Car Insurance in BC

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The Provincial Car Insurance Provider is Insurance Corporation of British Columbia ICBC.

When you finally arrive in British Columbia, purchasing the insurance couldn't be much easier - there's only one place to go, as BC, like about half of Canadian Provinces, have mandatory government-run insurance. Any broker you go to will provide this for ICBC, at the exact same price for your car and situation - there is no alternative or discount available for shopping around. The calculation is based on your vehicle, its use, your driving history and location - comprehensive coverage with raised liability for accidents will probably run you $100-$200/month. Some people might find getting their prior discount recognized 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.

If you’ve moved to B.C. on or after September 1, 2019, we no longer require a claims history letter from your previous insurance provider. We only require proof of your years of driving experience – how long you’ve held a full driver’s licence.

Driving experience is one of the main factors we look at when determining your insurance premiums. You’ll earn better Basic insurance discounts for each year of driving experience you have. We credit up to 15 years of non-B.C. driving experience.

To prove your driving experience we’ll need a driver’s abstract or letter of experience from the licensing authority that issued your first non-learner driver’s licence. This is also required in order to obtain your full B.C. driver’s licence. Find out what you need to prove your driving experience. 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).