A 2021 change to B.C. auto liability law prevents U.S. drivers who get into an accident while driving in the province from making a claim against at-fault driver’s insurance, leaving Washingtonians at risk financially.
B.C.’s Insurance Vehicle Act, adopted in May 2021, bans most lawsuits for bodily injury and vehicle damage, switching to a fault system.
The new law has limited exceptions, which can be found at bit.ly/3FJAh8K, but insurance experts advise drivers to know their liability risks and insurance status. The main concern for U.S. drivers is covering the cost of their own injuries or damages in the case of an accident, no matter who is at fault.
With droves of U.S. drivers visiting lower B.C. since the U.S./Canada border reopened, NW Insurance Council president Kenton Brine said in a November 23 press release that the council has begun to see the impact of the new law on U.S. drivers.
“Most people heading north for a weekend holiday or skiing trip are unaware that without the right coverage, they could be left financially unprotected, with no ability to seek recovery from a B.C. resident’s insurance, even if that person caused the accident,” Brine said in a statement.
Covid-19 travel restrictions for vaccinated travelers were lifted in April 2022. According to cascadegatewaydata.com, the four land ports of entry from Whatcom County have seen, on average, from 5,000 to 10,000 crossings per day in the last three months. Plenty of those drivers may be putting themselves at financial risk unknowingly.
Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner has provided information on insurance options available on its website, bit.ly/3Wcptau. It says auto insurance will typically cover U.S. drivers in Canada but drivers should check with their insurance agent before traveling.
The Northwest Insurance Council advised drivers to confirm with their insurance company they have full auto insurance coverage in addition to their state’s mandatory auto liability insurance.
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