Car Rental & Purchase in BC
Rent a car
On the face of it car rental in British Columbia can be remarkably cheap, particularly in the off season where you can rent a car for as little as $15CAD a day (2017). This is perhaps a little misleading as that price often doesn't include any meaningful insurance, so it's well worth reading the details before you book. Scroll down to see our guide on insurance. Cars are almost always high spec and well maintained. Here are a few options for you car rental:
Alternatively if you’re booking from a European rental site you may well avoid the insurance complications of Canadian car rentals (see the insurance section).
Camper Van Rental
WickedCampers.com offer a range of camper vans, from a two person self contained camper, to a 4 person camper with fold out roof tent. What they all have in common however, is their wacky and attention grabbing designs. They make a basic, but fun way to travel around BC.
A number of car-pooling schemes exist in Vancouver that let you borrow a car for a short, but unspecified length of time. Once your signed up, you simply use your app to find and unlock a nearby car. Hop in and off you go. Check out our guide on getting around BC for more information on these car pooling schemes.
Buying a Car
Buying a car in Canada can feel like a pretty speedy process, and you’ll most likely have the keys in hand and all your paperwork done in the same day. The downside is it’s quite hard to do this online and you’ll probably need to visit a physical Auto Plan insurance shop. Whilst the car itself may be cheaper than you’re used to, be prepared for a nasty sting when you buy your insurance policy as they don’t come cheap! Typically you will pay at-least $1,500 CAD.
The process is fairly similar to other countries, but incase you're wondering what's involved:
- EXCHANGE CAR & MONEY
- PAY PURCHASE TAX
- COMPLETE OWNER CHANGE DOCUMENTS
Test of Road-worthiness
It’s worth knowing that cars in BC are not required to have an annual test of road-worthiness. Bear this in mind when buying that $500 banger as there is absolutely nothing to guarantee it’s quality or more importantly it's safety. As with any vehicle purchase, make sure you’re comfortable with it’s history, how it’s been maintained, any accidents etc. If you don’t know anything about cars, take with you someone that does. And remember if it doesn’t feel right, walk away. A number of garages offer pre-purchase vehicle inspections, though you're probably best to search for one as and when you need them.
Car insurance in North America works very differently from the rest of the world.
Car insurance outside of North America:
You rent a car, which includes your insurance. In the event of an accident, your insurance covers you, your passengers, anyone or anything you hit, and the car itself. What you’ll be left to pay is the “excess”, which may amount to up to about $2,000 which although will make a serious and annoying dent in your wallet, hopefully won’t cost you your house! A number of excess insurance providers have emerged over recent years to help manage this potential cost at a sensible price, and I would seriously recommend looking at these, especially if you’re likely to rent cars more than once a year. Each provider has different rules on eligibility depending on where you live.
Excess Policies from:
North American car insurance:
In Canada and the US however, a very different insurance model applies. When you rent a car, you will most likely receive basic provincial government mandated third party insurance up to a maximum of $250k, and that’s it. $250k really isn’t a lot when you consider the damage you can do with even the smallest of vehicles. For any other coverage you’ll need to top up your insurance. First thing you’ll want to do is top up the third party insurance to atleast $1 million, if not more. Whilst your rental company will give you the option to add CDW (collision damage waiver), you may find this to be prohibitively expensive on a per day basis.
Two options to bring down this cost are:
- Interestingly, if you rent a car in Canada, having booked it via a European rental website, you’ll neatly sidestep the above rental issues.
- Take out an excess insurance policy like the ones listed above; Worldwide Insure covers you up to $40,000 in costs, which may well be enough to cover the car in the event of a crash.
Canada is BIG. Make sure you have breakdown cover. Simple as. Make sure you read the small print as many of them have a maximum towing distance.
Your car rental may well come with roadside assistance, though always best to double check.
Here’s a few options: