Canadian Underwriter

Where Canadian drivers pay the most (and least) for auto insurance

July 19, 2018   by Jason Contant

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When it comes to auto insurance premiums in Canada, drivers in British Columbia pay the most, followed by Ontario, data supplied by Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) revealed Wednesday.

In B.C. last year, average annual auto premiums were $1,680. The second-costliest province for auto premiums was Ontario, at $1,445.

On the other end of the scale, Quebec paid the lowest at $661 per year in premiums, followed by Prince Edward Island ($796 on average in 2017). In Quebec, the public insurance plan pays compensation for injuries arising from auto collisions, whereas private insurers cover physical damage to automobiles.

The latest figures released by Canada’s statistical agency for insurance regulators, the General Insurance Statistical Agency, show that provinces with competitive auto insurance systems continue to pay less than drivers insured through the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), a public insurer.

“ICBC remains by far the most expensive provider of auto insurance in the country,” Aaron Sutherland, IBC’s vice president of the Pacific region, told Canadian Underwriter in an interview. “ICBC is projecting very significant rate increases over the coming years to get back to balancing their books.”

Sutherland pointed out that the public auto insurer lost $1.3 billion last year. “So, we’re bracing for significant increases on the auto insurance side.”

Sutherland noted that while ICBC is taking measures to improve its fiscal performance, “one thing missing that could improve affordability and actually start talking about reducing premiums for drivers is introducing competition in the marketplace.”

Chuck Byrne, executive director of the Insurance Brokers Association of B.C. (IBABC), told Canadian Underwriter earlier that while ICBC may have its challenges, brokers in B.C. have not been calling for an end to the public insurer’s monopoly over basic auto insurance coverage. He noted the premiums in private auto jurisdictions such as Ontario have challenges of their own.

GISA statistics show that drivers in two provinces with private auto systems, Ontario and Alberta, are paying high auto premiums. Traci Boland, chairwoman of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, told Canadian Underwriter in May that if auto insurance in the province remains unsustainable, companies may start to leave the market.

In 2017, drivers in each of the provinces listed below paid the following premiums:

  1. British Columbia ($1,680)
  2. Ontario ($1,445)
  3. Alberta ($1,251)
  4. Newfoundland and Labrador ($1,132)
  5. Manitoba ($1,080)
  6. Saskatchewan ($936)
  7. Nova Scotia ($842)
  8. New Brunswick ($819)
  9. Prince Edward Island ($796)
  10. Quebec ($661)

Sutherland said in the IBC release that opening B.C.’s auto insurance marketplace to competition would save drivers up to $325 annually.

An MNP report commissioned by IBC and released in January 2018, found that “Canada’s private insurers have developed product innovations and new ways to cut claims costs that could lower premiums for B.C. drivers.”

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19 Comments » for Where Canadian drivers pay the most (and least) for auto insurance
  1. Djc says:

    Abolish ICBC!

    • José says:

      ICBC is like the Mafia. Untouchable! Blood thirsty money *******s. Lining people’s pockets who are politicians. So it will never have real competition. ICBC was the worst thing that happened to drivers in BC period.

    • sam says:

      2 thumbs up!! Out with ICBC..!

    • Ron Ulmer says:

      ICBC was robbed by Clarke and the money was used to try and balance the books. The books weren’t balanced but BC Liberal supporters were awarded plum jobs and contracts. When the private insurance corporations compare insurance cost they don’t compare apples to apples but rather fruit to fruit. The reason for raising thee fee for insurance is to recover the money stolen by the Provincial Liberals

  2. Will says:

    The article says:

    “The latest figures released by Canada’s statistical agency for insurance regulators, the General Insurance Statistical Agency, show that provinces with competitive auto insurance systems continue to pay less than drivers insured through the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), a public insurer.”

    But it could also have said:

    “The latest figures released by Canada’s statistical agency for insurance regulators, the General Insurance Statistical Agency, show that with the sole exception of British Columbia, provinces with a public insurer continue to pay less than drivers in Ontario who ware insured through competitive auto insurance systems.”

    The premise of the article is that public insurers are bad and private insurance is good. I don’t know why ICBC is so expensive, but the article doesn’t provide any evidence to support the premise that it is because it is a public insurance system.

    • Dave C says:

      You can’t simply compare public vs private, you also have to look at the product(s) offerings and also the civil law system in each Provience. In the case of ICBC increase in damage awards, plus premium freezes has held to the 1.3 billion loss.

  3. TBA says:

    British Columbia Auto Insurance will be expensive whether it is Private or Public, however, the main reason the premiums have substantially increased over the last few years is from the direct actions of the BC Government over the previous 16 years.
    The BC Liberals (formerly Social Credit Government) started syphoning funds the Crown Corporation to balance their budget. Originally, when ICBC was formed (1973/74 by the NDP), it was a Non-Profit Crown Corporation that provided affordable Auto Insurance and it worked for all these years. UNTIL this Government saw an opportunity to increase ICBC premiums substantially over the last 10 years to balance their budget so they can get re-elected and show they can balance a budget. While, the voting public thought they were voting in fiscally responsible politicians.
    Then, on top of all this, ICBC was allowed to spend $4B on a new software system in Aug 2016 which was a nightmare for the BC brokers.
    Private insurers in BC would never take on the Liability Risk in BC, it is just too high. Terrain is a huge factor in BC. We also have a very high rate of Vandalism/Theft, therefore rating from private insurers would not substantially save premium for the public.

    • BCBill says:

      These numbers do not seem to be very accurate. I have lived in BC and AB, and I have to say that AB private insurance is significantly cheaper than ICBC, and the comment that ICBC was formed to provide affordable insurance is hogwash. It was formed so that new drivers could get cheaper insurance and experienced drivers could pay more. The Canadian standard. Basic coverage in AB 5 years ago for a 1976 Mercedes Unimog was $360. I don’t think basic starts at under $1000 even with the full discount.

  4. Fed up Freddy says:

    How does a government agency go over a billion dollars in debt. They should start at the top and fire the whole works of them. Every time they screw up, the public pays for their mistakes. I:E-pipe lines that explode. Now we pay. Any excuse to jack the prices up. I:E- a friggin eclipse. What a joke. My friend in Alberta insures vehicles, house, boats, etc for cheaper than I can insure my truck. Fire them all for their negligence and go private. Isn’t it funny that Quebec has the cheapest insurance in Canada.

  5. Bob Hunter says:

    Coming from the UK, I cannot believe the complications and debate about Insurance here. I am an Autoplan agent and I think my job should not exist. The whole thing should be on line, two choices, like the UK, third party fire and theft or fully comprehensive, both with $5million pounds liability, why does BC have all these coverage choices, or like Quebec where the Insurance companies do not even deal with bodily injury claims. Or even better learn to drive and have fewer accidents. ICBC spend $3million or more sending out reminders, its your car why do you need reminding to be responsible for it. Over analyzed, over thought, it all needs simplifying.

  6. Linda Hartford says:

    Does anyone use (much cheaper) private insurance in BC??

  7. M. T. CAMPBELL says:

    There are over 33 million vehicles in Canada. At an average increase across the country the increase alone takes in 1.14 billion dollars for automobiles insurance.

    My insurance company informs me that the increase is mostly attributable to the natural disasters in 2018. He alluded to the tornado in Ottawa, the BC wildfires and hail storms.

    One of my concerns is: if there is a reduction in claims due to a reduction in natural disasters for a number of years, do the insurance rates come back down? Another is who is monitoring, and regulating this?

  8. Peter says:

    Just got my “offer” from ICBC.
    After 30 years driving without colision I was told, I can’t prove that (it wasn’t in Canada).
    My Insurance: $ 5.500 !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Simply theft – there is no excuse.

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