Traffic congestion, collision frequency and increased repair costs have a significant impact on the premiums drivers pay in the GTA.

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Things That Go Bump in the Parking Lot

Intersection CrashDriveSmartBC

This is a short story about things that go bump in the parking lot. The outcome could have been a lot simpler with a bit of courtesy and the sharing of required information but it didn’t happen that way. I wonder what the ultimate cost will be when all is said and done.

I was waiting to turn left from the main access into a parking aisle at the mall along with a car opposing me and traffic behind me. There was a vehicle further along the aisle backing out, so we all waited.

When the vehicle had backed out, we all began to enter the aisle in turn until the car in front of me stopped.

The driver began to back up and when it was clear that a collision with me was imminent I sounded my vehicle’s horn. The car stopped, pulled ahead and began to back up again. This time sounding the horn did not help and a small collision occurred.

We moved out of the way and I got out and approached the other driver, a woman that I estimate was in her early 80’s. Her first words to me were “Why didn’t you get out of my way?”

If the other traffic had not been stopped behind me, I certainly would have tried to.

Her next piece of advice was that “Trucks should not be in this parking lot anyway, they belong out there in the back 40.” and gestured to the far edge of the lot.

I asked her to exchange information with me and she refused. She refused again after I tried to explain that we were required to do this.

I was beginning to become concerned about this reluctance and while I considered what to do next three people approached me to state that they had watched the incident occur and offered to provide their contact information. This was a very personal reminder that people willing to help are all around us. Thank you very much!

At this point the woman decided that she should examine my truck for damage. As we walked to it, she remarked that I looked like a cop. I told her that I used to be one and was surprised when she responded with “It figures. You’ve got nothing better to do than cause trouble for others.”

I took my cell phone out and photographed her, then went back to her car and photographed it.

She came back, got into her car and departed.

Now what to do? The damage to my truck amounted to a scuff on the bumper and I would have been prepared to shrug it off had she identified herself and appeared apologetic.

Maybe she was embarrassed, just a miserable person or wanted to avoid losing a safe driving discount. Worse still, maybe she didn’t have a driver’s licence or had reached the end of her ability to drive safely. The decision about whether to do anything was left up to me, along with the worry that she might try to report this as my fault.

Coroner calls for seatbelts on buses following Humboldt crash

By Stephanie Taylor

THE CANADIAN PRESS

REGINA _ The coroner’s service in Saskatchewan has released its report on the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash, calling for tougher enforcement of trucking rules and mandatory seatbelts on highway buses.

The office made recommendations to six different government agencies following a review of last spring’s collision.

It also says the Ministry of Highways should look at its policy on signs at the intersection where the crash occurred and Saskatchewan Government Insurance should implement mandatory truck-driver training.

Evan Thomas of Saskatoon was among 16 people killed last April when a semi truck barrelled through a stop sign at a rural crossroads north of Tisdale and into the path of the junior hockey team’s bus. Thirteen others on the bus were injured.

“A tragedy this size, it can’t just be one thing that went wrong,” his father, Scott Thomas, said Monday.

Thomas said the coroner’s findings provide him with a sense of justification for some of the things that he and other families have been hoping to change.

What hit home for Thomas are the recommendations directed to Transport Canada for mandatory seatbelts and improving national safety codes for driver training and electronic logging.

“To me this has to be a nationally regulated profession and these guys should be treated as professionals just like airplane pilots are.”

Thomas said he believes Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver who is waiting to be sentenced for causing the crash, never should have been behind the wheel in the first place.

“He never should have been responsible for a vehicle of that size on that roadway, and somehow the system allowed for it.”

In December, the Saskatchewan government announced it will make training mandatory for semi-truck drivers starting in March. Drivers seeking a Class 1 commercial licence will have to undergo at least 121 1/2 hours of training.

Transport Canada announced in June that the department will require all newly built highway buses to have seatbelts by September 2020. Some charter bus companies say many new vehicles already have seatbelts, although there is no way to ensure passengers are wearing them.

Since the crash, Thomas and other Broncos families have been spreading the message to other sports teams to buckle up and some have taken up the challenge.

Another recommendation calls for the chief coroner to create a mass fatality plan and for the coroner’s office and health officials to review how they identify the dead and injured.

Days after the crash, the coroner’s office apologized for mixing up the body of a player in the morgue with an injured player in hospital.

Thomas said he would like to see the coroner’s report made binding. A coroner’s report into a crash at the same intersection that killed six people in 1997 recommended installing an additional warning device such as rumble strips. The government at the time declined.

“If the government would have acted after the ’97 coroner’s report, rumble strips would have been there. And I got to think that would have significantly changed the outcome of that day,” said Thomas.

The coroner’s report lists the deaths as accidental and says the chief coroner is not calling for an inquest.

Lawyers coaching B.C. doctors to avoid injury caps under new auto insurance rules

B.C. doctors are being coached by trial lawyers to avoid classifying motor-vehicle injuries as “minor” under new rules that, starting in April, will cap some claims.

“An early and optimistic prognosis will have a devastating impact on your patients’ legal rights if their recovery does not ultimately follow this course,” law firm Murphy Battista warned physicians in a Jan. 24 letter.

“An example of a way in which a patient’s rights can be protected is if the family physician explains they ‘don’t yet know’ whether an injury will cause that patient ‘serious impairment.’ ”

That letter and others like it have prompted the organization representing physicians to urge its members to guard against what it describes as a campaign of misinformation around the changes to insurance settlements introduced by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.

“Doctors of BC has been made aware there are letters, flyers and other types of communications being sent to physicians that may contain misleading and inaccurate information about new ICBC regulations for treatment of patients,” reads a Feb. 14 statement from the association to physicians.

Doctors of BC says the changes will not limit patient care or restrict physicians from making independent medical decisions. In fact, it says, patients will have access to more options for treatment.

“Under the new legislation, the overall allowance for medical care and recovery expenses will double to $300,000 to better support patients injured in a crash. ICBC will also pay more per treatment based on fair market rates and customers will no longer be out-of-pocket for most expenses.”

Last year, Attorney-General David Eby described ICBC as “a financial dumpster fire” and announced dramatic changes to rein in costs. The Crown corporation is on track to post losses of $1-billion for each of the past two years.

The provincial government passed legislation to curb skyrocketing payments for minor-injury claims by capping settlements for pain and suffering at $5,500 and limiting when accident victims can sue.

In the newsletter Bridge, which provides “legal perspectives of interest to the medical doctor,” physicians are advised to avoid using the grading system in the paperwork that ICBC will use to determine if an injury falls within the cap.

“Initially, the physician may have attached a Grade 2 [that would fall under the cap] to the patient. It may be difficult to re-classify. In light of this issue, it may be prudent for the physician to initially stroke through the Grades with the statement ‘Not possible to assign grade at this time.’”

The changes have put the government at odds with the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. The group warns that injured individuals are paying the price for financial mismanagement at ICBC. The organization declined to respond to interview requests from The Globe and Mail.

Vancouver lawyer Joe Murphy, co-founder of the firm Murphy Battista, said it is perfectly reasonable for lawyers to point out to doctors the impact their assessments could have on their patients’ rights.

“Unfortunately, you’ll find out if you have an accident that you are not entitled to treatments unless the adjuster decides you are,” he said in an interview.

He said the Doctors of BC statement is itself rife with inaccuracies.

“It is ironic. I’ve read through this, and many of the statements are based on inaccurate or misleading information. I don’t think the person who wrote this read the legislation,” he said.

Mr. Eby said in an interview on Thursday that he has heard from doctors about the unsolicited legal advice they are getting. “I’m glad the Doctors of BC are prepared to step up and warn physicians to call out misinformation when they see it.”

The Doctors of BC was consulted on the improvements to benefits for lost pay and medical rehabilitation for all people injured in accidents − the first major improvements in auto-accident benefits in more than 25 years.

Andrew Yu was one of the physicians who collaborated on the ICBC changes on behalf of Doctors of BC. He said members should not be influenced by lawyers when it comes to assessing their patients. “Some of these letters and brochures seem to offer direction on what words to use or not to use. We support the autonomy of family physicians to use their clinical discretion,” he said.

Source: The Globe and Mail

400 plus vehicles written off since acid spill on B.C. highway last year: ICBC

TRAIL, B.C. _ British Columbia’s public auto insurer says about 450 vehicles have been written off since sulphuric acid spilled along a busy commuter route near Trail, B.C., in two incidents last spring.

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. says there have been more than 4,450 claims received in the wake of the spills but the vast majority of those vehicles were not damaged.

It says it is still in the early stages of a lawsuit but no trial date has been set.

The spills happened on April 10 and May 23, 2018, when tanker trucks owned and operated by Westcan spilled sulphuric acid from Teck’s plant in Trail along a stretch of highway near the city.

ICBC filed a notice of civil claim against Teck Metals, Teck Resources, Internaitonal Raw Materials, Westcan, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, the City of Trail, two drivers and the provincial government in October.

Most defendents have filed responses denying responsibility.

The insurer alleges that it has incurred “extraordinary expenses” in investigating and addressing the “enormous volume of claims resulting form the spills, and says the defendents failed to warn the public to avoid the highway.

It also claims the acid was not properly secured and the facility and tankers weren’t properly inspected.

When the spills happened, ICBC alleges there was no prompt response, posted warnings or restriction on public access, and the defendents failed to reduce the risk of future spills.

ICBC is seeking costs and damages.

But Teck alleges that ICBC was not obligated to compensate the owners of damaged vehicles under comprehensive or collision insurance and any such payments were voluntary, while Westcan says RCMP should have diverted traffic.

The city says it has no responsibility for road maintenance, including responding to hazardous spills.

The regional district says that while it has an emergency response agreement with Teck, it doesn’t consider hazardous spills an emergency.

Self-driving cars might kill auto insurance as we know it

Written by PAUL TULLIS, BLOOMBERG  

Dan Peate, a venture capitalist in California, was thinking of buying a Tesla Model X a few years ago—until he called his insurance company and found out how much his premiums would rise.

“They quoted me $10,000 a year,” Peate recalled.

For all the concern over accidents involving driverless cars, including Tesla’s troubles with its limited self-driving “Autopilot” mode, it’s easy to forget one of the supposed virtues of autonomous vehicles: they will make the roads safer.

A sophisticated array of lidar, radar and cameras is expected to be more adept at detecting trouble than our mortal eyes and ears. And computers never get drunk, check Tinder or fall asleep at the wheel.

Peate, 40, wanted to launch a new firm specializing in insurance for vehicles with automated-driving modes (and eventually fully-autonomous cars), and on January 30 announced the creation of Avinew, with US$5 million in seed funding led by Los Angeles’ Crosscut Ventures.

Its insurance product will monitor drivers’ use of autonomous features on cars made by companies including Tesla, Nissan, Ford and Cadillac, determining discounts based on how often the feature is used.

Avinew has agreements with most manufacturers, and is working to tie up the rest, Peate said, allowing it to access driving data once a customer gives it permission. It said it expects to be writing policies later this year in select states.

The transition points to a larger, existential crisis for the multi-billion dollar car insurance industry. If nobody’s driving, why do we need auto insurance?

Premiums—and company revenues—are based on a driver’s likelihood of being in an accident and actual crash rates. With more than 90 percent of accidents caused by human error, taking the driver out of the equation is going to mean big changes for insurers.

“When you think of all these sensors and calibration, a little fender-bender could be a much more costly proposition,” said David Ross Keith, an assistant professor of system dynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As automation reaches Levels 4 and 5—fully autonomous capability with the option for a human driver to take over, and fully autonomous with no human involvement, respectively—insurance is going to change dramatically.

“It’s foreseeable that insurance is a much less consumer-facing industry in the future,” Keith said.

That’s because the driver won’t be the risky part. “Liability is likely to migrate from the individual to the manufacturer and the licensers of the software that drives the AV,” said Rodney Parker, an associate professor of operations management at Indiana University.

That means insurers will be selling more policies to companies and fewer to drivers: carmakers and suppliers of communications systems, software, and sensors are going to be on the hook for the failure of their products, rather than drivers paying for not checking their blind spot.

Nationwide is one insurance company that’s started thinking about this problem. Drivers today are rated based on factors including sex, age and driving history. “If we’re getting data from the vehicle, that rating changes dramatically and gets very complex,” said Teresa Scharn, associate vice-president of product development.

Determining who’s at fault when something goes wrong could get thorny in this new world. If the lidar goes on the blink, is that the carmaker’s fault or the supplier of the lidar? What if the driver failed to get the latest firmware update—so now it’s his fault? If a Cadillac with Super Cruise loses its internet connection, is that on GM or Verizon?

“As a society we’ll have to figure out who’s liable for these different things and that will determine who’s required to insure against what risks,” MIT’s Keith said.

Nationwide thinks the smoothest road ahead will be one on which insurers and automakers each have a hand on the wheel. “We’re working to build deeper relationships with car manufacturers,” Scharn said.

And if that sounds like it hints at mergers on the horizon between insurers and automakers, you’re not off the mark. Other analysts confirm “those conversations are going on as we speak.”

Source: Bloomberg

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