IBC calls for B.C. auto insurance competition as motorists pay higher premiums in the province

Published: August 16, 2019

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The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is doubling down on its call for private auto insurance competition to be introduced in British Columbia. In a press release this week, the IBC pointed to data released by the General Insurance Statistical Agency (GISA), which shows motorists in B.C. are still paying more for auto insurance than any other province.

GISA is a statistical agency operated by provincial insurance regulators across Canada and it says prices in British Columbia will continue to increase. The agency points to the ongoing financial problems the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is facing.

“Under ICBC’s monopoly, British Columbians will again pay the highest auto insurance prices in Canada, with premiums now averaging $1,832 annually. While many important changes are underway in BC, none are expected to begin to reduce the price most drivers are paying,” said Aaron Sutherland, Vice-President, Pacific, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

ICBC is the province’s public auto insurance provider that all motorists must purchase mandatory auto coverage from.

GISA shows that the average cost of car insurance in B.C. is currently at $1,832 per year. While individual locations in Ontario continue to be more expensive on average, across Ontario the provincial average is lower than B.C. at $1,505.

Average Auto Premiums

British Columbia Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba Ontario Quebec Newfoundland and Labrador Nova Scotia New Brunswick Prince Edward Island
$1,832 $1,316 $1,235 $1,080 $1,505 $717 $1,168 $891 $867 $816

Source: GISA & MSA data for private insurers (as of December 31, 2018), SGI Annual Report (2018), MPI Annual Report (2017), Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), and ICBC Service Plan (2019).

*Manitoba figure is from 2017 due to 2018 not being available.

“With ICBC stating that it will need price increases to raise over $1 billion in the years ahead, now, more than ever, the market must be opened to competition and choice to improve the affordability of auto insurance for drivers,” Sutherland added.

GISA calculates average premiums by cross referencing total premiums collected from auto insurance in each Canadian province. This is then divided by the number of insured vehicles. It is worth noting some groups argue average auto insurance premiums should not be compared but all provincial regulators use the GISA method.

“Competition is a powerful incentive for any company to deliver the best product at the best possible price. Auto insurance is no exception to this rule,” added Sutherland. “Today’s numbers are yet further evidence of the need to open ICBC to competition and give British Columbians the ability to shop around for their auto insurance needs.”