Auto insurance premiums going up in 2020 for many Alberta drivers

BY

Many Alberta drivers will soon pay more to insure their vehicles — in some cases, much more.

In a bulletin sent to brokers, and obtained by Global News, large home and auto insurer Aviva Canada said there would be across-the-board hikes of 15 percent starting January 2020. It also confirmed to Global News that number could go up depending on driving and claims history.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said it doesn’t know exactly how many other insurers operating in Alberta have also applied for rate changes, but added there are a number of them.

IBC’s Western vice president Celyeste Power said they have no choice, considering how claims have been increasing in the province.

“Insurers have actually been losing about 12 cents, on average, on every dollar that they’ve been taking in right now,” Power said. “So they’ve been paying $1.12 for every $1 they’re taking in.”

For drivers like Scott Johnsen of Calgary, an insurance hike couldn’t come at a worst time.

“I’m already paying about 270 bucks a month for two vehicles,” Johnsen said.

He moved to Calgary from Saskatchewan about three years ago and said he was paying about half as much there.

He added his only option may be to park one of his vehicles.

“It sucks,” he added. “Me and my wife both work, we have a small child, so we have to figure it out. Probably buy a bicycle.”

Aviva told Global News it filed for and received permission from Alberta’s rate regulator to increase rates for auto insurance following the UCP’s decision in late August not to renew the rate cap on auto insurance premiums.

In a statement the company said: “The five per cent rate cap imposed by the previous government may have seemed like a simple solution, but it simply delayed necessary increases to keep up with increasing costs.”

Aviva went on to say the cap did not address underlying issues that drive up premiums — things like higher car repair costs, more expensive injury claims and less choice in the marketplace.

IBC went even further.

“None of the issues within the system were addressed in that four years. And now consumers like us, we’re paying for it.”

The Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta also said changes were necessary. Still, officials are bracing for some backlash from customers.

“We knew that the companies were in trouble in terms of profitability, so I guess it isn’t a huge surprise.”

Hodgson didn’t know if everyone would be facing a 15 to 20 per cent hike, but added this would be a perfect opportunity to shop around.

He suggested drivers ask their broker questions and review their coverage.

Both Hodgson and Power also said there could be new opportunities with the rate hikes.

In the past, some insurers cancelled plans or required premiums to be paid upfront, not in installments. Both hope that will now change.

Information on what other insurers will be hiking rates should be available in the coming months.

DriveSmartBC – We’ll See You When You Turn 80!

BC Driver's LicenceSometimes I think that our system is designed to keep us in the driver’s seat. Even in an urban area, you need a vehicle to get around with convenience. Bend a few vehicles? Pay ICBC a (relatively) few dollars more and they take care of the big bills. Can’t or won’t follow the driving rules? Pay for a few penalty points and don’t worry, you have to get a lot of tickets before they take your licence away. Had your licence taken away? Probably not for very long, even if you killed someone.

Last week’s episode of Nova, Look Who’s Driving Now, was about autonomous vehicles. One of the experts interviewed expressed the opinion that driving a vehicle is probably the most demanding cognitive task that most people do on a daily basis. I’m sure that you won’t be surprised to find that there are many examples in the program where drivers disengaged their brain to do things other than drive while they were behind the wheel.

Our system of driver licensing pays fairly close attention to the first three years of a driver’s career. You spend a year as a Learner, pass a test, spend two years as a Novice, pass a test and you are now a fully privileged driver. The restrictions on speed, number of passengers, alcohol use, new driver signs and supervision are at an end.

After that, unless you prove to be incapable, you may pay a renewal fee every five years and not get looked at again until you turn 80.

I once checked a driver who had missed two renewals of his licence. He’d driven for more than 10 years with no licence at all! The only reason I found him was because I was conducting a road check and asking all drivers to show me their driver’s licence.

I’ve been driving for more than 40 years now and can say from experience that there have been many changes to driving in BC since I was 16. In all that time, no one has checked to see if I have been keeping my knowledge current.

There was one test that I had to take at my last renewal, could I still see well enough to drive without corrective lenses? I could, but I still prefer to drive with my glasses on. I like to see where I’m going in as sharp a focus as I can.

Aside from new laws and road improvements that complicate my interactions with others, if I buy a new vehicle I will find myself sitting in the driver’s seat with a host of driving assists. Some are mandated by Transport Canada and others I might choose on my own as options.

After finishing up with my purchase, I could decide to hop in and drive my shiny new computerized vehicle away without any instruction at all about how to maintain, use or misuse all these systems.

So, if I keep my head down, don’t bump into too many things or run afoul of traffic enforcement, I can keep driving until I turn 80 and no one will ever check to see if I should still be behind the wheel and have the requisite knowledge of the system to follow it effectively.

Even after I turn 80, the regular testing is aimed at making sure that I have the necessary cognitive ability to drive, not that I actually know how to.

Can you think of any other complex, changing system today that allows it’s users to carry on without training updates and testing? We’ll see you when I turn 80!

CAGOC seeks media coverage of an Ontario millennial’s egregious auto insurance experience

NEWS PROVIDED BY

The Consumer Advocacy Group Of Canada

The Consumer Advocacy Group of Canada (CAGOC) is currently inviting media to contact CAGOC at the information below pertaining to a consumer-facing story about a millennial customer of Sonnet Insurance, a division of and underwritten by Economical Insurance Company. This customer is calling on Roger Dunbar, President of Sonnet and Rowan Saunders, President of Economical Insurance, to revise their management skills on customer strategy and policies of how Sonnet deals with millennial consumers. The story focuses on the Ontario-based auto insurance consumer, who in CAGOC’s opinion, has and continues to be egregiously mistreated by their insurer. Are companies that target millennial consumers actually better for millennials or is it just a marketing tactic? CAGOC is seeking Canadian consumers with similar stories and encourage them to contact us at the information below.

The story may be provided upon review, on an exclusive basis, packaged facts, documents, photos, and materials by CAGOC about the consumer’s experience. A letter from the consumer allowing media to discuss their case with the corporation, and various ministers who have been notified, will also be provided. Ministers notified include the Hon. Christine Elliott, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (Ontario); Hon. Doug Downey, Minister of the Attorney General (Ontario); and Hon. Lisa M. Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services (Ontario). Interested reporters are encouraged to contact CAGOC at the information provided below.

About CAGOC
The Consumer Advocacy Group Of Canada was founded in 2009 as a non-partisan, consumer-centric, organization consisting of Canadian researchers, advocates, and thinkers, who are tuned into assisting with Canadian consumer advocacy and mandated to create a fair and equal environment for all Canadian Citizens. Funded by members of the public, CAGOC pursues matters of public interest and/or concern for Canadian consumers and the general public.

SOURCE The Consumer Advocacy Group Of Canada

Tesla’s new driverless feature sparks confusion, could negate insurance coverage

The excerpted article was written by Penny DaflosCTV Vancouver

VANCOUVER – Startled witnesses who recorded a Tesla rolling through a Richmond parking lot this week without anyone at the wheel were concerned it had “gone rogue.”

But the owner had actually activated a new and controversial self-driving feature – one that officials say is illegal, and could negate insurance coverage.

A reader of the Richmond News sent the local newspaper video of the unoccupied electric Tesla Model 3 slowly driving through a parking lot at Richmond Centre on Monday before stopping for a man who appeared to be waiting for it in the parkade.

It’s a feature called “Smart Summon” that Tesla quietly rolled out in Canada last month. Activated via a smartphone app, the company’s website describes it so: “With Smart Summon, your car will navigate more complex environments and parking spaces, maneuvering around objects as necessary to come find you in a parking lot.”

The feature has been the subject of numerous videos on social media and YouTube in the past month, with users testing its accuracy in detecting hazards, with close calls and minor fender-benders documented alongside other examples of remarkable navigational ability.

The Ministry of Transportation says not only do B.C. laws “not permit driverless vehicles on our roads,” the vehicles are also illegal for import. The Teslas were already in the country when the feature was enabled last month, however. The ministry says it’s formed a work group to deal with autonomous vehicles and that it’s up to police jurisdictions to enforce the law.

Meanwhile, ICBC says parking lots are the same as roadways under the law, making the Smart Summon feature illegal there as well, noting: “In the recent incident in Richmond, thankfully there was no accident. Had an accident occurred, the vehicle owner’s insurance may not have provided coverage.”

CTV News asked Tesla for an interview and for details about what kind of work they’ve done with Canadian officials to ensure the autonomous feature is legal on our roadways but the company has not responded.

Though the vehicle didn’t come close to any curbs, people or other vehicles, it was driving over the solid centre line on the way to its owner.

“We’re going to have to change our laws,” said personal injury lawyer Renn Holness.

He says at the moment, manufacturers are not responsible for any crashes, injuries or damages, but if the vehicle’s creator is controlling its movement, the law should change to reflect that. Holness also points out that Tesla needs a huge amount of testing to update and establish the software as safe, and that can only come with a lot of practice.

“They knew that in order to have this technology properly tested it would have to be tested on a very large scale and in order to do that they would have to have gotten some type of approval from the government — that was never sought and never received,” said Holness. “So this is almost like a sleeper software that not become apparent until now and Tesla’s benefitting from it because they’re getting all the test results.”

He suggests that until legislation is updated with clear guidelines for insurance coverage, Tesla drivers should err on the side of caution.

“My advice is disable the feature and only use the feature if you’re on your own private property,” said Holness.

“If you’re anywhere where there’s an expectation of the public could be present, you’re endangering the public and potentially you may, as an owner, be responsible.”

When auto insurance is higher than house taxes, something’s wrong

The excerpted article was written By Mel Rothenburger |  CFJC Today.com

I went in to renew the insurance on my vehicle and found the premium has gone up by $300 over the previous year.

Nothing has changed about my policy. Nobody else drives my vehicle so the new driver-based model doesn’t come into the picture.

I’d say my driving record is average: a few tickets over the years, a couple of parking-lot fender benders, and a tree that got in my way while backing down in the driveway, that kind of thing. The only highway accident of record is when somebody rear-ended me at a stop light years ago.

I expect my premiums to gradually increase — I’m sure we all do — but this is ridiculous. I guess I should count myself lucky in comparison to the Lower Mainland student whose premium is higher than the cost of her $5,000 Volkswagen Rabbit.

I guess I should also be happy that my new premium is actually average for B.C. drivers.

However, I’m confused by an advertorial headlined, “How ICBC’s new insurance model will save you money.”

“The people of British Columbia spoke, the government listened,” the article begins.

It’s all about high-risk drivers paying more than low-risk drivers, it continues. Under the new rates, it says, 55 percent of full-coverage customers will pay less than they did.

I’d like to see some proof. According to industry stats, B.C. drivers continue to pay the highest premiums in the country, significantly so.

For most people, owning a vehicle isn’t optional, it’s a must, especially if they live outside urban centres. Clearly, ICBC is in need of fixing, but these new insurance rates are a clear sign it’s still broken.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

Editor’s Note: This opinion piece reflects the views of its author, and does not necessarily represent the views of CFJC Today or the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.

SGI: Winter driving tips

SGI: Winter driving tips

In Saskatchewan, it is possible that you could be operating your vehicle for at least five months of the year in winter driving conditions. It is in this period, from November to March, that most collisions occur.

Snow, ice and freezing rain reduce traction. Drifting and blowing snow, fog, whiteouts, gas exhaust clouds and frosted windows may severely limit visibility.

The main cause of collisions in winter months is failing to adjust to the changing conditions.

Preparing your vehicle

Winter conditions, plus the effects of extremely low temperatures, demand that a vehicle be in top condition. For this reason, a pre-winter check is a necessity, and in the end is less annoying and less costly than battery boosts, tows and being late. Give special attention to your heater and defroster.

As well as getting a tune-up and adding antifreeze to your radiator, you would be wise to have the following:

  • snow tires
  • block heater
  • snow brush and scraper
  • gas line antifreeze
  • small snow shovel
  • set of traction mats
  • booster cables (know how to use them)

For out of town trips, add the following survival equipment:

  • extra warm clothes (include footwear, mitts and hats)
  • a supply of candles and matches
  • tow chain or rope
  • nourishing freezable food (raisins, nuts, candy)
  • sleeping bags

Preparing to see and to be seen

If you cannot see through your windows, you should not drive. If your lights and signals are to protect you, they must be visible.

Before you drive, do the following:

  • Brush the snow off your car.
  • Scrape the windshield, rear and side windows.
  • Clear your heater air intake (this is usually in front of the windshield).
  • Clean your headlights, tail lights and signal lights.
  • Be sure to clear your tissue boxes, sunglasses, papers, etc., away from defroster outlets.
  • Drive with your headlights on at all times. Even on a clear day, swirling snow makes it difficult to see and to be seen.

Driving on slippery surfaces

Winter traction problems require a number of changes from summer driving techniques. The general rule for driving on slippery conditions is drive slowly.

You should not use cruise control on icy or slippery roads. This is even more important when the road may have black ice formed on it (a thin layer of transparent ice found on the road or other paved surfaces).

Traction varies tremendously with temperature changes. Icy roads will look just the same at -2 C or -22 C, but will be far more slippery at the warmer temperature. Winter driving calls for special driving skills. This means gentle acceleration, gentle braking and small, smooth steering movements.

Reduced traction means the grip between your tires and the slippery surface is fragile.

If you accelerate hard, you go beyond the amount of traction that is available and your wheels spin. If you brake too hard and your wheels lock, you break the traction, which means that when you turn the steering wheel, the vehicle will not turn – it will continue in the direction it was going when the wheels locked.

If this occurs on ice, your stopping distance changes. In most situations, locking four wheels by pushing hard on the brakes will give you the shortest stopping distance. But on ice, especially when it’s near the freezing point or if you are driving fast, you are better off to threshold-brake by pushing on the brake up to the point just before it locks. (See Threshold braking.)

If the surface is slippery, flatten the corner or curve by positioning your vehicle in the left side of your lane prior to making your turn.

As you enter the curve, gradually steer across the lane so that as you near the mid-point of the curve the vehicle is near the right side of the lane with its wheels straight. As you exit the curve, gradually steer back across the lane towards the left side. For left curves, reverse the process. This will lessen the sideways force and reduce the chance that you will spin out. Slow entry into the curve is crucial or your vehicle may not make it around the curve.

Because there is reduced traction available for stopping and turning, reduce your speed when conditions are wet or slippery. As well, give yourself a following distance even longer than three seconds.

1. Never use cruise control when roads are wet or slippery.

How to get moving

You can usually start moving on ice or packed snow by accelerating gently. If this does not work, or if you are on a slight downgrade, try moving in second gear.

If you are stuck in deep snow, try rocking your vehicle. To do this, start forward, gently accelerate and you will move forward a little. When your wheels spin, immediately stop accelerating and hold the vehicle with the brake to stop it from rolling back. Shift to reverse, release the brake and accelerate gently. You will move back. When the wheels spin again, stop immediately. Repeat the forward-backward rocking movement, increasing the distance you move each time until you gain sufficient momentum to keep moving ahead. Be sure the wheels have stopped turning before changing gears to avoid damage to your transmission.

Search for traction. Look for sand or grit. Choose snow rather than ice. A small movement to one side will often move you from a low traction icy patch onto snow or sand. This motion can usually be completed in your lane.

How to stop on slippery surfaces

  1. Shift to neutral (or declutch) before you brake.
  2. Brake early and gently using the threshold technique. (See Threshold braking.)
  3. Again, search for the best traction and position your vehicle to take advantage of it.
  4. Allow extra space for other drivers to stop. They may not be as skilled as you, or their traction may be worse.

Temptations to resist

  1. Accelerating hard when you are passing.
  2. Using cruise control on wet or slippery roads.
  3. Forgetting that other drivers may not be making proper allowances for winter conditions.
  4. Letting your gas tank drop below half full.

Whiteouts

Whiteouts occur when the sky, horizon and ground blend into one, making it very difficult to determine your position on the road. All shadows and distinctions disappear, so that you can barely tell where the road ends and the ditch begins.

The first snowfalls

During the first few snowfalls, drive very slowly and keep a fivesecond following distance. It takes time to change from your summer driving patterns. Exaggerate your gentleness on your brake and accelerator pedals and you will stay out of the line-ups at the body shop.

Survival

Lives continue to be lost in Saskatchewan winter blizzards.

Dress warmly for long trips. Do not be deceived by the false comfort of a well-heated car and wear indoor clothes on long journeys.

Before starting a long trip, listen to weather forecasts and pay attention to storm warnings. If storms develop while you are travelling, seriously consider stopping over in a town or village, rather than continuing, when there is a possibility of being stranded.

If you are stranded:

  1. Always stay with your vehicle.
  2. Keep calm.
  3. Lower your downwind-side windows slightly and open the heater air vent to get fresh air into the vehicle.
  4. Run the engine to get some heat, and to listen to news reports, but do not run out of gas.
  5. Keep your exhaust pipe clear of ice and snow.
  6. Get into your emergency clothing before you get cold.
  7. If necessary, use candles to keep warm. Be careful not to overexert yourself by shovelling or by pushing your vehicle.

Many people die when they leave their vehicles to walk for help in a blizzard. If you stay with your vehicle, you have a better chance of surviving and are more likely to be found.

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