More support for B.C. drivers as ICBC reinstates some knowledge tests by appointment

More support is on the way for British Columbians who want to take a knowledge test, as ICBC implements additional physical distancing measures to ensure the safety of customers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qualifying customers can call to book an appointment for a knowledge test at select locations beginning May 4th and at offices throughout the province by May 11th. Locations offering testing can be confirmed when booking an appointment. Scheduled appointments will allow ICBC to provide an important service to impacted customers while ensuring our commitment to adhering to physical distancing guidelines. Enhanced physical distancing measures, such as glass dividers, have or are currently being installed for the safety of customers and staff. The expansion of knowledge testing for some customers is part of ICBC’s ongoing commitment to support customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anyone with a Class 5-8 learner’s licence that expired on or after March 1st or will expire within two weeks from when they phone to book, will be eligible to book a knowledge test appointment. Translator services are currently not allowed as physical distancing guidelines cannot be maintained, however, non-commercial knowledge tests are currently translated into 11 common languages.

Customers whose Class 5-8 learner’s licence expired on or after March 17, when ICBC suspended road tests due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will not have to pay a fee for their first knowledge test. At this time, knowledge tests are not available for first-time learner applicants.

Knowledge tests by appointment will also be available for residents who are new to B.C. where there is a legislative requirement to change their licences within 90 days, and for all commercial learner class applicants, including air brakes and heavy trailer. To ensure safety and physical distancing in the offices, commercial stand-by or walk-in knowledge tests will be discontinued as of May 2nd and will then be made by appointment only.

Customers will also be able to book an appointment for their Motorcycle Skills Testing (MST), which will re-commence on May 11th. The MST will be available for those people who hold an existing learner’s licence or whose learner’s licence expired on or after March 1.

“We know many British Columbians are facing challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Nicolas Jimenez, President and CEO, ICBC. “By introducing knowledge tests by appointment we hope to support customers who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic while still enabling offices to conduct operations safely. We continue to adapt and respond as the pandemic continues, ensuring that the safety of our customers and staff remains the priority.”

Eligible customers should call ICBC’s driver licence contact centre at 1-800-950-1498 and leave a voicemail message requesting a knowledge test. Customers will receive a callback from an ICBC representative, who will identify available testing locations and book the appointment. All appointments will be 45 minutes per knowledge test and the number of available appointments will vary depending on location. Customers can book their motorcycle skills test online or can call 1-800-950-1498.

ICBC has already implemented several other measures to help British Columbians during the pandemic, such as:

  • waiving the $30 cancellation fee and $18 re-plating fee for those customers who choose to cancel their insurance during this time.

  • establishing the ability to conduct a number of transactions by phone or email, such as renewing driver’s licences set to expire, and renewing insurance; and

  • allowing customers who pay for their insurance on a monthly basis to defer payments for up to 90 days with no penalty.

ICBC continues to review its operations to support the safety and well-being of its customers and employees, and will make additional changes as necessary.

For additional measures taken during COVID-19:

Active photo speed enforcement ticketing near Wakaw starts April 24

SGI has issued the following news release:

Following a three-month warning period, the province’s newest photo speed enforcement camera at the intersection of Highway 41 and Highway 2 near Wakaw starts live ticketing Friday.

Drivers who exceed the posted 80 km/h speed limit on or after April 24 in the clearly marked photo-enforced zone will now receive an actual speeding ticket in the mail.  Speeders had been receiving warning letters since the camera’s installation in January, to allow motorists in or travelling through the area time to adjust their driving habits.

The goal of photo speed enforcement is zero tickets, zero collisions, and zero injuries and fatalities. The intersection near Wakaw, like all of Saskatchewan’s photo speed enforcement zones, features prominent signage to notify drivers and give them the chance to avoid a ticket.

It’s hoped that the presence of photo speed enforcement will reduce speeds in an area where speeding has historically been a problem.

Government announced the approval of this photo speed enforcement location in December 2019, following an application from the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, supported by the local community, which was reviewed against strict criteria by the Photo Speed Enforcement committee

Ontario gave auto insurers the green light to lower premiums

The Ontario government on Thursday cleared the way for auto insurers to lower premiums during the COVID-19 pandemic and put them on notice that they are expected to follow through.

But drivers in the province, who pay some of the highest car insurance rates in Canada, can be forgiven for being skeptical.

“I’ll believe it when I see it, to be honest,” says William Wirtz, a bus operator in Kitchener.

Prior to the announcement, auto insurers were required to clear any changes in driver premiums — increases or decreases — with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario months ahead of implementing them.

In the case of lowering premiums, that requirement has been suspended for up to 12 months after the province’s declared emergency has ended.

“Insurance companies indicated that the regulation preventing rebates was a barrier to providing relief to their customers,” provincial Finance Minister Rod Phillips said in a statement accompanying the news. “That barrier has now been removed so auto insurance companies can step up and do the right thing for the people and families of Ontario.”

The Insurance Bureau of Canada expects the move will result in a savings of $600 million for Canadians, more than half of which will apply in Ontario. That would be welcome news for the province’s drivers, who pay an average of $1,528 per year, which is second highest in the country after British Columbia, according to the IBC.

Wirtz, however, is among many Ontarians who are seeing their premiums increase despite the economic turmoil brought on by the pandemic shutdown. Wirtz’s provider — Tradition Mutual Insurance, a small firm based in Sebringville, near Stratford — is increasing his monthly fee by $21 when his policy renews in May.

Wirtz says he has had no claims or accidents over the past year. When he spoke to a friend who works at the company, he was told that all insurers are raising premiums because overall claims have been going up.

“If you call any of these small companies, they’re all working out of the same price book,” he says. “I don’t know what if anything can be done … all these (hikes) are just systematically crippling us all.”

Another driver in Brampton, who did not want his name used but whose policy documents were seen by the Star, says his premium with Johnson Insurance is increasing by $38 a month. He also hasn’t had any claims or accidents.

“(They gave me the same) excuses of postal code we live in and it’s (an) increase across the board with all the insurance companies,” he says.

He is also skeptical that the easing of regulations will cause his insurer to reverse course.

“I also want insurance companies to lay out plans on how and when they will offer rebates to policy holders and hopefully without any conditions,” he says.

A spokesperson for RSA, which owns Johnson Insurance, declined to make anyone available for an interview. She suggested in an email that customers who are being affected financially by the pandemic should contact their broker to discuss flexible payment options and deferrals and the waiving of fees on non-sufficient funds.

She also pointed to a press release that says the company will be implementing additional auto and property insurance premium relief measures moving forward to support customers during the crisis.

The premium increases, meanwhile, run contrary in spirit to headlines made recently by some insurers, who were dispensing refunds and breaks to customers before last week’s announcement.

Allstate Canada, for one, has said it will spend $30 million on rebates for customers, with each receiving a one-time payment of 25 per cent of their monthly auto premium. Aviva also announced it was freezing premium increases at renewal.

Marlene Morrison Nicholls, president of Lindsay, Ont.-based Stewart Morrisson Insurance Brokers, says that prior to last week’s news, the main way that insurers could give customers a break was by adjusting the usage covered by their policies.

Customers could temporarily drop certain coverage options such as roadside liability, for example, although in that case they would be unable to actually drive their vehicle — it would have to remain parked.

Drivers could also report that they are driving considerably less, which could lower their monthly payments.

In each case however, their base premiums would stay the same, Morrisson Nicholls says. Relaxing the regulations governing the lowering of premiums should change that.

“Auto insurance is regulated and rates must be filed with (FSRA), so this allows them the ability to deviate from those filings and give more,” she says. “It is good news.”

Zipcar to close operations and drive out of British Columbia on May 1

VANCOUVER _ Car-sharing service Zipcar says it will stop operations on May 1 in British Columbia.

In an email notice to its customers, the Boston-based company says the “complexities” of operating in the province, including local insurance regulations, are behind its decision.

The company could not immediately be reached for comment.

In the notice, Zipcar says customers can still use their memberships in other locations and it will continue operating in cities across North America.

Zipcar, which is owned by car rental company Avis Budget Group Inc., came to B.C. in 2007.

Share Now, formerly Car2Go, closed up shop in North America earlier this year.

ICBC takes further steps to reduce financial burden for drivers during pandemic

ICBC, in partnership with the Government of B.C., is making further changes to help ease the financial hardship customers are experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For customers needing more relief than the 90-day payment deferral, ICBC will be waiving the $30 cancellation fee and $18 re-plating fee for those people who choose to cancel their insurance during this time. The cancellation fee change is subject to the approval of the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC). Customers will be required to remove the plate from their vehicle while it is not insured and the vehicle must be kept off the road.

Customers who reinsure May 30th or thereafter will be able to re-use their plate. 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.

ICBC will also allow fleet vehicle customers to suspend their insurance to help them save money during this difficult time.

People whose learner driver’s licences (class 5-8) expire during the pandemic will not have to pay a fee for their first knowledge test after their learner driver’s licence expires, once testing resumes.

As part of the changes, ICBC is also confirming that customers will be able to use their vehicles for the delivery of food or medical products and services, without changing their insurance (vehicle use) or paying a higher premium. This includes people volunteering to help deliver groceries or other essential supplies to seniors and other people in need.

“We know many British Columbians are facing financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Nicolas Jimenez, president and CEO of ICBC. “Businesses are also having to adapt to the situation, with many companies changing their business model to offer delivery services so people can access the food and medical products they need while physical distancing. ICBC is responding to these needs and taking action to ease the burden for everyone during this difficult time.”

Customers are encouraged to call their broker about changing their coverage and lowering their premium to reflect changes in how much they drive and the related risk – it can be done easily over the phone at no charge. This is available to personal and commercial customers and many have already taken advantage of it. Customers who are interested in cancelling their insurance should also speak to their broker to ensure they have appropriate storage coverage for their vehicle while it remains not in use, for example, to cover potential break-ins or weather damage.

“These changes will provide some relief to customers during this challenging time, and brokers are there to assist British Columbians in adapting their insurance to meet their changing needs,” said Chuck Byrne, Insurance Brokers Association of B.C.

Changes to cancellation fees, suspension of fleet vehicle insurance and the allowance of deliveries by drivers in non-delivery rate classes are in effect upon interim approval by the BC Utilities Commission. ICBC has submitted an application to the BCUC and an interim decision is expected shortly.

ICBC has already implemented several other measures to help British Columbians during the pandemic, such as:

  • establishing the ability to conduct a number of transactions by phone or email, such as renewing driver’s licences set to expire, and renewing insurance; and

  • allowing customers who pay for their insurance on a monthly basis to defer payments for up to 90 days with no penalty.

ICBC continues to review its operations to support the safety and well-being of its customers and employees, and will make additional changes as necessary.

For additional measures taken during COVID-19:

Premium Holiday: Onlia waives insurance payments for one-month amid pandemic

Company strengthens its commitment to safety through measures to support customers, employees and the community

Onlia, safety advocate and fast-growing provider of digital home and auto insurance in Ontario, today announced additional measures to support and protect its community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Onlia’s mission is to promote the safety of Canadians – at home, on the road, and in communities.

Onlia is introducing a premium holiday during the month of May for their home and auto insurance customers. All active policy holders as of March 31st who have made at least one full monthly premium payment will automatically receive a one-month premium waiver. The measure is intended to help relieve the financial impact of the pandemic by providing immediate savings at a time when Canadians need it most.

“Onlia has always put the safety of Canadians first, and now more than ever we are pulling together to protect one another,” says Pieter Louter, CEO of Onlia.  “With customers presently experiencing un-precedented lifestyle changes, we are taking additional steps to provide support and assistance to our community.”

True to Onlia’s philosophy to motivate and reward safe behavior-change, the company is also activating their safe-driving app, Onlia Sense™ to reward Canadians for staying home. Typically, the app rewards safe driving, however, in May insurance customers can earn $20 cash for not driving at all.

“Our community has made significant strides in decreasing road usage over the past month”, says Olivia van Eyk, head of marketing Onlia. “Trips taken by Onlia Sense™ users have decreased by 70 per cent from March 1st to April 1st, displaying a commitment to social distancing.”

As a fully digital company, Onlia has always enabled customers to connect with its products, services, and people online. The company’s service model affords seamless, reliable and consistent service to its customers during this uncertain time. Customers looking for additional information are encouraged to visit

About Onlia

Onlia Holding Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiaries Onlia Agency Inc. & Onlia Services Inc., offers innovative digital home and auto insurance and a safe-driving mobile app to the Canadian market. Onlia’s mission is to create a community around making Canada a safer place, and to provide tools and motivation to facilitate safer behaviours. Launched in 2018, Onlia is a joint venture between Achmea Canada Holding Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Achmea B.V. the largest insurance group of the Netherlands, and Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, a Canadian holding company which, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance and investment management. Using proprietary and award-winning technology, Onlia is rethinking the way Canadians approach safety and insurance. Join the community at and on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

SOURCE Onlia Holding Inc.

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