You’re going to want to look closely at your auto insurance before Sept. 1 — changes at ICBC could mean much higher rates or possibly lower.
The provincial auto insurer is bringing in what it calls a ‘new culture’ of rates but if you have young drivers or people with a checkered driving history it might be worth cancelling your insurance and re-upping before Sept. 1.
One tipster to iNFOnews.ca said her family saved more than $800 insuring an underage driver with a clean driving record by avoiding a renewal due after the Sept. 1 changes. They cancelled their insurance and got a new agreement under the current scheme.
ICBC couldn’t explain that exact situation but said changes are coming. It all depends not only on your driving record but also on the records of all other regular drivers of your car – meaning they drive it 12 days a year or more.
“One of the big cultural changes here is that we’re asking customers to list drivers so that, on many policies, there will be many drivers,” Tyler McGilvery, Business Process Advisor for ICBC explained to iNFOnews.ca. “When you list additional drivers, 75 per cent of the premium calculation is going to be based on the driving record of the principal driver. Then, out of the drivers that are listed, the other driver that’s considered the highest risk would represent the other 25 per cent of that calculation.”
If you have a new driver, someone who has caused accidents or received tickets who will regularly drive your car, you will likely pay significantly more for insurance this year.
One way to avoid that hit would be to renew your insurance before Sept. 1 under the current system.
If your policy expires after Sept. 1, you could cancel it and renew under the old system, but you would be gambling that the fees charged for doing that – including having to buy a new licence plate – would be more than eating the higher premium.
And there is no way to calculate what the saving will be if your insurance doesn’t expire until mid-October.
ICBC sends out renewal notices 44 days before a policy expires. Until that happens, the new rates are not accessible by insurance agents so you can’t compare rates in advance. Your only option would be to cancel and renew your existig policy and hope it will save you money over the new rates.
There are a number of changes in the “culture” of how rates are calculated.
Not only will all regular drivers have to be listed, but there is no easy way to calculate how much a new driver will cost you each year.
Currently, vehicle insurance goes down five per cent for eight years of driving experirence and three per cent in the ninth year for a maximum of 43 per cent.
Now, McGilvery said, discounts will continue for 40 years.
"This means customers will see a more gradual improvement to their discount, with greater maximum discounts available over a longer time period,” he said.
While the focus will be on insuring the driver, not the vehicle, there are also discounts for vehicles that are driven less than 5,000 km per year and/or have special braking systems.
Also new for this year is the fact that the premium is not going to be listed on the renewal form that’s mailed out. That can’t be calculated until the list of drivers is submitted. In future years, the premium will be included on the renewal form based on the previous year’s list.
People can be added or subtracted from that list at any time and at no cost.
So far, 55 per cent of those renewing early and paying the new rates have saved an average of $200 over last year’s rates, despite a 6.3 per cent increase going into effect in April, McGilvery said.
Another 15 per cent have increases of less than 6.3 per cent while the rest (30 per cent) have seen increases averaging $200 per year.
The idea is for bad drivers to pay more for the crashes they cause, McGilvery said.
— This story was corrected at 5:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, to clarify safe driving discounts over 40 years.
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