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B.C. police moving to licence plate readers to check insurance

ICBC offering online insurance renewals starting May 1
A 2019 accident in Langley, knocking out power to the area. (Shane MacKichan/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

The B.C. government is phasing out vehicle validation stickers on licence plates, as the Insurance Corp. of B.C. funds the use of automated plate scanners for police to use on the roads.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced Monday that as B.C. opens up online insurance renewals for ICBC insurance policies expiring May 1 or later, the licence stickers are being phased out. People can do their renewals online starting March 17, as well as update addresses, insured drivers and other information using computers or mobile devices.

ICBC is funding the police equipment for verifying licence plates with a $1 million one-time grant for police forces who are not yet using it. The ministry says this cost will be offset by the elimination of manufacturing and distributing the decals.

Farnworth said the elimination of decals will also cut down on theft of licence plates. The move has already been made in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and the Northwest Territories.

ICBC was forced to move to phone and email renewals during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and since 2019 the corporation has been busy revamping its accident and injury procedures, moving most disputes to an administrative tribunal to cut down on rapidly increasing court costs.

Farnworth said those changes have reduced the average vehicle insurance bill by $490, while increasing payouts to people injured in accidents.

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