Ken Pugh argues ICBC should reform its rules on keeping original insurance papers in the vehicle.

Ken Pugh argues ICBC should reform its rules on keeping original insurance papers in the vehicle.

ICBC could help curb home break-ins: Critic

Thieves exploit 'outdated' rule on keeping insurance papers in vehicle

ICBC officials say they’ll look at loosening the requirement to keep auto insurance papers in the vehicle – a rule some owners say leaves them vulnerable to home burglars.

Thieves sometimes break into vehicles, get the address of the owner from the insurance papers, and then go loot the home. Some even use a garage door opener from the car to get inside.

Chilliwack university instructor Ken Pugh has been pressing ICBC to act.

He says crooks going for the car-home break-in combo target vehicles likely to be parked for hours at places like movie theatres, trail heads and churches.

“Sometimes they even slash the tires so the owners can’t get home quickly,” he said. “They’ve got it down to an art.”

That threat could be eliminated, Pugh said, if ICBC let owners keep their original car insurance papers at home and use a photocopy in the vehicle with the address blacked out if they’re stopped by police.

So far, ICBC officials maintain originals must stay with the vehicle and it would take provincial legislation to change that rule.

“We’re taking a look at what can be done to address these concerns,” ICBC spokesperson Kathy Taylor said. “Sometimes a quick fix to a process is possible, but we want to exercise due diligence to make sure we wouldn’t be creating any larger issues.”

Meanwhile, ICBC recommends storing the originals in a hidden panel or secure storage box in the vehicle or else taking them with you when you’re away from your car.

But carrying a sheaf of insurance documents is impractical, said Pugh.

“I’d need a man-purse,” he said. “A wallet’s not big enough.”

And he doubts any hiding place inside a vehicle would be thief-proof.

He argues B.C. could simply follow the lead of Saskatchewan, which provides a wallet-sized card for proof of insurance and allows drivers to keep the original documents at home.

“ICBC has been very slow to react to this,” he said, adding he has neighbours who are afraid to leave their homes after a flurry of break-ins.

The auto insurer doesn’t seem to care if criminals target homes, he said, but added the provincial government should if it’s serious about public safety and protecting families.

“This is an outdated procedure that is no longer in the interests of public safety.”

Pugh wants Public Safety Minister Shirley Bond to intervene and is also asking B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner to investigate and potentially order ICBC to change its policy.

The RCMP publicly cautioned motorists this spring against leaving identifying documents such as insurance in vehicles, most recently after a flurry of thefts from the homes of church-goers in Abbotsford.

RCMP E Division spokesperson Sgt. Rob Vermeulen said it’s likely rare that burglars target homes using insurance paperwork, but added it’s wise to take precautions.

“Our advice would not be to leave the documents in the vehicle,” he said. “Carry them with you.”

A thief stopped by police in a stolen vehicle would also be unable to produce documents and pass himself off as a legitimate operator, he added.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

The Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District board is concerned about having to fund more than just hospitals like the one in the Comox Valley. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Strathcona board worried over funding more than hospitals

Island Health points to seniors care to reduce demand at acute care sites

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Courtenay area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Former town councillor and long-time volunteer John Marinus was presented with the Freedom of the Town in 2017 by then-Mayor Paul Ives. Facebook/Town of Comox photo
Five-term councillor, long-serving volunteer John Marinus passes away

He was presented the Freedom of the Town award in 2017

Town of Comox council (from left) Alex Bissinger, Ken Grant, Nicole Minions, Mayor Russ Arnott, Stephanie McGowan, Maureen Swift and Pat McKenna. Photo by Kim Stallknecht
Comox to move forward with stormwater management bylaws

Northeast Comox lands have been a historical flood plain and regularly floods

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Jan. 21 marks the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century, according to some. (Black Press Media file photo)
The 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century is upon us

Milestone won’t be back for another 100 years

The Wachiay Friendship Centre hopes to convert its parking lot into a building with living units and a cultural gathering space. Scott Stanfield photo
Friendship Centre proposes affordable housing project on its Courtenay property

The Wachiay Friendship Centre hopes to turn its parking lot at 17th… Continue reading

Campbell River’s new hospital, July 2018
Comox Strathcona board worried over funding more than hospitals

Island Health points to seniors care to reduce demand at acute care sites

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

Most Read