Getting Auto Insurance and Making a Claim in British Columbia

In B.C., auto insurance is mandatory for all drivers. The type of policy and coverage you need depends on a variety of factors, including the age and value of your vehicle, your driving record, and where you live. 

If you’re looking to buy auto insurance in BC, this guide will give you an overview of the basics and help you navigate the process of getting car insurance in British Columbia. We’ll also explain how to make a claim if you ever have to file one. So, whether you’re a new driver or just looking for a refresher, read on for all the information you need on auto insurance in BC.

Understanding Vehicle Insurance Coverage in British Columbia

Auto insurance in British Columbia is different from that of other provinces. In other provinces, motorists are responsible for finding and buying their own car insurance policies without assistance from the government. In BC, on the other hand, car insurance is universally provided by the provincial government through the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).

If you’re a newly-licensed driver or a driver moving to British Columbia from another province, this auto insurance system might be unfamiliar and confusing. So, here’s a crash course on insurance coverage in BC, which auto insurance is mandatory, and additional add-ons you can choose for increased protection:

Basic Autoplan Insurance (Mandatory)

The Basic Autoplan Insurance plan is mandatory for all BC drivers. It provides the elementary coverage that any driver needs to responsibly operate a vehicle on British Columbia roads, ensuring all BC drivers have an adequate level of coverage if they’re involved in a vehicle collision.

An important thing to note about insurance in BC that’s different from that of other provinces is that the other driver’s insurance does not cover your vehicle if they are at fault. Instead, your Basic Autoplan offers up to $200,000 vehicle damage coverage when the other driver is responsible for the collision. 

ICBC’s new ‘Enhanced Care’ coverage means you will receive coverage from your policy when another driver is responsible for a crash, as opposed to previously, where you’d have to look to recover from the other party and their policy for damages. This helps you know exactly how much coverage your vehicle has, and have peace of mind knowing that you don’t have to worry about collecting compensation from a driver with inadequate coverage. Basic Autoplan Insurance also offers $200,000 in third-party-liability insurance, which covers for non-vehicle property damage, and out of province situations where other parties can sue you for damages during a collision.  In addition, your Enhanced Accident Benefits that is a part of your basic insurance, provides care and recovery benefits with no limit, to you, your passengers and household members when injured in a vehicle crash, regardless of fault.

Comprehensive Coverage

Not all vehicle damage happens from vehicle collisions. Living on the West Coast can be rough – from floods to ice and hail, there are many ways in which your car can get damaged. Getting Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle from:

  • Theft and vandalism
  • Hitting a domestic or wild animal
  • Fire, earthquake, explosion
  • Falling or flying objects such as a branch, rock, or gravel hitting your windshield
  • Weather—lightning, windstorm, hail, rising water, etc.

It’s also good to know that minor chips to your windshield (within certain criteria) can be repaired without paying a deductible, and claims under comprehensive coverage don’t affect your premium.

Roadstar / Roadside-Plus

RoadStar and Roadside-Plus offers a package of coverages that help with emergencies when you’re at home and when traveling. Roadside-Plus is a bit more comprehensive than Roadstar, but both provide varying levels of coverage for:

  • Unexpected expenses when you can’t use your vehicle after a claim
  • Lock rekeying if your keys are stolen
  • Rental vehicles

Extra Add-Ons Offered by ICBC

  • Collision Coverage: This policy covers damage and repairs to your vehicle whenyou’re at fault for the accident. (Note: Basic coverage only covers for your vehicle repairs when you’re not at fault)
  • Hit-and-Run Coverage: Included in collision coverage or can be bought separately. This coverage will protect you if the other driver involved flees the scene of the collision.
  • Extended Third-Party Liability: Worried that the Basic Autoplan doesn’t provide enough third-party liability (TPL) coverage? With Extended Third-Party Liability, you can get up to $5 million in TPL coverage. 

6 Steps to Follow After a Collision in BC

  1. Call 9-1-1 for medical attention if you need it
    First, look to your personal health and getting the needed care before worrying about Insurance. If you or the other driver feel any pain after a collision, call 9-1-1 and have paramedics make sure you’re okay. The adrenaline during a collision can make significant injuries feel like minor ones, so it’s always a good idea to get a medical evaluation. ICBC’s ‘Enhanced Care’ covers healthcare expenses caused by the collision, so you don’t have to worry about paying out of pocket for any required treatment you receive.
  2. Move your vehicle off the road, if safe to do so
    If your vehicle is still operable and it’s safe to move your vehicle to the side of the road, do so. This will ensure you’re in a safe environment to speak with the others involved and assess the damage safely, without being in the middle of the road. This also prevents any unnecessary congestion on the road.
  3. Gather Relevant Information of the Collision
    Once you’ve ensured that you’re not injured, and vehicles are moved safely to the side, you’ll need to gather the relevant information to file a claim:

    – Driver names, contact numbers, and driver license numbers of all drivers involved
    – License plate numbers and vehicle year/make/model of all vehicles involved
    – Details of crash including date/time/location, direction of travel, and which lanes the vehicles were in during the collision.
    – Photos of the crash scene, vehicles + license plates and areas of vehicle damage
    – Names and contact numbers of witnesses (not passengers of any involved vehicles)

    *if any vehicle involved in the collision is not from BC, you’ll need to collect their insurance policy details
    *in case of a hit-and-run, you only need to provide your own driver license number and vehicle plate number
  4. Gather additional information to speed up the claim process
    – Note the ICBC-accredited repair shop of your choice, where you’d like your car to be repaired}
    – If police are involved, note the policy file number
    – Keep all your receipts for expenses related to the accident (i.e. repairs, emergency roadside expenses, rental vehicle, public transportation, etc.)
  5. Submit your claim
    Submitting a Claim Online
    To file your claim online, you must be either the registered owner, lessee, or principal driver of the vehicle involved in the collision. To make a claim, simply visit the ICBC website’s ‘Report a Claim’ page and enter all relevant details of your claim. 

    Submitting a Claim over the Phone
    If you are a passenger, a pedestrian, a cyclist, or an owner/lessee of a commercial vehicle involved in the collision, or are reporting property damage, you must make a claim over the phone by calling 604-520-8222 (Lower Mainland) or 1-800-910-422 (toll-free).

    Simple Vehicle Glass Damage
    If the damage to your vehicle is limited to only one piece of glass, there’s no need to first contact ICBC. You can go straight to an ICBC Glass Repair Network facility, and they will liaise directly with ICBC. If more than one piece of glass is damaged, make a claim over the phone using the numbers above.
  6. Stay updated on your claim status
    After submitting your claim, stay updated on progress on the ICBC website here, with either your BC license plate number, driver license or ICBC claim number. In some cases, the claims representative working on your case may need additional information such as photos, documents, etc. You can view your assessed responsibility, current location of damaged vehicle, an overview of your coverage and deductible, and the contact information of your claim representative.

Avoid These Common Mistakes

Admitting Fault

If you believe you’re at fault for the accident, never admit you’re at fault to the other driver. If you are determined to be at fault and you don’t have collision coverage, your repair costs will be out of pocket. Admitting fault is a no-win situation. Instead, focus on collecting accurate and relevant information needed to file your claim and working with ICBC throughout the process.

Failing to Collect Adequate Information

A vehicle collision can leave you feeling shaken up, especially if you feel you’re at fault. To stay focused and ensure you collect all relevant information, use a vehicle crash checklist, such as the one provided with renewals by Park Georgia Insurance.

Making Unnecessary Expenses without Verifying Coverage

Make sure you review your car insurance policy and understand what you’re exactly covered for. Your Park Georgia Insurance advisor is happy to walk you through what is covered in a claim scenario, and what isn’t. For example, transportation expenses after a crash while your car is not drivable is only covered if you’ve purchased the optional ‘Roadside Plus’ or ‘Roadstar ‘coverage.


Car insurance in BC can be confusing as it’s structured differently than other Canadian provinces and countries. Picking the right coverage and navigating a claim, requires one to be well informed. That’s why it’s crucial to partner with an insurance broker who has the right expertise.

Park Georgia Insurance, has over 35 years’ of experience and a team of professional and multilingual advisors across Greater Vancouver. Connect with one of our advisors today and put your car insurance worries to rest!

  *please note ICBC coverage details and processes may change. Please refer to ICBC’s website ( for the most updated information.

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