Making Bad Drivers Pay

Last week we looked at how we might define a bad driver. Views were varied, but there were two well thought out responses that did more than just express an opinion. This week, let’s look at how bad drivers pay for the risk that they present to others using our highways.

At the top of the list is the Criminal Code of Canada. Part 8 deals with offences against the person and reputation. Here we find homicidecriminal negligence and motor vehicles, vessels & aircraft. These are reserved for the worst of the worst offenders and convictions may result in significant fines and / or time in jail.

Our Motor Vehicle Act and it’s associated Regulations create the framework of rules that we are supposed to follow when we drive. Disobey one of these and you might receive a violation ticket with a prescribed fine. The fine amount should reflect the seriousness of the offence, the more dangerous the act, the higher the fine.

There are some problems with this system. First among them is that the fine may be a life altering penalty for those with no financial means and the bite of a gnat for those with significant resources.

Yes, the court system exists to reduce the penalties to be more fair in the circumstances, but my experience there is that those of limited means seldom take advantage of it. Also, there is no provision to increase the fine beyond the prescribed fine in traffic court.

Some countries use a Day Fine system where the penalty is based on the offenders daily income level to make the penalty more appropriate.

If the circumstances are out of the ordinary but do not call for criminal sanctions, the offending driver may be served with an appearance notice instead of a violation ticket. A provincial court judge will hear the case and may apply a variety of penalties on conviction. These may range from probation orders to fines, prohibitions from driving and jail sentences.

The second problem that comes to mind is the high threshold for sanction of experienced bad drivers in the Driver Improvement Program.

Additions to the penalty system include the Immediate Roadside Prohibition program (IRP) for alcohol and drug impaired drivers and the Vehicle Impoundment program for the IRP, excessive speeding, driving while unlicensed, prohibited or suspended, stunting and not being seated properly on a motorcycle.

The Driver Penalty Point Premium is based on driving convictions and paid to ICBC each year. The more penalty points you are assigned, the more you pay. This part of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations is overdue for revision. A red light conviction is 2 points, as is parking next to a yellow curb if you are ticketed for disobeying a traffic control device.

The Driver Risk Premium is meant to penalize drivers who have shown that they present a significant danger others through a driving related Criminal Code conviction, a 10 penalty point violation, excessive speeding or a distracted driving conviction.

If you are an at fault driver in a collision, you will either lose your safe driving insurance discount or the possibility of forgiveness should you experience another at fault collision.

Finally, the courts, RoadSafetyBC in Part 2 or the roadside prohibition requirements of Part 4 of the Motor Vehicle Act serve to remove driving priviliges entirely as a penalty.

This is quite an array of possibilities, isn’t it? With all of this in place, one wonders why there are still so much bad driving behaviour on our roads.

IBC signs on to UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance

Today, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) announced that it has signed on to UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance.

 

Endorsed by the UN Secretary-General and the chief executives of many of the world’s leading insurance companies, the Principles for Sustainable Insurance serve as a global framework for the insurance industry to address environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities—and a global initiative to strengthen the insurance industry’s contribution as risk managers, insurers and investors to building resilient, inclusive and sustainable communities and economies.

“As Canada’s trade association for home, auto, and business insurers, IBC recognizes that climate change is a current and growing threat that will have an increasingly large cost on society,” said Don Forgeron, President and CEO, IBC. “As a signatory to UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance, IBC will continue to follow and act on the outlined principles and promote the initiative’s important learnings through our involvement with member companies, governments, and all Canadians.”

“IBC joining UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI) is a shining example of leadership and commitment by the Canadian insurance industry,” said Butch Bacani, who leads the PSI at the UN. The PSI was launched at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, and has led to the largest collaborative initiative between the UN and the insurance industry. Nearly 120 organizations worldwide have adopted the four Principles for Sustainable Insurance, including insurers representing more than 25% of world premium volume and USD 14 trillion in assets under management.

“The public and the insurance industry are seeing first-hand the serious and sometimes-deadly effects of climate change,” added Forgeron. “We need look no further than the tragic flooding in southern Alberta in 2013, and the devastating wildfires over the last two summers in Alberta and British Columbia. Severe weather and natural disasters are happening now with more frequency and with greater intensity. By joining the PSI, IBC is reinforcing its commitment to work with governments, stakeholders, and all Canadians to address risk, encourage mitigation and adaptation, and to tackle the serious effects of our changing climate.”

This June, the PSI and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the leading global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns and regions, will launch “Insurance Development Goals for Cities” at the ICLEI World Congress in Montréal. These are risk management, insurance and investment goals to strengthen the global insurance industry’s contribution to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 to “make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” In 2015, world leaders adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals—17 global goals with the aim of ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all.

“We look forward to working together with IBC and other PSI members in turning the principles into practice and in urgently addressing key sustainability challenges and opportunities—from climate change, natural disasters and pollution; to renewable energy, sustainable oceans and resilient cities,” added Bacani.

Additional links:

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 120,000 Canadians, pays $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $52 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow IBC on Twitter @InsuranceBureau or like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

Ford recalls almost 1.4M cars; steering wheel can come loose

DETROIT _ Under pressure from U.S. regulators, Ford is recalling nearly 1.4 million midsize cars in North America _ including 62,479 in Canada _ because the steering wheels can detach from the steering column and drivers could lose control.

The recall covers certain Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ cars from the 2014 through 2018 model years.

Ford says steering wheel bolts can loosen over time. The company says it knows of two crashes and one injury caused by the problem.

Dealers will replace the bolts with longer ones that have more aggressive threads and a nylon patch to stop them from coming loose. Owners will be notified by mail the week of April 30, and parts are expected to be available by then.

Just over 1.3 million cars in the U.S. are being recalled, with the rest in Canada and Mexico.

The recall comes about five months after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into steering wheels falling off of Fusions from the 2014 through 2016 model years.

The safety agency said in documents that it began the probe after receiving three complaints, including one from a driver from Georgia who reported that the steering wheel in a 2015 Fusion fell into their lap when turning into a gas station.

Two other people reported that the bolt attaching the wheel to the steering column came loose while driving and had to be retightened at a repair shop. At the time the agency had no reports of crashes or injuries.

Ford isn’t the only manufacturer to issue a recall for steering wheels coming off. In February, Hyundai recalled 43,900 vehicles which were at risk of the steering wheel breaking away from the steering column. That recall affected the 2018 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport SUVs.

Report: Car Insurance Prices Rise in Alberta, Decline in Ontario

Press Release:

Today, LowestRates.ca launched its 2018 Auto Insurance Price Index report, the country’s only price index that uses proprietary data to track the average cost Canadians pay for car insurance on a quarterly basis. The index uses the hundreds of thousands of quotes processed annually by LowestRates.ca, an online rate comparison site for insurance, mortgages, loans and credit card rates, to collect the data.

The report shows that since Q4 of 2016, the price of auto insurance in Alberta has been trending upward, increasing by 5.1% in the last year, which means that the average consumer in Alberta paid more for car insurance in 2017 than she did in 2016. In comparison, prices in Ontario over the past year have been trending downward, decreasing by 4.9% in the last year. This means that, on average, consumers in Ontario paid less for auto insurance in 2017 than in 2016 (though there was a slight increase in the last quarter of the year). The Auto Insurance Price Index gives consumers a comprehensive look at the trends in pricing, ensuring that they are better informed when it comes time to renew their insurance policy.

“The car insurance industry can be a bit of a mystery to consumers, and that’s the main reason we created the Auto Insurance Price Index—to pull back the curtain and give consumers the information they need to make the decisions that work best for them,” said Justin Thouin, Co-Founder and CEO of LowestRates.ca. “We hope consumers can use this information to make better decisions. Don’t accept rate increases if our index shows prices falling in your province.”

Auto insurance prices in Alberta have increased from 98 on the index in Q4 of 2016, to 103 in Q4 of 2017, while prices in Ontario have gone from an index score of 102 to 97 within the last year. The index works by looking at the average price for quotes on LowestRates.ca, with each quarter compared against Q2 2017 (the benchmark quarter). Each point on the index above 100 represents a 1% change in prices. For instance, a 105 index reading would mean the price has increased by 5% since Q2 2017.

Breaking the report down by age:

Alberta

  • 18- to 24-year-olds are paying 2.3% more compared to Q4 2016
  • 25- to 44-year-olds are paying 0.84% more than they did in 2016
  • 45-year-olds and up are paying 5.6% more than they did in 2016

Ontario

  • 18- to 24-year-olds are paying 11.8% less than 2016
  • 25- to 44-year-olds are paying 3.2% less than 2016
  • 45-year-olds and up are paying 10.8% less than 2016

Breaking the report down by sex:

Alberta

  • Men are paying 5.9% more than in 2016
  • Women are paying 2.9% more than in 2016

Ontario

  • Men are paying 6.9% less than in 2016
  • Women are paying 1.9% more than in 2016

Insurance companies determine rates based on their costs—particularly how many accident claims they receive each month, and how expensive those claims are. If claims rise in a given quarter, premiums can go up for some insurers, even if others lower their prices. The LowestRates.ca Auto Insurance Price Index tracks the percentage change in the average quote requested for car insurance by individual drivers residing in Ontario and Alberta, insuring only one vehicle.

Other notable trends include:

  • The average premium in Ontario is $1,458, based on data from the Ontario Ministry of Finance. In comparison, the average for all other provinces and territories in Canada is $930. That makes Ontario’s average price 44% higher than the rest of Canada.
  • In Ontario, car insurance rates have been trending higher in the most recent quarter, with the average premium rising 3.2% in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter of 2017. But rates have dropped 4.9% year-over-year.
  • The average premium in Alberta is $1,179. That makes Alberta, on average, 23.6% more expensive for car insurance than the Canadian average.
  • In Alberta, auto insurance rates are up 5.1% compared to last year. In the fourth quarter, the average rate for car insurance rose 1% from the third quarter of 2017.

The full report can be found here.

About LowestRates.ca

LowestRates.ca is an online rate comparison site for insurance, mortgages, loans and credit card rates in Canada. The free, independent service connects directly with financial institutions and providers from all over North America to provide Canadians with a comprehensive list of rates. LowestRates.ca wants to help everyone become more financially literate, with a goal of saving Canadians $1 billion in interest and fees.

SOURCE LowestRates.ca

Insurance company uncovers ‘pervasive’ auto body shop scams; urges action

By Colin Perkel

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Workers at auto body shops deliberately damaged cars, installed used parts but billed for new ones, or invoiced for phantom repairs, according to an investigation by a Canadian insurer that is calling on government to help in curbing the problem.

Aviva Canada found about half the total expenses submitted for repairs to crashed vehicles during its investigation in Ontario were bogus an amount the company estimates adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

“Nobody has ever really sampled the extent of fraud with any kind of accuracy,” Gordon Rasbach, Aviva Canada’s vice president of fraud management, said in an interview. “This is the first time in Canada that we’re aware of that anyone has actually taken a sample, albeit a small one, at random, and used actual cases in progress to put some kind of numbers on it.”

In its investigation results are to be released on Monday Aviva attempted to simulate typical fender-bender situations involving private passenger cars by deliberately crashing 10 vehicles.

The company had experts detail the damage and estimate repair costs, then kitted out the cars with hidden cameras and, at various times last year, put them on highways in the Toronto area. Investigators posed as hapless drivers just having gone through their first crash.

Rasbach said he was surprised only one repair outfit acted honestly. The other nine cases showed some degree of “clear cut” fraud, he said. While Aviva’s experts had estimated total damage for the 10 vehicles at about $30,000, the repair shops invoiced Aviva for about $61,000, the company says.

Among other things Aviva says occurred were tow-truck drivers who billed for towing and storage that didn’t happen, drivers who were asked to sign blank work orders, cars maliciously damaged at body shops, and shenanigans over repaired or replaced parts.

“The video footage and clear evidence of fraudulent invoicing shows just how pervasive the problem of fraud is,” Rasbach said. “Honest consumers are the ones that are paying for it.”

Insurance fraud eats into the bottom lines of companies like Aviva.

Industry estimates suggest between five and 15 per cent of premiums drivers pay for car insurance go toward covering undetected fraudulent claims. Aviva, whose own tactics in fighting legitimate claims have come under fire by the courts, says more has to be done to combat fraud. Among other things, it wants governments to force insurance companies to report and share information when fraud is identified.

“In Canada, insurers are not only not compelled to report fraud, they’re not even compelled to do something about it,” Rasbach said. “The insurers themselves don’t seem to be able to get their act together on this problem.”

Banning referral fees to third parties for example a tow-truck driver who gets paid to take a vehicle to a specific facility and making it illegal to ask consumers to sign blank work orders are other measures the government should take, Aviva said.

A spokeswoman for Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said the government was making structural reforms to address fraud but did not comment on any of the ideas put forward by Aviva.

Ken Whitehurst, executive director of the Consumers Association of Canada, expressed skepticism the fraud is as extensive as claimed given that repairs are often done at body shops recommended by the insurance companies themselves. However, Aviva deserves some credit, he said.

“It’s great that they are illustrating that (fraud) is really happening,” Whitehurst said. “It’s a positive thing that they’re trying to come up with what they hope are low cost ideas (to address it).”

The Aviva study comes just months ahead of a provincial election in Ontario, where high auto-insurance premiums have been a perennial hot topic for decades. A report previously commissioned by the province found the average policy for a vehicle in 2015 was $1,458 double that in Quebec and almost 55 per cent higher than the Canadian average.

That report, which focused on curbing sharply rising costs related to crash-related health-care benefits, prompted the province among other things to begin developing standard treatment plans. In addition, Ontario has announced plans to set up a “Serious Fraud Office” to combat fraud with a focus on auto insurance.

A previous Aviva investigation into a scam involving claims for accident-related health benefits in the Toronto area prompted a police probe that led to fraud charges against three people.

ICBC spends $800,000 in damage claims for Ferrari that crashed into pole

By Amy Smart

THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER _ British Columbia’s public auto insurer says it has spent $789,375 in damage claims for a Ferrari that crashed into a pole.

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. is embroiled in a court battle over the claims and repairs, which it says could cost more than $982,000 in total.

According to documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court, the plaintiff accidentally drove the 1990 Ferrari F40 into a utility pole on Sept. 9, 2012, leaving it badly damaged.

The repairs have yet to be completed according to a judgment in the case, though ICBC said it’s done its part.

The driver argued in the documents that ICBC breached an implied duty to process his claim and carry out the repairs in good faith and a timely manner.

“He alleges further that ICBC acted in bad faith in refusing, at least for a time, to approve and arrange the needed repair work and that delay has caused him various kinds of harm,” a judgment in the case reads.

Following an investigation, ICBC eventually admitted coverage and agreed to cover most of the cost of repairs. But it said it already paid enough toward the claim, since its payments exceed the cash value of the car which an arbitrator pinned at $696,061 in 2014.

The case is ongoing.

Kris Sims, B.C. director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said the case is a perfect example of why the province should do away with the Crown corporation and leave auto insurance to private companies.

“We end up with this swamp of ineptitude and delays. This perfectly highlights it here we’ve got someone who has $900,000 worth of repairs needed and a government monopoly not equipped to do it,” Sims said.

She said private insurers are better equipped to insure cars because competition gives them incentive to expediate both claim and court processes, with legal teams, estimators, repair specialists on hand.

Taxpayers should be responsible for neither the damage claims nor the court costs, Sims said.

“We’re unfortunately all in this together, whether we like it or not,” she said.

Last week, the province introduced an online survey on major shifts being considered to modernize ICBC.

The provincial budget forecast a $1.3-billion deficit at the Crown corporation this year and Attorney General David Eby described the situation as a “dumpster fire” he said he inherited from the former Liberal government.

An Ernst and Young report commissioned by the Liberals last year suggested charging higher rates for luxury vehicles, among a suite of options for reducing losses at ICBC.

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