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There Are Changes Afoot for B.C. Drivers and Not Everyone is Happy about It

A traffic jam in Vancouver, B.C. at sunset.

ICBC’s new auto insurance pricing took effect September 1.

Drivers in British Columbia pay the highest rates in the country for their auto insurance coverage. Ontario auto insurance rates are lower, on average, as are Alberta auto insurance rates. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) estimates that B.C. drivers pay about $1,832 for coverage while drivers in Ontario pay $1,505 and Albertans pay $1,316.

It’s a reality not lost on the province who last year announced they were going to update the ICBC’s 30-year-old rating structure.

“Right now, the system is broken. A driver with no crashes could be paying the same premium as a driver with three at-fault crashes in a year,” said David Eby, B.C.’s Attorney General when the plans to modernize the system were announced in August 2018.

Fixing a Broken System?

Changes to address the concerns of high auto insurance rates in the province have come into effect. As of September 1, 2019, the province’s public insurer says they’ve moved “to a more driver-based model, which means driving experience and crash history will play a bigger role in determining the cost of your insurance premiums.”

And not everyone is going to be happy about it.

As reported by CTV News Vancouver in early September, of the 15,000 insurance renewal notices that went out at the time, 43 percent of drivers received an increase, on average $205, while 56 percent received a decrease in the neighbourhood of $287. The remaining 1 percent saw no change at all.

Young, inexperienced drivers however are finding their “driver factor” to be an expensive reality. As explained by the ICBC, the “driver factor is a number which represents risk and reflects the combination of your experience and crash history. The lower your number, the lower your risk. ICBC uses this number to help determine how much it will cost to insure your car.”

Anastasia Paterson, a 23-year-old driver with a seven-year clean driving record told CTV News Vancouver that her insurance went up 20 percent, from about $2,600 to more than $3,100 a year.

“Yes, I am younger but I didn’t think it would affect me that much. I thought maybe my insurance would go up 50 dollars max but not $545,” Paterson said.