Young drivers in British Columbia are bracing for sticker shock, as ICBC rolls out a new rate structure that some say is unfairly punitive to those with little experience on the road.
Izabella Bryant is one of those drivers who feels like she’s caught in a catch-22.
The teen recently got her first car, a $10,000 four-door Nissan Altima. She’s got a clean driving record, standard insurance with comprehensive coverage and $2-million liability.
But when her father went to pay for insurance last month — even before the new changes took effect — the family got a surprise: a bill for $5,300.
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“I had no idea it was going to be that much. I’d heard from my friends that drive that insurance is super expensive, but I never imagined it was going to be five grand,” she said.
“If I didn’t have help from my parents I probably wouldn’t be able to afford to drive, considering how much I make.”
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Bryant’s dad Jonathan said he was “shocked,” and said the system actually works to make young drivers less safe, by incentivizing them not to to actually drive.
“Let’s say my daughter got her N, and decided not to drive at all and sit on her N for four or five years,” he said.
“Every year she sits on her N, she accumulates a five per cent discount with ICBC without gaining any experience, without driving a vehicle.”
BC Liberal critic for ICBC called the rates young drivers are now facing “appalling.”
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“Young people who are going to school or starting off their careers, they shouldn’t be hit with such a massive bill,” said Johal.
“We all want affordable insurance, but to ding young people like this is absolutely unacceptable. We’re talking about affordability this day and age. This does not make things affordable for young people, this does not make things affordable for their parents.”
But the NDP government is standing firm, arguing insurance rates should reflect the risk that younger drivers represent, and arguing that low-risk drivers have been subsidizing high-risk drivers for years.
“If you have somebody who is a relatively inexperienced driver driving in a very heavily urban area with lots of cars and lots of accidents, they’re going to be paying more for their insurance,” said Attorney General David Eby.
“I’ve heard a number of people advocating for private insurance in the province. It’s exactly the principle that private insurers take, they charge you based on your risk.”