Are Unlicensed Drivers Covered by the ICBC?

By law, unlicensed drivers are not covered by the ICBC. The ICBC requires that drivers of any insured vehicle are qualified and licenced to drive it. The owner of a vehicle must have a valid licence to drive it, and it is their responsibility to ensure that anyone driving the car is also licenced properly. Under the Motor Vehicle Act, driving without a licence, along with driving without insurance, is an offence. Unlicenced drivers may find themselves personally liable for all damages attributable to the accident. Allowing such a person to drive your car negates your insurance and could cause you to face personal liability.

Authorized and qualified

Legally, all drivers must prove that they are “authorized and qualified” to do so. By ICBC standards, that means the driver needs a current licence, not one that is under suspension or has expired. The vehicle owner breaches the terms of their insurance should he or she allow an unqualified person to get behind the wheel. If a licence has some type of restriction, such as occurs with a learner’s permit, anyone ignoring those restrictions is in breach of the insurance. Thus, they are not authorized and qualified.

Authorized and qualified also pertains to a licenced but impaired person whom a car owner permits to drive a vehicle. If you allow someone who is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs to drive your car, you are also breaching your insurance contract.

Non-B.C. drivers

In British Columbia, anyone with a valid licence from another province or country may drive for up to six months before their licence is considered invalid. Visiting students may drive for a longer period, but enrollment at a recognized institution of higher learning is required, as is a vehicle permit. Such drivers must always have their student identification on hand.

Those relocating to B.C. with a valid licence from another locale can drive with that licence for 90 days. Past that time, the non-B.C. licence becomes invalid.

Unlicenced driving penalties

Anyone initially caught driving without a licence receives a ticket, and cannot proceed to their destination. If the unlicensed driver has a previous conviction for driving without a licence, they should inform the police immediately. Under this circumstance, the vehicle is automatically impounded for seven days, no matter who owns the car. Get caught driving without a licence again, and expect a driving while prohibited charge. The consequences for this action include a $500 fine and up to six months in jail.

Unlisted driver protection

Unlicensed drivers are not the same as unlisted drivers. Under the changes effective as of September 1, 2019, to ICBC regulations, drivers are asked about who might drive their vehicles, such as family members or employees. Formerly, if you lent your car to a friend and he or she was involved in a car accident, the ICBC would put the claim on your crash history, not theirs. Now, a crash is considered part of the driver’s history, not that of the vehicle owner.

Under the new rules, drivers must list anyone who will drive the car. You can add or subtract names from this list at any time. You cannot add unlicensed drivers or those who have gotten into an accident with your vehicle within the prior five years. According to the ICBC, listing potential drivers helps the agency assess risk more accurately and hold the right person responsible if they cause an at-fault crash. There is no fee for listing drivers, but should a listed driver get into an accident, you must pay for unlisted driver protection at the next renewal. Purchasing unlisted driver protection is an option, which protects you from a financial penalty if the unlisted driver gets into a collision.

If you loan your car to someone not listed on your policy and an accident occurs, you must pay a one-time fine known as the Unlisted Driver Premium Penalty.  The amount of the penalty is determined by the difference between what the basic and optional premiums would have been had the driver been listed. The premium difference is multiplied by a factor of 15 for fine assessment. The maximum fine is $5,000, or twice the optional premium amount. The penalty is waived in emergencies, such as an unlisted driver taking someone to a hospital.

Contact a Vancouver car accident lawyer

If you or a loved one were injured because of the actions of an unlicensed driver, you should obtain legal advice as soon as possible. The dedicated lawyers at our ICBC law firm can help you during this difficult time. Arrange a free consultation by contacting us online or calling or texting 24/7. We will review your case and guide you through the ICBC claims process.

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