British Columbia’s expensive car insurance rates are expected to become noticeably cheaper starting this weekend.
Saturday, May 1 marks the first day of ICBC’s new insurance system. The Crown corporation is transitioning to a new “care-based model” and rolling out what they call “Enhanced Care coverage.”
Customers who purchase full basic and optional insurance from ICBC on or after May 1 will save an average of 20% compared to last year’s premiums. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says that the basic rate decrease is the “largest in the province in more than 40 years.”
Additionally, customers whose insurance policies extend past May 1 will be eligible for a one-time refund based on their current policy. The refund will be calculated based on the difference between a driver’s current coverage plan and their new, lower-cost Enhanced Care coverage, as well as the length of their existing policy that extends past May 1, 2021. These refunds will be issued starting next month.
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Plans for a revamped insurance model were introduced in early 2020. New legislation was introduced that promised to lower ICBC premiums by approximately 20%. At the same time, it was announced that maximum care and treatment benefits for anyone injured in a crash would increase to at least $7.5 million.
The provincial government says that these improvements are being made by removing the majority of legal fees and other costs associated with the current litigation-based system.
Additionally, customers who still have complaints or disputes about their claims, benefit payments, or fairness issues will not need a lawyer to have them resolved. Instead, this will be done through the Civil Resolution Tribunal (which is independent of ICBC), the BC ombudsperson, and an ICBC fairness office.
“You shouldn’t need a lawyer to access the benefits you’ve paid for,” BC Attorney General David Eby explained when the program was introduced last year. “By removing expensive lawyers and legal fees from the system, we are making ICBC work for British Columbians again with more affordable insurance rates and much better coverage, so anyone injured in a crash gets the care they need.”
The new care-based insurance system is forecast to remove more than $1.5 billion in costs over the first full year — savings that BC says will be passed on to ICBC customers through lower insurance rates. It comes into effect starting May 1 at midnight.