Uber drivers in Ontario now insured automatically

TORONTO _ Uber drivers in Ontario are now insured from when the app is turned on to when passengers exit the vehicle.

Ontario’s insurance regulator has approved the policy from Intact for private vehicles transporting paying passengers through the ride-hailing service.

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario says the  “blanket fleet coverage” addresses a “critical insurance gap” for the industry.

The new policy covers all Uber drivers, passengers and vehicle owners when Uber is in use, and when the app is off the vehicle owner’s personal auto insurance policy applies.

The Ontario government recently approved a regulatory change under the Insurance Act that allows insurance companies to develop commercial fleet insurance policies for ride-hailing companies.

FSCO’s CEO says in a bulletin posted to the regulator’s website that he anticipates new insurance policies that build on what has been approved for Intact will be filed in the future.

“Going forward, I want to emphasize that the sharing economy in general, and the automobile insurance implications in particular, will continue to evolve and will require innovative solutions and responses by all stakeholders, including FSCO, that respond to technological advances,” Brian Mills wrote.

“At the same time, I want to emphasize that approved solutions may also need to evolve and adapt as circumstances and legal requirements change. Therefore, any policy form or endorsement that I approve is also subject to ongoing review.”


Rental car insurance: Who’s got you covered?

Rental car insurance: Who’s got you covered?

Some car rental deals seem too good to be true.

Factor in the cost of insurance, up to $40 per day depending on the coverage, fees for additional drivers, fuel, extra mileage charges and roadside assistance expenses, and it can cost way more than double the advertised rental price.

As insurance alone can turn a $99 weekend getaway package into less of a sweet deal, it’s wise to look at your options before you hit the car rental counter.

Rental agency coverage

Check the extent of the coverage. Policies vary with lower rates carrying higher deductible costs, while premium plans may offer zero deductibles.

Rental car damage protection insurance (collision damage waiver) covers the value of the vehicle, but doesn’t carry personal coverage for injury or loss of property. Some agencies offer additional policies, with a range of fees, for liability, medical costs and coverage of personal effects.

There are also exclusions to the coverage, such as in the event of an accident or damage done due to driving on unpaved roads, if the car is taken out of the province, state or country not specified in the contract, or if the vehicle is overloaded or used to tow a trailer.

Your credit card may also be dinged a daily rental fee for the period the car is being repaired, and the policy likely won’t offer protection in the event of a lawsuit if you are found to be at fault in an accident. It’s all in the fine print.

Personal car insurance coverage

Most auto insurers offer a special rider (add-on) providing accident and liability coverage on car rentals, and while it can be valid across Canada it may have restrictions when driving in the U.S. Also, it very likely won’t extend to Mexico.

Coverage can cost from $15 to $50 extra per year, but be aware that if you are at fault in a rental car accident your insurance rate will increase. If you have a rental car accident on a trip and your own car is stolen at home while you are travelling the insurance may only cover one claim.

As the car must be rented in the name of the person insured on the personal policy, it may not cover another driver of the rental car as well.

Although your collision and comprehensive auto insurance coverage may extend to cars you rent, it’s likely limited to the value of your own car and not a higher end vehicle.

Your auto policy may only cover a rental car while on a vacation but not for commercial or business use, and it won’t include the loss of personal property. That’s usually covered on your homeowner/renter insurance plan. Review your contract or ask your insurance broker for details.

Credit card coverage

If your credit card provides insurance coverage on rental cars, that $99 weekend getaway deal may be a bargain after all, but once again; certain conditions apply.

Premium cards at “gold” or “platinum” levels, which come with an annual fee, generally provide rental car insurance coverage.

You have to rent it on that specific card and sometimes with specified rental firms — a good reason to have more than one credit card. A rental agency with your card info can charge the cost of repair to your account, leaving you to hash it out with the card company later.

Contact the credit card company and ask for coverage details and limitations before you rent and go with the one that offers the best protection.

Most credit cards won’t insure luxury or exotic vehicle rentals.

Fine print says riders can’t blame Uber for unsafe drivers

By Tom Krisher


DETROIT _ When you catch a ride using Uber or Lyft, you do so at your own risk.

Under terms and conditions that riders agree to but few read at sign up, the app-based ride-hailing companies say they aren’t legally liable for the safety of their drivers or the quality of their services. That’s because the drivers are independent contractors, not employees.

The terms seem to be at odds with company statements that highlight their efforts to keep riders safe with driver background checks, a code of conduct and other measures.

Instead, if a rider is injured in a ride-hailing car, the driver appears to be liable. If a driver gets lost and makes a rider late for an appointment, or if a driver assaults someone, the company says it’s not involved.

Uber  “does not guarantee the quality, suitability, safety or ability of third-party providers (drivers),” its terms say. Riders also agree that the “entire risk arising out of your use of the services, and any service or good requested in connection therewith, remains solely with you.”

“That’s just a real eye opener,” says Stephen Saltzburg, a law professor at George Washington University and frequent Uber user, who admits he didn’t read the terms. “If Uber is so confident in the checks and all of this, why is it so anxious to try to shift liability to the user?”

Lyft’s terms say it has “no control over the quality or safety of the transportation that occurs as a result of the services.” The company also tells drivers that they are responsible for all liability. “The language in the terms of service is a reflection of the reality that people using the platform are on the open road in moving vehicles, which presents a risk,” spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna says.

Uber doesn’t take on the liability risk of drivers because they are independent contractors, which is common in many industries, says spokeswoman Taylor Patterson. “It doesn’t detract in any way from the fact that we take safety very seriously,” she says.

Uber’s app shows riders the driver’s name, license plate number, photo and ratings from other riders. The app also lets friends track a route in real time, says Patterson.

Both Uber and Lyft carry $1 million in liability insurance that covers each driver while en route to pick up a passenger or while carrying one. The policy becomes the primary insurance covering the driver.

Several apps that summon taxicabs have liability waivers in terms and conditions that are similar to Uber and Lyft. But many taxis are different. Riders in New York City who get cabs in conventional ways, for instance, do not have to agree to any terms, said Allan Fromberg, spokesman for the city taxi commission.

The liability waivers also are being tested in court.

Two women who say they were sexually assaulted by Uber drivers in Massachusetts and South Carolina sued last fall, saying Uber misled them about safety. The women say they didn’t explicitly agree to terms and conditions, which they weren’t required to read before getting accounts. They seek damages and changes to safety practices including driver fingerprint background checks.

Uber sought to dismiss the case, saying the plaintiffs couldn’t prove drivers were employees. But a federal judge in San Francisco said there is a sufficient argument that the drivers were Uber employees and that Uber’s background check should have revealed a previous assault charge against one of them. The judge also disputed Uber’s argument that it’s a transportation “broker” and not a common carrier. A 1956 case in which a Pullman Co. railroad employee raped a passenger established that transportation carriers have a duty to protect passengers, the judge said.

A trial is scheduled for March.

People can still be legally bound by the terms if they don’t read them, says Saltzburg. The terms could hold up in court with Uber’s argument that it merely offers a platform to link riders and drivers, he says.


Car quality improves even as new technology is introduced

Car quality improves even as new technology is introduced

By Tom Krisher


DETROIT _ Despite adding sophisticated electronic safety features and touch screens that once were prone to glitches, most automakers improved their reliability scores this year in an annual survey of new-car buyers.

The latest survey by the J.D. Power consulting firm determined that quality improved for 21 of 33 auto brands in the survey. This year’s scores improved 6 per cent over 2015, double last year’s increase and the biggest jump in seven years. And for the first time in 27 years, a brand for the masses led the pack as Kia edged out Porsche as the automaker with the fewest problems.

“It has become clear that automakers are listening to the customer, identifying pain points and are focused on continuous improvement,” said Renee Stephens, vice-president of U.S. auto quality at J.D. Power.

Touch screens, voice recognition and Bluetooth technology have long been bugaboos for automakers, and for years they have brought down scores in the surveys. But last year automakers turned a corner, and this year they improved even more, Stephens said. The improvement in part is due to people getting used to new technology, but automakers also are simplifying the devices, taking out screens that seemed cool but were hard for users to grasp, she said.

The study also found that U.S. nameplates collectively scored better than foreign-based competitors for just the second time in the survey’s 30-year history. And for the first time since 2006, mainstream brands had fewer problems than more expensive premium brands.

The 2016 survey of more than 80,000 car buyers from February through May found that Korea’s Kia had the fewest problems per 100 vehicles at 83. It was closely followed by Porsche at 84, Hyundai at 92, Toyota wit 93 and BMW with 94. The survey asked owners about problems in the first 90 days of ownership.

The worst-performing brands were smart, Fiat, Volvo, Land Rover and Mini, according to the survey.

The average score for all brands was 105, seven problems fewer than last year. The Chrysler and Jeep brands, which for many years have been toward the bottom of the survey, showed the most improvement. Chrysler’s problems fell from 143 to 114, boosting the brand from 31st place in 2015 to 20th this year. Jeep rose from 29th place to 18th, improving its problems per 100 vehicles from 141 to 113.

General Motors led all manufacturers with seven top finishers by segment, followed by Toyota with six.

GM’s Chevrolet Spark led the city car segment, and the Buick Cascada convertible tied with the Scion tC for top sporty car. GM’s Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain tied for top compact SUV, and the Chevy Tahoe was the most reliable large SUV. Chevrolet’s Silverado won in both the light duty and heavy duty large pickup categories.

The survey is the first major assessment of quality for 2016 vehicles, and it’s closely watched by car shoppers. Consumer Reports magazine’s influential quality study comes out in October and includes other years.

Among the findings from J.D. Power this year:

WINNERS AND LOSERS: Kia, which took top honours, had only 83 problems per 100 vehicles. Mercedes’ smart minicar brand was last with 216 problems.

MOST IMPROVED: Chrysler and Jeep climbed 11 places each. Jeep finished 18th with 113 problems, while Chrysler finished 20th with 115 problems.

BIGGEST SLIDE: The Jaguar luxury brand plummeted 24 spots to 27th with 127 problems.

Stephens said that brands with the most revamped models tend to score lower, while those with older vehicles that were carried over into the new model year score higher.

*This story has been corrected to show that General Motors had the highest number of segment winners instead of Toyota.

Canada: Insurance Institute releases report on automated vehicles

Canada: Insurance Institute releases report on automated vehicles

As semi-automated and fully-autonomous vehicles make their way to Canadian roads, accountability is something more and more people are beginning to question.

If a driver is not really driving, then who is held at fault in an accident? Over the next 10 years, the insurance industry will be asking itself this question along with many more.

The Insurance Institute’s recently released report, Automated Vehicles: Implications for the Insurance Industry in Canada, assesses the future of automated vehicles in Canada over the next 5-10 years and asks questions just like this.

It’s clear that as technology progresses, it is not the physical capabilities of autonomous vehicles that will be open for debate. Rather, it will be the legislation that goes along with them.

The Insurance Institute of Canada says the report is a “call to action for Canada’s insurance industry to become engaged in discussions with automakers, regulators, and others who will influence the introduction of semi-automated and self-driving vehicles in Canada, and to become a champion for the expected reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries.”

The report looks into how autonomous vehicles will impact road safety, road infrastructure, as well as insurance premiums and policy coverage. It also discusses how autonomous vehicles will lower traffic injuries and fatalities in what the report calls the greatest change in the automotive industry since the introduction of motor vehicles.

You can read more and download the full report here.

Source: AutoServiceWorld

Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving begins development of National Action Plan

Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving begins development of National Action Plan

The newly-created Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving (CCDD) has wrapped up its first ever meeting, a two-day working session in Ottawa where it began work on creating a National Action Plan to combat distracted driving. An initiative of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), Drop It And Drive and The Co-operators, the CCDD is the first coalition of its kind in Canada. The multi-sectoral group includes members from various levels of government, enforcement, academia, health, industry and communities. Their expertise is varied, including road safety research, injury prevention and health care, policy, enforcement, as well as the insurance, automotive and trucking industries.

At the meeting, a number of options were discussed and considered for possible inclusion in the National Action Plan. These included the identification of priority data and indicators that represent an important step forward in improving understanding of the issue. Other activities that received attention included an inventory of educational campaign materials and a resource centre to support agency efforts to raise awareness about the problem, particularly at a community level. The development of tools to inform industries about distracted driving’s impacts and facilitate leadership in the development of distracted driving policies was also a top priority.

“As a member of the Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario understands the importance of tackling this problem in our province and across the country.  Sharing strategies and data will assist us all in addressing this increasingly significant issue,” said John Lefebvre, Manager, Special Projects, Safety Policy & Education Branch, Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.

As part of its Drive Out Distraction program, The Co-operators entered into a partnership with TIRF aimed at reducing the incidence of distracted driving in Canada. In December, they released Distracted Driving in Canada: Making Progress, Taking Action, which provides a snapshot of the many initiatives across the country to address the problem. The report identified the need for a national action plan and recommended the creation of a national working group. This led to the establishment of the CCDD, which plans to release a national action plan later this year.

Also, as part of this partnership, TIRF will create a public online repository of data, information and resources that can serve as an easily accessible tool for stakeholders and others with an interest in the issue.

“The complexity of the distracted driving problem makes it a challenge to change behaviour, so it is critical that we invest time, energy and resources to develop an informed and evidence-based plan that is achievable, and that more importantly contributes to behaviour change,” said Robyn Robertson, President & CEO of TIRF.  “The diversity of agencies that are participating in the Coalition speaks not only to the pervasiveness and seriousness of this issue, but also to their commitment to sharing expertise to find the most effective ways to keep Canadians safe.”

Distracted driving is widely considered a top priority by provincial and territorial governments and they, along with non-profits, researchers, industry and the media are engaged in activities designed to address the issue. However, there is currently no efficient means of exchanging information and outcomes at the national level, and coordination across the various groups of stakeholders is lacking. These are matters the national action plan will address.

“The Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving brings together an impressive group of professionals who are committed to understanding the problem and taking action to reduce the number of unnecessary injuries and deaths on our roads,” said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators. “What the national action plan will do is promote better information-sharing and coordination across jurisdictions and between stakeholders, to ultimately enhance the effectiveness of our collective efforts to combat this significant societal issue.”

About the Traffic Injury Research Foundation:
The mission of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. TIRF is an independent, charitable road safety research institute. Since its inception in 1964, TIRF has become internationally recognized for its accomplishments in identifying the causes of road crashes and developing programs and policies to address them effectively.

About Drop It And Drive:
Drop It And Drive (DIAD) is a national British Columbia-based organization that has presented its reality-based workshops to more than 50,000 students, faculty and workers in Canada and the United States since their launch in late 2010. Its mission is to prevent injuries and fatalities caused by distracted driving, distractions in the workplace and distracted walking. It actively promotes the need for societal change in order to effectively address road, pedestrian and workplace safety.

About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian co-operative with more than $40 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products.

The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt; Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean’s magazine. For more information visit www.cooperators.ca.

SOURCE The Co-operators

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