Hurricane Dorian: Advice and information from Insurance Bureau of Canada

Hurricane Dorian: Advice and information from Insurance Bureau of Canada

HALIFAX, Sept. 9, 2019 /CNW/ – In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is reaching out with tips and advice for those who have been affected.

“We know is that there has been significant damage across the region, and a lot of families have had their lives disrupted.  When you are able to call, your insurer is ready to hear the details of your claim,” said Amanda Dean, Vice-President, Atlantic, IBC.

What insurance covers
Most car, home and business insurance policies cover damage caused by a hurricane or tropical storm. Your insurance representative is at the ready to clarify the details of your policies.

The claims process
If you have been affected by Hurricane Dorian, when it is safe to do so, take the following steps:

  • Assess and document the damage. Taking photos can be helpful.
  • Call your insurance representative and/or company.
  • List all damaged or destroyed items.
  • If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. Keep damaged items unless they pose a health hazard.
  • If you have to move out of your home because of insured damage, check with your insurance representative about whether your policy includes additional living expenses coverage, which may cover your costs if you have to move into a hotel/motel.

Next steps

  • Once you have reported a loss, you will be assigned a claims adjuster. It may take some time given the number of people affected by Dorian, but you will be contacted.
  • The claims adjuster will investigate the circumstances of the loss, examine the documents you provide and explain the process. Take notes during these conversations and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Resources
Anyone with questions should contact their insurance representative or, for general information, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

Additional resources
IBC.ca – severe weather
IBC.ca – Preparing for severe weather

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 128,000 Canadians, pays $9.4 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $59.6 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow IBC on Twitter @InsuranceBureau and @IBC_Atlantic or like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

www.ibc.ca

Ignoring Your Own Safety #DriveSmartBC

 

SeatbeltWhen I learned to drive more than 4 decades ago, seatbelts were becoming standard equipment on all vehicles. Fast forward to today and we have seatbelts, multiple airbags and a host of automatic systems designed to either avoid a crash or minimize the damage to us if we are in one. Why then do some of us ignore the systems that are there for our protection?

A decade ago seatbelt use rates were about 97% for drivers of cars or light trucks in B.C. according to Transport Canada. That said, one does not have to sit for very long today watching traffic pass in urban areas to find drivers who do not buckle up. Why ignore what is probably the simplest and most effective device in your vehicle that helps you avoid injury?

Have you read your vehicle’s owners manual to learn about airbags and how they protect you in a collision? If you have you will realize that you must wear your seatbelt to avoid injury caused by being out of place if it deploys. You must also sit upright in your seat when the vehicle is being driven.

Yesterday I was filling my fuel tank and watching the passenger in the vehicle beside me. She had her feet up on the dash and remained that way when her friend finished fueling and drove away. I shudder to think of what would happen to her if that airbag deployed.

If you buy a new vehicle today you will find that it can be equipped with many safety systems such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning. Remember that owners manual? There will be some study required to learn how they work, how you should use them and when they cannot protect you.

The sensors for these systems require regular maintenance by the driver to keep them functional. Be sure to read your owners manual or at least have the dealership demonstrate what needs to be done before you drive off the lot.

Vehicle computers store data about faults. If fault codes are stored for malfunctioning safety systems it is conceivable that you could bear some responsibility for injuries sustained in a crash. Ignoring these new safety systems could also place you in a bad position post-collision.

Ignoring your own safety as a driver today may have many unintended consequences that can also extend to your passengers. RTFM (Refer to Factory Manual) might be the smartest (and safest) thing that you can do!

Because of a DUI conviction, I need to use an interlock. Am I able to rent a car?

In December 2017, I received a first-offence DUI. I’ll get my licence back next week, but I will only be able to drive a car with the interlock installed for the next year. I’m going to weddings in Halifax and Mont Tremblant this summer and I would like to rent a car, but would one with an interlock be available? I’m also wondering, could regular car insurance be lower with an interlock? – Brendan, Toronto

If you’ve had a drunk-driving conviction, you won’t be able to rent a car with an interlock, and you might not be able to rent one at all.

“Unfortunately, rental-car companies don’t put alcohol interlocks on their vehicles,” says Andrew Murie, chief executive officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada. “The rental-car companies could, but they don’t want drunk drivers in their cars anyway.”

Under the Criminal Code, if you’re convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol level (BAC) above .08 for the first time, you’ll face a minimum one-year licence suspension and a minimum $1,000 fine.

To be allowed to drive again, you can only drive vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock, which is basically a breathalyzer attached to your car’s ignition. It won’t let you drive if you’ve been drinking.

Although Canada’s impaired driving law changed last year to allow you to drive with an interlock immediately after conviction, none of the provinces have changed their interlock programs to allow that, Murie says.

Most provinces also require that your driver’s licence shows that you can only drive with an interlock, and rental car companies would see that.

But Kyla Lee, a Vancouver-based criminal-defence lawyer, says rental companies can access your driving records and see whether you’ve had a DUI.

“They’ll refuse to rent to anyone with a record of an impaired driving conviction or a 90-day administrative suspension,” Lee says.

If you’ve had an impaired conviction in a province with private insurance, you’ll see higher rates for six years.

You’ll likely lose your existing coverage and have to go to facility insurance – insurance for drivers deemed too high-risk to be insured anywhere else – for the next three years after the conviction.

That could mean you’re paying a minimum of $10,000 a year and more likely $20,000, according to Murie.

After three years on facility insurance, it would take three more years to gradually return to reasonable rates, he says.

“If you’re making $60,000 a year and you get whacked with a $20,000 insurance policy, you’re not going to be able to drive,” Murie says. “The government-run insurance companies do a better job.”

In B.C., for instance, if you’ve had one impaired conviction, you pay a $1,086 driver-risk premium on top of your existing rates. In Saskatchewan, you’d face a minimum $1,250 penalty and move down their rating scale. In Manitoba, you’d lose 10 points on their scale – the highest risk drivers there (-20) pay an extra $3,000 a year on top of normal rates.

Murie would like to see insurance companies offer more reasonable rates – double the existing rate, for example – for drivers who use the interlock.

But right now, no companies do that, Murie says.

“About 30 per cent of impaired drivers are repeat offenders within 10 years, so it proves that current sanctions do work, including the higher insurance premiums,” Murie says. “We’re not saying there shouldn’t be some penalty, but when it’s too high, it forces drivers to drive without insurance. And if you get hit by someone who’s uninsured, the financial consequences can be huge.”

Child’s emergency near takeoff time voids rebooking despite ‘Flex’ airfare

Family purchased Transat’s Option Flex, which allows flight changes up to 3 hours prior to departure

Kate Bueckert · CBC News ·

A family from Fergus, Ont., had a vacation dream dashed after a medical emergency and now they’re warning others to pay close attention to the differences between flexible tickets and travel insurance.

Mark and Nicole Ruzycki and their two children were at the airport early in the morning on May 22, set to celebrate their daughter’s 8th birthday in Cuba. But about an hour before boarding, 3-year-old Jake developed a rash.

Airport paramedics recommended they not fly and instead, go right to the hospital.

“This has never happened to us, it was quite the scare,” Mark Ruzycki said.

The doctor at the Toronto-area hospital where they first went said it appeared to be a virus and sent them home. On the way home, Jake’s conditioned worsened and his face swelled up. They went to the emergency facility at the Fergus hospital, where doctors determined it was an allergic reaction.

It’s unclear what Jake reacted to and he has recovered, but the family missed their flight.

When Ruzycki tried to rebook their flight, Air Transat said they couldn’t rebook without further payment.

Credit offered

Ruzycki says the family paid $5,000 for the trip, including $59 per ticket for Option Flex through Air Transat. Option Flex allows people to change their flight up to three hours before the scheduled departure.

Because Jake had to go to the hospital less than three hours before takeoff, Air Transat has said the family cannot rebook without payment and will not get a full refund.

“When you book your dream vacation, you want to make sure you enjoy the ultimate level of flexibility should something unexpected happen. Option Flex lets you,” the airline states on its web page.

Air Transat has offered the family a $2,000 travel voucher, which is equivalent to the tax and fuel surcharge from their unused tickets.

The website also notes, “Option Flex allows travellers to change their departure date, destination or hotel up to three hours before departure, or to transfer their vacation package to a family member or friend up to 30 days before departure. They can also cancel their trip and obtain a full refund.” A footnote explains that the three-hour notice period also applies to cancellations.

Not insurance

The airline declined an interview request with CBC but in a statement said it’s “important to distinguish” between travel insurance and the Option Flex service.

“Option Flex is not a travel insurance and does not replace such insurance coverage, both of which should be purchased prior to departure,” Air Transat’s marketing director of social media and public relations Debbie Cabana told CBC in an email.

“The purchase of travel insurance could have prevented these customers from losing the value of their package.”

They did not purchase travel insurance, Ruzycki said, because they didn’t expect they’d have to cancel for any reason and if something were to happen, they’d just want to rebook the trip.

‘Feels for the passengers’

Ruzycki said his wife worked part time to pay for the trip.

“My wife was in tears,” he said. “Every penny she saved for this has gone down the toilet.”

The family says it’s considering taking the $2,000 travel voucher so they don’t lose all their money.

Gábor Lukács, founder and co-ordinator of Air Passengers Rights, says he “feels for the passengers.”

But unless an illness happens while on board the flight or is caused by the airline, it’s not the airline’s responsibility. He said the airline is within its rights in this case.

Lukács also said this kind of situation would not fall under the new airline passenger bill of rights recently introduced by the federal government. Lukács has been critical of the new bill of rights, saying it favours the private interests of airlines over legitimate concerns of travellers.

‘It just breaks your heart’

The Ruzycki family took a smaller vacation to Collingwood to celebrate their daughter’s birthday.

Ruzycki says his daughter was upset about not going to Cuba, but she understood the situation.

“We keep saying, ‘Look honey, we will go another time. But right now we have to concentrate on your brother’s health,” he said.

“But even our boy, now that he’s getting better, he goes, ‘So are we going to go on a plane now?'” he said. “It’s hard. It just breaks your heart.”

Ruzycki says he hopes Air Transat will change its mind and allow them to rebook their tickets rather than giving them money back.

“We just want to go on our family vacation that our kids and my wife were just so ecstatic to go on,” he said.

Where Are the Corners of Your Vehicle?

The RCMP’s advanced driver training course was without a doubt the most fun of any course many of the participants had taken in their service. We used an inactive runway at the Boundary Bay airport in Delta and a collection of well used Crown Victoria police interceptors to polish our driving skills. Contrary to what you might think, this was not a high-speed driving situation as we never got going faster than about 65 km/h.

What the majority of the course taught us was to be aware of the location of all four corners of our vehicles in relation to everything around us on the track.

From stall parking, backing through a slalom to the collection of curves, straights and sharp angles of the circuit, the object was to never touch one of the traffic cones that marked the edges and obstacles. Knock one over and you could lose so many points that your score would not be enough to pass.

In the circuit, we were expected to drive as fast as we were able to in addition to leaving all the cones alone. We also learned that if you spun your tires after receiving the “go” signal, you lost valuable time.

The road that leads to my home is a winding one and there are two sets of reversing curves where I seem to be meeting more drivers on the wrong side of the double solid center line lately. The worn condition of the center and shoulder lines at these corners indicate that this occurs frequently.

Surprisingly, our provincial driving manuals don’t have a lot to say about maintaining your lane position. The one piece of advice that I could find says:

The first thing you may notice as you begin driving in moderate traffic is that you have to stay in the centre of your lane. To start with, this is no easy task. The magic rule: look the way you want to go. If you keep looking 12 seconds ahead down the centre of the lane, your peripheral vision will help you centre yourself.

They do have more to say about another spot where lane discipline commonly breaks down, turning at intersections. Drivers are cautioned not to cut the corner or swing wide on turns.

The last bad habit to mention is driving with the right side tires to the right of the single solid line. In other words, driving on the shoulder. Along with all of the other behaviours mentioned, this is illegal.

One might think that if there are no lines painted on the road, it is not necessary to maintain proper lane position. This is not true either. A driver in this situation must still judge where the center of the road is and travel in the right-hand half.

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.

And how does being a “medicinal” or “recreational” user affect your premiums?

Read more

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