Without further ado, here are the 10 worst cities for driving in 2015:
In Ontario, vehicles with right-hand steering wheels are legal
“Uber drivers can use the HOV lanes,” read the headline. Upon closer observation, the sentence continued: providing they have three or more occupants, just like everyone else.
So close, Uber, so close. The trendy hire-a-drive app that puts a car at your fingertips in many parts of the world just can’t seem to catch a break. Does it deserve to?
The Pan Am Games are set to descend upon the Toronto region in the coming days, promising to swirl the already catatonic gridlock further down into the depths of hell. I’m sure more than a few Uber drivers were parsing the fine print that allows taxis and airport limos to use the coveted HOV lanes, now temporarily drawn on an additional 185 kilometres of major highways around the Greater Toronto Area. That’s in addition to the existing 50 permanent kilometres. In the eyes of the law, Uber still hangs in a no man’s land.
This article started out six months ago as a stunt piece: I was going to simply become an Uber driver for a day and report back. A call to my insurance broker simply seeking background information ground that idea to a halt, and fast. Even hinting what I was considering would cost me my private car insurance policy, a risk I can’t afford to take. A quick pivot sent me to Twitter looking for an existing Uber driver who would let me ride along; after an initial encouraging phone call and a few email exchanges, he went to ground, never to be heard from. Guess having his name in the paper was too much of a risk.
News organizations aren’t fans of pseudonyms, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t even get someone to play along with a black bar across their eyes and a voice scrambler. Uber advertises itself as an excellent way to make easy money if you own a car. You must be 21 with a full licence, own a four-door car less than 10 years old, pass a background check they pay for, and have valid car insurance.
Therein lies the rub for prospective Uber drivers here in Canada. “Will any of the described automobiles be rented or leased to others, or used to carry passengers for compensation or hire, or haul a trailer, or carry explosives or radioactive material?” Every insurance company in Canada uses forms that carry some version of this sentence, and if you check “no” and then sign off on the application and then start accepting fees for ferrying people (or pizzas) around, you could be committing fraud.
It’s not that you can’t be an Uber driver and also have insurance; it’s that you can’t lie about it. A recent Forbessurvey published in the U.S. found “…while the vast majority of respondents – almost 70% – say they plan to purchase a policy in the future, a disturbing 84% say they do not tell their insurer or their agent/broker about their ridesharing activities.”
Uber outlines how their end of the deal functions: your responsibility is riding on your personal insurance, and if damages reach past your limits, their own insurance will kick in. Uber knows you’re driving for Uber; there’s a good chance your insurance company does not, unless you notified them. And notifying your insurance company of your Uber intentions can work out one of two ways:
• You call your company and ask innocently if considering being an Uber driver could affect personal insurance. They could cancel your insurance or at the very least start investigating it because now they know what you’re doing or;
• They can offer to sell you the proper product for what you’re considering, which is commercial coverage. This will be – and I’m ballparking here – maybe three times your current rate.
So, there’s a chance some individuals won’t call their insurance company, and if that Forbes survey is even close to accurate, the chance is most won’t. Who can remember ticking that box so many years ago? Besides, if I start delivering pizzas, I’m hardly going to have to call my insurance company, right? Actually, you are. Your insurer does need to know that you’re delivering pizzas. They want to know if anyone in your household with access to your car is delivering pizzas. Or flowers. Or Uber clients.
It’s not that they’re going to jack your rates similarly for pizzas and passengers. As Pete Karageorgos of theInsurance Bureau of Canada is quick to point out, “Insurers know pizzas aren’t passengers. Our job is to match policy to risk; it’s critical that you inform your provider of any material change to that risk, and be transparent about it.”
If you’re not, you’re swimming in a fraud pond. In the event of a crash, insurers can opt to deny the claim, leaving you at the mercy of someone like Uber’s Internet promises. They could also decide to cover the claim, but then back charge you the premium you should have been paying had you notified them in the first place. I like to complain about usurious insurance rates, especially here in Ontario, but I would be angrier if payouts to drivers using their vehicles commercially are pooled with my non-commercial activities.
A call to police services reveals that cops consider this a matter of licensing unless a driver is breaking the Highway Traffic Act. Constable Clint Stibbe raises an interesting thought, however, as we wind up the call.
“Right now, police cars, rentals cars and taxis that are decommissioned have to be registered with the Ministry so as to be readily and honestly identified to buyers. Where’s the protection for buyers buying a car that hasn’t been flagged but has been used commercially?”
Uber may indeed end up being too big to fail as riders vote with their wallets, and their phones. But until licensing commissions and politicians sort out the fine print, your biggest concern if you plan on driving for Uber in Canada isn’t whether you can use the HOV lanes – it’s whether your insurance will kick you to the curb.
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Every day in B.C., 129 teens get their learner’s licence. With students out for summer break, that number peaks in our province as teens are eager to spend their free time learning to drive and becoming more independent.
In an ICBC survey, 29 per cent of parents surveyed believed their teens had picked up a bad driving habit from them. The most common habits were speeding, not coming to a complete stop, impatience, eating while driving and not shoulder checking. Survey respondents also revealed that if they could teach their teen over again, they would enroll them in professional driving lessons.
ICBC’s top five tips for parents:
1. Set a good example: Once your teen has passed the knowledge and vision tests, they’ll get a class 7 learner’s licence and can now get behind the wheel with a qualified supervisor. Review your teen’s copy of ICBC’s Tuning Up for Drivers guide to brush up on the rules of the road, work on any bad driving habits and learn about the restrictions of each stage of the graduated licensing program so that you can make sure your teen follows them.
2. Gearing up: The type of car your teen learns to drive on can make a big difference. It’s best to learn on a vehicle that’s a manageable size, has good visibility, an automatic transmission and as many safety features as possible. Begin your driving lessons on roads with minimal traffic and avoid rush hour congestion to help build your teen’s confidence and ease their nerves.
3. Call in the experts: To help your teen gain as much driving experience as possible consider signing them up for lessons through a professional driving school if you can. Instructors can be objective without the emotion that’s often involved in parent-teen relationships. If you do choose this route, stay involved and discuss what they’re learning.
4. Test it out: To prepare for your teen’s road test, practice driving as much as possible at different times of the day, in different weather and road conditions and in unfamiliar neighbourhoods. That way they’ll be prepared for whatever conditions they encounter on the day of their road test. Teens can also take ICBC’s road ready quiz to help them avoid common driving mistakes.
5. Keep them safe: Once your teen has passed their class 7 road test and can now drive without a supervisor, consider creating a family contract. It helps set out your expectations of your teen, the responsibilities you want them to show on the road and the consequences for breaking those rules.
If your teen will be driving your vehicle, review your insurance coverage. If your vehicle is rated in an experienced rate class (all drivers in a household with at least 10 years’ driving experience), you’ll need to change the rate class.
Teens can find the redesigned practice knowledge test, video driving tips and road signs practice test on icbc.com. The practice knowledge test can also be downloaded as an app free from the Apple App
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By Michael Garellek and Joey Suri (Articling Student)
Many Canadian automobile drivers have now enrolled in usage-based insurance (“UBI“) programs to benefit from a discount on their insurance premiums. Using telematics, UBI programs record several factors such as acceleration, hard braking, mileage driven, time of day travelled and sharp turns to analyze driving behaviour and reward safe driving. New technology now allows smartphone applications to track such driving habits.
Currently, only certain insurers in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec offer such UBI programs. Similar programs are expected to launch in the provinces of Alberta and Nova Scotia in the upcoming year.
This technology can be particularly useful for certain groups of consumers, such as younger drivers, allowing insurers to set a premium based on their actual driving habits rather than statistics drawn from other drivers of a similar demographic.. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (“FSCO“) has stated that these programs also incite safe driving practices and could result in fewer accidents on the road.
However, concerns have been raised regarding the use of this technology, particularly regarding privacy and the use of the collected data.
In a bulletin published concerning UBI’s in October 2013, FSCO stated that the data collected through UBI technologies should be treated as “personal information” as defined in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and that insurers must comply with all applicable legislation. This legislation includes requirements that organizations obtain an individual’s consent to collect, use or disclose his personal information, and use appropriate safeguards to protect any personal information held by organizations.
FSCO expects insurers to disclose the impact of the operation of the vehicle by a person other than the policyholder. Furthermore, in Ontario, pricing programs related to UBI must be filed and approved by FSCO’s Superintendant and where the enrollment discount is only offered for one term, or where the impact of the actual pricing program discount is expected to differ materially from the enrollment discount, the insurer will be required to submit annual reports to the Superintendent.
Following in the footsteps of FSCO, the Autorité des marches financiers (“AMF“), which regulates the automobile insurance industry in Quebec, published on April 9, 2015, a Notice regarding the offering of usage-based automobile insurance products (“Notice“), outlining its expectations for UBI programs. Similarly, it stated that the collected data must be treated as “personal information” and that insurers must comply with the provisions of An Act respecting the protection of personal information in the private sector.
The AMF is of the opinion that the existing supervisory framework, in particular the Sound Commercial Practices Guideline and the Outsourcing Risk Management Guideline, apply to UBI programs.
The AMF, like FSCO, states that participation by consumers in UBI programs should be done on a voluntary basis only, and expects them to be properly informed about the program and the changes made to it during the term of the insurance contract. For instance, it expects consumers to be informed of:
- program eligibility criteria;
- type of data collected;
- use of data (e.g., as part of an investigation for the settlement of a claim, where applicable);
- impact of data on automobile insurance premiums;
- period used for insurance premium reviews.
Regulators expect insurers to make the consumer’s UBI data accessible to them. In our view, the advent of smartphone UBI apps will make it easier to comply with this requirement. They also expect insurers to cease receiving data once the consumer opts out of a UBI program, and that data should not be used to decline, terminate or refuse to renew an insurance policy.
It is interesting to note that earlier this year, the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec (the “SAAQ“), Quebec’s public automobile insurance plan, announced a voluntary UBI program to be introduced in 2016. The SAAQ and the Quebec Transport Ministry have also indicated that the tracking device may become mandatory for convicted dangerous drivers.
We can assist insurers with any regulatory issues related to UBI and in ensuring their programs are compliant with the applicable privacy laws.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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DES PLAINES, Ill., June 24, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — California’s San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had the nation’s highest per capita vehicle theft rate in 2014, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) latest Hot Spots report.
Although vehicle thefts are down dramatically around the nation, the reasons they are stolen remain the same. Older vehicles are stolen primarily for their parts value while newer, high-end vehicles often are shipped overseas or, after some disguising, sold to an innocent buyer locally.
California’s San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had the nation’s highest per capita vehicle theft rate in 2014, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) latest Hot Spots report.
For 2014, the 10 MSAs with the highest vehicle theft rates were: (thefts in parentheses)
|2014 Ranking||2013 Ranking|
|1.||San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward, Calif. (29,093)||4. (29,326)|
|2.||Bakersfield, Calif. (5,211)||1. (6,267)|
|3.||Stockton-Lodi, Calif. (4,245)||5. (4,245)|
|4.||Odessa, Texas (886)||12. (764)|
|5.||Modesto, Calif. (3,047)||3. (3,565)|
|6.||Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash. (3,032)||7. (3,205)|
|7.||Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. (2,414)||8. (2,540)|
|8.||Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. (20,268)||13. (18,128)|
|9.||Fresno, Calif. (5,260)||2. (6,750)|
|10.||San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (10,531)||9. (10,925)|
NICB’s Hot Spots report examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center for each of the nation’s MSAs, which often include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named. For example, the Bakersfield, Calif., MSA includes all thefts within the entire county of Kern, not just the city of Bakersfield.
Moreover, NICB notes, as a population-based survey, an area with a much smaller population and a moderate number of thefts can—and often does—have a higher theft rate than an area with a much more significant vehicle theft problem and a larger population to absorb it.
The full Hot Spots report is available at www.nicb.org.
NICB recommends that drivers follow our four “layers of protection” to guard against vehicle theft: