Making a Vehicle Damage Claim

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This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Krista Prockiw of ICBC in February 2024.

If your car is damaged in an accident — or you damage someone else’s car — insurance may cover the damage. Learn answers to common questions relating vehicle damage claims.

Common questions

Will insurance cover repair costs to my vehicle?

It depends on who caused the accident.

Everyone who owns a motor vehicle in BC must have basic insurance from ICBC, called basic Autoplan.

If ICBC finds the other driver was 100% at fault for the accident, your basic insurance will cover the cost of repairs to your vehicle.

If ICBC finds you were 100% at fault for the accident, collision insurance can cover the cost of repairs to your vehicle. This is optional insurance coverage. If you don’t have it, you’ll typically be on the hook for the cost of repairs.

If you and the other driver share responsibility for the accident, your basic insurance will cover the non-responsible portion of your repair costs, up to $200,000. For a closer look, see the People’s Law School’s in-depth guidance on making a vehicle damage claim..

If I was at fault, will my insurance premiums go up?

If ICBC finds you were more than 25% at fault for an accident that results in a claim — by you or the other driver — they will usually increase your insurance premium the next year. The costs for any optional insurance you have (for example, collision coverage) may go up as well. Generally, the more accidents you’re responsible for, the more you’ll pay in insurance.

You can use this tool to get an estimate of how your insurance premiums may be impacted by an accident. Note that you need to be within six weeks of your insurance renewal for the estimate to be accurate.

Can I pay for the damage myself without involving ICBC?

If you cause a small accident, you can pay for any damage to your vehicle and the other vehicle yourself to avoid higher insurance premiums. However, it’s a good idea to discuss this with a claims representative before deciding. Depending on your insurance coverage, the impact on your premiums may be small.

What are my options if my car is unrepairable?

If your car is too badly damaged to repair (ICBC calls this a total loss), they will pay you an amount based on the value of your car at the time of the crash. A vehicle is considered unrepairable if the repairs would cost more than its estimated value at the time of the accident.

If you disagree with ICBC’s assessment, you can dispute it. ICBC explains the steps to dispute a valuation.

Can I get my car repaired outside of British Columbia?

Before authorizing any repairs outside of the province, contact ICBC at 1-800-910-4222. Ask the claims representative if your vehicle can be repaired where you are, or if it needs to be brought back to BC.

Some garages outside of BC may not accept payment directly from ICBC. You may have to pay for the repairs out of pocket and apply for reimbursement when you get home. Keep a copy of the repair bill and any invoices for parts and material.

What if I have a complaint with ICBC?

If you’re not happy with the service you received from ICBC, you have options. First, raise the issue with the manager or supervisor of the ICBC office you’ve been dealing with. You can do this by asking a customer service representative to put you in touch with a manager or supervisor.

If that doesn’t resolve the issue, you can contact ICBC’s fair practices office. See ICBC’s website for details, including further steps you can take.

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