DriveSmartBC: An Overview of Car Insurance for BC Drivers

Chances are good that when you think about car insurance your first thought is about how much it is going to cost you rather than how well it is going to protect you if something goes wrong. You might even be tempted to shade the truth about who will be driving your vehicle or how they will be using it to reduce those costs. Be very careful how you make decisions about insurance as making poor choices can put you at huge financial risk post crash.

Insurance is a contract between you and an insurance company. Pay the premiums and the company will protect you from financial losses specified in the contract.

The risk is spread among all the policy holders in an effort to make the premiums more affordable, but you may have to pay a higher premium if you are at higher risk for making a claim. Penalty point and driver risk premiums are used by ICBC in addition to your collision history to set rates.

The surest way to keep premiums low is to keep the number of claims low. This concept appears to be lost on many drivers today. Some make no connection between the way they drive and the risk that they present.

We consider insurance so important that a policy must be in effect in order to drive. You must carry a liability card while driving and produce it to police on demand. Should you be involved in a collision, you must produce particulars of the liability card in writing to anyone suffering loss or injury or who witnessed the collision if they request it.

In British Columbia, we all have to buy our basic third party liability insurance from ICBC. This protects us from the damage that we do to others if we are at fault in a collision. Basic Autoplan covers up to $200,000.00 but a quick look at some of the case law on this site will suggest that this is nowhere near enough. An honest, careful discussion with your Autoplan Agent can help you decide what is appropriate for your circumstances.

We can buy additional third party insurance and coverage for our own damage; collision, fire, theft, vandalism and other losses from ICBC or other private insurance companies. In this case, it could pay you to compare insurance companies to see if their rates for similar or better coverage costs less than an ICBC policy.

According to Hergott Law, the best $25.00 that you will ever spend on insurance is for Underinsured Motorist Protection.

Now that you are insured, be careful not to do anything that would breach your contract. Driving while impaired, without a driver’s licence or with a suspended licence, evading police action, racing or making a misrepresentation on the application for insurance can all void your coverage.

In some contract breaches, ICBC will pay for damages done to others and then expect you to reimburse the cost. The corporation may also cancel or refuse to issue a driver’s licence or vehicle licence and number plates for outstanding motor vehicle-related debts.

Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.

www.drivesmartbc.ca

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Many credit cards offer travel insurance, but not all policies are created equal

Many credit cards offer travel insurance, but not all policies are created equal

The excerpted article was written by

At last, your highly anticipated vacation is around the corner. As you count off the days on your commute to work each morning, thoughts of anything going wrong while you’re away couldn’t be further from your mind. Besides, you’re pretty sure you’ve got travel health insurance through your credit card anyway, right?

Millions of Canadians have some travel health insurance coverage, either through a policy that comes with a premium credit card or an employer-sponsored health plan, says Will McAleer, executive director of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA). “Some of those are more than adequate for Canadians who travel this winter.”

The problem is that many of us aren’t clear on any of the policy details, which likely include restrictions based on length of stay, age, cost of treatment and any pre-existing conditions you may have. Often, those details aren’t that visible to the consumer, who may have only glanced at the marketing brochure that came with that card or workplace healthcare policy, says McAleer.

Many of these policies expire after age 64 and won’t cover you for a trip longer than 15 days. Or they can max out too soon, designed to pay for a drop-in clinic consult for a case of pink eye but not an emergency medical evacuation if you injure your spine while skiing.

In a recent survey, THIA found that only a little more than a quarter of respondents were clear about what’s covered by a travel policy they hold.

There are four “golden rules” of travel health insurance that Canadians should understand, says McAleer.

  1. Know your policy
    “Understand what your policy covers and what it doesn’t,” he says. Whether that means digging up the information that came with your credit card or workplace insurance, or understanding a new policy you’re planning to purchase, go over the fine print very carefully. Call the insurance company and get specifics if you have any questions.
  2. Know your trip
    Are you travelling as a snowbird, or are you going to go bungee jumping or scuba diving?” asks McAleer. You need to make sure your policy matches your trip and the risks you’re taking while you’re away. You’ll need more insurance for hiking the Inca Trail in Peru or scuba diving in Belize than you would for parking yourself on a beach for a week. The costs for emergency services outside of the country can be significant, particularly when you consider that 80 to 90% of Canadians vacation in the United States—“arguably the most expensive place for medical treatment on the planet,” says McAleer. “A code blue emergency—so, a life-saving emergency—not only could it cost you $10,000 a day, it could cost you $10,000 an hour, depending on how serious the emergency is.”
  3. Know your rights and responsibilities
    McAleer says consumers have a right to contact their insurer to ask for specifics about what’s covered, as well as to appeal if coverage gets denied. “But you’ve also got responsibilities,” he says. The first of those is to make sure you’re answering any medical questions correctly and accurately, “because if you don’t, [that] could lead to disappointment when you need it the least.” Barring a catastrophic situation where it’s simply not possible to do so, you also have a responsibility to contact your insurance provider, not your credit card company, before accessing medical services—otherwise, you may not be covered.
  4. Know your health
    If you’ve been to the doctor for anything beyond a regular checkup recently, you need to learn if those issues could be considered a dreaded “pre-existing condition” that your insurer will exclude from your coverage, says McAleer. If you do have something going on with your health, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to stay home, says Sivan Tumarkin, an insurance and disability lawyer. The key is to get a policy that’s designed to account for whatever you’ve got going on with your health. Manulife, for example, offers travel insurance that’s tailored to whatever pre-existing conditions the customer may have, he says. Note that it’s critical not to cut corners when describing any health issues you have.

“If you make a claim, they’ll pore through your records to find any arguments you’ve breached the policy,” he says.

Tumarkin advises against getting insurance from a travel agent. Because they’re not brokers, they can’t advise you in detail on what a policy will cover. Instead, go to a reputable insurance broker. These pros sell policies from a variety of insurance companies and will help you understand the options. If your employer or credit card coverage isn’t sufficient, a broker can find you a policy that will top you up should you need anything more than the basic drop-in clinic visit.

Vacation costs add up, so it can be tempting to go for a bargain-priced policy offered by your travel agent and travel website.

“Most people will go for whatever is cheapest, but there’s a reason why it’s priced that way,” says Tumarkin.

Source: MoneySense

Tax Tip – We’re changing how representatives are authorized

NEWS PROVIDED BY

Canada Revenue Agency

We’re introducing new digital processes to simplify and speed up the way representatives request online authorizations.

Please note the upcoming changes to the Canada Revenue Agency’s authorization processes starting in February 2020:

  • We’re introducing a new e-authorization process for online access to individual tax accounts. Representatives will be able to request access using a web form through Represent a Client. Similar to the authorization process for business tax accounts, they will need to scan and submit a signature page that has been signed by their client.
  • The existing T1013 form will be discontinued for access to individual tax accounts. The T1013, RC59, and NR95 will be combined into one form called the AUT-01 Authorize a Representative for Access by Phone and Mail. This form will only be used to request offline access to individual and business tax accounts.

Note: All AUT-01s submitted to the  Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will be processed as new requests and override previous T1013 submissions. This means representatives will lose their online access if they submit an AUT-01 form (with the exception of non-residents, as there are no online services for non-residents).

  • If T1 or T2 software is used to e-submit a request for online access to individual and business tax accounts, a new signature page will be generated. This new page must be signed by the client and retained by the representative for six years.

Note: There is no requirement to submit a copy of this signature page, unless requested by the CRA.

  • We’re removing some restrictions for e-submitting an authorization using T1 or T2 software. For example, there won’t be an error message when a ‘care of’ address is used on a taxpayer’s account.
  • We’ll no longer be using barcodes for authorization requests.
  • Existing authorizations for individual tax accounts of deceased persons, will no longer be cancelled. This will avoid having to re-authorize the same representative after the client’s date of death.

These changes will take effect on February 10, 2020. Please continue to use the existing Representative authorization processes until this time.

Stay connected

SOURCE Canada Revenue Agency

Are Shoulder Checks Necessary?

Shoulder CheckDriveSmartBC

Is it really necessary to make shoulder checks while driving? If you expect to pass a driving exam in British Columbia the answer is a definite yes. However, some driving schools are teaching mirror adjustment techniques to replace shoulder checks.

The shoulder check involves briefly turning your head to the left or right and looking into your blind spots. These are areas that looking in the rearview mirrors will not reveal to a driver. A driver makes a shoulder check when changing directions or lanes to insure that there are no vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians hiding in the blind spots waiting to be collided with.

Another school of thought argues that it is best to keep your eyes forward in the direction of travel and use mirrors and peripheral vision to check surrounding traffic. The idea is that if you place your head against the driver’s door window and adjust the left side view mirror to see your vehicle in the left edge, then move your head to the center of the vehicle and adjust the right side mirror so that you can see your vehicle in the right edge it will allow you to visually cover most of the area beside and behind you with the mirrors when seated normally behind the wheel.

Peripheral vision or a glance left or right will be enough to see what is not shown in the mirrors. I was taught to shoulder check without fail in every case when I took driving instruction. The instructor told me that it was the only sure way to spot all hazards before I moved my vehicle into areas that could conflict with other road users.

I also understand that older drivers normally lose peripheral vision as a consequence of aging so the mirror method outlined above may not be appropriate for everyone. The bottom line? Before you turn or change lanes, it is up to you to make sure that it is safe to do so. Failure to look out for the safety of others will have serious consequences both during a road test and after a collision.

Canadian insurance group snags second U.S. F&I company

The excerpted article was written by JACKIE CHARNIGA

Canadian insurance company iA Financial Group will acquire IAS Parent Holdings, a leading provider of finance and insurance products, for $720 million, both companies said last week. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2020.

The acquisition will further ingrain iA Financial Group in the U.S., as the Quebec City company seeks to capture a larger share of the nation’s $39 billion service contract market. This is iA’s second acquisition of a U.S. F&I product company. It closed on Ohio-based Dealers Assurance Co. in January 2018.

The market for service contracts — sometimes referred to as extended warranty products — is “highly-fragmented,” according to a statement from iA Financial Group CEO Denis Ricard. Opportunities for growth and consolidation are significant, he added.

IAS, of Austin, Texas, is the parent company of F&I vendor Innovative Aftermarket Systems, which sells vehicle warranties and other F&I products and related software to a network of more than 4,300 dealers nationwide. The company employs more than 600 people.

IAS CEO Patrick Brown told Automotive News that the company will continue expanding its dealer network and product offerings under new ownership.

“Over the years, we’ve gone from being just an ancillary provider to a really full-blown, very broad set of products and services that we provide to dealers,” Brown said, noting that the company recently acquired an equity-mining platform. Equity-mining software, also referred to as data-mining software, allows dealerships to sort through proprietary and consumer data to make business decisions.

“We’re really a technology company that just happens to be in the F&I space. A lot of the work that we’re doing is using technology to try to improve either the experience or the throughput at dealership locations and be able to help consumers have a better experience,” he said.

U.S. FOOTPRINT

Publicly traded iA Financial Group reported net income of $183.7 million Canadian in the third quarter, an increase of 11 percent year over year.

Dealers Assurance Co.is roughly half the size of IAS but boasts more dealership partners. It sold half a million F&I products last year, compared with 1.6 million sold by IAS, through more than 5,300 dealership partners, according to a report on the acquisition for iA investors. DAC collected $375 million in F&I product insurance premiums last year, while IAS took in $540 million.

DAC, of Dallas and Albuquerque, N.M., has 152 employees.

iA Financial Group purchased IAS from Genstar Capital, a San Francisco private equity group that has owned a majority share in IAS since 2011.

The acquisition of IAS is subject to obtaining the usual regulatory approvals in Canada and the United States and other conditions. Founded in 1892, iA Financial Group is one of the largest life and health insurance companies in Canada as well as one of the largest F&I providers for auto dealerships in Canada.

Source: https://canada.autonews.com

What I’ve Learned from a Year of Driver Monitoring

I’ve been driving with eDriving’s Mentor app for about a year now and know that it has made improvements in my skills. I haven’t cracked the top 10% barrier yet, but I’m still trying! The secret to having a high score appears to be trying to anticipate and plan for what is happening around you as you drive.

Speed is the simplest of the driving tasks to follow but does present its challenges. The riskiest of them is the tendency for other drivers to crowd your back bumper. Why some drivers feel the need to do this on multi laned highways is a bit of a mystery to me.

I wonder if telematics can use the automatic emergency braking system on newer cars to monitor this?

Sudden braking incidents can be prevented by maintaining an appropriate following distance and watching the status of traffic lights as you approach the intersection.

Is it a stale green light? Preparing for the stop doesn’t cost you anything as you are going to have to stop anyway. In fact, it can save you money in the long run by reducing wear on the brakes.

Drivers who fill in your front safety margin and then brake to get ready for a turn or make another lane change mean keeping an eye out behind and beside you as you drive. It would be helpful if they thought about signaling their intentions but the majority seem to signal as they move.

Heavy acceleration has not caused any black marks for me since the first one. I’m never in a hurry to be the first vehicle into an intersection after the lights change and I have not had to take evasive action to prevent a collision, yet.

Smooth lane changes are an easy score. Plan ahead, mirror, signal, shoulder check and change. Simple. Again, I’ve never had to make a sudden move because of the actions of another driver, yet.

The last behaviour that the app watches for are sharp turns. Experience, advisory signs and familiarity with your vehicle are a great help with this. When in doubt, too slow is better than too fast.

I’ve mentioned a potential reduction in vehicle maintenance already but there is another way the app helps pay it’s way. Driving for a good score is also driving for economy. Fewer dollars spent on fuel are healthy for both your wallet and the environment.

There is no doubt in my mind that ICBC will eventually be using driver telematics to set insurance rates. Practice now will make it easier to save money on my insurance bill in the future.

Mentor also supplies me with video training tailored to my driving habits. I’m a bit behind in watching the videos, but I’ve both learned something new and reinforced prior knowledge with them.

Overall, I’m pleased that I have taken the time to use the app. I think that it has made me a better and hopefully safer driver.

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