The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia has announced much-needed relief for those hit by COVID-19 and subsequent job losses and financial challenges.
ICBC announced on Tuesday they will be allowing driver's licence renewals online and offering those in need the option to defer insurance payments for up to three months.
The news release sent to Castanet says, "British Columbians can now extend their expiring driver's licence remotely, as ICBC adapts driver licensing measures to assist customers to stay home and follow public health orders on physical distancing and further protect employees during the COVID-19 pandemic."
The move allows customers to renew their driver's licence up to six weeks in advance of the expiry date by calling 1-800-950-1498.
Once the call has been made customers will receive an interim paper licence in the mail that will be valid for 90 days. Eligible extensions include routine renewals, reinstatement of a licence, and the replacement of a lost licence. Expiring BC Services Cards and BC Identification Cards are not eligible for phone renewals.
ICBC is also offering customers the option to defer their monthly insurance payments for up to 90 days with no penalty.
The move is designed to "support those facing financial hardship at this time." The deferral option will be available to customers already on monthly Autoplan payments for up to 90 days. ICBC previously allowed for only a single deferral of 30 days.
Customers are advised to use ICBC's online resource tool to apply for deferrals or call the customer support team at 1-800-665-6442.
Starting immediately ICBC is also implementing further social distancing measures to protect customers and employees.
The following services will only be offered online at icbc.com or through the call centre until further notice:
Obtaining driving records/abstracts
Change of address
Paying violation tickets
"Enhanced Driver's Licence (EDL) and Enhanced Identification Card (EIC) processing has been suspended as of March 24, 2020, as those transactions require extended face-to-face interaction where physical distancing guidelines cannot be met," according to the news release.
All driver knowledge tests are also suspended indefinitely, for motorcycle and passenger vehicles, unless there is a legal requirement to obtain a licence (e.g. new resident to B.C.). Commercial vehicle knowledge tests will continue.
Over the coming weeks, ICBC will be working on finding ways to provide knowledge tests without the need for an in-office visit but for now the message is, "we ask that customers only attend a driver licensing office if their transaction is urgent and cannot be done by phone or online, and if they are not showing symptoms."