Last week’s winter storm caused Dial-a-claim calls to ICBC to spike

More than 3,500 dial-a-claim calls came from Lower Mainland on Monday, up 22%

The excerpted was written by Rafferty Baker · CBC News

The winter weather blowing across Metro Vancouver this week has left many drivers with damaged vehicles, according to ICBC, which is reporting a big spike in the number of dial-a-claim calls.

The insurer received more than 18,000 calls from across the province in the past week — more than 12,500 of those from the Lower Mainland. Not all those calls will result in an insurance claim, but the high numbers paint a picture of trouble on the roads.

“Whenever there’s a significant weather event, we’re going to see an increase in claims,” said Paul Goodman, ICBC road safety coordinator for Vancouver. “Most of those claims are rear-end type collisions.”

Monday saw the greatest number calls — in fact, with 5,075 from across the province, it was the busiest dial-a-claim day in more than two years, and more than 2,000 calls above average.

In Metro Vancouver alone, there were 3,539 dial-a-claim calls on Monday — a 22 per cent increase from the previous week.

Interestingly, by the time the heaviest snow day hit the region on Wednesday, the number of calls from Metro Vancouver saw a massive drop to 1,882.

Cars left at home in worst weather

Goodman said the considerable drop on the messiest day on the roads is likely because people took the advice of officials to either stay home or find alternative ways to get around, leaving their cars at home.

Drivers can also make claims online or in person at an authorized autobody shop. And claims aren’t necessarily made the day of the collision.

Vern Campbell with Busters Towing in Vancouver said his drivers noticed fewer calls for service this week than they were expecting. According to Campbell, the company had braced itself for the weather, gearing up with more crews, but the calls didn’t materialize.

“The people out on the road believe the media coverage of the problem, and the recommendation to stay home … worked,” he said.

Much of Busters’ work involves enforcement during rush hour or at private lots, so fewer cars on the road meant fewer infractions. But Campbell said even private calls from motorists with damaged vehicles were down this week.

He said many of the calls Busters did receive involved inadequate tires.

Winter tires called that for a reason

In many South Coast municipalities, drivers can legally keep summer tires on their vehicles all year.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby was asked on Thursday whether the province would consider making winter tires mandatory across the province. Eby said he was frustrated to see drivers without winter tires sliding around and getting into collisions this week.

“It’s certainly something I’ll be asking ICBC about, following some of what I saw on the road over the last couple of days, and I’m sure many British Columbians would nod along with that idea,” he said.

According to Goodman, proper winter tires are one of the best ways to avoid the type of rear-end collisions ICBC has been seeing on the slippery streets.

He said giving the vehicle in front of you more space, slowing down and making sure your view of the street isn’t obstructed are all important factors to avoiding rear-end collisions.

Source: CBC News

Investigation into tow truck drivers charging exorbitant fees leads to recovery of 31 vehicles

TORONTO — An investigation into tow truck drivers charging exorbitant fees across the Greater Toronto Area has led to more than 250 charges.

Durham police said in a news release on Thursday they launched Project Bondar in October 2019 after receiving numerous complaints from motorists who said they were charged excessive fees for towing their vehicles after collisions.

Police also investigated complaints from motorists who said their vehicles were stolen from private property, along with storage yards charging high fees to release previously towed vehicles.

Police said officers involved in the investigation executed search warrants in Brampton, Scarborough, Etobicoke, Ajax, Clarington, Pickering and Whitby.

The focus of the project was to ensure that tow truck providers were complying with legislation, police said.

While carrying out the search warrants, police said they recovered 31 vehicles, some of which were allegedly stolen or unlawfully towed. The vehicles seized by police had a combined value of approximately $900,000 and included a Ferrari 488 and BMW M4.

Police said 92 Consumer Protection Act charges were laid along with 149 various Provincial Offences Act Charges and 17 Criminal Code Charges.

The names of those charged were not released by police.

“DRPS would like to thank the numerous partners who assisted in this project, including the Insurance Bureau of Canada, major insurance companies, the Toronto Police Service, the OPP, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation,” Durham police said on Thursday.

How to protect yourself when you need a tow truck

Durham police released a number of tips for motorists who find themselves in need of a tow truck.

Police say it’s important to know what your insurance policy covers before agreeing to have your vehicle towed.

“See if you have roadside assistance coverage and what the limits are. If you’ve been in a collision, find out how your car insurance company handles towing and how much your insurer will cover,” police said.

“Don’t let a towing operator take your vehicle until you view a Government of Ontario Towing Consumer Bill of Rights. You should be shown a towing and storage rate sheet listing towing fees, daily storage fees (if any), and all other miscellaneous charges.”

Police said to always make sure the company name on the tow truck matches the documentation and never agree to a demand for cash payment to release your vehicle.

“If you suspect fraud or if the tow truck driver refuses to leave, call the police.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact the intelligence branch of the DRPS at 1-888-579-1520, ext. 5800 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.

Canada’s farms reap precision data to cut lending, insurance costs

Ashley Robinson, Bloomberg News

Canadian farmers — grappling with lower crop income, adverse weather and a trade dispute with China — are using precision-agriculture technology aimed at reducing lending and insurance costs.

Collecting intricate crop data allows individual farmers to outline potentially limited risk to banks and insurers, Tristan Skolrud, an assistant professor in the agricultural and resource economics department at the University of Saskatchewan, said in a telephone interview.

In an industry facing tight margins, the savings can mean the difference between making a profit and wrestling with lower income or losses for grain and canola. Companies including Bayer AG, Deere & Co. and Cargill Inc. have expanded in precision agriculture.

Farmers Edge, a Winnipeg, Manitoba-based precision agriculture company, is debuting a platform to allow customers to use data for bank loans. The new offering, along with the firm’s InsurTech product that began in July, takes the focus away from equity and spotlighting “best-in-class farmers” with top yields, Chief Executive Officer Wade Barnes said in a phone interview.


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