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Dishonourable Discharge: ICBC no longer insuring decommissioned military vehicles

Vancouver, British Columbia — What was once an unconventional hobby that brought a community together is now a collection of “expensive paperweights”, says West Vancouver’s Mark Fleming, an active Canadian Forces reservist whose collection of decommissioned military vehicles became uninsurable overnight.

Fleming collects and rents disused military vehicles, like WWII-era U.S. Jeeps and Soviet tanks, but was recently forced to refund the sale of a surplus U.S. Humvee when the client learned it would be uninsurable through ICBC.

He says the vehicle had been legally imported and inspected, registered and taxed as recently as the summer.

“To be clear, I’m not asking to drive tanks on the road…What they’re saying is a civilian Hummer with a shiny paint job is perfectly legal but a military one with a green or tan paint job is not,” said Fleming.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) branch issued a bulletin in November barring inspectors from approving “non-conforming” ex-military vehicles that were “not designed to conform to the standards prescribed in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act for motor vehicles designed for use on a highway at the time the vehicle was manufactured.”

“A non-conforming ex-military vehicle can ONLY be inspected under Motor Vehicle Act Regulations (MVAR) Division 25 Part 1 if its licensed gross vehicle weight is greater than 8,200 kg. Even if a non-conforming ex-military vehicle passes inspection, it is not authorized for unrestricted highway use,” the bulletin reads.

Fleming says he takes issue with the lack of rationale given for the change, seeing it as an arbitrary attempt to legislate taste, on the part of the government.

“They just don’t like military vehicles. It’s a taste thing. It’s nothing to do with safety, because they’re certainly safer than some of the other vehicles that are perfectly legal,” he said, going on to point out the contradiction in the fact that unsafe “lemons” can be acquired with relative ease, but the armour-plated version of a consumer vehicle is a strict no-go.

He mentions the impact this hobby has on veterans who are able to work through the effects of PTSD with these vehicles.

“In no small way, it’s a kind of therapy for them. We’re talking about guys who have PTSD and stuff like that and they screw in for absolutely no reason,” said Fleming.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure issued the following statement, effectively putting the ball in ICBC’s court for the time being.

“As safety is CVSE’s top priority, CVSE conducted a formal review of inspection practices with ex-military type vehicles in fall 2020. The purpose of this was to ensure designated inspection facilities and authorized inspectors were provided clarification regarding the inspection and related provincial vehicle standards for these types of vehicles. CVSE followed up with ICBC to provide clarification. Additionally, CVSE posted Bulletin 01-21 for all inspection facilities to provide clarification around these types of vehicles. CVSE is not involved with the administration or policy regarding antique or collector vehicles. Oversight is maintained by ICBC. The application of inspection requirements would not change if the vehicle is an antique or collector vehicle.  Vehicle usage, rate class, registration, licensing and insurance options are at the discretion of ICBC as the provincial insurer. Non-conforming vehicles may still qualify for restricted use, which would be determined by ICBC.”

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