ICBC says Uber will need special insurance in British Columbia

Published: March 14, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



British Columbia announced its reforms to provincial taxi laws last week. The changes are designed to allow ridesharing companies such as Uber to enter the market. However, any adoption of ridesharing may not be smooth as the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) says Uber and Lyft would need to have special insurance to operate in B.C.

The public insurance provider says it is still in early processes of forming insurance products for ridesharing.

“Looking at other jurisdictions which have implemented ride-sharing models, gives us an advantage,” the statement read. “We also believe our unique situation here in B.C., as a public auto insurer providing all basic insurance, will allow us to do this effectively. Our goal is to have a system that’s simple, easy and efficient for our customers and the industry.

“One option under consideration, similar to other jurisdictions, is that the ride-sharing company would purchase insurance to sit on top of the driver’s basic insurance policy. This policy would only respond once a ride-share driver has accepted a ride and is en-route to the passenger and for the duration of the trip itself.”

The ICBC does not decide the price of coverage in B.C. and will, as usual for a public insurer, attempt to make policies as affordable as possible.

“The specific costs would be subject to approval by the B.C. Utilities Commission,” its statement continued. “The goal is to make it as affordable as possible. As the B.C. government announced, a possible option being considered is a form of per-kilometre pricing (similar to how insurance companies have responded in other jurisdictions).

“This would see premiums calculated based on the number of kilometres driven, again when en-route to passenger and for the duration of the trip.”

“The product and pricing for taxis also needs to be confirmed and will be done in consultation with the industry. Currently, a taxi company buys an insurance policy (typically yearly) which provides coverage 24/7 whether the vehicle is being used as a taxi or not (most taxis operate 24 hours a day). A similar per-kilometre pricing structure could be developed to reflect the use of the vehicle and the needs of the industry. Depending on the product and pricing approach, it’s possible some taxis could see savings, but the amount would depend on how much the taxi is used,” the statement said.