New ICBC survey shows that customers believe society simply tolerates people who commit insurance fraud

Source: ICBC

Results from a new ICBC customer survey* shows that 47 per cent of customers feel that committing auto insurance fraud is an accepted practice in B.C. In fact, 79 per cent believe that up to half of all claims made with ICBC contain an element of fraud.

While ICBC knows that the vast majority of its customers are honest, and that industry estimates say that fraud affects only about 10 to 20 per cent of all claims, the perception that British Columbians condone insurance fraud is troubling.

The survey showed that respondents:

  • believe that most ICBC claims contain an element of fraud,

  • have heard stories from other people of someone committing fraud (54 per cent), and

  • and personally know of someone who has intentionally committed fraud against ICBC (17 per cent).

    “It’s disturbing to hear from our customers that they feel our society has gotten to a point where committing fraud is simply accepted,” said Chris Fairbridge, manager of ICBC’s Special Investigations Unit. “To us, small lies and the exaggeration of truth are serious offenses and will not be tolerated. B.C. drivers are financially impacted by every case of insurance fraud, and we need the public’s help to identify and report fraud as soon as they suspect it.”

    The most common examples of fraudulent claims that ICBC sees are exaggerating the extent of injuries or damage to a vehicle, claiming old damage, claiming an inability to work despite having fully recovered from a crash, excluding a previous medical condition and providing a false or misleading account of how a crash happened.

    Last year, ICBC’s Special Investigations Unit completed more than 16,000 investigations for suspected fraud, of which 54% were found to contain an element of fraud. Guilty individuals have served jail time, paid substantial fines, had their claim denied or reduced, paid for the other party’s repair costs, denied future optional coverage and entered into a restorative justice program.

    “From using technology to catch anomalies, training our adjusters to sniff out scams and expanding our investigation team to catch fraud in the act, ICBC continues to ramp up its efforts to put an end to these dishonest acts, large and small,” said Fairbridge.

    Insurance industry studies estimate that fraudulent and exaggerated claims make up about 10 to 20 per cent of all claims costs, potentially adding more than $100 to everyone’s annual ICBC auto insurance bill.

    British Columbians can report suspicious activities related to insurance fraud to ICBC’s toll-free tips line at 1-800-661-6844 or submit a tip online. Tip information is confidential and callers can remain anonymous. For more information, visit icbc.com/fraud.

    *Survey conducted by ICBC through its Customer Advisory Panel. Total respondents = 1,373. Data collected April 12 – 19, 2018. 

Preliminary data shows Saskatchewan impaired driving deaths down in 2017: SGI

Saskatchewan’s Crown-owned insurance company is reporting a sharp drop in impaired driving deaths.

Saskatchewan Government Insurance says preliminary data shows 39 people died in crashes involving alcohol or drugs in 2017 compared to 57 the year before.

SGI credits three factors for the encouraging statistics; more police enforcement, tougher penalties, and increased awareness.

Joe Hargrave, minister responsible for SGI, says the numbers suggest attitudes and behaviours about impaired driving are changing in the province.

In 2015, a Statistics Canada report showed Saskatchewan had the highest rate of police-reported impaired driving in Canada.

SGI says despite the improvement impaired driving remains a serious concern, especially with the pending legalization of recreational marijuana this summer.

“The fact that we’re seeing fewer collisions, injuries and fatalities attributed to impaired driving has us cautiously optimistic,” Hargrave said in a release Thursday.

Hargrave says Saskatchewan has taken a zero tolerance approach to drug-impaired driving.

Legislation introduced last fall is expected to pass in the coming weeks.

The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving says the downward trend in impaired driving deaths in Saskatchewan shows how stronger laws and raising awareness can affect what people do behind the wheel.

Uber says it remains committed to Toronto hub for self driving car research

Uber Technologies Inc. says the Arizona research centre that conducted a fatal test of a self-diving car is being shut down but the company is “doubling down” on its efforts at engineering hubs in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

Uber says it is “very committed” to the self-driving vehicle project and its Toronto engineering hub has several positions currently open, with others likely to be added.

It also aims to resume operations in Pittsburg this summer and it’s in conversations with state officials in California and the cities of San Francisco and Sacramento but it provided less detail about its Toronto operation.

Uber previously suspended all of its autonomous vehicle operations following a fatal March accident, where one of its cars hit a 49-year-old woman who was crossing the street in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe.

At the time, Uber said it had been testing two self-driving vehicles in Toronto for months, but the automobiles had not been picking up passengers.

Toronto is only one of several Ontario cities that are hosting limited tests of increasingly autonomous vehicles being conducted by several companies in what’s being promoted as the next major step in automotive technology.

German city to ban some diesel cars to combat air pollution

Some diesel cars will be banned in Hamburg to combat air pollution, officials of the northern German city said Wednesday, May 23, 2018.

Parts of two streets in the city will be banned for older models of diesel cars and trucks starting Thursday next week, the German news agency dpa reported.

The ban comes after Germany’s top administrative court ruled in February that cities can ban diesel cars to combat air pollution. That decision was a further blow to diesel fuel technology after the revelations that German automaker Volkswagen cheated on U.S. emissions tests.

The city said two sections of two streets _ one 580 metres (630 yards) long, the other one 1.6 kilometres (1750 yards) _ in the Altona neighbourhood would be banned for 168,000 of the 264,406 diesel cars that are registered in Hamburg. The ban will also include older diesel vehicles from drivers visiting the city. Ambulances, garbage trucks, residents and delivery trucks are exempt from the ban.

The German government released a study in March saying thousands of people die prematurely each year from the harmful effects of nitrogen dioxide, a gas that’s also produced by diesel engines.

Last week, the European Union announced it would take six member states, including Germany, to court for exposing their citizens to too much air pollution.

The value of diesel vehicles in Germany has already fallen significantly, and their market share has also dropped since the Volkswagen scandal broke in 2015.

Figures released last month by the Federal Motor Transport Authority show new registrations of diesel-powered cars dropped by 25.4 per cent in March to under 109,000, compared with about 146,000 during the same month a year earlier.

ICBC urges drivers to watch for cyclists and share the roads this summer

Six cyclists are injured every day in the summer in B.C., so ICBC is urging drivers and cyclists to take extra care on our roads as we near Bike to Work Week (May 28 to June 3).

As ridership increases in the summer, so does the number of cyclist-related crashes. In B.C., 760 cyclists are injured and seven are killed in car crashes from June to September every year.*

“More crashes mean more deaths, injuries and claims, which is why we need to work together to make roads safer,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s acting vice-president responsible for road safety. “We sponsor Bike to Work Week as an opportunity to educate both drivers and cyclists. It’s part of our commitment to support road safety programs throughout the province. Whether you’re a driver or a cyclist, please do your part to drive smart.”

Tips for drivers:

  • As a driver, you see cyclists when you really look for them. Stay alert, especially at intersections, and be ready to yield the right-of-way.

  • Watch for cyclists on the road and make eye contact if you can, so they can anticipate your next move.

  • Shoulder check for cyclists before turning right and watch for oncoming cyclists before turning left. Scan for cyclists before you enter the roadway from an alley or get in and out of a parking spot.

  • Both drivers and passengers must shoulder check for cyclists before opening their vehicle door. Not only will it keep cyclists safe, it will help you avoid a dooring violation and fine too.

  • Maintain at least three seconds of following distance behind cyclists and at least one metre when passing a cyclist. Don’t risk side-swiping or running a cyclist off the road.

Tips for cyclists:
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals and follow the rules of the road.

  • Use designated bike routes whenever possible – they’re safer and reduce conflicts with vehicle traffic. Check your local municipality’s website for designated bike routes or visit TransLink.ca for maps of cycling routes in Metro Vancouver.

  • If there’s no bike lane, keep to the right-hand side of the road as much as it’s safe to do so. It’s illegal to ride on most sidewalks and crosswalks – it puts pedestrians in danger and drivers don’t expect cyclists to enter the roadway from a sidewalk.

  • Use caution around parked vehicles. Be aware of people in vehicles and taxis to avoid getting hit by an opening door. It’s best to keep at least one metre away from parked vehicles.

  • Before making any turns, shoulder check and hand signal in advance. Remember, drivers sometimes fail to yield right-of-way.

 
For more information about cycling, and videos about these tips, visit our cycling safety page on icbc.com.

Regional statistics*:

  • In the Lower Mainland, on average, 1,100 cyclists are injured and five killed every year.
  • On Vancouver Island, on average, 320 cyclists are injured and three killed every year.

  • In the Southern Interior, on average, 160 cyclists are injured and three killed every year.

  • In the North Central region, on average, 22 cyclists are injured from every year.

*Based on a five-year average using 2012 to 2016 police fatality data and 2013 to 2017 ICBC injury data.

Insurance report shows Alberta has highest increase in claims linked to distracted driving

 Colleen SchmidtSupervisor | CTV News Calgary

A report from a Canadian Insurance company says crashes tied to inattentiveness behind the wheel are increasing and Alberta has the highest number of distracted driving related accident claims in the country.

Aviva Canada collected data from its clients’ crashes between 2016 and 2018 and says Alberta showed a 58 percent increase in claims related to distracted driving, which is more than double the Canadian average of 23 percent.

“So we’ve seen a shocking statistic in Alberta,” said Phil Gibson, Chief Underwriting Officer, Aviva Insurance. “We took all the claims that are frequently associated with distracted driving, so rear end without skid marks that hit a stationary object, drifting across lanes and hitting something, failure to obey a stop sign, those types of things, and we’ve extrapolated that there is distracted driving going on within there.”

Gibson says 95 percent of Canadians say texting and driving by others makes them feel unsafe on the roads.

“That’s another terrible statistic. We should feel safe and certain and know that when we’re going down the road that other Canadians are looking out for each other,” he said.

Police say it takes more than enforcement to get the message across.

“People need to come to the realization that distracted driving causes all the damage, all the lives lost and all the hurt in society that impaired driving causes. The two equate to each other just like that and even though distracted driving is newer ,if you will ,than impaired driving it causes all the catastrophe that impaired driving does,”  said CPS Sgt. Dale Seddon.

Dean Lorenson started taking a bigger interest in distracted driving after he was involved in a crash.

“I think it was a Ford F-150, was just kind of rolling through and knocked me over,” he said.

Lorenson counts the number of distracted driving related tickets that are written by Calgary police and even involved his son’s Grade 3 class to help keep track.

The students counted 430 instances of distracted driving in a single month and Lorenson says people are making things worse by trying to hide the fact that they are looking at their phones while they drive.

“Actually that makes it worse because you’re really not paying attention. If your phone is up here, while you’re driving, you might be able to see but if you’re trying to hide it and looking down here, that just makes the problem worse,” he said.

Checking phones while driving or even when stopped at a traffic light is illegal and despite awareness campaigns, fines and do-not-disturb technology, it’s a behaviour that has proven challenging to change.

“I don’t think it’s going to take more laws or even technology. I think we can start influencing each other when we think about what an awesome responsibility it is driving a car and keeping each other safe to just stop allowing yourself to be distracted,” said Gibson.

The insurance company suggests planning ahead, prepping podcasts and playlists or locking away your phone.

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