Vehicle use for personal or business is down due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, but deliveries of food and other necessary supplies is up. (Campbell River Mirror)

COVID-19: ICBC waives fees for cancelling insurance in pandemic

Brokers can renew or lower vehicle coverage by phone or email

With more people following the orders of provincial health officers and staying indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer drivers are on the road. But don’t expect that to lower your insurance rates just yet, ICBC warns.

B.C.’s provincially owned vehicle insurer announced April 16 it is adding to its earlier 90-day payment deferral option for customers renewing during the coronavirus restrictions. ICBC will be waiving its $30 cancellation fee and $18 re-plating fee for people who choose to cancel their insurance temporarily. Customers will be required to remove the plate from the vehicle while it is not insured and the vehicle must be kept off the road.

“Customers who reinsure May 30 or thereafter will be able to reuse their plate,” ICBC said in a statement. “Customers reinsuring prior to that date will be issued a new plate at no charge and at that time are expected to surrender their plate.”

Fleet vehicle customers are also allowed to suspend their insurance to save money while business activity is curtailed due to pandemic-related emergency orders. People wishing to change their coverage due to driving restrictions or arrange storage insurance can do so by calling their ICBC broker.

ICBC brokers are now set up to do some transactions by phone or email, such as renewing expiring insurance and driver’s licences.

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ICBC also confirmed that customers can use their vehicles for delivery of food or medical products and services, without changing their vehicle use insurance or paying an additional premium. This includes volunteers helping isolated seniors.

For learner licences that are expiring during the pandemic restrictions, the fee for their first knowledge test will be waived once testing resumes. Road tests are also suspended due to the pandemic.

ICBC told Black Press Media that any savings through a reduction in claims costs during the ongoing pandemic will benefit B.C. drivers into next year.

In March, the B.C. government passed legislation that any ICBC surplus must remain within the Crown corporation and be used to benefit motorists.

“We have been directed by government to analyze the impact of the pandemic on our organization, and provide a public update in the coming weeks,” ICBC said in an emailed statement. “That work is underway now, and as it continues, we remain focused on meeting the immediate needs of our customers, in addition to the longer term goal of implementing Enhanced Care coverage and delivering an average 20 per cent rate reduction in 2021.”

Any driver facing financial challenges during COVID-19 is able to access a 90-day deferred payment and ICBC will set up extended payment plans for customers who need that flexibility at the end of the deferral period.

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