Stolen autos sold to unsuspecting buyers in three western provinces: police

Calgary police have charged three people and are looking for a fourth person after a lengthy auto theft investigation that stretched into three provinces.

Police say stolen vehicles were obtained from low-level car thieves, sometimes in exchange for cash, drugs or other stolen vehicles.

The identification numbers were then changed and the vehicles sold to unsuspecting buyers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

An investigation launched in 2017 eventually led to the search of several locations between Calgary and Saskatoon and the seizure of property that included 39 stolen vehicles worth $1.9 million.

Tyler Roger Scott and Tami Lee Scott, both of Calgary, and Ikraam Elahi Chaudhary of Saskatoon face a number of charges, including committing an indictable offence for the benefit of, association of, or direction of a criminal organization.

Charges have also been laid against a third Calgarian, Sylvain Serge Lefevre, who is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant.

Police said vehicles left running with the keys inside, or those left in unsecure garages, were the thieves’ primary targets.

The renumbered stolen autos were matched with fraudulent bills of sale, registration and insurance documents to conceal the vehicle’s original identity.

The information was used to re-register and insure them before they were sold.

Police said they learned that the vehicles were used in several other crimes, including fraud, drug trafficking, trafficking in stolen property, break and enter and thefts.

Hundreds of fraudulent vehicle identification numbers, some registration documents, drugs and residential property in Calgary purchased through the proceeds of crime were among other items seized when search warrants were executed last May.

Police said their investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be laid.

Money mistakes even smart people make

By Liz Weston Of Nerdwallet

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Certified financial planner Jill Schlesinger has seen smart people make some pretty spectacular money mistakes.

One client who repeatedly refused to buy disability insurance later developed multiple sclerosis. A doctor she knew put off writing a will and left behind a six-figure tax bill. A technology company engineer balked at her suggestion to sell some of his stock options, only to watch their value and his retirement plans evaporate when the market plunged.

Schlesinger, a CBS News business analyst and author of “The Dumb Things Smart People Do With Their Money, ” admits to financial missteps as well, including waiting for “just the right moment” to invest and missing a big jump in the stock market.

“We’re emotional animals, not just rational ones,” Schlesinger says.  “So even otherwise intelligent people are stymied by their emotions usually fear and greed and their cognitive biases.”

In fact, a whole field of economics is devoted to exploring how we make financial decisions  including the bad ones. Behavioral economics tries to pinpoint where our brains and emotions lead us wrong, as well as what we can do about it.

EMBRACE PESSIMISM

Most of us don’t like to dwell on what could go wrong, Schlesinger notes, and many of us believe we’re better at predicting the future than we actually are. Overconfidence, excessive optimism and the conviction that the recent past will continue into the future mean many of us don’t adequately protect ourselves.

The client who wouldn’t buy disability insurance, for example, thought he wouldn’t need it because he was healthy. The stock option guy didn’t want to sell a winning investment, not understanding how vulnerable he was to a downturn. The doctor just didn’t want to think about dying.

The antidote to this kind of thinking is to stop trying to calculate the odds of something going wrong. Focus instead on how much you or your loved ones have to lose if the worst happens. If you can’t easily absorb that loss, then buy the insurance, diversify your investments and write your will.

SLOW DOWN

A common sales tactic is to try to create a sense of urgency so people will act. But we tend to make mistakes when we rush. If you feel pressured to buy a product, sign up for a service or invest in something, take a step back.

Schlesinger recommends asking these five questions before making investments, but they could easily apply to other financial decisions:

_ How much will this cost?

_ What are the alternatives?

_ How easy is it to get my money out and what fees or penalties will I pay?

_ What tax consequences will this carry for me?

_ What’s the worst-case scenario I face with this?

SEEK OUT, AND LISTEN TO, EXPERT ADVICE

Most financial advisers aren’t required to put your interests ahead of their own. They can sell you an investment that costs more or performs worse than an alternative, simply because it puts more money in their pocket.

This lack of a so-called fiduciary duty has convinced many people they’re better off handling their own financial affairs. A do-it-yourself approach may actually be appropriate, Schlesinger says, when you’re getting a handle on the basics: paying off credit card debt, starting to save for retirement and building an emergency fund.

You still would be smart to seek out an expert if you’re confronting a situation that’s complex or out of the ordinary, she says. If the IRS is auditing you, you need a tax pro. If you’re being sued by a creditor, you need a lawyer. If you’re about to inherit a large sum more money than you’re accustomed to dealing with you should talk to a fee-only financial planner who agrees in writing to put your interests first.

The more money you have, the more likely you are to face complex situations that require expertise you don’t have. The consequences of making a mistake or not spotting a problem can be greater as well, which is why financial planners often hire their own financial planners.

Two areas that are particularly tricky are estate planning and retirement income strategies, including when to start Social Security and how to tap retirement funds. The cost of getting an expert second opinion could be a fraction of what you would pay for a mistake.

“We all make dumb mistakes, but some of them can be costly and life-altering,” Schlesinger says.

While some patients pay for biologic drugs, prison inmates get them for free

Glen McGregor, CTV National News

The Correctional Service of Canada spent more than $100 million over three-and-a-half years to provide inmates with prescription drugs, including revolutionary but expensive biologic medications that some Canadians living with serious illnesses struggle to afford.

Documents obtained by CTV News through the Access to Information Act show that the drug bill for incarcerated offenders is driven largely by spending on new medications that can effectively cure hepatitis C.

The service also spent $2.1 million between January 2015 and August 2018 on biologic drugs such as Remicade, Humira and Enbrel that have revolutionized treatment for people with serious autoimmune disorders, including arthritis and psoriasis and disabling inflammatory bowel diseases Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

Ongoing treatments with biologic drugs can cost as much as $20,000 annually. Patients who require them must navigate a patchwork of private insurance plans, provincial drug coverage and, in some cases, compassionate care programs provided by the drug-makers themselves.

Access to the provincial coverage for biologics varies by province, type of illness and with the severity of the disease.

Offenders in federal prisons — those serving sentences of two years or longer — are provided biologic drugs at no charge.

The Correctional Service of Canada says it is mandated under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to provide every inmate with essential health care, including medications.

“Requests for all medications, including biologics, are made by a CSC physician after diagnosis and assessment of the offender,” the service said in a written statement.

“With respect to biologic medications, as these medications are listed as benefits with criteria, certain diagnosis criteria for coverage is required.”

While prisoners can get free drugs, some patients must fight with provincial health administrators for full coverage or partially fund their own medication.

The family of 21-year-old college student Tristin Ozard says they had to remortgage their home and use a line-of-credit to pay for Remicade treatments that the British Columbia’s provincial plan stopped fully covering when he turned 18.

The Victoria, B.C., college student’s disease responds best to a double dosage of Remicade, leaving his family paying $7,800 every second month while the provincial plan covers the other dose. BC PharmaCare would provide coverage for Tristin with a less-expensive ”biosimilar” of Remicade that Tristin’s family worries may not work for him.

The Ozards have had to raise money to pay for Tristan’s Remicade with a GoFundMe fundraising campaign, but those contributions have made only a small dent in the family’s drug bill.

“It’s hard because you can’t provide for your own family and that doesn’t feel good,” said Ozard’s mother, Melissa.

Though they could get the medication through a compassionate care program run by a drug-maker, Melissa Ozard says she wasn’t willing to provide access to her son’s full medical file that the application required.

She says she’d rather fight BC PharmaCare in court to make it easier for other patients to get the brand-name version of Remicade in future.

While most Canadians can usually get coverage for biologics, some still fall through the cracks, depending on where they live and the severity of their disease.

“Certain provinces do a better job than others,” said Arthritis Society CEO Janet Yale.

“Young or old, employed, unemployed, incarcerated or not, people should have access to their medicines no matter what.”

The discrepancy between the coverage provided federal inmates and patients like Ozard illustrates what critics have long-decried as a major gap in Canada’s health care system — that care from doctors and hospitals is paid for but essential drugs are not always.

“I think Canadians would think it’s unfair prisoners are getting expensive drugs paid for when many people are struggling and going bankrupt just trying to care for their loved ones,” said Conservative Party health critic Marilyn Gladu.

The federal government last year appointed former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins to lead an advisory committee studying the feasibility of launching a national pharmacare program. His report is due in March.

The bulk of the Correctional Service of Canada’s drug spending goes towards a new class of drugs that can effectively cure hepatitis C, which is transmitted by exposure to infected blood and so also carries a low risk of sexual transmission. It’s a potentially fatal liver disease that is common among offenders.

Since 2015, the service has spent $77 million on drugs such as Harvoni and Epclusa, which typically cost about $80,000 for a full course of treatment, though the government may be able to negotiate a lower price.

The Canadian Liver Foundation says this is money well-spent as the ongoing costs of older hepatitis C drugs like interferon will usually exceed the one-time costs of the new medication over a typical patient’s lifetime.

The assertive approach to combating hepatitis C has reduced the prevalence rate in Canadian prisons from 31.6 per cent in 2007 to 7.8 per cent by 2017, the service says.

Canadians in most provinces and territories can obtain provincial coverage for these hepatitis C drugs.

With files from Mackenzie Gray, CTV News national producer

Coroner calls for seatbelts on buses following Humboldt crash

By Stephanie Taylor

THE CANADIAN PRESS

REGINA _ The coroner’s service in Saskatchewan has released its report on the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash, calling for tougher enforcement of trucking rules and mandatory seatbelts on highway buses.

The office made recommendations to six different government agencies following a review of last spring’s collision.

It also says the Ministry of Highways should look at its policy on signs at the intersection where the crash occurred and Saskatchewan Government Insurance should implement mandatory truck-driver training.

Evan Thomas of Saskatoon was among 16 people killed last April when a semi truck barrelled through a stop sign at a rural crossroads north of Tisdale and into the path of the junior hockey team’s bus. Thirteen others on the bus were injured.

“A tragedy this size, it can’t just be one thing that went wrong,” his father, Scott Thomas, said Monday.

Thomas said the coroner’s findings provide him with a sense of justification for some of the things that he and other families have been hoping to change.

What hit home for Thomas are the recommendations directed to Transport Canada for mandatory seatbelts and improving national safety codes for driver training and electronic logging.

“To me this has to be a nationally regulated profession and these guys should be treated as professionals just like airplane pilots are.”

Thomas said he believes Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver who is waiting to be sentenced for causing the crash, never should have been behind the wheel in the first place.

“He never should have been responsible for a vehicle of that size on that roadway, and somehow the system allowed for it.”

In December, the Saskatchewan government announced it will make training mandatory for semi-truck drivers starting in March. Drivers seeking a Class 1 commercial licence will have to undergo at least 121 1/2 hours of training.

Transport Canada announced in June that the department will require all newly built highway buses to have seatbelts by September 2020. Some charter bus companies say many new vehicles already have seatbelts, although there is no way to ensure passengers are wearing them.

Since the crash, Thomas and other Broncos families have been spreading the message to other sports teams to buckle up and some have taken up the challenge.

Another recommendation calls for the chief coroner to create a mass fatality plan and for the coroner’s office and health officials to review how they identify the dead and injured.

Days after the crash, the coroner’s office apologized for mixing up the body of a player in the morgue with an injured player in hospital.

Thomas said he would like to see the coroner’s report made binding. A coroner’s report into a crash at the same intersection that killed six people in 1997 recommended installing an additional warning device such as rumble strips. The government at the time declined.

“If the government would have acted after the ’97 coroner’s report, rumble strips would have been there. And I got to think that would have significantly changed the outcome of that day,” said Thomas.

The coroner’s report lists the deaths as accidental and says the chief coroner is not calling for an inquest.

Crawford Appoints Greg Smith as Chief Client Officer (Canada)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Crawford Appoints Greg Smith as Chief Client Officer (Canada) TORONTO (February 21, 2019) Crawford & Company (Canada) Inc. announced today the appointment of Greg Smith to the position of chief client officer overseeing the sales, account management and marketing functions within the Canadian operations, effective immediately. This strategic decision reflects the organization’s commitment to bringing compelling value propositions to the marketplace while enhancing the voice of the customer across all global service lines. “As a progressive and innovative leader within Crawford for the past 23 years, Greg has had considerable experience in all facets of the organization, and is well-versed in emerging trends and InsurTech developments,” said Pat Van Bakel, president and chief executive officer, Crawford & Company (Canada) Inc.

“His knowledge of Crawford’s capabilities and the needs of our clients, in addition to the reputation that he holds within Crawford, position him well to support operations that deliver unique, fully-integrated service solutions to our clients.” As a veteran employee, Greg has consistently shown his commitment to supporting Crawford’s corporate mission of restoring and enhancing lives, businesses and communities. Within his new role, Greg will work with the organization’s sales, account management and marketing teams to grow market share by delivering industry leading claims outsourced solutions which address clients’ existing and emerging needs.

Greg’s tenure with Crawford includes leadership positions in marketing, project management, and claims operations before being appointed vice president, National Programs in 2017. He established the Key Account Management team in 2011 and was appointed senior vice president shortly thereafter. In 2016 he established a national shared services function which included information technology, human resources, procurement, quality & compliance. He holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degrees, is a Fellow Chartered Insurance Professional (FCIP) and has earned his Canadian Risk Management (CRM) designation. Greg is also an active member of the insurance industry through his activities with the Chartered Insurance Professionals’ (CIP) Society, as event chair for the CIP Symposium and member of the Ontario Council. He is also a member of the Ontario Risk and Insurance Management Society (ORIMS). “We are excited to see Greg continue his stellar career trajectory with Crawford and look forward to the future success we believe he will bring to the organization.” said Pat Van Bakel. For media inquiries, please contact: Amanda Bortolus Marketing Director, Crawford & Company (Canada) Inc. Email: Amanda.Bortolus@crawco.ca

Ontario motorists are peeved as record-level claims drive auto insurance premiums even higher

A new study from J.D. Power shows customer satisfaction at a low when it comes to car insurance

The rising frequency of insurance claims and the growing cost of vehicle repairs have forced another year of auto insurance premium hikes in Ontario in 2019. And the result is exactly what you might expect.

Motorists are not happy.

J.D. Power’s latest study has revealed that customer satisfaction levels when it comes to auto insurance providers has hit a new low. And price sensitivity is playing the leading role as the ongoing drama between Ontarians and insurers continues to develop.

To offset rising costs for auto insurers, premiums have been pushed upward to where the national average has risen to $298. And while Alberta has seen the highest spike in auto insurance costs with premiums reaching $326, Ontario sits in a close second with motorists shelling out an average of $311 to stay on the roads.

“With such a dramatic increase in premiums, price sensitivity becomes an issue to which insurers should be very mindful,” commented J.D. Power insurance practice director Tom Super. “While we have seen pockets of claims frequency begin to stabilize, carriers continue to face profitability challenges in the auto sector, especially for those carriers that lagged the market on rate action.”

Key factors contributing to profitability issues for insurance providers in Ontario include the rising number of fraudulent auto insurance claims in the Province, the increased cost to repair more technologically advanced vehicles and the growing amount of claims due to distracted driving, despite the many deterrents in place.

J.D. Power’s study found that transparency when it comes to insurance rate increases could help limit the negative effect on satisfaction for customers. Satisfaction is higher among customers who saw an insurer-initiated increase in their premiums once they discussed their discount options and also completely understood their bill. Those customers who discussed discount options, completely understood their bill, and completely understood their policy saw their satisfaction score rise by the greatest margin.

“There are multiple ways to help customers realize the value of their policy,” Super explained. “Providing easy access to policy information via digital channels and having at least one annual touch point to review customers’ changing needs can go a long way in increasing satisfaction and loyalty.”

Although the Provincial Government has committed to exploring ways to relive the financial burden of auto insurance rates on Ontarians, motorists in the province are currently dealing with some of the highest rates in Canada.

For now, the best way for customers to find happiness with an insurer and keep up with rising auto insurance premiums is to shop around for the best rate. The easiest way for motorists to find a policy that meets their needs and budget is by using OrilliaMatters’s Insurance Hotline, an online tool that compares quotes from over thirty providers with a single search

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