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Aviva boss promises to overhaul the way his firm sells insurance

By Victoria Bischoff and James Burton For The Daily Mail

Britain’s biggest insurer last night vowed to end a rip-off hitting millions of families.

In a victory for the Daily Mail, the boss of Aviva said it was wrong to charge loyal customers more every year.

Mark Wilson admitted the market was dysfunctional and promised to overhaul the way his firm sells insurance to ensure that all his 16million customers would have the best prices.

He called on the rest of the industry to follow suit.

The boss of LV=, which is the biggest car insurer, rallied to his call last night, admitting more needed to be done to help customers who stay with the same provider.

A Money Mail investigation revealed on Monday that loyal customers routinely pay three times the lowest market price for car and home cover.

In the worst cases they are charged £1,000 more than new customers, whose cut-price deals they effectively subsidise.

Speaking at Aviva’s annual meeting yesterday, chief executive Mr Wilson said: ‘There’s the broader problem of steep price rises when artificially low introductory discounts come to an end.

‘This means across the whole industry in the UK, when customers come to renew, they often get quoted more.

‘The market is broken. I don’t like it and neither do our customers. This dysfunctional market is a problem for the whole industry. And it requires an industry-wide solution. But we aren’t waiting for that.’

Mr Wilson promised to introduce a new product to ensure customers always got the best deal.

However, the firm would not reveal any more details. Richard Rowney, chief executive of LV=, told the Mail: ‘We agree that more needs to be done to support loyal consumers and we strongly believe that we need to tackle this together as an industry.

‘We will work to ensure that we continue to do what’s in the best interests of consumers, focusing on providing them with value for money and a great service.’

A spokesman for Direct Line said: ‘We will look at this new launch with interest.’

Mr Wilson told the Mail last night: ‘We’ve been working for the last 12 months on a product which rewards loyalty and offers our best prices to our existing customers and we plan to launch this later this year.

‘It’s time to tackle the broken system of steep price rises for insurance after artificially low introductory discounts end and we congratulate the Daily Mail on its campaign.’

Former pensions minister Baroness Altmann said: ‘Well done to the Daily Mail.

‘I’m delighted to see that Aviva is acknowledging these problems and it’s a really good step forward. It’s very often the most vulnerable people – the elderly and disabled – and those who work too many hours of the day who lose out because they don’t switch.’

Usually customers are offered better prices only if they threaten to leave.

At some insurers, as many as 80 per cent of customers roll over their insurance with their existing deal. The longer customers stay with their insurer, the more they are likely to be overpaying.

The renewal rip-off is thought to cost drivers £1billion a year.

James Daley, of consumer group Fairer Finance, said: ‘It’s great that Aviva are taking a stand and I hope that other insurers will follow suit … I’m sceptical that others will stop playing the game without heavy-handed intervention from regulators.’

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers said: ‘The UK insurance market is highly competitive with most customers shopping around and lots of switching.’

Edited for ILSTV

 

How to recall the nasty email you accidentally just sent your boss

By  |

It’s late, you’re tired and you accidentally just emailed an angry rant about your boss to her, instead of to the co-worker it was intended for.

D’oh!

It’s probably too late to do anything about that email. But by making a few simple tweaks to Gmail or Outlook you can greatly reduce the chances of future email slip-ups ruining your life.

How to undo sent emails in Gmail

Gmail doesn’t have a traditional “recall” function like Outlook. Instead, it has a function you can enable that allows you to “unsend” a message within a certain amount of time.

CNBC Tech: Recall gmail
  • You can turn it on by going to the cog icon in Gmail (on the top right), selecting “Settings” and then selecting the “General tab.”
CNBC Tech: Undo send gmail
  • Scroll down the page and check the “Enable Undo Send” option. You can choose a cancellation period of five, 10, 20 or 30 seconds.
CNBC Tech: Recall gmail 3
  • Now, whenever you send an email, you’ll see a pop-up that asks if you want to unsend the message. Tap it and it’ll never leave your outbox.

Ontario Chamber of Commerce Endorses Major Changes to Auto Insurance Rate Regulation

Ontario’s leading business organization, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), is calling on the provincial government to put an end to its existing auto rate filing system, a system the chamber describes as “one of the most costly, onerous, and restrictive in North America“. The OCC, which represents 60,000 businesses from across the province, officially endorsed auto rate regulation reform after a unanimous vote by local chamber of commerce delegates at the OCC’s AGM in Sarnia, Ontario.

Ontario’s antiquated rate regulation system no longer works for consumers and businesses,” said Kim Donaldson, Vice-President, Ontario, IBC. “We’re pleased to see the Ontario Chamber network join leading voices like David Marshall in calling on the Province for change.”

The OCC’s endorsement is aligned with the 2016 findings of the Province’s Expert Panel that reviewed the mandate of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). The Panel noted that a variety of studies suggest that strict rate controls could limit competition and consumer choice and thus lead to higher prices. The Panel recommended that the province review the rate approval process as a first step in implementing a less costly, less time-consuming, and more transparent process.

Echoing the findings and recommendations of the Province’s Expert Panel, the OCC argues that the transition from FSCO to the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) provides a window of opportunity for Ontario to adopt a more efficient approach to regulating automobile insurance. The OCC suggests that a “file and use” approach or a government review of alternative approaches to rate regulation is highly preferable to the current model.

“We will continue to work with government to ensure that FSRA’s Board of Directors is empowered to review and ultimately find alternatives to our existing rate regulation system,” added Donaldson.  “As both the chamber and government’s Expert Panel noted, the transition to FSRA provides a unique opportunity to create a transparent and accountable rate regulation process – a process that benefits consumers.”

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 $49 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow IBC on Twitter @InsuranceBureau and @IBC_Ontario 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

Uber setting up Canadian driverless car lab headed by Toronto AI expert

Uber setting up Canadian driverless car lab headed by Toronto AI expert

By Colin Perkel

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Uber has hailed a prominent artificial-intelligence academic to lead a driverless-car project in Toronto _ the ride-hailing company’s first such research hub outside the United States, its CEO announced Monday.

In a blog post, Travis Kalanick said he was proud to have Raquel Urtasun, an associate professor at the University of Toronto, on board. He described her as “one of the world’s leading researchers” in the fields of machine perception and artificial intelligence.

“Raquel will remain in Toronto to lead a new branch of our advanced technologies group our first outside the U.S.,” Kalanick said in his blog. “Raquel’s work focuses on developing the software that allows self-driving cars to ‘see:’ recognizing objects so they can navigate the world smoothly and safely.”

In an interview from San Francisco, Urtasun told The Canadian Press discussions with Uber began a few months ago. The lab has now begun operation with her and eight of her students with dozens of people still to be hired in the “near future” from what Kalanick described as the region’s “impressive” talent pool.

A key area of focus, she said, will be what is called perception essentially the brain of the self-driving car. That means coming up with formulas to interpret information from sensors such as video cameras about what’s happening around the vehicle nearby cars, pedestrians, cyclists and predict what they might do in the coming seconds.

“It’s a complicated task and this is why we don’t have self-driving cars everywhere right now, but it’s definitely not an impossible quest,” Urtasun said.

The lab will also focus on “localization.”

“In any point in time, the car needs to know where it is in the world,” she said.

Urtasun said she was not concerned about joining the company that is facing a lawsuit from Google’s self-driving car unit. The claim alleges Uber used stolen trade secrets to develop sensors for its autonomous vehicles. Urtasun said her research area is in a different area.

“If I had doubts that Uber did something wrong, I would never have joined the company,” Urtasun said.

She also acknowledged her hire as a high-profile woman by a company looking to change an image some have attacked as misogynist, saying she discussed the issue with Kalanick.

“The company is doing everything necessary to change whatever the remaining issues are,” she said.

The associate computer science professor, originally from Pamplona in Spain, has previously been an assistant professor at the Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago and a visiting professor in Switzerland. Her research interests include machine learning, computer vision, robotics and remote sensing.

In February, she was awarded a fellowship given each year to Canada’s top six scientists and engineers for her work on machine perception for self-driving cars.

While she won’t predict when self-driving cars might become a common sight, she does say those able to ply simple, controlled routes might be in place “relatively soon.”

Kalanick said Toronto has become an important hub of artificial intelligence research, which he called ‘critical to the future of transportation.”

“That’s why we’re also making a significant multi-year financial commitment as a platinum sponsor of the Vector Institute, which Raquel helped to set up as a co-founder,” Kalanick said.

Urtasun is one of the co-founders of the independent, non-profit institute set up in March. Its aim is to push Canada to the forefront of research into artificial intelligence.

The new lab will focus on improved mapping for autonomous cars but the company, which also does driverless-car research in San Francisco and Pittsburgh, said it had no plans to actually test the vehicles in Toronto.

“Self-driving technology promises to make our roads safer, our environment healthier and our cities more livable,” Kalanick said. “While there’s still a lot of work to be done, we believe that the combination of our global ride-sharing network with the cutting-edge software and hardware being built by our teams will make this vision a reality.”

Spam campaign targets Google users with malicious link

Spam campaign targets Google users with malicious link

Reuters

Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) warned its users to beware of emails from known contacts asking them to click on a link to Google Docs after a large number of people turned to social media to complain that their accounts had been hacked.

Google said on Wednesday that it had taken steps to protect users from the attacks by disabling offending accounts and removing malicious pages.

The attack used a relatively novel approach to phishing, a hacking technique designed to trick users into giving away sensitive information, by gaining access to user accounts without needing to obtain their passwords. They did that by getting an already logged-in user to grant access to a malicious application posing as Google Docs.

“This is the future of phishing,” said Aaron Higbee, chief technology officer at PhishMe Inc. “It gets attackers to their goal … without having to go through the pain of putting malware on a device.”

He said the hackers had also pointed some users to another site, since taken down, that sought to capture their passwords.

Google said its abuse team “is working to prevent this kind of spoofing from happening again.”

Anybody who granted access to the malicious app unknowingly also gave hackers access to their Google account data including emails, contacts and online documents, according to security experts who reviewed the scheme.

“This is a very serious situation for anybody who is infected because the victims have their accounts controlled by a malicious party,” said Justin Cappos, a cyber security professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

Cappos said he received seven of those malicious emails in three hours on Wednesday afternoon, an indication that the hackers were using an automated system to perpetuate the attacks.

He said he did not know the objective, but noted that compromised accounts could be used to reset passwords for online banking accounts or provide access to sensitive financial and personal data.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp and Jim Finkle in Toronto

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