Insuring your vehicle is supposed to be as important as having a valid driver’s license, but a growing number of vehicles on the road appear to be uninsured, according to Sgt. Damian Kowalewich with the Saanich Police Department.
“During 2022 moving into 2023, our traffic unit and patrol division did see a significant increase in no-insurance violation tickets issued,” he told CHEK News on Friday.
On Feb. 14, 2022, B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced decals would no longer be required on license plates in British Columbia.
“This change, effective may first, made in conjunction with online renewals, will reduce incidents of theft, and misuse, and will free up police resources which are currently used to investigate these crimes,” Farnworth said.
That leaves just three jurisdictions left in Canada that still require decals: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Nunavut.
Police forces now rely on automated plate recognition technology to detect uninsured vehicles.
The equipment can read up to 3,000 license plates an hour, and links to the Canadian Police Information Centre.
ICBC’s Greg Harper maintains the end of decals hasn’t changed what’s on the road.
“We estimate that there are less than one per cent of uninsured drivers on the road in B.C., and this hasn’t changed since the requirement for the decal was removed in May 2022,” he said.
The decals may have served as a visual reminder to get reinsured.
In Saanich, officers ticketed 198 drivers in 2022 without insurance. That number jumped to 283 violations in 2023, a year after the change.
“We hear a range of response from people receiving violation tickets for no insurance, anywhere from they thought it was automatically renewed through their bank, to they thought the insurance company should be emailing them,” Kowalewich said.
Uninsured drivers could receive a $598 fine, and billed for towing costs – and, if they’re in a crash, they can be liable for damages.