A dashcam can offer an ‘unbiased witness’ in traffic-accident disputes

In a video taken through the windshield of Dung Le’s 15-year-old Toyota Echo, an oncoming car breaks the monotony of a wide, nearly empty street on a quiet August morning in a sprawling residential Edmonton neighbourhood.

As it approaches, the car leaves its lane as though turning into a driveway, then straightens and aims head-on at Le’s car. There’s a crashing noise, the dashcam is jolted upward to focus on empty blue sky and a man’s voice is heard saying, “What happened? What happened?”

Le, who is originally from Vietnam, said the footage from his dashcam made it easy when downloaded later on to show exactly what had just happened.

“Lucky I had the dashcam camera when that lady went from the other side into my lane and hit my car. My car is a total writeoff,” the 52-year-old man said in an interview.

“My shoulder and my neck are in pain, sore.”

Dashboard cameras, commonly used in police cars and other emergency vehicles, are increasingly being installed in personal vehicles by motorists who want to bring along an impartial witness when they hit the road.

Camera sales and installations at AutoTemp’s south Calgary vehicle accessories shop are equally split these days between business vehicles and personal cars, said manager Tim Bruce.

“For a category that didn’t exist 10 years ago, it’s becoming more and more popular,” he said.

The units sell for between $200 and $500, he said. Installation, which involves running wires to the camera for power and fixing it in place, takes two to four hours.

Generally, the more expensive units have the most options, Bruce said, including a second camera for the back window, higher resolution picture quality, larger storage cards, GPS for estimating speed and Wifi connectivity so that the video can be downloaded to a cellphone.

The cameras start operating automatically when the car starts and run continuously but some are also activated when the engine is off if they detect motion or an impact, such as when the car is struck by a vandal or another vehicle, he said.

The memory cards are overwritten as they fill, so the owner has to save a file separately if he or she wants to keep it.

Customers buy cameras for old and news cars alike but Bruce said many come in after they’ve been involved in an accident or an insurance dispute where they wish they had dashcam video.

Insurance companies in Canada don’t offer premium discounts for dashcams yet, said Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations for Ontario for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, but they might in future if they find the cameras reduce the risk of having to pay out a claim.

“Dashcams may, like GPS devices, be a distraction if they’re not properly used. So there’s that to be aware of and be concerned about,” he pointed out.

“On the other side of the coin, if someone is involved in a crash or they witness something, the good thing about having dashcam video is it really is an impartial and unbiased witness to the events.”

He recalled a case involving a collision on Highway 401 near Toronto where a vehicle stopped and then suddenly backed up and struck a following car. Typically, the driver of the following car would have been assumed to be at fault in what appeared to be a rear-end collision, but the dashcam video proved it was, in fact, a case of attempted fraud.

Le’s dashcam footage will make a huge difference in settling insurance and legal questions related to the case, said Edmonton personal injury lawyer Norm Assiff, who is representing Le.

Without the video, the other driver could claim Le was at fault, he said. An accident reconstruction after the fact might conclude both parties were somehow at fault and split liability.

In either case, his client could be on the hook for damages and face potential insurance rate hikes, Assiff said.

“In an injury case, which is my expertise, there are always two issues,” the lawyer said.

“The first issue is liability, who’s at fault? The second issue is quantum of damages, how much is the case worth, and causation, did the accident cause the injuries?”

From a legal perspective, there’s no privacy issue because the roadway is considered a public place, he said, adding courts typically consider dashcam video to be admissible as evidence.

Protection from dishonesty is the reason Dung Le bought his dashcam for about $69 from an Internet website about five years ago.

A friend of his who had been involved in an accident was confident the other party would be found liable, but a key witness then gave inaccurate testimony that led to the case going against him.

“A dashcam makes a lot more reliable witness,” Le summed up.

British Columbians pay the highest on average in car insurance in Canada

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Drivers in British Columbia are paying the highest insurance premiums in the country – by a substantial amount.

New numbers calculated by the General Insurance Statistical Agency show, on average, drivers in this province are shelling out $1,832 a year. Second place is far behind – drivers in Ontario still pay $300 less than their B.C. counterparts.

Insurance Bureau of Canada Vice President Aaron Sutherland says ICBC’s monopoly has a lot to do with that.

“We need to start asking ourselves if there is another company that can provide this. Most Canadians have the benefit of a competitive marketplace where they can shop around, where they can find those savings.”

He says we need competition to see rates cool down.

“Here in B.C., we have to purchase our basic auto insurance from ICBC, whereas most other Canadians are able to shop around to find the best product at the best possible price.”

Sutherland says while rate changes are underway in B.C., without competition, he doesn’t believe it will do much to reduce the price most drivers pay.

And there doesn’t appear to be a breaking point. Prices are expected to continue rising in the coming years, according to ICBC.

Spokesperson Joanna Linsangan says competition won’t help.

“Whether we have a public or private auto insurance system in B.C., the same underlying problems of a high number of crashes and record-high numbers of claims and costs would still need to be addressed – simply changing to private insurance would not solve these issues,” she says.

“We are taking a different approach here in B.C. to fix the system – we are redirecting money currently going toward legal costs and putting it back into better benefits and improved care for people injured in crashes.”

What goes up, must come down — unless it’s car insurance rates, apparently

Lorraine Explains: Don’t let misleading Top 10 lists fool you about auto insurance

By LORRAINE SOMMERFELD

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a quote attributed to various famous folk, but the upshot is the same: we can make numbers twist and turn in conversational breezes until they say whatever we want, whatever makes us look better.

Right now, in most of Canada, car insurance rates continue to rise like a giant pan of Jiffy Pop stuck in the fire.

Political parties roll into power promising to clean up the mess made by the other guys, only to find the mess has been so long in the making, at some point their own party has been part of the problem.

They stumble away from an epic issue with un-sexy solutions and hope consumers will forget. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, fraud is costing Canadians billions every year. It’s “an illegal, organized big business, largely unknown to consumers, that siphons resources away from our health care system, ties up our emergency services and courts, and drives up insurance costs,” the org writes.

READ MORE HERE: 

‘Not humanly possible’: Driving instructor allegedly hacked auto insurance computers

CBC News

Insurance investigators raided the home office last month of a Richmond, B.C., driving instructor suspected of hacking the province’s notoriously backlogged wait list for road tests.

According to court documents obtained by CBC News, the man was able to schedule road tests for his students in as little as two days — when the wait for everyone else is as long as three months.

A search warrant obtained for the instructor’s home says his computer’s internet address has been linked to hundreds of suspicious transactions involving the booking of coveted road tests slots for his clients.

“There are a number of transactions that are occurring within seconds or simultaneously to other related transactions,” the search warrant reads.

“This type of activity is not humanly possible and is believed to be being completed by a computer program or ‘BOT.'”

‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’

CBC is not naming the driving instructor because he hasn’t been charged with any offence. His lawyer said he wouldn’t comment at this time.

But according to the search warrant, investigators with the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC) say they have grounds to believe the man committed fraud by depriving the insurer’s other customers of road test appointments.

The wait time for road tests has spiked since ICBC, the province’s auto insurance provider,  made its tests more challenging in 2016. The insurer has blamed the clogged system on drivers who repeatedly fail.

According to the court documents, the waiting time to book a road test in the Lower Mainland currently ranges between 50 and 90 days. The average wait is 70 days.

As well as the investigation into computer hacking, the search warrant also details a previous investigation that saw ICBC discipline several driving schools for bulk booking appointments.

A handful of schools were caught using licence numbers of old clients to book and hold spots that were later re-allocated to new clients.

The most prolific offender had their licence cancelled.

“I am rather surprised that this has raised its ugly head again,” said Kurtis Strelau, director of training for Young Drivers of Canada, the province’s oldest and largest driving school.

“I guess, where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

READ MORE HERE: 

Private sector must drive better options in B.C.’s auto-insurance market

The excerpted article was written and updated by Colin Brown | Vancouver Sun

B.C. motorists are held hostage when it comes to basic vehicle insurance. That’s unfortunate, since rates in our province are among the highest in Canada. For instance, we pay considerably more for comparable insurance than our neighbours in Alberta.

Compounding our affordability woes, ICBC hiked basic rates in April to stem mounting financial losses. (We all remember the colourful words of Attorney-General David Eby, who described the corporation as a “financial dumpster fire”.) As a driver myself, any increase hurts the wallet. Plus, new drivers will pay even more when ICBC rolls out a new risk model in September.

We all want a better price. This is, after all, an infamously expensive place to live. A survey recently conducted by local pollsters Research Co. confirms what I have long suspected: More than three-quarters of British Columbians (78 per cent) want more choice in the auto insurance market.

The good news is that British Columbians do have a choice when it comes to optional insurance: the private sector. Private insurers have the potential to offer more choice, more savings and a better overall insurance experience.

But as ICBC works to regain traction, some optional insurance companies are being inconsistent in their offerings. Rather than being part of the solution, some chose to go dormant — hiding out during this time of uncertainty. In fact, there was a period last summer when two of the biggest providers in our market were not writing new policies because market conditions weren’t favourable.

But we don’t just need competition, we need better competition. Unfortunately, some optional providers have little knowledge of our market — making it difficult to tailor products to our west coast lifestyle. And we know for a fact that drivers do want a better product: The majority polled indicate a desire for better optional vehicle coverage (71 per cent), and a better product overall (67 per cent).

That’s where a gap currently exists. To be attractive to consumers, the private sector should help motorists save money by offering discounts for progressive consumer choices like energy-efficient vehicles, or technologically advanced safety features like automatic braking systems and lane departure warnings. The private sector would also do well to fill the current gap in niche coverage that includes luxury, recreational, collector and fleet vehicles.

While ICBC conducts test after test to evaluate new technologies, the private sector has an opportunity to lead the charge by rewarding new drivers who choose to use smart-phone monitoring solutions, or by offering discounts for using voluntary distracted driving apps. (And they should avoid the temptation to simply punish less-than-perfect drivers with surcharges.) The crown corporation unfortunately lags behind in offering these forward-thinking innovations, which could save consumers money while making the roads safer for everyone. Surely, offering incentives to prevent accidents is preferable to merely adding punitive surcharges after the fact?

So, as we look forward to smoother roads ahead, let this be a challenge to the private sector: drivers deserve better choices for optional coverage. Ideally, some of those intelligent options will come from homegrown, B.C. companies that know our market.

I’ll leave you with a sneak peek at what’s on the horizon: Remember Canadian Direct Insurance? I was proud to be part of its executive leadership team, prior to its acquisition. That local leadership team plans to continue the mission to bring more choice, more savings and a better insurance experience to B.C. motorists under a new corporate banner.

As a fellow driver, I believe British Columbians deserve better. Stay tuned.

With more than 40 years of experience in B.C.’s insurance sector, Colin Brown helped establish the operational framework for ICBC, before serving as its chief underwriter in the 1990s. He then served as Canadian Direct Insurance’s chief operating officer until the company’s acquisition in 2015.

Source: Vancouver Sun

Ontario’s Worst and Best Cities based on driving records revealed, new 2019 study

A graphic of two cars colliding.We grade the cities across Ontario based on tickets and collisions of its hometown drivers.

Your driving record and history has a direct impact on the auto insurance premiums you pay. With tickets and collisions on your record, you can expect to pay more for your auto insurance than if you didn’t. It’s a reality that most drivers know and expect.

You might also expect, however, that residents in large urban areas, like Toronto, would report having more tickets on their driving record, on average, as well as collisions. It’s a big city after all with more vehicles on the road and drivers, and thus a greater chance for something to happen.

Yet, according to InsuranceHotline.com this may be a myth. Based on the details provided by shoppers who obtained Ontario auto insurance quotes, you have to look beyond Toronto’s borders to find the cities whose drivers admit to having the most tickets, collisions, or a combination of the two, on their driving record. These are infractions and collisions that could have occurred in the driver’s hometown or anywhere their travels have taken them.

We measured all three categories, and then assigned each city a grade based on its variance from the Ontario average.

In Orangeville, for example, drivers were 1.9 times as likely to have a ticket, accident, or both, on their record than the Ontario average. In North York, a driver is 22 percent less likely to have a ticket, crash or both on their record than the average, and Toronto drivers are 21 percent less likely to have a black mark on their driving record.

The Top 10 Worst Cities in Ontario for Driving

City/Town Grade
Orangeville D
Bradford D
Woodstock D
Sault Ste. Marie D
Brantford D
Orillia D
Thunder Bay C
St. Thomas C
Caledon C
Barrie C

The Top 10 Best Cities in Ontario for Driving

City/Town Grade
North York A
Toronto A
East York A
Etobicoke A
Mississauga A
Brampton A
Scarborough A
York A
Thornhill A
Oakville A

Breaking it Down

The Lowdown on Tickets

On average, 6.9 percent of drivers in the province admit to having at least one ticket on their driving record while getting quotes. However, drivers in some cities and towns exceed this average considerably.

City/Town % of Drivers with a Ticket (No collision)
Caledon 15.0%
Orangeville 13.2%
Bradford 12.2%
Peterborough 12.0%
St. Thomas 11.2%
Sudbury 11.0%
Thunder Bay 10.9%
Bolton 10.8%
Stoney Creek 10.6%

Accidentally Speaking

From a collision standpoint, overall 8.9 percent of Ontario drivers admit to having been involved in a collision in the last 10 years. Yet, there are areas in the province where the average is two full percentage points higher.

City/Town % of Drivers with a Collision (No tickets)
Woodstock 13.6%
Orleans 12.8%
Sault Ste. Marie 12.4%
Kanata 12.3%
Gloucester 12.2%
Whitby 11.5%
Pickering 11.5%
Brantford 11.3%
Orillia 11.2%
Burlington 10.9%

Double Trouble

Having both a ticket and collision on your driving record is detrimental to your auto insurance premiums and approximately 3.5 percent of Ontario drivers admit to having at least one of each in their relatively recent past. In 13 communities across the province, however, the average is 5.5 percent or higher.

City/Town % of Drivers with both a Ticket and Collision
Orangeville 9.4%
Bradford 8.4%
Sault Ste. Marie 8.4%
Woodstock 7.4%
Brantford 6.9%
Orillia 6.6%
Cambridge 6.3%
Thunder Bay 6.3%
St. Thomas 5.9%
Barrie 5.9%
Welland 5.8%
Oshawa 5.6%
Pickering 5.5%

What’s It All Mean to Your Ontario Car Insurance?

Your driving record matters. Your driving record is an influential factor in determining your Ontario auto insurance rate. Sure, there are others like where you live, your insurance history, and the type of car you drive; but your driving record and history is indicative of how you are when behind the wheel. Every at-fault (or partially at-fault) accident or traffic ticket conviction will likely increase the cost of your premiums.

What’s more, traffic ticket convictions affect your insurance rates for no less than three years and accidents stay on your record for at least six! With a less than perfect driving record, you can find yourself paying a lot of extra premium over the years.

Whatever your driving record, compare quotes each year to ensure you are getting the best car insurance rates going. Each insurance company calculates their rates differently and if your driving record changes, for any reason, the insurer who last offered you the best insurance rate, may no longer be your best choice.

Compare car insurance quotes at InsuranceHotline.com from 30+ providers in a single search. Start saving money today on the premiums you pay.

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