British Columbia

'Cars don't cause crashes, drivers do': New ICBC premium rates take effect

Starting Sunday, driving experience and crash history play a bigger role in determining the cost of insurance than before. 

Driving experience, crash history play bigger role in determining cost of insurance

Driving record is the biggest factor, but make of car and how much it's driven also play a role in the new rates. (David Horemans/CBC)

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is introducing a new way of calculating basic insurance premiums, effective Sept. 1. 

For drivers renewing their policies under the new system, the difference in insurance premiums can range from hundreds of dollars to a couple of thousand — either in savings or in additional costs, depending on the individual case. 

"This is about calculating rates in a way that is more fair," said Tyler McGilvery, business process advisor for ICBC. "Cars don't cause crashes, drivers do."

Starting Sunday, driving experience and crash history play a bigger role in determining the cost of insurance than before. 

Ahead of the changes, ICBC released an online rate calculator tool where British Columbians can get an estimate of their basic insurance premiums. 

Playing around with the calculator and changing the variables — like years of experience and crash history of a secondary listed driver — leads to a price shift of a couple hundred dollars in either direction.  

The premium is primarily determined by who's behind the wheel, based 75 per cent on the main driver and 25 per cent on the incidental driver with the highest level of risk.  

Previously, crash history followed the vehicle rather than the driver. 

Each insurance policy starts with a base premium, currently set at $1,063, which then increases or decreases based on other factors like the driver and the vehicle. (ICBC)

'Holding drivers more accountable'

One in five crashes in B.C. is caused by someone who is not a registered owner or principal driver, according to McGilvery. 

"By asking customers to provide their drivers, we're able to more accurately rate based on the true risk of who is driving the vehicle," he said.  

Although the changes take effect Sept. 1, roughly 1,200 British Columbians insured their vehicles under the new algorithm by renewing in advance.

Of those, about 43 per cent saw an average insurance increase of $212 a year, while 56 per cent saw an average decrease of $329 annually. 

For some outliers though, the change is much more drastic, with changes of up to $2,000 because of previous crash history. 

"We're holding drivers more accountable for their driving decisions,"  McGilvery said. 

"Drivers who demonstrate risky driving behaviour or cause crashes will pay more so that safe drivers pay less." 

With files from Tina Lovgreen

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