Motorcyclist at intersection wiht Ambulance going by in opposite direction - photo taken in  Metro Vancouver in the Metrotown Burnaby  area

Motorbike Insurance in B.C. The Importance of Being Properly Insured:  What is "Enough Coverage"?

Rose Keith,

Article by:  Rose Keith, Personal Injury Lawyer RoseKeith.bc.ca

If you own a motorbike, you have insurance on that bike.  ICBC requires us to have the insurance in order to have plates on the bike.  However, most of us don’t understand the insurance that we have, nor do we understand whether what we have is enough or too much.

The insurance that you have fills two purposes – it is either to help you in the event of damage or loss from an accident, or it is to compensate a third party if you are at fault f

The insurance that you have fills two purposes – it is either to help you in the event of damage or loss from an accident, or it is to compensate a third party if you are at fault for an accident so that you don’t have to pay their damages out of your own pocket.  Everyone licensed in British Columbia must purchase their Basic Autoplan insurance through ICBC.  This is the minimum amount that everyone must have.  You can then purchase optional extended coverage either through ICBC or through another carrier.

Basic Autoplan coverage provides you with the following:

  1. $150,000 per person for medical and rehabilitation costs;
  2. $200,000 for damages claimed by other persons; and
  3. $1 million per person if the at fault motorist is uninsured.

Sounds like a lot of insurance right?  Wrong!!  Let’s look at what each of these actually is.

  1. Medical and rehabilitation costs – this is medical care that is required following an accident and income replacement of up to $300 per week.  
    This coverage is far superior to many jurisdictions but it is still woefully inadequate if you have suffered a significant injury. This is only of real consequence if the accident is your fault and you are unable to claim against another party for the damages that you have suffered.  If the accident is your fault however, $150,000 does not go very far if you have suffered a severe injury.  ICBC is what we refer to as a secondary insurer. What that means is that their requirement to provide coverage for medical and rehabilitation costs only kicks in after you have depleted your entitlement to other benefits.  So, for example, if you have extended health coverage then you utilize that first for medical and rehabilitation costs and only turn to ICBC when you have used up whatever other coverage that you have available. That makes the $150,000 go a lot farther obviously.

    More problematic is the wage loss benefit that you are entitled to.  Under the Basic Autoplan coverage you are entitled to a maximum of $300 per week or 75% of your usual weekly earnings, whichever is less, if as a result of a motor vehicle accident you are totally disabled from work.  That amounts to only $15,000 per year.  That is significantly less than what most individuals earn.  Again, if another party is at fault for the accident you can ultimately obtain your wage loss from them.  This is only problematic for individuals who are at fault for an accident.  There are income replacement insurance policies that are available and it is worthwhile speaker to an insurance broker about the cost and availability of such a policy for you.
  2. $200,000 for damages claimed by others – this basic insurance amount is meant to satisfy any claims brought by others as a result of your negligence. 
    $200,000 is not sufficient.
      $200,000 is to cover all of the damages of all of the parties involved in the crash, including the vehicle damage. 

    This can easily exceed $200,000. You are then personally liable for any amounts over and above the $200,000.  There is insurance available that greatly increases the amount of insurance available to you to satisfy the claims brought by others and it is available at a nominal cost.  You should have at least $2,000,000 in coverage.
  3. $1 million if the at fault person has insufficient insurance. 
    This type of coverage is referred to by lawyers as UMP or Underinsured Motorist Protection.  This insurance is to protect you and provide you with coverage if the person who is at fault for the accident does not have sufficient coverage to compensate you for your injuries.  $1 milliion is the minimum that all motorists have through their Basic Autoplan Coverage.  With this insurance I again recommend that you get as much as you possibly can.  It is available for a nominal fee and is invaluable insurance if you ever have the misfortune of requiring it.  When you are injured in an accident, ICBC is only obligated to pay out up to the limit of the at fault party’s insurance and your UMP coverage.  Regardless of how devastating your injuries are and how extensive your losses are, that is the limit of what ICBC has to pay.  Beyond that, you have to recover your damages directly from the person who caused you injury.  Typically if a person has a low rate of coverage on their insurance they will have little or no ability to pay a judgment in excess of their insurance and as the injured party, you will be left with no ability to recover your damages.

The above is by no means an exhaustive explanation of insurance coverage and what you should have.  In addition to the above you need to consider whether you want to purchase own damage coverage.  Without it, in an accident in which you are at fault repairs to your motorbike will not be covered.  This is a type of insurance that really is a matter of cost benefit analysis in which the value of the bike must be taken into consideration.

The above information should however provide you with the starting point of your discussions with an insurance broker the next time you are buying insurance for your bike.  Below are a list of questions to consider asking an insurance broker when you are purchasing insurance:

  1. Am I eligible for income replacement benefit and if yes, what is the cost of it?
  2. What is the maximum liability insurance that I can purchase and what is the cost of it?
  3. What is the cost associated with each $1 million of increased liability insurance?
  4. How much UMP can I purchase?
  5. What is the cost of each extra $1 million of UMP?
  6. What is the cost of own damage coverage?

Ensuring that you understand what insurance you have and whether you are properly and fully ensured not only provides you peace of mind but can ensure your financial future is not compromised.

For information on motorbike accidents and personal injuries, contact the author of the above article Rose Keith, who is an experienced personal injury lawyer and ICBC claims disputes lawyer, with particular experience in working with clients who have suffered traumatic brain and neuromuscular-skeletal injuries, e.g. spinal injuries resulting in paraplegia, quadriplegia etc.  In 2008 she was the President of the Trial Lawyers Association of BC.  Her web site is at www.rosekeith.bc.ca

Rose Keith, ICBC Car Accident Injury Disputes Lawyer l in downtown Vancouver BC

Rose Keith, JD RoseKeith.bc.ca
1486 West Hastings St.,
Vancouver, BC,  V6G 3J6
Phone:  604-800-4319
Toll Free:  888.893.6134

see Rose Keith web site re ICBC claims

* see Rose's article on cyclist helmets and use to protect from head injuries, at BCpersonalinjury.org...Cyclist-Helmets
* article “Survivors guide to ICBC: Understanding basic procedures, rights & obligations when dealing with ICBC”

Legal disclaimer:  The information provided on BCpersonalinjury.org is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues commonly encountered. 

Article © copyright 2012 Rose Keith RoseKeith.bc.ca published with permission by www.bcpersonalinjury.org Vancouver BC Canada

This page last updated: 2013.09.30
© 2012 Rose Keith - published in www.bcpersonalinjury.org

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