Insurance

Despite similarities in coverages, payouts, and systems, insurance costs in B.C. and Alberta couldn’t be much further apart, says a private insurance organization.

Citing quotes obtained by accounting firm MNP, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) recently released a report comparing the prices in an effort to highlight the plight of BC drivers paying high premiums.

According to those quotes, MNP found that BC drivers are paying up to 42% more for their auto insurance than their neighbours in Alberta pay for similar coverage.

“This study gives an apples-to-apples comparison of the price drivers are paying for similar auto insurance coverage in BC and Alberta, and clearly demonstrates the price impact of ICBC’s monopoly,” said Aaron Sutherland, Vice-President Pacific with IBC.

There are a few key differences in insurance between the two provinces, with the main one being that ICBC represents all British Columbians while Albertans have the choice of acquiring private insurance. 

IBC, a company which represents private insurers across Canada, says that the limitation on choice hurts BC drivers.

“A new driver with two years of experience would pay ICBC $4,319 to insure their 2008 Honda Civic to go to and from school (less than 15 km),” the IBC report states. “That is $828 more than the same driver would pay in Calgary.”

BC insurance agency rebukes claims

The report has been rebuked by the Insurance Brokers Association of BC (IBABC), which represents the province’s insurance providers. The IBABC said comparing the two is akin to comparing apples and oranges. 

“No two provinces are alike in their driving exposure or auto insurance system,” the agency said in a release.

ICBC did not respond to requests for a comment by the time of publication.

The province’s only car insurance agency has been in some hot water recently. In late December, multiple media outlets reported on court documents that said ICBC had blamed Mountie Sarah Beckett, killed in a collision with a drunk driver, for the accident. 

See more: BC appoints new independent fairness office to hold ICBC accountable to customers 

And on Wednesday, January 29th, the Ministry of the Attorney General in BC announced the appointment of a new office to improve transparency and accountability for ICBC customers.

“British Columbians should have the peace of mind that they will be treated fairly after they’ve been injured in a crash,” said David Eby, Attorney General, in a statement at the time. 

The BC cabinet will appoint the Fairness Office to be independent of ICBC. The Ministry expects it to be in place by spring 2021.

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