Drivers in British Columbia continue to pay the highest average auto insurance premiums in the country, according to new industry numbers.
The data is from a statistical agency run by Canada’s provincial insurance regulators.
It found that the average auto insurance premium in B.C. is $1,832, compared with $1,505 in Ontario, and $1,316 in Alberta.
(The average premium is calculated by comparing total premiums collected from passenger vehicles in each province and dividing it by the number of those vehicles).
The report also finds that according to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s (ICBC) latest financial statements, prices in B.C. are expected to continue rising in the years ahead.
“While many important changes are underway in B.C., none are expected to begin to reduce the price most drivers are paying,” said Aaron Sutherland, Vice-President, Pacific, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).
Sutherland argues that the best solution is top open ICBC’s monopoly to competition and allow British Columbians to shop around for their auto insurance needs.
“Competition is a powerful incentive for any company to deliver the best product at the best possible price. Auto insurance is no exception to this rule,” said Sutherland.
Faced with a similar assertion from the IBC in the spring, ICBC responded in a statement that that would not work.
“No private insurer could come into B.C. and offer the rates they offer in Alberta,” ICBC said in March
The neighbouring provinces have very different insurance models.
In B.C., ICBC is responsible for providing mandatory auto insurance, and basic and optional insurance is sold exclusively through a province-wide network of approximately 900 brokers.
In Alberta, auto insurance is sold through a competitive market. According to the Insurance Board of Canada, approximately 43 companies sell both basic and optional auto insurance to Albertans.
ICBC is struggling financially. Between 2014 and 2016, its total net income decreased by $1.3 billion.
Major changes at ICBC are coming into effect in 2019 including adjusting the rate model to favour good drivers and lower their rates.
Attorney General David Eby says B.C. is about five years behind a much needed auto insurance overhaul.
“We’re slowly turning the corner,” he said.
With files from CBC