B.C. vehicle owners are beginning to be notified of insurance changes taking effect this fall, with extra information and in some cases extra fees required to renew.
The changes are part of an effort to control ballooning claim costs and deficits at the Insurance Corp. of B.C., by shifting costs away from vehicle owners and onto high-risk drivers. At-fault accident claims after June 10 are being calculated to set the new optional insurance rates that take effect with renewals from Sept. 1 forward.
For renewals after Sept. 1, vehicle owners are asked to list secondary drivers who are expected to use the vehicle, with their driver’s licence number and date of birth. An up-front charge for unlisted additional drivers was dropped after negative feedback from customers, and now unlisted extra drivers will cost the principal driver $50 per year only if they cause a crash while using the car.
Learner drivers must be listed for each vehicle, and a learner premium of between $130 and $230 per year applies, depending on the region. Urban areas generally have higher accident rates and regional rates for all drivers are adjusted to reflect the risk.
Owners who drive a vehicle fewer than 5,000 km a year should take a picture of their odometer reading when they renew insurance. If they remain below 5,000 km in the coming year, they will be eligible for a discount.
Driver infractions have always been a factor in insurance rates, with penalty points incurred, but the new rules add to that. If there are two minor infractions such as speeding or running a stop sign during a record scan period of up to three years, the optional insurance premium increases. Any serious infraction, including impaired driving, excessive speeding or distracted driving, also triggers an optional insurance rate increase.
ICBC estimates that when all of its risk adjustments are in place, they will reduce premiums for about three quarters of drivers. The existing system spread costs across all drivers, leaving some with recent at-fault crashes paying the same as those with crash-free driving records.
When additional drivers are listed for a vehicle, the highest-risk driving record is used to calculate 25 per cent of the basic insurance premium, with the principal driver’s record used for the rest.
Registered owners will still be on the hook for speeding tickets that will soon be issued by 35 cameras at high-crash intersections in B.C. urban areas. The cameras have been upgraded to operate 24 hours a day and some equipped to issue speeding tickets when a vehicle exceeds an undisclosed margin above the speed limit is exceeded. ICBC is coping with more than 900 accidents per day, the majority of them at intersections.
The speed cameras are being activated this summer at major intersections in Kelowna, Abbotsford, Nanaimo and various locations in Metro Vancouver. There is a total of 140 intersection cameras in the province, with most still issuing tickets by mail only when a vehicle runs a red light.