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How to save on car insurance through COVID-19

Economical and Sonnet continue to offer individualized options to support those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

WATERLOO, ON, Apr. 30, 2020 – As COVID-19 continues to impact families and businesses across the country, Economical Insurance has enhanced its response to offer relevant relief options for those who need it most.

“During this exceptional time, our teams have acted with compassion and professionalism to support our customers with relief measures suited to their unique circumstances,” said Rowan Saunders, President and CEO, Economical Insurance. “Over the past several weeks, we have launched a number of programs for our personal and commercial insurance customers which we expect will result in more than $50 million in total relief for them during this uncertain time. We have also increased our annual community giving to more than $1 million to help communities across Canada meet distinctly local needs.”

Modifications to car insurance coverage can change what Canadians pay for insurance on a monthly basis. Economical customers should reach out to their broker, while Sonnet customers can use online chat or email, to review their individual policy and options available to them.

If you are driving less, you may be eligible for an enhanced reduction on car insurance rates. Many insurance rates are calculated using an expected number of annual kilometres driven, so customers who disclose this change could, on average, see a difference of up to 15% in their monthly rate, until June 30. If you previously had a long commute, you may save more than someone who drove fewer kilometres annually.

If you aren’t driving at all and your car is now parked, you can change the type of coverage on your vehicle for significant savings on your monthly rate – up to 75% on average. Applying a coverage suspension to your vehicle is a great way to reduce your rates while keeping your insurance policy active. You should ensure your policy will still protect you if you’re injured as a passenger in another car, or even as a pedestrian, if you do decide to remove some elements of coverage. You must inform your Economical broker or Sonnet before you start driving again so you have at least the provincially required coverage in place.

If your monthly budget has been impacted by COVID-19 through lack of employment or other factors, you may be eligible to defer your monthly payments, change your payment plan, or alter your method of payment to find a solution that fits your needs.

If you are supporting your community by using your personal vehicle for things like volunteering or some form of delivery support, there will be no impact to your premium, but you should disclose this to your insurer.

Economical and Sonnet will continue to assess these measures and ensure the right options are in place for customers. Alongside valued broker partners and dedicated employees, Economical is prepared to support Canadians through COVID-19.

About Economical Insurance

Economical Mutual Insurance Company (“Economical” or “Economical Insurance”, which includes its subsidiaries where the context so requires) is a leading property and casualty insurer in Canada, with $2.5 billion in gross written premiums and approximately $6.0 billion in assets as at December 31, 2019. Economical is a Canadian-owned and operated company that services the insurance needs of more than one million customers.

 

Many insurers offering rebates whether you’re driving or not but many others aren’t

The excerpreted article was written by Aaron Saltzman · CBC News

Some drivers are questioning why they aren’t seeing a significant reduction in insurance rates given the lockdown’s eerily empty roads, especially in light of the insurance industry promising rebates and relief in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars.

“They offered me a reduction of two dollars a month until August,” said Craig Fenn, a ground handler at Pearson Airport in Toronto. “That’s not much of a discount.”

Fenn’s wife, a teacher, is no longer driving to work. He says their broker told them their insurance company, Aviva, would only give them what amounted to about a one per cent rate reduction and only if they changed his wife’s insurance coverage from driving to work to driving for pleasure.

“They’re not giving discounts unless you change something on your insurance, and it has to be [a] big [change],” he said. He could have gotten his premium reduced in return for reduced coverage regardless of whether there was a pandemic, he said.

Fenn was one of a number of people who contacted CBC News after reading a story about Canada’s insurance industry promising to help drivers cut costs during the pandemic.

“I was so irritated by the fact that the insurance companies were getting good publicity,” he said.

In the United States, a number of companies are offering a 15 per cent refund to all their customers, regardless of circumstances. But the relief promised by Canada’s insurance industry has so far been a patchwork of different policies, with some companies issuing significant rebates, others cutting premiums only if coverage is reduced and at least one insurer going ahead with an increase, albeit one that was decided before the pandemic. ‘Doesn’t seem right’

“My premium went up 20 per cent,” said James Downey, a lighting director with his own production company in Toronto, who is with the Co-operators insurance. “That doesn’t seem right.”

Downey says he received the notice of the increase from the Co-operators in March, retroactive to January. He says nothing had changed in his driving record so he contacted the Co-operators, but wasn’t given a reason for the increase, other than it was a decision made before the pandemic hit.

Downey’s business is completely shut down, and his wife is on reduced hours at her job. The increase to his insurance amounts to about $400 annually.

“I’m in a spot where I can afford it for the next little while, but I know a lot of people I work with can’t,” Downey said.

Lisa Guglietti, executive vice-president and chief operating officer at the Co-operators, said, “these rates were implemented prior to the pandemic and reflect the claims experience that we have seen over the last number of years.”

The Co-operators is now offering a base 10 per cent refund for rates between April 1 and May 31.

“Due to the overall decrease in traffic on the road, this refund is available to all auto policyholders, even those continuing to commute to work,” Guglietti said.

Customers have to register online to claim the refund.

“But that still wouldn’t make up for the initial increase, which to me is not fair,” Downey said.

What some insurers are offering

Canadian Underwriter, a trade publication covering the insurance industry, has a comprehensive list of what many companies are and aren’t offering their drivers in terms of relief.

Allstate Canada is offering all its customers a one time 25 per cent refund on their May bills regardless of whether or not their driving has been reduced.

“We recognize that with fewer people driving, there are fewer collisions on our roads,” Allstate Canada CEO Ryan Michel said earlier this month, in citing the reasons for passing on cost savings to customers.

Several other Canadian companies are also offering across-the-board rebates, including CAA, Gore Mutual Insurance, iA home and auto, Unique insurance, La Capitale and Northbridge Insurance.

Another approach

But as of publication some of Canada’s biggest insurers, including RSA, TD Insurance, Desjardins, Wawanesa, Intact, and Aviva Canada are only offering reduced premiums if you’re driving less.

We’ve chosen not to adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for our customer relief measures, as we believe each customer’s situation is unique.– Janis McCulloch, of Aviva Canada

“We’ve chosen not to adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for our customer relief measures, as we believe each customer’s situation is unique,” said Aviva Canada’s Janis McCulloch in a statement. “We know many customers are driving less during this pandemic, while some are driving more.”

“We believe this is a fairer approach than an across-the-board reduction,” said Intact’s Jennifer Beaudry, senior consultant of external communications, “as it gives us the flexibility to provide additional relief to those who need it most and for longer than three months if needed.”

Still too early

Desjardins said it may yet end up offering across-the-board rate reductions, depending on how things play out.

“It’s still really early, and we don’t have enough claims frequency and severity data to consider reviewing our premium refund approach at this time. For one thing, the police have reported far more speeding and reckless driving on our roads. What impact will that have? We don’t know yet,” said Desjardins spokesperson Joe Daly.

Steve Kee, director of external relations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), which says its member companies are providing a combined $600 million in relief for Canadian drivers, said, “Each approach is different but nonetheless, meaningful to customers.”

The bureau hasn’t broken down the savings so it’s unclear how much of that total is coming from drivers opting to reduce their coverage because they’re driving less.

Drivers in Atlantic Canada could save $44M total as insurers offer pandemic discounts

Companies are making good on industry promise to give drivers a break, but customers may have to ask

The excerpted article was written by Paul Withers · CBC News 

Some insurance companies are making good on an industry promise to give Nova Scotia drivers a break because of COVID-19, but customers may have to ask.

With more people staying home and off the roads because of the pandemic, provincial regulators this month have been approving applications from insurers for temporary rate cuts.

Seven companies have been approved recently for the rate cuts.

This week, Intact — and affiliated companies Novex and Trafalgar — received permission to lower a previously approved maximum increase from 10 to five per cent.

They are also offering a temporary 15 per cent discount “should a client reach out to Intact to reduce their vehicle usage, either by lowering their annual kilometres or by reducing or removing their commute to work.”

In the past week, four other insurance companies have also been approved for similar rate relief. The measures expire later this year but can be renewed.

Check with your insurer for discounts

“The relief measures that every insurance company is going to do is going to look a bit different,” said Amanda Dean, Atlantic vice-president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The organization represents 53 companies offering vehicle insurance in Nova Scotia.

She said some companies are in better financial shape than others to offer discounts. Some are making discounts automatic.

“We’re recommending that drivers call their insurance representative, a broker or your agent to talk about what your insurance company is doing at this time and what relief measures you might be eligible for,” said Dean.

Drivers in Atlantic Canada could save $44 million

Earlier this month, the IBC estimated drivers in Atlantic Canada could save a total of $44 million over a 90-day period because of relief measures.

Allstate Canada announced April 8 that it was introducing a “Stay at Home Payment” program of more than $30 million to help its personal auto insurance customers across Canada.

In a news release, the company said cheques would be mailed out in May for Allstate, Pembridge and Pafco customers who had an auto policy as of April 8. The one-time payment would work out to about 25 per cent of the monthly premium.

Source: CBC News

DriveSmartBC – The Tug Test

Trailer TowingChances are good that your trailer has been slumbering, forgotten, in the back yard over the winter. Spring is here so we’ll just hook it up and go. A quick check in the rearview mirror, yes, it’s following us. The tug test has been passed, we’re good to continue.

I say this tongue in cheek, but I often think that drivers use this method to make sure their trailers are roadworthy. It takes much more than this to be sure.

All trailers need lights and reflectors that are both installed properly and working correctly. At minimum, there must be a yellow side marker lamp and reflector at both sides of the front, a red side marker lamp and reflector on both sides at the rear, brake and tail lamps on both sides at the rear, and a licence plate lamp.

Brake and loading requirements depend on the total weight of the trailer. The only sure way to know is to go to the scale and weigh in. Once you know the empty weight of your trailer you have the necessary starting point for deciding how much you can put in it.

There are three different scenarios for brake requirements:

  • If the trailer and load weigh more than 1,400 kg brakes must be installed and operational.
  • If the trailer is properly licenced, any trailer and load weighing more than 2,800 kg must have brakes that can be applied by the driver from the cab separately from the brakes of the tow vehicle.
  • If the weight of the trailer and load is at or under 1,400 kg but more than half of the net weight of the vehicle towing it, brakes are required in this case as well.

A surge brake does not meet the needs of any trailer that weighs more than 2,800 kg.

Don’t attach your breakaway brake lanyard to the hitch or safety chain, attach it somewhere else on the vehicle. If the hitch fails entirely, there will be no force to apply the brakes unless you do this.

Putting more weight in the trailer than it is designed to carry may cause structural failure that can have serious consequences. Never exceed the carrying capacity of the trailer or it’s tires. Trailer weight capacities are shown on the capacity plate and tire capacities are shown on the sidewall.

If you have a U-bilt trailer, the total maximum licensed weight is often 700 kg. Check your registration documents if you are not sure.

Before we leave the subject of weight, remember that your trailer must weigh less than 900 kg if you are using a bumper hitch. It does not matter if the markings on your bumper specify a higher weight, the limit set by law in B.C. is 900 kg.

Safety chains, tire condition and inflation, load security and correct hitch ball size are among the other considerations that insure safe trailering.

If you have questions, please contact Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE), the nearest weigh scale or you local police.

Link:

More support for B.C. drivers as ICBC reinstates some knowledge tests by appointment

More support is on the way for British Columbians who want to take a knowledge test, as ICBC implements additional physical distancing measures to ensure the safety of customers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qualifying customers can call to book an appointment for a knowledge test at select locations beginning May 4th and at offices throughout the province by May 11th. Locations offering testing can be confirmed when booking an appointment. Scheduled appointments will allow ICBC to provide an important service to impacted customers while ensuring our commitment to adhering to physical distancing guidelines. Enhanced physical distancing measures, such as glass dividers, have or are currently being installed for the safety of customers and staff. The expansion of knowledge testing for some customers is part of ICBC’s ongoing commitment to support customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anyone with a Class 5-8 learner’s licence that expired on or after March 1st or will expire within two weeks from when they phone to book, will be eligible to book a knowledge test appointment. Translator services are currently not allowed as physical distancing guidelines cannot be maintained, however, non-commercial knowledge tests are currently translated into 11 common languages.

Customers whose Class 5-8 learner’s licence expired on or after March 17, when ICBC suspended road tests due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will not have to pay a fee for their first knowledge test. At this time, knowledge tests are not available for first-time learner applicants.

Knowledge tests by appointment will also be available for residents who are new to B.C. where there is a legislative requirement to change their licences within 90 days, and for all commercial learner class applicants, including air brakes and heavy trailer. To ensure safety and physical distancing in the offices, commercial stand-by or walk-in knowledge tests will be discontinued as of May 2nd and will then be made by appointment only.

Customers will also be able to book an appointment for their Motorcycle Skills Testing (MST), which will re-commence on May 11th. The MST will be available for those people who hold an existing learner’s licence or whose learner’s licence expired on or after March 1.

“We know many British Columbians are facing challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Nicolas Jimenez, President and CEO, ICBC. “By introducing knowledge tests by appointment we hope to support customers who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic while still enabling offices to conduct operations safely. We continue to adapt and respond as the pandemic continues, ensuring that the safety of our customers and staff remains the priority.”

Eligible customers should call ICBC’s driver licence contact centre at 1-800-950-1498 and leave a voicemail message requesting a knowledge test. Customers will receive a callback from an ICBC representative, who will identify available testing locations and book the appointment. All appointments will be 45 minutes per knowledge test and the number of available appointments will vary depending on location. Customers can book their motorcycle skills test online or can call 1-800-950-1498.

ICBC has already implemented several other measures to help British Columbians during the pandemic, such as:

  • waiving the $30 cancellation fee and $18 re-plating fee for those customers who choose to cancel their insurance during this time.

  • establishing the ability to conduct a number of transactions by phone or email, such as renewing driver’s licences set to expire, and renewing insurance; and

  • allowing customers who pay for their insurance on a monthly basis to defer payments for up to 90 days with no penalty.

ICBC continues to review its operations to support the safety and well-being of its customers and employees, and will make additional changes as necessary.

For additional measures taken during COVID-19:

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