Will I Have to Pay More for Car Insurance After a B.C. Auto Accident?

In the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident in British Columbia, the individuals involved inevitably confront a series of questions: Was anyone injured? Who was at fault? Were there any witnesses? What are the next steps to ensure everyone is appropriately taken care of?

One of the most common questions—and one that arises even in accidents where nobody was seriously injured—is, How will this affect my insurance premiums?

The answer is: It depends. If ICBC determines that you were more than 25% at fault in causing the accident, then your premiums may increase, but won’t always. Keep reading for a more detailed discussion of how ICBC sets your premiums and how accidents affect insurance rates in B.C.

How ICBC Sets Basic Autoplan Premiums

In setting insurance premiums, ICBC primarily considers the following three factors:

  • Vehicle use. How you use your vehicle (e.g., for pleasure, commuting, or business) affects how much you will have to pay ICBC for insurance. Your usage will be categorized into one of several rate classes that will then factor into your premium.
  • Your location. Where you live in B.C. also impacts your premium. For example, if you live in an urban area with lots of traffic, you’ll likely have to pay more than someone who lives in a rural part of the province where few accidents occur.
  • Claims history. If you’ve been found at least 25% at fault for an auto accident, your premium may increase. In contrast, if you’ve never been in an accident (or never at fault in one), you may receive a discount. These effects are discussed in more detail below.

If you purchase an optional coverage, such as collision coverage (which pays for repairs or replacement of your own vehicle in a collision even if you were at fault) or comprehensive coverage (which pays for non-collision damage to your vehicle, such as theft, fire, or hail), then ICBC also considers the following:

  • Your optional coverages. Naturally, you will pay more for optional coverages than for the Basic Autoplan alone. Buying multiple optional coverages will increase your premiums still further.
  • Your deductible. If you purchase optional collision or comprehensive coverage, you will also need to select a deductible. The deductible is the amount that you must pay out of your own pocket before ICBC pays the rest. The lower your deductible is, the higher your premiums will be.
  • What vehicle you drive. The make and model of your vehicle, its additional features, and its repair costs also factor into your premiums.

How Auto Accidents Affect Insurance Rates in B.C.

The primary way in which your ICBC claims history affects your ICBC premium is by changing your level on ICBC’s claim-rated scale (CRS). The CRS defines an array of surcharges and discounts that can increase or reduce the amount you pay for coverage, ranging from a discount of 43% to a surcharge of 205%.

When you first started driving in B.C., you were at level 0 on the CRS, corresponding to the base rate. For each year in which you do not have a claim for which you are at least 25% at fault, you will drop one level on the CRS.

Example: If you have no claims during your first year driving, you will drop to level -1, corresponding to a 5% discount.

When you have an accident for which you are at least 25% at fault, you move up the number of steps specified in the CRS for a person at your level.

Example: If, after your first, claim-free year driving you were at fault for an accident, you would move up 6 steps to level 5, corresponding to a 55% surcharge. The next year, if you had no more accidents, you would fall to level 4 for a 40% surcharge.

However, in accidents that don’t involve a lot of money, you can avoid paying an increased premium by instead repaying the claim out of your own pocket. This approach makes sense when the cost of the claim is less than the increase in your premiums would be.

Multiple Crash Premiums

In addition to the surcharges based on the CRS, if you are at least 50% at fault for three crashes during a three-year period, you may be charged a multiple crash premium of $1,000 on top of your insurance premiums. Each additional crash within three years would then result in another $500 multiple crash premium.

Escalating Deductibles

If you purchase optional comprehensive coverage, and then have more claims under that coverage than the average person with comprehensive coverage, you may have to accept an escalating deductible. Escalating deductibles range from $500 to $2,500.

With an escalating deductible, you pay less in insurance premiums, but you must pay more out of pocket for subsequent comprehensive claims before ICBC will pay anything.

Changes to Insurance Rate Calculations Coming in 2019

Starting September 1, 2019, the way in which ICBC sets Basic Autoplan premiums will change. According to ICBC, these changes should make rates fairer by making B.C. drivers more accountable for their own driving history. You can read more about these changes at ICBC’s website.

How Hiring a Lawyer Can Help Keep Your Premiums in Check

As discussed above, if ICBC determines that you are more than 25% at fault for an accident, your Basic Autoplan premiums may increase. If you believe ICBC made a mistake in finding you at fault, you should consult an ICBC claims lawyer for help contesting that determination.

A lawyer will investigate your case and gather evidence to present to ICBC to show that you were not at fault and should not face premium increases.

Preszler Law Firm is a personal injury firm in British Columbia that helps residents of the province pursue ICBC claims and challenge inaccurate ICBC fault determinations. If you’ve been involved in an accident and ICBC is wrongly blaming you, contact our lawyers today for a free consultation to learn how we can help.

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