The Provincial Car Insurance Provider is Insurance Corporation of British Columbia ICBC.
When you finally arrive in British Columbia you might find getting car insurance is a pain! The minimum insurance you must have is called Basic Autoplan. This covers:
* Third Party Liability (up to $200,000)
* Accident Benefits
* Underinsured Motorist Protection (up to $1,000,000)
* Protection Against Hit-and-Run and Uninsured Motorists
* Inverse Liability Coverage.
You can only buy Basic Autoplan from ICBC, though there are many Autoplan Brokers throughout the province who sell the insurance on ICBC's behalf. The actual cost of Basic Autoplan depends on the type of vehicle you drive, where you live, and what you use the vehicle for.
Almost all drivers opt to purchase additional insurance, typically extended third party liability, collision, and comprehensive (fire and theft). There are other insurances you can buy. At first, you are probably stuck with buying additional insurance from ICBC. However, optional coverage is also sold by private companies. Their rates can be significantly cheaper if you have a good,safe driving record. For example, you can try Canadian Direct or BCAA or Coast Capital Credit Union.
ICBC give a discount of 5% for each year you drive with no at-fault claims, up to a maximum of 43%. They will take your UK driving record into account. However, you need to PROVE your no claims. Please start tracking down your proof of no claims for the last 20 years. This will save you a lot of money when you come to get car insurance. You may not have all of the information, but the more no claims years you can prove, the better. Use this template. See also ICBC's website here. ICBC's instructions to claim discounts after you have bought insurance from them are in this document It also includes templates for requesting insurance history from past insurers.
Advice to all prospective British expats is to request a detailed breakdown when you ask your insurance companies in the UK for reference letters. A poster here at BritishExpats reported that the letters from her UK insurance companies saved her just over $1,000 on her first year's car insurance premiums in BC.
New experience: in July 2010, one BE member was told that any claims-free period within the eight years prior to purchasing ICBC's autoplan would count toward a potential discount. This member was member of a car co-op (no discount for this period through ICBC) immediately prior to moving to BC, but had owned a car prior to that, and had no claims while insured for that.
ICBC also administers driver licensing. See their website here.
UK Licence Holders (and some other countries), can transfer their licence to a BC Licence directly here as of July 2010. If you have held your licence for less than two years, you will have to complete the Graduate Licensing Program (otherwise known as N plates). Other countries, or those without licences, will require a full, normal, licensing.
A driver was "denied coverage for an accident when it was discovered he had lived in the province much longer than 90 days without getting a B.C. driver's license." The practical consequence of driving with a non-BC license more than 90 days after you become resident in the province is that you are driving without a valid license and without insurance. Just as in the UK, this is a serious offence.
An international driving permit offers no benefits in BC. It can act as a translation of a foreign license but it will not help the holder avoid any of the restrictions noted here (or in any country).