ICBC moving to online car insurance renewals, but change won’t save drivers any money

Click to play video: 'ICBC renewals move online'
ICBC renewals move online
The B.C. government is doing away with the annual trek to the insurance broker. In changes to take effect starting May 1, drivers will be able to renew their vehicle insurance online and annual decals will no longer be required. Ted Chernecki has the details. – Feb 14, 2022

British Columbia drivers will soon be able to renew their vehicle insurance online, but it won’t save them any cash.

Eligible ICBC customers with policies expiring on or after May 1, 2022, will have the option to renew their policy online.

“People are already saving through enhanced care. You are not going to be saving a significant amount by going online compared to in person,” said B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth in a Monday news conference. “It is all about convenience.”

ICBC is in the midst of its most significant change in history, moving to an enhanced care model.

The public insurer has started making money after years of losing it, but is still spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on broker fees.

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Click to play video: 'Changes to ICBC online insurance renewals and validation decals announced'
Changes to ICBC online insurance renewals and validation decals announced

In the 2016 to 2017 fiscal year, which was 15 months due to fiscal calendar transition, brokers were paid $510 million by ICBC. That increased to $434 million in 2017 and 2018, and to $490 million in 2018 and 2019.

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The change to online insurance was seen as a possible way to reduce those costs.

Autoplan brokers, however, will continue to be paid the same amount for an insurance policy renewal, whether it’s done online or in-person.

“Brokers will do a review. If there are any issues they see they will follow up with customer after 48 hours,” said ICBC CEO Nicolas Jimenez in the conference.

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“Brokers don’t just work for the sale, they are there for the duration of the term.”

Click to play video: 'Delayed overhaul of broker system contributes to ICBC dumpster fire'
Delayed overhaul of broker system contributes to ICBC dumpster fire

Customers can renew their insurance up to 44 days earlier, meaning some people will be able to renew online as soon as March 17, 2022.

Coinciding with permanent online auto insurance renewals, May 1 will also mark the last day B.C. drivers will be required to display a licence plate validation decal.

Decal elimination will align B.C. with other Canadian jurisdictions that have successfully removed the decal from circulation, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and the Northwest Territories.

ICBC will be providing as much as $1 million to enhance and expand the Automated Licence Plate Recognition program helping law enforcement in B.C. detect unlawful, unlicensed and uninsured drivers.

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“Working through the RCMP, police agencies in B.C. will be enhancing and expanding the Automated Licence Plate Recognition program that exists today,” Farnworth said.

There will be no basic rate change at ICBC until December 2022.

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