Same Auto Insurance: BC Drivers Pay Much More than Alberta Drivers

On April 1, British Columbia (BC) and Alberta will have substantially similar auto insurance systems. The key difference will be who sells auto insurance in each province and, as a result, BC drivers will continue to pay a lot more.

A recent MNP study, found BC drivers pay up to 60% more for their auto insurance than their neighbours in Alberta for similar coverages. MNP also found that BC drivers will continue to pay more even after adjusting for Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s (ICBC’s) new risk-based pricing structure that will come into effect in September 2019.

As of April 1, 2019, both BC’s and Alberta’s auto insurance systems will have: 

  • Tort-based systems with the ability to sue for pain and suffering;
  • A limit on pain and suffering awards for minor injury claimants;
  • Restrictions on the use of experts and expert reports;
  • Similar mandatory coverage levels;
  • Similar average injury claim costs: $50,658 in BC and $43,211 in Alberta (2017).

The key difference between the two provinces is that ICBC, a crown corporation, has a monopoly on mandatory auto insurance in BC, while in Alberta, drivers would benefit from competition and choice.

MNP’s study obtained quotes, verified with an insurance broker, for 15 driver profiles in each province, comparing the price of auto insurance for the same drivers, with the same accident history and the same vehicles, in comparable locations, and at the same coverage level across both provinces. For example, a 55-year-old woman living in Vancouverwith one at-fault accident who drives a 2016 Toyota Camry would pay $2,129 with ICBC, which is $730 more than what the same woman in Calgary would pay for comparable coverage.

According to data from ICBC and the General Insurance Statistical Agency (a statistical agency created and overseen by provincial insurance regulators), BC drivers pay the highest auto insurance prices in Canada, with annual premiums averaging $1,680. Current reforms in BC are not expected to reduce prices; in fact, ICBC is forecast to increase prices by nearly 25% over the next three years, beginning with the 6.3% basic rate increase on April 1, 2019.

BACKGROUNDER

Comparing BC and Alberta Premiums: February 2019

To ensure an accurate comparison of premiums, MNP used an insurance broker in each province to gather and verify quotes for 15 different driver profiles. Customers usually choose from the lowest priced options available for the same level of coverage. Consequently, MNP compared British Columbia (BC) prices to the three lowest Alberta quotes for each driver profile, as well as the lowest premium.

Coverage levels for premium comparisons in each province include:

  • $1 million in third-party liability
  • Collision coverage with a $500 deductible
  • Comprehensive coverage with a $250 deductible
  • Uninsured motorist protection.

A Detailed Comparison of BC and Alberta Premiums

  Driver
Profiles
BC Alberta
Location ICBC 
premium
Premium 
(New ICBC 
rate 
design)
Low 
premium
Average 
premium
Location
Experienced
drivers
without
at-fault
accidents
Small
business
owner
Surrey $2,058 $2,019 $1,399 $1,716 Calgary
Senior couple North
Vancouver
$1,457 $1,465 $1,295 $1,340 Calgary
Senior couple Kelowna $1,120 $1,077 $1,125 $1,138 Red Deer
Couple  Coquitlam $1,693 $1,714 $1,125 $1,313 Calgary
Couple  Squamish $1,479 $1,369 $1,125 $1,313 Airdrie
Inexperienced drivers
Young male Prince 
George
$1,608 $1,603 $1,345 $1,649 Fort
McMurray
Young male
(one at-fault 
accident)
Vancouver $2,897 $3,292 $2,209 $2,460 Calgary
Young female Burnaby $2,369 $2,567 $1,674 $1,778 Calgary
Young
female 
(pleasure use)
Burnaby $2,285 $2,488 $1,558 $1,659 Calgary
Experienced
drivers with
one at-fault
accident
Woman
(age 55)
Vancouver $2,219 $2,096 $1,399 $1,821 Calgary
Woman
(age 55)
Kamloops $1,573 $1,462 $1,125 $1,429 Medicine Hat
Multiple
drivers with
different risk
profiles
insured on a
vehicle
Family with
learner driver
Langley $2,232 $2,332 $1,395 $1,467 Edmonton
Family with
learner driver
Kelowna $1,688 $1,754 $1,125 $1,275 Red Deer
Recreational
vehicles and motorcycles
Recreational 
vehicle
Victoria $1,118 $1,055 $347 $347 Edmonton
Motorcycle Fraser  Valley $2,190 $1,905 $1,703 $1,703 St. Albert

Canadian Press

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