For the 35 years Sunshine Coast resident Adam Nychuk has driven on B.C. roads, he has “religiously” paid his vehicle insurance — that is until, recently, he forgot to renew his policy.
Nychuk told Coast Reporter he received a notice to renew the insurance on his truck, which he did, but did not receive a reminder for his car. When he was pulled over by police in late November, Nychuk was surprised to be told his insurance was not active. He said he has previously relied on the licence plate decal provided by ICBC as a reminder for when to renew his policy. But ICBC stopped using decals in 2022, and Nychuk was issued a $600 ticket for driving without insurance.
“I'm not upset that the police stopped me and told me that my plates were expired, because if I would have gotten into an accident or something, then it would have cost me a lot more than a ticket,” Nychuk said. While he believes the fine should apply to people who intentionally drive without insurance, he thinks the fine is too high for people — especially seniors relying on old habits — who simply forgot to renew. “I think ICBC brunts part of the responsibility because of the change, and the fines should not be $600.”
When he went to renew his insurance with a broker, an employee said he was not the first one who forgot to insure his vehicle that day. That’s when Nychuk said he realized others may have relied on the sticker system as well. “I’m 66 years old and, believe me, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast.”
Nychuk says the fine is way too high for people who made an innocent mistake.
In response to whether ICBC has noticed a change in uninsurance rates and tickets since the removal of insurance decals, ICBC staff said, “We estimate less than 1% of drivers on B.C. roads are uninsured, and that has not changed since decals were eliminated in May 2022.”
The most recent ticket statistics available from ICBC are for 2022 and show ticketing rates did not change much. In January, there were 851 tickets issued in the province for driving without insurance, followed by 695 the next month. Between March and June, tickets ranged in the mid to high 700s, with only 20 more tickets issued in June, the month after decals were eliminated. July 2022 saw 863 tickets issued, followed by 954 in August, 926 in September, 983 in October, 906 in November and 939 that December for a total of 10,132 tickets issued for driving without insurance in B.C. in 2022.
The decals are no longer relied on by police, since police departments across the province use Automated Licence Plate Recognition to identify infractions such as driving without valid insurance. ICBC said it worked with the provincial government, RCMP and police agencies ahead of eliminating decals to ensure a smooth transition. At the time, ICBC invested $1 million to enhance and modernize the automated system, including the purchase of new hardware.
ICBC points to five other parts of the country that no longer require drivers to display decals when B.C. made the change, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and the Northwest Territories. Since B.C. adopted the change, Ontario, the Yukon, and Newfoundland and Labrador have followed suit.
The corporation maintains that it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure they have coverage. ICBC sends notices to remind customers to renew their insurance before it expires, and many insurance brokers do the same, ICBC said in a statement to Coast Reporter.
As for Nychuk, he is in the process of submitting a request for a decrease in the penalty. He would like to see the decals reinstated or for ICBC to implement another solution for those who may forget to renew their insurance.