Finance minister calls for auto insurance breaks during COVID 19 pandemic

TORONTO _ Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips says he wants to see insurance companies giving drivers breaks on their premiums that reflect the “devastating impact” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says he met last week with the CEOs of the major insurance companies and told them their actions need to reflect these unprecedented times.

Some companies have already announced discounts for customers, including Allstate Insurance Co. of Canada, which is giving all of its drivers a “stay at home payment” of about 25 per cent of their monthly auto premium.

Many other companies say they are offering to adjust premiums for customers, but Phillips says he would like to see them being proactive.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says its member companies are offering reductions for the next 90 days that could result in $600 million in savings to consumers and says drivers should contact their insurance representatives.

The NDP is calling on the Ontario government to mandate a three-month, 50-per-cent discount on auto insurance.

Commentary driving is a very useful tool for teaching a new driver

New Driver SignsCommentary driving is a very useful tool for teaching a new driver. It involves narrating their observations, interpretations and intentions about the traffic situation as they drive. This narrative is expected to take place before the fact and gives the instructor or examiner insight into what the driver is seeing (or not seeing) and how they intend to proceed.

These comments do not need to be made using complete sentences as long as the thought is properly conveyed. The driver should describe everything important that he sees ahead, to the sides, and in the rear view mirrors. When there is time, he should announce the various alternatives possible and why his choice of action is best. Comments should include remarks about signs, signals, markings, hazardous situations, actions or expected actions of other road users.

From the student’s point of view commentary driving assists with:

  • Building an awareness of the amount of information that a driver must process
  • Developing resistance to distraction
  • Refining judgment about how far ahead to watch and how quickly to act or react
  • Developing selective observation strategies

Benefits for the parent or instructor include the ability to assess:

  • Is the driver scanning effectively?
  • Are hazardous situations recognized early enough?
  • Does the driver follow the traffic laws and maintain proper space margins?
  • What is the driver missing that you need to train or retrain?

The current ICBC Class 5 road test requires a demonstration of commentary driving.

If you have never done this before, it is not as simple as you might think. Remember the cognitive overload when you were first learning to drive? Introduce it after your student driver has had a chance to become somewhat familiar with operating the vehicle.

A parent should practice this before becoming the instructor as it is a valuable teaching tool. Demonstrate to the hopeful new driver how she must use her eyes, what she must see, how to interpret it, and when to act in a safe and efficient manner.

The parent will also benefit as it focuses awareness and concentration on the driving task. It may be a good personal strategy to use when you are not feeling alert or are becoming fatigued.

Video Resources:

This 13 minute video by Rick August of Smart Drive Test outlines how a new driver may learn even faster by talking to themselves while they’re driving and doing the manoeuvres and skills required to pass a road test.


This 10 minute video by Ian Fido of Sheffield Driving School in the UK explains anticipation and planning with commentary driving:

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 for 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.

Desjardins continues to support its members and clients, announcing a refund for auto insurance clients

Desjardins Group 

In an effort to support its clients, Desjardins General Insurance is offering refunds on auto insurance premiums for Personal and Business clients who are staying at home. Nearly everyone is driving their vehicles less, and Desjardins General Insurance wants to acknowledge this fact. This refund will be offered to clients whose commuting habits have significantly changed and who are only using their vehicles for essential trips to such places as the pharmacy or grocery store. This refund is open to anyone who has lost their job, for example, or who is now working from home, or otherwise self-isolating. It will be calculated over a 3-month period and will reflect the client’s annual distance travelled, as declared on their insurance contract. Eligible clients who are interested in receiving this rebate should apply at (for Desjardins Agent Network clients) or (for direct clients) by May 31.

“As a result of the physical distancing and other government measures implemented due to COVID-19, Canadians are using their cars less. It only seems right that we, as a cooperative, give our clients a refund on their auto insurance premiums,” said Guy Cormier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Desjardins Group.

In addition, using a personal or commercial vehicle for delivery purposes will be temporarily covered under auto insurance policies for Desjardins General Insurance clients. No additional insurance premium will be required, whether the driver is making deliveries as a volunteer or as an employee of a restaurant, pharmacy or grocery store. This coverage does not apply to people who offer delivery services through third party apps and services likes UberEats, Skip the Dishes or DoorDash. No action is required; this relief measure automatically applies to all auto insurance policyholders.

Finally, since the current situation is forcing many people to work from home, Desjardins General Insurance has decided to temporarily raise the coverage limit under home insurance contracts for goods used to work from home (e.g., ergonomic chairs, computer equipment) to $10,000. No action is required; this additional coverage automatically applies to all home insurance policyholders.

These relief measures are on top of those previously announced. These measures include adding liability coverage for a borrowed or rented vehicle at no extra charge for auto insurance policyholders returning early from the US in a rental car. Clients who are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19 may continue to have their insurance premiums deferred. Specific measures are also available for Business clients whose operations have been forced to stop temporarily or who have been severely affected by the COVID-19 situation. Each situation will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Desjardins is one of 3 financial institutions in North America recognized by the United Nations as a responsible institution during the COVID-19 pandemic
On April 6, 2020, Desjardins was recognized as a responsible financial institution during the COVID-19 pandemic by UNEP-FI, a sub-group of the United Nations. This group provides principles for banks, insurers and investors that aim to help the global financial sector actively contribute to a more responsible and sustainable economy. UNEP-FI has shared the various relief measures announced by Desjardins for its Personal and Business members and clients since March 16 as an example to be followed. In total, UNEP-FI recognized 3 financial institutions in North America, including 2 Canadian cooperatives. In September 2019, Desjardins affirmed its leadership position by becoming the first financial institution in Canada to sign the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) promoted by this organization. To find out more about Desjardins Group’s initiatives, see the 2019 social and cooperative responsibility report.

More than 151,000 members and clients are seeking financial relief from Desjardins
As of April 3, 2020, more than 151,000 members and clients have contacted Desjardins to take advantage of the relief measures announced by the financial institution. Of this number, 81,000 requests are related to payment deferrals on credit cards, Accord D financing or car loans. In terms of loans and lines of credit, a total of 70,000 requests have been received, including 51,000 related to mortgages. As already announced, members and clients who obtain a payment deferral and who have a Desjardins credit card will also benefit from a reduced annual interest rate of 10.9% during the deferral period. Desjardins will review each request individually and work to find the solution that works best for that member or client.

This time at home is a good time to start teaching young people about finances
With schools and daycares, many parents are at home with their children. This may be a good opportunity to start teaching young people about finances, and the school caisse website has lots of fun activities to help with this. There are activity books that help elementary students to become familiar with saving concepts through fun games like snakes and ladders, quizzes and crossword puzzles.

About Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and the sixth largest cooperative financial group in the world, with assets of  $313 billion. It has been rated one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers by Mediacorp. To meet the diverse needs of its members and clients, Desjardins offers a full range of products and services to individuals and businesses through its extensive distribution network, online platforms and subsidiaries across Canada. Ranked among the world’s strongest banks according to The Banker magazine, Desjardins has some of the highest capital ratios and credit ratings in the industry.

SOURCE Desjardins Group

For further information: (media inquiries only): Public Relations, 514-281-7000 or 1-866-866-7000, ext. 5553436,

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Car insurer Allstate offering customers 15% discounts during COVID-19 lockdown

The excerpted article was written by CBC News ·

Insurance company Allstate is offering its U.S. customers a 15 per cent discount on their bills for April and May as most of the country finds itself in some sort of lockdown due to COVID-19.

The Illinois-based company is calling the initiative the “Shelter-in-Place Payback” and says it is implementing the policy “to help its personal auto insurance customers in these challenging times.”

Allstate, Esurance and Encompass customers in the United States can expect a 15 per cent rebate on their bills for April and May.

Canadian customers don’t qualify for the program, but the company’s Canadian division say they are working on rolling out a similar initiative in the coming days.

“While this particular initiative is for our U.S. based customers, we are working diligently on something similar here in Canada and will be able to provide further details in the next day or two,” Allstate Canada’s Angie Morris told CBC News in a statement.”Given an unprecedented decline in driving, customers will receive a Shelter-in-Place Payback of more than $600 million over the next two months,” CEO Tom Wilson said. “This is fair because less driving means fewer accidents.”

In addition to the rebate, Allstate says it will now allow its personal car insurance customers to still be covered if they use their vehicles for commercial purposes like trips to “deliver food, medicine and other goods.”

The company also says it will provide free identity theft protection to Americans for the rest of the year because so many of them are currently working from home, “which increases our exposure to cybercrime,” the company said.

“U.S. residents can get the free identity protection product through Dec. 31, 2020, regardless of whether they are already Allstate customers, by signing up in April or May,” the company said.

Can I lower my car insurance rates if I’m working from home?

Can I lower my car insurance rates if I’m working from home?

The excerpted article was written by Cathy Kearney · CBC News

Auto insurance is an essential financial protection, but as the COVID-19 pandemic forces more employees to work from home and results in others being laid off, many are left to wonder if they can drop some of their coverage to save on premiums.

CBC News reached out to several insurance brokers in Metro Vancouver who say they have been inundated with calls from drivers asking about making changes to their insurance coverage.

Kally Khosah with InsureBC says a number of people are cancelling their auto insurance altogether.

“The majority of people who have lost their jobs are coming in and cancelling their insurance,” said Khosah.

“I would say maybe one or two out of 10 customers is looking to cancel their insurance,” he said.

CBC News asked Khosah what drivers should consider when making decisions about lowering auto insurance coverage.

Can drivers lower their insurance rates if they are working from home and therefore not commuting anymore?

“They can. What they need to do is change their plan from work use to strictly pleasure. That can be changed at any time.

“And if they are going back to work — go see your broker and they will change it back to work use.”

How much will I save?

“It depends on how far you drive to work. If it’s under 15 kilometres you won’t see that big of a difference. If it’s over 15 kilometres it will be more. And if it’s for business use it will be even more of a savings.

“You can go all the way down to bare-bones basic coverage but that’s only going to give you $200,000 liability.

“At this level there’s no coverage on the vehicle if they have an at-fault accident. And there’s no comprehensive, so there’s no fire, theft or vandalism coverage at that level.”

Is it wise to drop coverage down to the the most basic level?

“I tell people never to go down that severely. A good way to decrease your insurance is to slightly lower your liability and raise the deductible. That’s a good way to save some money without losing all your coverage.”

What happens if I can no longer afford to pay my insurance?

“ICBC is offering a deferral program for up to three months.”

What should I do if I get into an accident?

“First thing you want to do is contact ICBC. You also want to write down as much information as you can about what happened and write down the other party’s information. If anybody’s seriously injured, of course you want to contact the police.”

I have been laid off and might consider doing deliveries for work. Do I need to change my policy?

Yes. Khosah says that change will be more expensive than business coverage though. The cost depends on the type of car, how old it is and how many kilometres are on it. But it will definitely be an extra fee.

Edited for ILSTV

Source: CBC News

Licence renewals and payment deferrals now available during pandemic

March 24, 2020

British Columbians can now extend their expiring driver’s licence remotely, as ICBC adapts driver licensing measures to assist customers to stay home and follow public health orders on physical distancing and further protect employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A customer can renew their driver’s licence up to six weeks in advance of the expiry date by contacting ICBC’s Driver Licensing Call Centre at 1-800-950-1498 and temporarily extend their driver’s licence over the phone. The customer will be mailed an interim paper licence that will be valid for 90 days. Eligible extensions include routine renewals, reinstatement of a licence, and the replacement of a lost licence. Expiring BC Services Cards and BC Identification Cards are not eligible for phone renewals. ICBC will monitor the situation and determine whether the 90-day period needs to be extended further.

In addition to this change, ICBC is now offering customers the option to defer their monthly insurance payments for up to 90 days with no penalty, to support those facing financial hardship at this time. This deferral will be available to customers already on monthly Autoplan payments for up to 90 days. ICBC previously allowed for only a single deferral of 30 days.

Customers can use ICBC’s online resource tool to apply for deferrals or call the customer support team at 1-800-665-6442.

ICBC is also taking further measures to ensure physical distancing requirements to protect customers and employees, as mandated by the Provincial Health Officer. Starting immediately, the following services will only be offered online at or through the call centre until further notice:

    • Obtaining driving records/abstracts
    • Change of address
    • Paying violation tickets

Enhanced Driver’s Licence (EDL) and Enhanced Identification Card (EIC) processing has been suspended as of March 24, 2020, as those transactions require extended face-to-face interaction where physical distancing guidelines cannot be met.

To further meet physical distancing requirements, all driver knowledge tests will be suspended indefinitely, for motorcycle and passenger vehicles, unless there is a legal requirement to obtain a licence (e.g. new resident to B.C.). Commercial vehicle knowledge tests will continue; however, they will not be permitted with the use of a translator as physical distancing requirements cannot be met. Over the coming weeks, ICBC will be working on finding ways to provide knowledge tests without the need for an in-office visit.

We ask that customers only attend a driver licensing office if their transaction is urgent and cannot be done by phone or online, and if they are not showing symptoms.

For additional information on measures taken during COVID-19:

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