British Columbia

B.C. drivers paying up to 60% more for vehicle insurance than Albertans, says new report

A new report from the Insurance Bureau of Canada shows British Columbians are paying more for auto insurance than drivers on the other side of the Rockies.

But AG David Eby says report is from an industry group intent on privatizing insurance in B.C.

B.C. drivers can pay up to 60 per cent more than Albertans for comparable vehicle insurance, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. (Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov)

A drive through the Rockies can be a beautiful road trip, but depending on what side of the mountain range you insured your car on, it might cost the driver a lot more.

report by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, released on March 15, compares the cost of insuring a vehicle in B.C. and Alberta and found rates are higher west of the Rockies.

According to the report, drivers in B.C. are estimated to pay between 13 per cent and 60 per cent more than they would in Alberta for comparable coverage.

Premiums for recreational vehicles are estimated to be up to three times higher in B.C. than Alberta and motorcycle premiums are an estimated 11 times higher.

The insurance board is advocating for private insurance in British Columbia, but the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) responded in a statement that that would not work.

"No private insurer could come into B.C. and offer the rates they offer in Alberta," ICBC said.

Differing models

The neighbouring provinces have very different insurance models.

In B.C., ICBC  is responsible for providing mandatory auto insurance, and basic and optional insurance is sold exclusively through a provincewide network of approximately 900 brokers.

Blue glass with a white ICBC logo on it
Premiums for recreational vehicles are estimated to be up to three times higher in B.C. than Alberta and motorcycle premiums are an estimated 11 times higher. (David Horemans/CBC)

In Alberta, auto insurance is sold through a competitive market. According to the Insurance Board of Canada, approximately 43 companies sell both basic and optional auto insurance to Albertans.

ICBC is struggling financially. Between 2014 and 2016, its total net income decreased by $1.3 billion.

Insurance Bureau of Canada hardly impartial, says AG

In a post on his Facebook page on Thursday, Attorney General David Eby said the Insurance Bureau of Canada is an industry group with a vested interest in privatizing insurance in the province.

"The report is put out by the private insurance industry who would like British Columbians to believe car insurance would be cheaper if they could sell basic insurance in BC," Eby said in the post.

Eby said an independent review conducted by the government of Saksatchewan actually showed the opposite: that the lowest insurance rates in Canada are offered by provinces with public insurers.

"The private insurers who are driving insurance rates into the stratosphere in Alberta and Ontario shouldn't be coming to our province to tell us how to fix things," said Eby. "They should fix things at home first, and answer why public insurers across Canada regularly offer the lowest rates to their residents."

Eby also said major reforms at ICBCB are set to to kick in this year, including adjusting the rate model to favour good drivers and lower their rates.

He says B.C. is about five years behind a much needed auto insurance overhaul, due to delays by the previous government that has cost the province about $3 billion.

"We're slowly turning the corner," he said.

Alberta has problems, too

B.C's insurer says Alberta's system has some problems of its own.

According to ICBC, many Albertans have been told by private insurers that they are too great of a risk and are being denied coverage. 

ICBC says the levels of coverage provided to British Columbians far outweigh other provinces.

The corporation says by April 1 medical care benefits in B.C. will be six time those offered in Alberta, wage loss benefits will be almost double and death benefits will be triple.