Drivers pocket savings by allowing their insurer to come along for the ride

By Dan Healing

THE CANADIAN PRESS

CALGARY _ When his auto insurance company offered him the option to pay lower rates, Justin Lam leaped at the chance, even though it meant allowing his insurer to electronically tag along with him on every trip.

The 39-year-old from Toronto downloaded TD Insurance’s Myadvantage app on his cellphone and started receiving scores out of 100 based on how fast he was going, whether his turns were too sudden, how hard he was braking and even what time of day he tended to get behind the wheel.

“They said there was no downside. So even if you score terribly on the app, the worse you could do is pay the same rate, with no discount,” Lam said.

The payoff arrived last month with his insurance renewal notice. With an average score in his first year of about 85, he said he is saving around 20 per cent, dropping his $1,800 annual bill to less than $1,500.

If a person doesn’t mind the loss of privacy and their driving will stand up to intensive scrutiny, usage-based insurance may be right for them, experts say.

Driver monitoring programs are generally delivered in two ways, by a smartphone app that “sleeps” until it senses driving has started, or by a telematics device plugged into the car’s diagnostic port. Both use GPS and sensors to collect information and send it wirelessly to the insurer’s website.

Drivers usually receive an enrolment discount of five or 10 per cent and then can earn up to another 15 to 25 per cent discount that is applied when their insurance policy is renewed.

Users can go online to see how their driving stacks up and make corrections. For example, the TD Myadvantage app allows the policy holder to delete a trip if he or she was actually a passenger.

The TD program is offered only in Ontario and Quebec, said Francois Langevin, assistant vice-president of product innovation, but the company is looking to expand it into other provinces.

He estimated that about 40 per cent of new auto insurance clients sign up, adding that’s similar to the industry average for these programs in Canada.

“If you’re a driver who drives low kilometres, doesn’t speed, and doesn’t have jerky driving, that kind of thing, then you have a lower likelihood of making a claim so you get a discount based on that driving behaviour,” said Kaitlynn Furse, spokeswoman for CAA South Central Ontario, which offers a service called CAA Connect that uses a telematics device plugged into the car.

Auto insurance falls under provincial regulation and so the rules vary across Canada.

Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Alberta, for instance, allow some but not all forms of usage-based insurance programs.

The other provinces and territories are considering allowing the programs but haven’t done so yet.

Provincial regulation has fallen behind the pace of technology, preventing insurers and clients from being able to harness the full potential of such programs, said senior policy adviser Rana Shamoon at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Canadians have far fewer choices than in the United States, where 49 jurisdictions have 10 or more insurers offering user-based programs, she said.

Fear that their information may be misused to raise their premiums or provide evidence against them in the event of a claim has hampered enrolment growth in telematics programs, said Andrew Lo, CEO of Kanetix Ltd., a company that helps consumers compare insurance products and rates.

According to a recent Kanetix survey, only 27.7 per cent of respondents in Ontario said they are interested in allowing their insurer to monitor their driving in return for discounted rates.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has identified potential issues with transparency and use of telematics data about driving habits, said Anne-Marie Cenaiko, manager of public education and outreach.

Federal and provincial privacy laws generally require data only be collected with informed consent and be used or disclosed only for the purpose for which it was collected, she said.

Living up to the expectations of his monitoring app is difficult at times, Lam said _ staying below the speed limit when all the traffic around is going faster can seem more hazardous than just keeping up.

He said he also found he was getting a few odd scores.

“It takes the app a while to realize you’ve stopped driving,” he said.

“One time, I dropped my phone on the ground as I was getting out of the car and I got a mark of, like, five for braking too hard.”

ICBC’s top tips to help keep kids safe on summer break

With B.C. school children and teens starting their summer break from school this week, ICBC is asking drivers to be especially alert this season, particularly near playgrounds and around youth walking or riding their bikes.

Every year in B.C., five pedestrians aged five to 18 die and 250 are injured in crashes involving a vehicle. A young cyclist dies every year in B.C. and another 120 young cyclists are injured in crashes involving a vehicle.*

Tips for drivers:

  • Playground speed limits are year-round: With longer summer days, drivers should remember that the 30km/hr speed limit is from dawn to dusk, every day.

  • Summer school speed limits are in effect: For schools that hold summer classes, the school zone speed limit of 30 km/hr is in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on school days. School zone signs will indicate if a school is holding summer sessions.

  • Wait at crosswalks: Parents and their young children may need more time when crossing the street. Don’t pass any car waiting at a crosswalk as they may be stopped for those crossing the street. Wait for pedestrians to get to the other side of the street before resuming your travel.

  • Slow down on residential streets: Expect the unexpected when children are at play, including the possibility of a teen running to catch an errant ball or a child running out from between parked cars. Slow down and be prepared to stop suddenly.

  • Be patient with younger cyclists: Leave plenty of room between your car and young cyclists, in particular. Shoulder check for cyclists before turning right and watch for oncoming cyclists before turning left.

  • Distracted walkers: Be aware of pedestrians around you, especially for teens who are wearing headphones or using their cell phones while walking, as they not be paying close attention to the road.

Tips for parents:

  • Review safety rules: Review road safety rules with your children and practice how to use crosswalks safely. Set limits to where they can walk alone and where they must be accompanied by an adult.

  • Accompany young children: Children under 10 should always be accompanied by an adult when crossing a street or walking close to the road.

  • Safe outdoor play areas: Establish safe play areas around your home for younger children, such as your backyard. Supervise your children or assign an older child to be in charge. Teach your child that the road is never a safe place to play, even if their toy rolls into the street or a driveway.

  • Demonstrate good walking habits: Practice good walking habits that keep you and your family safe. Teach your child to stand a few steps from the curb while waiting at a crosswalk. Instruct your child to always use a crosswalk, and that jaywalking is never OK.

  • Distracted walking: Remind your teen to be aware of their surroundings when walking. Looking at their cell phone or wearing headphones can prevent them from noticing oncoming cars and other hazards.

  • Cycling safety: Teach safe cycling behaviour to your children such as cycling in a straight line, performing hand signals and shoulder checking. Outfit their bike with a bell, lights and reflective materials. Children should wear bright, reflective clothing so they can be seen in the dark.
  • Head safety: Make wearing a helmet a rule for your child if they want to use their bike, skateboard or rollerblades.

Additional statistics:

Youth pedestrians:

  • Every year, 180 children are injured in crashes in the Lower Mainland.

  • Every year, 33 children are injured in crashes in the Vancouver Island.

  • Every year, 25 children are injured in crashes in the Southern Interior.

  • Every year, 10 children are injured in crashes in the North Central region.

Youth cyclists:

  • Every year, 73 children are injured in crashes in the Lower Mainland.

  • Every year, 22 children are injured in crashes each year on Vancouver Island.

  • Every year, 18 children are injured in crashes in the Southern Interior.

  • Every year, six children are injured in crashes in the North Central region.

*Notes: ICBC crash and injury data used (2011 to 2015). Annual average province-wide. Youth defined as aged five to 18.

** ICBC crash and injury data used (2011to 2015). Annual average per region. Youth defined as aged five to 18.

Why do my car insurance rates spike based on where I live?

Excerpted article was writen by 

Are my car insurance rates higher based on where I live? Is it based on the number of accidents in my postal code? It doesn’t make sense that we have to pay if a terrible driver from somewhere else gets in a crash here. – Jerry, Brampton, Ont.

If you dent somebody’s hood far from your ‘hood, your neighbours’ rates take the hit.

“It is based on your address, where the car is garaged – not where the claim occurred,” said Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

So if your neighbour in Brampton got in a crash at King and Yonge Streets in Toronto, it counts as a claim for your neighbourhood – not in Toronto.

The number and cost of overall claims – including thefts and crashes – by people living in your area is one of the things insurance companies are allowed to look atwhen they set your rates.

“Territory is considered for auto insurance in Ontario as well as most every other province, including [British Columbia] and Manitoba,” Karageorgos said. “It’s used as a way to group people because premiums are determined by claims.”

The Ontario Liberals and New Democrats promised to stop this insurance industry practice in the provincial election campaign.

“The [Progressive Conservatives] have been pretty quiet in the whole insurance issue,” said Anne Marie Thomas, senior manager of partner relationships for rate-comparison site Insurancehotline.com. “The NDP also said they will lower insurance rates by 15 per cent.”

In a platform scrapped after Doug Ford became party leader, the Ontario Progressive Conservatives had promised an end to “geographic discrimination” while not allowing insurance companies to raise rates in other parts of the province.

So why is it an issue? Because your rates could, potentially, be close to $1,000 a year higher than someone who lives a kilometre or two away. For instance, according to numbers released by Kanetix last fall, Brampton is the most expensive city for insurance in Ontario. There’s an average $2,268 annual premium for a 35-year-old driver of a 2014 Honda with a clean driving record.

But next door in Georgetown, that rate is $1,151.

And, while the average rate for Toronto overall was $1,743, there were 22 Toronto neighbourhoods where it was over $2,000 a year.

The average rate province-wide for that Honda driver? It’s $1,316 a year, Kanetix said.

WHY INSURANCE COMPANIES GO POSTAL

Ontario allows insurance companies to have up to 54 territories – Toronto can have up to ten – and each insurance company decides where those are, Karageorgos said.

The province approves rates and annual increases based on each company’s claims costs.

“Each company can look at the province and slice it up differently,” Karageorgos said. “That’s why it’s important to shop around.”

But eliminating what the NDP has called “postal-code discrimination” might have a cost to people living in cheaper areas.

“If you think about it, insurance companies aren’t going to do things at a loss – so if rates go down somewhere, they’re going to up somewhere else,” Thomas said. “The majority of the money [insurance companies] make is from investments and not underwriting – for every dollar they take in, some companies are paying out as much as $1.30 in claims.”

The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) said insurance companies are making record profits in Ontario – about $1.5-billion in 2016 alone.

The association issued a report last month stating that Ontario consumers have been overpaying by about $143 per policy every year.

“Insurers are not required to be transparent and clear in their auto profit reporting,” OTLA president Ronald Bohm said in an e-mail. “[They] have been crying poor and getting [the] government to allow them to cut benefits to those seriously injured in accidents.”

The IBC disagrees with the report, and spokesman Steve Kee said it had “serious errors.”

Ontario’s average rates, now about $1,500 per year, make it the second-most expensive province for insurance in Canada, IBC said. The most expensive? That’s B.C., where the average is nearly $1,700 a year, including basic and optional coverage, IBC said.

Both the OTLA and IBC say lowering Ontario insurance rates requires overhauling the whole system.

“The problem has been created over the years because each government comes in and cherry picks what they’re going to fix,” IBC’s Karageorgos said.

Thoughts on the Decision to Stop Driving

Senior DriverWe have built our world around the convenience of the motor vehicle. Without one, our focus suddenly becomes much more narrow. Are you prepared to cope with the decision to stop driving when the time comes?

I ask this question after watching a significant change for part of my family. My in-laws decided that the family home of 52 years was too much for them and made the move to a seniors complex. My father-in-law suggested that they had been considering this for about 2 years but once the decision had been made the transition occurred too quickly.

They found a new seniors complex that suited them and had space available. Once their home was listed for sale, it sold almost immediately and the move to the complex was complete 30 days later.

Needless to say, they both found the change very stressful. A lifetime of possessions suddenly had to be divided into 3 categories: keep, redistribute or throw away and dealt with quickly. A new home had to be occupied and adjusted to as well.

My mother-in-law had the most difficulty and made the decision to stop driving on her own initiative. Fortunately, my father-in-law still drives and their facility provides transport to a nearby shopping center once a week.

Following the advice of her children, she chose to retain her driver’s licence rather than surrendering it as she had first intended.

I really hope that this works out well for them once they get over the shock.

Life often does not leave you with choices and planning is much better than procrastination.

A driver examiner told me in conversation once that it was fairly common for older men who failed a retest to hop in the car and drive home after surrendering their licence. Thank goodness they made it there safely as they would not be covered by insurance if they caused a crash on that trip.

Younger people are not exempt either. I stopped a middle aged woman one morning as her driving made her appear to be an alcohol impaired driver. Conversation quickly established that she was sober but suffered from physical health issues.

I convinced her to park the car and let me drive her back home as no one she knew was available to help her. I felt very awkward in the situation and as we pulled into her driveway I complimented her on her home as a way of making conversation. “Yes,” she said, “it’s a pretty nice prison, isn’t it?”

Somewhere between capable and incapable lies an area where the driver still performs adequately in some circumstances. Applying restrictions to their driver’s licence permits some mobility while reducing the chance of causing a crash. Graduated De-Licensing if you will.

This is where ICBC operates in conjunction with health professionals, police, family and friends. However, for it to be successful, ICBC must know of the driver’s difficulties either through reports or periodic medical examinations.

HealthLinkBC provides advice to help make the decision as well.

According to the Office of the Seniors Advocate of BC more work needs to be done in support of seniors mobility. The advocate has recommended a new program called “Community Drives” that would be administered under the existing home support program.

I suspect that no one really wants to grow old and stop driving much less spend the time planning for it. However, a little time spent in advance can make that transition much less stressful.

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.

Affordable auto insurance can happen

ST. JOHN’SJune 11, 2018 /CNW/ – Newfoundlanders and Labradorians pay too much for auto insurance. In fact, you pay the highest premiums in Atlantic Canada—on average 40% higher. It’s been 14 years since the last review—reforms must be made to bring back a sustainable system that works for drivers.

Newfoundland and Labrador needs:

  • An auto insurance system that provides quick, medically sound rehabilitative care.
  • More choices when it comes to where you buy auto insurance.
  • An auto insurance industry that makes it affordable for uninsured drivers to get insured.
  • Cost-control measures to stabilize the rising average cost of auto insurance claims.

The insurance industry can’t make these changes alone. We need to work together—industry, government, policyholders, and stakeholders—to unite and work together to do whatever is necessary to deliver the best system for our drivers.

It’s time to make the auto insurance system work for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

For further information: Steve Kee, Director, Media and Digital Communications, 416-362-2031 ext. 4387

http://www.ibc.ca

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#RoadSafety: Little Things Can Make Big Differences

ExclamationI’ve been riding as a passenger in heavy traffic this past week and have had time to watch and think about what is going on around me. There are many small things that a driver should do out of habit to minimize their chances of being involved in a collision.

In no particular order of importance, here are my suggestions.

Signal! The bulbs are good for more than 3 or 4 blinks too. Nothing tells others what you would like to do better than a well used signal light lever. There are polite drivers out there who will actually see your signal and help you accomplish what you want to do.

When you stop in traffic, you should see pavement between the front edge of your hood and the bottoms of the back tires of the vehicle in front of you. If you don’t, you are too close.

The extra space may prevent you from being pushed into the vehicle in front of you if your vehicle is hit from behind. It also gives you room to move if an emergency vehicle approaches.

Stop before the sidewalk when you are entering a street, not on top of it. Pedestrians really appreciate your consideration.

Maintain an appropriate following distance for the conditions. When you do this, you control your own safety margin and to some extent that of the driver behind you. They will have more time to realize that something is happening and can then avoid colliding with you.

Leave yourself an out, especially around heavy commercial vehicles. Having a space to move into on your left or right if something happens may mean avoiding a crash.

Use some lane discipline. You are entitled to one lane and have to stay between the lines of that lane.

If you don’t know where you are going, stop and figure it out. Better still, plan before you leave. If you don’t have GPS in your vehicle, cell phone or tablet, the internet is full of useful resources.

Don’t commit random acts of driving by ignoring traffic controls when you decide you’ve chosen incorrectly.

Remember that there are drivers behind you that will become impatient and try to pass by. Pull over, stop, let them by and then continue at reduced speed as you try to locate the address you are trying to find.

Scan around and well ahead of your vehicle. Preparation is preferrable to surprise.

Early detection of obstructions ahead allow you to plan to avoid them rather than react in a place where you may not have a choice.

Anticipate the traffic lights. Braking lightly and coasting to a stop saves wear and tear on your vehicle. Aside from being safer, it also saves you money on maintenance and fuel.

Screaming up to the red light and braking heavily at the last second invites the driver behind you to join you in a collision, especially if they are not paying attention or are momentarily focused elsewhere.

If another driver insists on infringing on your right of way, let them have it. It’s better to maintain as much control of the situation as you are able to rather than insist on being part of the incident.

None of these things are difficult to do and are simple habits to develop. The choice to be safe is always yours.

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