Will insurance be denied if a key is hidden in the car and the car is stolen?

Will insurance be denied if a key is hidden in the car and the car is stolen?

Leaving a spare key in your car is a great idea – for car thieves. But if a crook does find the key you skillfully hid in the cup holder, you’ll probably still be covered by insurance.

“Most personal auto insurance policies do not include clauses that would deny coverage for a theft if the keys were in the car or if the doors were unlocked,” said State Farm Canada spokesman John Bordignon in an e-mail. “However, if a person has a pattern of many losses over a short period of time or a history of suspicious claims, this could make an insurance company investigate further or to review their relationship with them.”

We checked with the provinces with government insurance. They said the same thing – you’ll be covered if a thief uses your spare key to drive away. And, it happens.

“Unfortunately, people leaving their keys in their vehicle and having the vehicle stolen is pretty common in Saskatchewan, according to what we hear from police agencies,” said Kelley Brinkworth, media relations manager for Saskatchewan Government Insurance.

How often? We checked with several police departments and didn’t get exact numbers.

“We did a project a couple of years ago where 60 per cent of the stolen vehicles we recovered had keys in them,” said Dan Service, director of investigative services for the Western and Pacific region for the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

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ICBC speakers reaching out to youth to prevent crashes this grad season

ICBC speakers reaching out to youth to prevent crashes this grad season

With the graduation and prom party season in full swing, ICBC’s road safety speakers are touring B.C. high schools to share their personal, heart-wrenching stories with students and remind them of the tragic and life-changing consequences of taking risks while driving.

On average, 32 youth aged 16 to 21 are killed in crashes each year in B.C. During graduation season from April to June alone, on average, six youth are killed.

In B.C., 39 per cent of young drivers in fatal crashes were speeding, 27 per cent were impaired and 22 per cent were distracted.

“For many teenagers, getting their driver’s licence represents freedom and independence, but there is also a great responsibility that comes with it,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “ICBC road safety speakers help connect with youth through their personal experiences and motivate them to think twice before taking risks behind the wheel.”

“Graduation marks an important milestone in the life of every student, but a car crash can change that in a moment,” said Mike Bernier, Minister of Education. “The road safety speaker program is an investment in the well-being of our students and the continued safety of our roads.”

“Unsafe choices related to driving and being a passenger in a vehicle remains the top risk to the lives and health of youth,” said Mark Blucher, ICBC’s president and CEO. “We want to get students talking about the dangers of distracted driving, speeding and impaired driving and help them make safer choices.”

For the past 19 years, ICBC road safety speakers have been sharing their stories with approximately 50,000 B.C. high school students every year.

ICBC is committed to working with youth, parents, educators and community groups to help reduce crashes, identify the risks of the road and help young drivers develop strong decision-making skills.

You can find video clips of the speakers and more details on their presentations on icbc.com. ICBC also invests in various road safety programs for students including K-10 school curriculum and B.C.’s graduated licensing program.

Editor’s Note: Media are invited to these upcoming presentations in the Lower Mainland,Southern Interior, Northern B.C. and on Vancouver Island.

Regional statistics:

  • On average, 12 youth are killed in crashes each year in the Lower Mainland.
  • On average, nine youth are killed in crashes each year in Southern Interior.
  • On average, eight youth are killed in crashes each year in the North Central region.
  • On average, four youth are killed in crashes each year on Vancouver Island.

Note: all data referenced is police-reported data based on the five-year average from 2010 to 2014. Youth are defined as ages 16 to 21.

Media contact:
Sam Corea
604-982-2480

Ontario: Upcoming Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule Changes

Excerpted article written by  | Lerners Personal Injury

Change is the name of the game when it comes to Ontario car insurance.  It seems that every year our legislature is keen to make changes to our auto insurance laws.  Similarly, it would appear we are currently on a five and a half year cycle where the Accident Benefits system gets a substantial overhaul.  Unfortunately, history has shown us that these insurance changes are not usually in favour of the injured person.  Looking forward, it appears history is about it repeat itself.  On June 1, 2016 Ontario Regulation 251/15 comes into force, which will considerably change the current Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS). The amendments will only apply to accidents occurring on or after June 1, 2016.

Amendments to Non-Catastrophic Benefits

Under the current SABS, a maximum amount of coverage of $50,000.00 is available for non-catastrophically impaired claimants in terms of medical and rehabilitation benefits and an additional $36,000.00 is available for attendant care purposes. The June 1st amendments combine these two categories into one standard benefit. Under this new benefit category the maximum amount available to claimants will become $65,000.00, reducing the overall combined amount previously available by $21,000.00 and forcing injured people to juggle the two benefit types.

Not only will the amount of coverage be decreasing but so too will the duration for accessing these benefits.  For those over 18 at the time of the accident, their period of coverage is being reduced from 10 years to 5 years. For those under 18 at the time of the accident, access to these benefits will be available until their 28thbirthday.

The current optional medical and rehabilitation benefit and the optional attendant care benefit are being combined into a standard optional benefit. The new standard benefit reduces the amount of optional benefits from $172,000.00 ($100,000.00 for medical and rehabilitation and $72,000.00 for attendant care) to $130,000.00.

Catastrophic Benefits

Under the current SABS, a maximum of $1,000,000.00 coverage is available for catastrophically impaired claimants for medical and rehabilitation benefits, as well as $1,000,000.00 coverage available for attendant care. For those catastrophically impaired in an accident on or after June 1, 2016, the attendant care, medical and rehabilitation benefits are being combined into one standard benefit – just like what is being done in the non-catastrophic category. For those who quality, the maximum level of coverage available under this new benefit is $1,000,000.00, reducing the overall amount previously available by $1,000,000.00

The current optional combined medical, rehabilitation and attendant care benefit maximum available is $3,000,000.00. Following the amendments the optional combined benefit amount will be reduced to $2,000,000.00 with the option to purchase an additional $1,000,000.00. Catastrophically impaired claimants may still have access to the $3,000,000.00 maximum provided that they bought both options.

Catastrophic Definition

Not only are the amounts of funding being changed but so too are the criteria for entitlement.   June 1st will see significant changes to the definition of catastrophic impairment.  Most notably, the new definition completely removes all references to the Glasgow Coma Scale. Instead, the regulation refers to “Structured Interviews for the Glasgow Outcome Scale and the Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale: Guidelines for Their Use, Journal of Neurotrauma, Volume 15, Number 8, 1998” as the new tests to be used to determine whether a person has suffered a catastrophic brain injury.

The new definition also overrules Pastore v Aviva Canada Inc., 2012 ONCA 642. In that case the Court of Appeal concluded that only one functional impairment due to a mental or behavioural disorder at the marked level was necessary to declare a claimant’s injuries to be catastrophic. Under the new definition mental or behavioural disorders will only be deemed catastrophic if there is a marked impairment in three of the four aspects of function or an extreme impairment in one aspect. Further, the claimant must be precluded from useful function.

The new definition also updates the criteria for amputations, ambulatory mobility and loss of vision. The regulation indicates that the Spinal Cord Independence Measure, Version III must now be consulted when determining whether an individual is catastrophic in circumstances of paraplegia, tetraplegia or a severe impairment of ambulatory mobility.

Finally, the new definition sets out that one must consult the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 6th edition (instead of the 4th edition) for the purpose of “combining” physical and mental impairments. Along with the 4th edition’s system for rating other impairments, the new definition directs one to use the 6th edition’s methodology for assigning a Whole Person Impairment to certain mental and behavioural conditions.          

Non-Earner Benefits

Currently, non-earner benefits are available to injured claimants who are 16 years of age or older and these benefits remain available for their lifetime. There is a six-month waiting period following the accident before these benefits become payable. Once payable, they continue for life so long as the claimant continues to qualify. Non-earner benefits are currently payable at a rate of $ 185.00 weekly. For students the weekly amount increases to $320.00 weekly at the two year anniversary of the accident.

Under the new regulations, for accidents occurring on or after June 1, 2016, non-earner benefits will only be available to claimants who are 18 years of age or older and are available for a maximum of two years. The six-month delay is reduced to a four week delay. The increase previously available to students has been eliminated.

Implications

The above only highlights some of the major changes that are coming our way.  We are entering a new era of accident benefits where, undoubtedly, there will be even less funding available for the majority of accident victims.  There is sure to be growing pains and a learning curve for insurers and medical assessors who will have to learn the new tests and texts that will be relied upon when making a catastrophic determination.  While it is expected that the damages recoverable in tort claims will also increase, due to the decreased availability of statutory accident benefit credits, a number of seriously injured claimants who do not have tort claims will be left to contend with insufficient benefits.  It is also worthwhile to consider the effect that insufficient benefits may have on the public health care system.  Time will only tell whether these changes will be tolerated; but, for better or for worse, the changes are coming and look like they are here to stay.

Ontario auto insurance rates drop, but still short of August 2015 target

TORONTO _ Auto insurance rates in Ontario have dropped about 10 per cent on average in the past couple of years, putting the Liberal government two-thirds of the way to a goal that passed eight months ago.

The Liberals promised in August 2013 to reduce car insurance premiums an average of 15 per cent by August 2015 as part of a deal to get NDP support for that year’s budget when they were still a minority government.

But after August came and went last year with the government’s target not even halfway met, Premier Kathleen Wynne said she always knew it was a “stretch goal.”

The latest numbers from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, for the first quarter of 2016, show that approved rates decreased on average by about three per cent.

The government introduced legislation last year that it says will lower costs for insurance companies and will lead to reduced rates for drivers.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa says the government has made progress, but further reductions must be made “in a fair and practical manner” and the auto insurance industry must also do its part.

canada-press

Pothole menace angers motorists, creates business for repair shops

By Ross Marowits

THE CANADIAN PRESS

MONTREAL _ An annoying sign of spring the dreaded pothole is testing the patience of Canadian drivers this year while also creating a financial bonanza for auto repair shops.

Extreme fluctuations in early spring temperatures along with lots of rain have unearthed a high number of potholes that are exposing motorists to hefty repair bills.

“It’s probably the worst year I’ve seen in the last 10 to 15 years,” Ben Lalonde, president of My AutoPro service centres in Ottawa, said in a recent interview.

Business is up as customers are showing up with bent wheels, punctured tires, misalignments and wrecked suspensions. Repair bills can range between $200 and $500 depending on the force of impact and the type of damage, Lalonde said.

Spring is a lucrative period for repair shops, says Jack Bayramian, owner of Montreal’s Decarie Garage, who adds that repairs stemming from pothole damage makes up about 30 per cent of his year’s revenues.

There’s no tally for the cost of dealing with the aftermath of potholes in Canada, but a poll of U.S. motorists by the American Automobile Association suggests they spend an average of US$3 billion a year dealing with pothole repairs. The Canadian Automobile Association is in the process of conducting its own poll.

While repair shops welcome the extra business, they also say it can cause customers to pare back spending on preventative maintenance.

“I know having bad roads is good for business but I think it’s (temporary) … because a lot of people end up neglecting their cars, and at the end it could be a safety concern,” James Bastien, manager of an OK Tire in the nation’s capital.

Most motorists tend to pay for repairs out-of-pocket unless damage is well above insurance claim deductibles, or they can beat the odds and win a claim from a municipality.

Several large Canadian municipalities are struggling this year to keep up with the menace that is consistently among the top sources of angry complaints from residents.

“This year has been fairly bad,” says Bryden Denyes, area manager of core roads for the City of Ottawa.

The city has filled 51,000 potholes so far this year, up substantially from 20,200 at the same time in 2015, but down slightly from two years ago. Compared to last year’s almost relentless bone-chilling cold, Ottawa has faced 28 freeze-and-thaw cycles versus just 11 a year ago.

The capital spends $5.4 million a year filling potholes and repairing roads, compared to the nearly $7 million to fix major and arterial roads in Montreal. Toronto spent $6 million in 2014 to fix 360,000 potholes.

Lionel Perez, a councillor responsible for Montreal’s infrastructure, said it’s a constant struggle to plug the holes, especially because of decades of under-investment.

The challenge is even bigger in Edmonton, which over the last nine years has faced an average of 455,000 new potholes a year. A warmer winter and less snow has given the Alberta capital somewhat of a reprieve this year.

In addition to filling potholes, municipalities have to contend with damage claims submitted by residents.

Very strict rules limit compensation in Quebec. Payouts are also low in other provinces.

Ottawa paid out only 10 per cent of claims last year, while Edmonton’s annual payout ratio is about 16 per cent. Toronto, meantime, paid out about half the 2,376 claims filed in 2014, the city said in its latest report.

canada-press

Canada: How To Renew Your Auto Insurance Policy In Ontario

By Robert Marks

By law, every driver in Ontario is required to carry insurance, with severe penalties – such as a minimum fine of $5,000 – for driving without it. But, how do you ensure that your insurance is current, and that it didn’t expire without you noticing?

Making sure you renew your auto insurance policy

In most cases, this is not an issue – the majority of insurance policies automatically renew at the end of their term, with cancellation of the policy only occurring at the client’s request. However, there are circumstances where a policy may not automatically renew. For example, some insurance companies will not renew a policy with a driver who has had three or more convictions under the Highway Traffic Act. Likewise, a driver who has become too high risk, such as one who has experienced multiple at-fault accidents, may also find that their insurance company is unwilling to renew the policy. In most cases where the policy is not going to automatically renew, the insurance company is required to send you a letter informing you of the situation – in a worst case scenario, however, if you have not received your renewal package at the expected time, you should contact your insurance company to find out why it has been delayed.

If you are looking for a new insurance company or a better rate, there are a few ways to approach it – one is to contact a licensed insurance broker, who can get a number of estimates from different insurance companies. Another is to contact the insurance companies directly for estimates yourself. Both approaches have their merits and drawbacks – the insurance broker may have greater negotiating power on your behalf, but may be limited to the insurance companies they represent, leaving you without quotes from insurers who might suit you better.

When looking at alternate insurance companies, there are a number of things you should be looking for. While annual rates are important, you also need to look at what optional benefits are being included with the rate quote. If you have a newer or classic car, you may need a greater level of coverage than if you are driving an inexpensive used car. You also need to know the amount of the deductible – the amount that you must pay towards repairs before the insurance company will cover the rest – and how much it will cost to lower it if it is too high. You may also want to know if the insurance company has an accident forgiveness program, protecting your rates from increasing after a single accident. Finally, you will want to check into the insurance company itself – an insurance provider that is easy to reach and has a history of treating their clients well is better than one that has treated its clients poorly, or is difficult to contact.

So long as you are a safe driver, remaining insured is not generally going to be a problem. Ensuring that you have the insurance that is right for you, on the other hand, can be harder, and knowing who to talk to and what to look for can make all the difference.

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