Rules of the road for tractors on the tarmac

Insurance requirements apply to agricultural drivers

Did you know farm tractors driven on public roads must, by law, be covered by special insurance policies?

Jennifer Appleby, 100 Mile House Western Financial Group manager, notes that when deciding what type of coverage is needed, the first step is to determine the status of the farm where the tractor is owned or leased, and for what purposes it will be used.

Any road insurance for tractors is conditional on the owner’s property having a farm classification for its land use, she explains.

The unlicensed farm tractor policy offers basic insurance to allow legal crossings or travelling on public roads under certain conditions, Appleby adds.

“It has to be empty, or loaded with farm-related materials, and it has to be moving between two parts of the same farm.”

She notes the farm equipment must fall under ICBC’s “implements of husbandry” (IoH) class, including tractors and other self-propelled equipment designed for agricultural use, as well as the attached trailers they may tow behind them.

While these insurance regulations are not new, some public misconception on what is needed may stem from tractors carrying necessary insurance that do not always require licence plates.

“Implements do not require a licence – or a licence plate – if the driver is a farmer or a person driving on behalf of the farmer, there are no passengers, it’s moving between two parts of the same farm, and it’s used for farming and insured with an unlicensed farm tractor policy.”

That policy includes third-party liability, accident benefits, and uninsured motorist protection (for the driver or tractor), Appleby says, adding ICBC charges about $30-$50 for a year’s coverage, depending on the tractor and liability.

“It is not expensive, and if you have a farm policy, you can cover your tractors for their value because you don’t get that through ICBC.

“But, the only time you are allowed to have an [agricultural] load on is if you are going from one part of your farm to another.”

Alternately, another ICBC policy allows IoH’s to be operated away from the farm, and to be loaded and/or towing a trailer, Appleby adds – providing they (both) display valid licence plates.

That coverage can cost the farmer around $200 a year, she notes, and includes the plates and fees.

However, any farm tractors or other heavy equipment contracted to do roadside work, such as digging or brush cutting, fall under an altogether different policy category, Appleby explains.

“That’s not farming anymore, so it has to have a proper plate on it, and it would not be a farm plate, it will be a Vehicle in Industry plate – what we call an X plate.”

Insurance coverage for these commercial uses comes with a higher price tag, she says. For example, tractors or equipment up to 15,000 kilograms gross vehicle weight (GVW) carrying $2 million liability can run about $950 a year.

While a larger ranch may often have a backhoe or grader, Appleby notes, those do not qualify as IoH in British Columbia.

There are numerous other important factors for the legal transport of farm vehicles, so for more information, download the ICBC pamphlet at


100 Mile House Free Press