The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is a provincial Crown corporation in British Columbia created in 1973 by the NDP government of Premier Dave Barrett. The original purpose of ICBC was to provide universal and affordable compulsory public auto insurance in British Columbia by operating on a non-profit basis.[3][4] However, in March 2010, Christy Clark's BC Liberal government announced that it would require ICBC to pay the province dividends totalling some $778 million over three years, thus signalling the end of ICBC’s operation as a non-profit Crown corporation, and also making it the only for-profit public auto insurance provider in Canada.[5][6] These dividends eventually totalled $1.2 billion.[7] Since ICBC's creation, its responsibilities have expanded to include driver licensing, vehicle registration, and various road safety initiatives.[8]

By law, any vehicle registered and driven or parked on public streets in British Columbia must be covered by ICBC's basic insurance package, which can be purchased from independent brokers across the province. This basic coverage, called "Autoplan," includes protection from third party legal liability, under-insured motorist protection, accident benefits, hit-and-run protection, and inverse liability.

When ICBC was established, it initially held a monopoly on all automobile insurance in the province, but in 1977 its enabling legislation was amended to allow private insurers to compete with it in the market for optional (additional) insurance (including coverage such as extended liability, collision, and comprehensive plans).[9][10] ICBC continues to both hold a monopoly on basic insurance and offer optional additional coverage.

Like other insurance companies, ICBC bases its premiums on a client's claims history, type of automobile, and geographic location. The Corporation's discount plan (called "Roadstar" and "Roadstar Gold") rewards safe drivers with reduced premiums based on the number of years the driver has been free of successful claims against him or her.

ICBC is governed by a board of directors appointed according to the provisions of the Insurance Corporation Act, ICBC's enabling statute. The board of directors, the CEO, and ICBC management govern ICBC in accordance with corporate governance best practices, and in accordance with the provisions of the enabling legislation, the Motor Vehicle Act, other legislation applicable to ICBC, and directives from the provincial Cabinet Committee. Proof of insurance is demonstrated, in part, by the application of a decal to the licence plate.

Rates applicable to ICBC's basic automobile insurance coverage are subject to the review of, and are set by, the British Columbia Utilities Commission. In practice, however, the Cabinet of the provincial government controls ICBC’s rate setting through its power to set target financial outcomes (such as capital reserve ratios and profits), and through its ability to issue Special Directives to the BCUC.[11]

Revenue collected by the Corporation goes mostly towards paying insurance benefits and operational costs. The remainder is devoted to fulfilling ICBC’s mandate to promote safe driving (the "RoadSense" campaign), as well as various other loss prevention strategies.

On November 23, 2016, the provincial government announced that 'luxury' cars (those worth over $150,000) will no longer be insured by ICBC.[12] In 2016, there were approximately 3000 cars in this class insured by ICBC; the government claimed that this change would save approximately $2.3 million per year. High-end car dealers have criticized this change, arguing that it would be better to adjust the rates that these car owners pay rather than ignore an entire segment of vehicles on the road.[13]

In 2019, ICBC overhauled its rate structure for liability insurance by shifting to a private-sector model where high-risk categories pay higher premiums.[14] Attorney General David Eby has condemned the high rates, stressing the need for price reductions for young drivers, while acknowledging that rates are still subsidized.[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b Insurance Corporation of British Columbia 2016/17 ANNUAL SERVICE PLAN REPORT (Report).
  2. ^ ICBC 2010 Annual Report (PDF) (Report). Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  3. ^ Premier Dave Barrett: "Government-owned automobile insurance represents an opportunity for the people of British Columbia who use their automobiles as a utility to have the right to decent automobile insurance protection at no-profit rates." (Hansard: 2nd session, 30th Parliament, Afternoon March 6, 1973, p. 1042)
  4. ^ Minister Hanson (the Social Credit minister responsible for ICBC): "The mandate of ICBC, which was established a number of years ago, was to break even… The bottom line is that ICBC is a user-paying, non-profit, break-even corporation. There haven't been great payments to government out of ICBC. Government has nothing to do with it. It stands on its own. Rates are established for that reason and for actuarial reasons. The bottom line is: break even and don't end up with a surplus or a deficit." (Hansard: 2nd Session, 34th Parliament, 22 April 1988)
  5. ^ Willcocks, Paul (7 March 2010). "Cash grab from ICBC will cost drivers". Times Colonist. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  6. ^ There are three other public auto insurers in Canada: Manitoba Public Insurance, Saskatchewan Government Insurance, and the Societé de l'assurance automobile du Québec. All three are disallowed from remitting profits or dividends to the provincial treasury. See: at p. 6;; and at Section 23.
  7. ^ "Government vows to keep hands off ICBC dividends for three years". Vancouver Sun. 2016-11-25. Retrieved 2017-06-22.
  8. ^ McCandless, Richard (Summer 2013). "Politics and Public Auto Insurance in British Columbia". BC Studies. 178: 104–106.
  9. ^ BC Utilities Commission (12 November 2003). "2004 Revenue Requirements Application Decision". p. 1.
  10. ^ McCandless, 102.
  11. ^ BC Utilities Commission, 4-5.
  12. ^ "ICBC will stop insuring high-end luxury cars". NEWS 1130. 2016-11-23. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  13. ^ "High-end car dealers not consulted as ICBC says it will stop insuring expensive autos". Vancouver Sun. 2016-11-25. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  14. ^ Fletcher, Tom (2019-10-07). "Premier John Horgan regrets big ICBC rate hikes for young people". Abbotsford News. Retrieved 2019-10-08.
  15. ^ Smyth, Mike (2019-10-07). "ICBC sticker shock: Young drivers walloped under new rate system". The Province. Retrieved 2019-10-08.

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