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Ham License Plate Woes

Our Provincial Insurance Provider Fails To Provide

Two recent emails revealed a possible problem with registration and renewal of 5 character (also known as 2-letter call sign) BC Amateur Radio vehicle licence plates. The first Amateur spent time last week attempting to renew his car insurance and registration with his VA7-- Amateur Radio plates. It became apparent that there was a problem with the new Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) computer system accepting five-letter/number registrations.

The option presented to him on Saturday, the last day of his insurance coverage, was to
relinquish his VA7-- plate and accept a new plate and sticker that had been prepared.
Unwilling to relinquish the VA7-- plate, his broker agreed to issue a three-day temporary permit to give more time to resolve the issue, on the condition that he remove the VA7-- plates from his car and display the temporary permit in its place. Inquiries during the weekend indicated that he was not alone in this issue. Some brokers had found a solution, but regrettably some BC Amateurs had given up their "call sign" plate and accepted a regular plate in return.

The following Monday he spent a significant amount of time waiting on hold to contact an
ICBC agent at their head office. This was a specialized problem, and by the time he found the department responsible, the staff had gone home for the day. The following day he was able to contact someone in the Personalized Plate department (604 661 2267) and they reassured the Amateur that there was a temporary work around. ICBC had an outstanding trouble ticket to resolve the issue with their IT staff, but it was not yet actioned. ICBC asked him to contact his broker, and have them contact ICBC directly to reissue the VA7-- plate. Meanwhile his broker called him, prior to their office opening. The broker had also taken the time and trouble to find a solution. His VA7-- plate is now valid again with a new sticker for 2017/18 but unfortunately the ICBC system went down during the renewal process and the broker was unable to print any paperwork.

He commented that it was surprising how many people were completely unaware of
the significance of an Amateur Radio vehicle license plate.

The second incident involved a long-time Amateur with a similar experience. He has had a ham plate since about 1965 with never a problem. In October 2016, he bought a new used car and wanted to trade in his weathered plates for new. When the Insurance agent called ICBC, he was advised that new plates could not be issued for at least 18 to 24 months. As his insurance was expiring, he had no option but to surrender his plates. Upset by this action, he went online to ICBC, found a Complaints page and asked why was he not able to register his callsign plate, or receive new ones for years.

Not expecting an answer, he received a phone call from ICBC within three days was advised to go back to his Insurance agent in about five days, where he could pick up his
new plates! Which he did… go figure. This year, October 2017, renewal was again due so he went to his Insurance Agent on a Friday. Crisis! ICBC could not proceed with the renewal as the ICBC system would not accept the 5 digit plate number, VA7…, expiring the following Monday. Weekends are not work days for ICBC, but he was advised it would be resolved by Monday. The problem not having been rectified, he went home, and took the car off the road. He borrowed his wife’s car on Tuesday and visited his broker. Fortunately the Agent was very good and worked with ICBC right then, while he was there, and was able to complete the renewal.

Hopefully, this note will encourage other BC Amateurs to persevere with their broker to
retain their five-letter/digit call sign vehicle plate while the problem with ICBC's computer 

I Wonder what will happen in October 2018? 


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