make a third-party liability claim against a driver that does not have enough insurance to cover your costs.  

Inverse liability protection 

Mandatory  

Covers you if you get into an accident in a province or state that doesn’t let you claim against the person who caused the crash. 

Vehicle repair costs are covered up to 100%, but only if you’re 100% not at fault. 

Compensation is deducted according to your percentage of the blame (for example, if you’re 50% at fault, you will only get 50% of costs covered) 

Unlisted driver protection 

Optional 

Provides collision forgiveness for the first crash that an unlisted driver gets into with your car.  

Also ensures that the crash doesn’t go onto your record, but rather the unlisted driver’s. 

Free to add to your policy. Charges apply if an unlisted driver gets into an accident with your car. 

Collision 

Optional  

Pays to repair or replace your car when you're at fault for causing an accident. Damage from a hit-and-run driver is also covered by collision insurance. Towing charges are also reimbursed. If you have a track record of being at fault for collisions, you may be charged a higher-than-normal deductible, or you may not qualify for this coverage.  

Comprehensive  

Optional 

Pays to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged by something other than a collision with another car. Covered scenarios include theft, vandalism, fire, flying or falling objects, weather, or collisions with a wild animal.  

Specified perils 

Optional 

Provides coverage for perils insured by comprehensive insurance, but only for ones you name in your policy; if it’s not in your policy, you’re not covered for it.  

Hit and run  

Optional  

Pays to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged by an unidentified driver who doesn’t stay at the scene. If you have collision insurance, you likely don’t need to buy hit and run coverage.  

Income top-up 

Optional 

Increases your income replacement amount that’s part of Enhanced Care coverage. 

Extended third-party liability 

Optional 

Increases your liability coverage beyond the $200,000 mandatory minimum. Policy limits can be increased to up to $5 million.  

Loss of use  

Optional 

Covers temporary transportation expenses when your car is out of commission due to an event covered by ICBC.  

Luxury vehicles  

Optional  

Enhanced Basic Vehicle coverage for cars that retail for $150,000 and over.  

Rental vehicle coverage 

Optional  

Provides liability, accident benefits, underinsured motorist, collision, comprehensive, and loss of use coverages to a rental car. 

New vehicle protection  

Optional  

Pays to repair or replace your car even if you were at fault for the collision. Covers the full replacement cost (depreciation is not deducted) and is indexed for inflation. 

Vehicle Travel Protection

Optional

Helps cover unexpected expenses due to a claim while travelling. Included in Roadside Plus and Roadstar packages.

Emergency Roadside Expense Repayment

Optional 

For vehicle emergencies like breakdowns, locked-in keys, and flat tires. Included in Roadside Plus.

Theft Deductible Waiver 

 Optional

Pay no deductible if your vehicle is stolen or shows obvious signs of attempted theft. Included in Roadside Plus.

Destination Assistance

Optional

Reimburses you up to $100 to help you get where you're going after a collision, theft, or vandalism incident. Included in Roadside Plus.

 

Lock rekeying

Optional

If your keys are stolen, this will pay to alter your car's lock mechanism so the old key will no longer work. With Roadside Plus, up to $1,000 is covered, and there's no deductible. With Roadstar, expenses up to $500 are covered, and a deductible applies.

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How much does car insurance cost in Vancouver? 

Vancouver is a large metropolitan city, and car insurance premiums will vary depending on the circumstances.

A 45-year-old man from West Vancouver with a good insurance history can expect to pay about $1,500 a year, according to a recent report commissioned by the ICBC.

The report calculated premiums for several different driver profiles. In the above example, the male driver has a claim and conviction-free record, a 100 km commute, and an annual mileage of 30,000 km. He also drives a 2018 Ford F150 XLT Supercrew.

His rate is approximately 25% higher than the provincial average, estimated to be $1,199 in ICBC’s Annual Service Report.

Factors that affect your Vancouver car insurance premium 

Your Vancouver auto insurance can vary depending on several factors, including:

Your experience: The longer you have been a licenced driver, the lower your rates will be. ICBC looks favourably at drivers who have been on the road and pose less risk than inexperienced drivers.

Crash history: It may seem obvious, but fewer or no crashes means better Vancouver auto insurance rates.

Who's driving: You'll have to list the drivers of your car for ICBC and, again, the better experienced, the lower the rates.

Where you live: ICBC divides the province into different zones depending on traffic, and population density, among other criteria. Areas with more of the latter generally have higher rates.

How you use your car: Occasional drivers will pay less for their Vancouver auto insurance than those who use their vehicle daily to commute and for business purposes.

Discounts: Adding safety features to your car, like anti-theft devices, can help generate discounts on your Vancouver car insurance rate.

Level of protection: Adding optional coverage such as collision, comprehensive or extended third-party liability will increase the cost of your Vancouver car insurance rates.

Deductible: The higher the deductible, the less risk for ICBC and the lower your Vancouver auto insurance rates.

Your car: While older model cars may have maintenance and other repair issues, they will come with cheaper Vancouver insurance rates. Higher-end or new cars, on the other hand, are worth more and might cost more to fix, and therefore come with higher rates.

How to get the cheapest car insurance in Vancouver 

Getting the cheapest car insurance in Vancouver by assessing how and when you use your car and who is driving it. You can lower Vancouver car insurance rates by: 

  • Being a low-kilometre driver. ICBC places people who drive fewer than 10,000 km per year into this category. 
  • Adding safety features (or buying a car with features) such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB). Vehicles equipped with factory-installed AEB are eligible for a 10% discount as AEB has been statistically shown to help prevent crashes. 
  • Keeping your insurance record free of claims and driving convictions. ICBC offers discounts for long-term drivers with clean records. 
  • Being a senior. These discounts apply to policies where the vehicle is owned or leased by a senior (65+) and is used for pleasure, not daily commuting.  

Frequently asked questions about Vancouver car insurance 

Here's what else you need to know about getting car insurance in Vancouver.

Which company has the cheapest car insurance in Vancouver?

Comparison shopping, one of the best ways to find cheap car insurance, is challenging in Vancouver. The province owns and operates the one insurance company for all drivers: the ICBC. The insurance package supplied by the ICBC is called Autoplan insurance and is delivered through B.C.'s network of Autoplan brokers. Drivers can purchase optional auto insurance coverage from private car insurance companies or the ICBC. Regardless, buying optional coverage can only be done through a registered Autoplan broker.

The good news is that Vancouver car insurance rates declined after the B.C. government switched ICBC from a "litigation-based model" to a "no-fault" model. The province has taken additional steps to bring down insurance costs.

ICBC has a rebate for those who held a basic auto insurance policy at any time during February 2022. Eligible policyholders will receive $110, and commercial customers will receive $165.

Finally, in 2022, Premier David Eby announced a two-year rate freeze on basic auto insurance to help alleviate pressures caused by increasing living costs.

ICBC offers drivers guidelines on how to keep Vancouver car insurance rates low. Staying crash free, raising your deductible, buying appropriate coverage and finding discounts can all help reduce costs.

Can I get month-to-month car insurance in Vancouver?

Monthly insurance isn't available, but ICBC does offer short-term insurance. Policies for one year, three to 11 months, or even short-term operation permits of up to 15 days are available. Other provinces require drivers to buy a year-long policy but can cancel before renewal.

I am a newcomer to Canada. How do I buy car insurance in Vancouver?

There are two categories for new drivers looking for car insurance in Vancouver:

New to Canada. ICBC requires proof of driving history. To prove your driving experience, ICBC requires a driver's abstract or letter of experience from the licensing authority that issued your first non-learner driver's licence. This documentation is also required to obtain your full B.C. driver's license. Find out what you need to prove your driving experience.

Returning to Vancouver. If you received your first licence in B.C., you need to book an appointment at an ICBC office to update or renew your address.

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