Uber must buy special insurance: ICBC

Province looks to learn lessons from existing coverage options across the country

Uber must buy special insurance: ICBC


By Will Koblensky

Ridesharing is coming to B.C. after a prolonged absence on the west coast.

The impending entrance of Uber and Lyft has prompted the province’s public insurer, ICBC, to announce it wants ridesharing companies to buy special insurance products.

Learn more about Uber product's here.

However, what those special products will look like is uncertain and ICBC said it was still early in the stages of developing its unique coverage for ridesharing.

The public insurer did, however, provide a statement on its plans to shape B.C.’s regulatory landscape for insuring the app-powered rides.

“Looking at other jurisdictions which have implemented ride-sharing models, gives us an advantage,” the statement read. “We also believe our unique situation here in B.C., as a public auto insurer providing all basic insurance, will allow us to do this effectively. Our goal is to have a system that’s simple, easy and efficient for our customers and the industry.

“One option under consideration, similar to other jurisdictions, is that the ride-sharing company would purchase insurance to sit on top of the driver’s basic insurance policy. This policy would only respond once a ride-share driver has accepted a ride and is en-route to the passenger and for the duration of the trip itself.”

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The pricing isn’t in the hands of ICBC and, like most public insurers, its aim is always to reduce costs for the policyholder.

“The specific costs would be subject to approval by the B.C. Utilities Commission,” its statement continued. “The goal is to make it as affordable as possible. As the B.C. government announced, a possible option being considered is a form of per-kilometre pricing (similar to how insurance companies have responded in other jurisdictions).

“This would see premiums calculated based on the number of kilometres driven, again when en-route to passenger and for the duration of the trip.”

But ride sharing apps aren’t the only reform ICBC is eyeing: taxis are also set to have new insurance standards set out.

“The product and pricing for taxis also needs to be confirmed and will be done in consultation with the industry. Currently, a taxi company buys an insurance policy (typically yearly) which provides coverage 24/7 whether the vehicle is being used as a taxi or not (most taxis operate 24 hours a day). A similar per-kilometre pricing structure could be developed to reflect the use of the vehicle and the needs of the industry. Depending on the product and pricing approach, it’s possible some taxis could see savings, but the amount would depend on how much the taxi is used,” the statement said.

Related stories:
What Vancouver can learn from its neighbors on handling Uber, ride-hailing insurance
Uber arrival in B.C. could mean “reduction in insurance standards”

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