Private insurers can help solve B.C. ride-sharing gap

Published: November 22, 2018

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British Columbia is the last major Canadian market that has yet to adopt ride-sharing through companies like Uber. As a consequence, Vancouver is the largest city in North America without Uber and many believe customers are being short changed. Indeed, consumers want ride-sharing and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) believes private insurers can deliver it.

The B.C. government has spent the last several years drawing up regulations to adopt ride-sharing and has often promised a solution. However, no framework for the legalization of companies like Uber and Lyft has arrived, with insurance being a notable stumbling block.

Basic auto insurance in British Columbia is a monopoly public system run by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). IBC Pacific vice-president Aaron Sutherland believes the introduction of private insurers will help B.C. solve its ride-sharing problems.

“Private Canadian insurers in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec have developed insurance products that cover the risk for ride-sharing companies, ensuring that both drivers and passengers are protected,” he said. “If permitted, these insurers could quickly bring these products to BC.”

The ICBC handles all basic auto insurance coverage in the province, while private insurance companies provide any additional policy benefits. IBC has long argued B.C. must adopt private insurers for basic coverage to strengthen competition.

“Competition provides a powerful incentive for any company to deliver innovative products that meet the evolving needs of customers,” Sutherland prefaced. “Auto insurance is no exception to this rule, and Canada’s private insurers are eager to better serve the BC marketplace.”