Zurich Canada names new Head of Liability

Marco Royer has been named Head of Liability for Zurich Canada.

Royer will be a member of the Zurich Canada Executive Team and will report to Zurich Canada CEO Saad Mered. His first day at Zurich will be July 1.

Royer will be responsible for leading the market-facing underwriting teams in Zurich Canada’s liability portfolio, including casualty, energy casualty, construction liability, environmental liability and commercial automobile.

Royer will also oversee Zurich Canada’s Alternate Risk Transfer team and will be responsible for the development and growth of the healthcare and public sector industry verticals.

He will also work closely with other Zurich Canada executives to coordinate effective execution of portfolio management, distribution management, risk services and claims management.

Royer comes to Zurich with more than 30 years of experience in the European and Canadian insurance marketplaces. He has a strong technical casualty underwriting background and has held ascending levels of leadership responsibilities, including 18 years at Gen Re, where he led teams in ParisLondon and Montreal. Following Gen Re, he joined Aon Benfield as vice president and casualty specialist, then Quebec regional manager and head of Facultative Operations, reporting directly to the CEO.

In this most recent position, Royer was the head of the Canadian-London team, responsible for all Canadian reinsurance placement in the London market.

“We are very excited to have a leader of Marco’s caliber and deep experience and relationships in the Canadian market joining us,” Mered said. “With his addition to Zurich Canada, we continue to build a diverse, experienced and proven senior leadership team that will enable the transformation and repositioning of Zurich’s presence in Canada.”

Marco has certified as a Chartered Financial Analyst and is a member of London UK CFA Society. He also holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from McGill University in Montreal. He is also a board member of La Fondation OLO in Montreal whose mission is to help low-income families bring healthy babies into the world and teach them healthy eating habits early on.

SOURCE Zurich North America

Legally growing pot in Canada could void your home insurance

Digital Journal | Excerpted article was written By KAREN GRAHAM

Vancouver – A recent court ruling in British Columbia, Canada that focused on the “material change” clause in homeowners insurance policies could have the potential to shed a spotlight on the incompatibility of such a position with new federal cannabis laws.

According to the Globe and Mail, The decision of Vancouver Supreme Court Justice Margot Fleming in February 2019 could very well have far-reaching effects for all homeowners in Canada who grow even a single marijuana plant inside their home.

Justice Fleming ruled in favor of Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company after hearing evidence from the insurance company’s underwriting expert, Liz Strocel, retained by Wawanesa, on the risks of growing cannabis. Based on her testimony, a cannabis grow operation on a homeowner’s property constitutes a “material change” sufficient enough to void the insurance policy.

Strocel testified the company “did not and does not insure any property with a marijuana grow operation, whether or not it is legal, because of the inherent risk. She identified the risk as including drywall being susceptible to mold from the humidity, fire (for a number of reasons), the risk of robbery or a break in, and additional liability issues. She also testified that Wawanesa would void a homeowner policy if it learned the insured had a grow operation and refund the premiums.”

Surprisingly, the underwriting expert also testified that she was “not aware of any general insurer in Canada that would take on the risk of any cannabis grow operation, or even the presence of a single marijuana plant.” This one line of testimony was emphasized in the judge’s ruling.

The Schellenberg case

The Schellenbergs had a fire in an outbuilding on their property in Chilliwack, British Columbia in 2014. The outbuilding was constructed in 2012, with Mr. Schellenberg notifying the insurance company he wanted the building added to his homeowner’s policy. He apparently failed to mention he also had a legal cannabis grow license and the building in question housed the operation.

The failure of the Schellenbergs to tell their insurance company the building contained 310 marijuana plants was used by Wawanesa to void the homeowner’s policy. Wawanesa claimed that the marijuana grow constituted a “material change”—a change to the property that would have led to either higher premiums or denial of coverage if it had been reported.

The insurance company’s decision to void the insurance policy led to the Schellenberg’s suing the company, claiming it did not have grounds to void the policy. With the court ruling in favor of the insurance company, it remains to be seen if we may hear of more court cases involving homeowner insurance claims.

It might be a good idea if homeowners growing marijuana on their property, even just one plant, check with their insurance companies – just to be sure of their coverage.

NS senior shocked by $25K air ambulance bill from Alberta

By Bruce Frisko | CTV Atlantic

A Nova Scotia retiree who needed medical attention during a trip to Alberta is upset after receiving a $25,000 air ambulance bill, which has since been lowered to $14,000.

Robert Carroll was visiting family last year when he became short of breath. He was flown from Grande Prairie to Edmonton, but his surgery was cancelled. He made a second trip later that week.

Carroll says he expressed concerns to a doctor about the possible air ambulance costs, but was assured the service was covered.

“The government pays for it, don’t worry about the cost,” Carroll says he was told. “That made me feel better.”

Four months later, the $25,000 bill from Alberta Health Services arrived. After family intervened, the provincial agency knocked about $9,000 off the total owing. But that’s still a lot to Carroll, who says it has caused him “terrible worry.”

“I thought it was all covered,” his wife, Pat Carroll, said. “And you know, something like that could affect your (credit) rating.”

A Nova Scotia government spokesperson said that ambulance services are not covered or subsidized when travelling out of province. “Residents who travel outside of Nova Scotia or outside Canada are encouraged to purchase travel health insurance,” Nova Scotia warns.

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association says that coverage differs from province to province, so people who travel outside their home provinces should make sure they have extended coverage through their employers or by purchasing it.

Carroll isn’t the first person to be surprised by a large ambulance bill while travelling. Last year, an Ontario woman received a $12,000 air ambulance bill after having a heart attack in Nova Scotia.

In 2015, an Alberta woman received a $30,000 bill after going into labour in northern Ontario. The case caused outrage and the two provinces eventually agreed to split the cost, but both continue to bill non-residents for air ambulance services.

Cost of giving ill workers extra EI sickness benefits? $1.1 billion

OTTAWA — Providing income support for a year to people who are too sick to work would cost the federal government $1 billion more than its current program, the parliamentary spending watchdog said Thursday, adding new numbers to a debate about the future of the four-decade-old benefit.

As is, the benefit available through employment insurance covers just over half of a worker’s earnings for 15 weeks, and nearly four in 10 beneficiaries max out those benefits, according to government figures.

Just over three-quarters of the claimants who use up all their benefits don’t immediately return to work after their 15 weeks are up, parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux reported, with most staying off the job for another 26 weeks.

Extending coverage to a maximum of 50 weeks would cost about $1.1 billion, rising to an extra $1.3 billion five years later.

EI sickness benefits are the only of the so-called special benefits under the EI program that the Liberals have not amended since coming to office. Maternity and parental benefits and programs for people caring for seriously ill or injured family members have all been expanded.

However, there appears to be all-party support for a motion in the House of Commons to have a committee of MPs study extending the sickness benefit, which hasn’t been updated since its introduction in 1971.

The minister responsible for the program said Thursday that any changes to the benefit need to take into account the growth of private and employer-sponsored insurance and of other public programs.

“Whenever we are talking about this important benefit, we also need to take into account the broader picture and make sure we do this in the best possible way,” Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said.

Opposition critics say the numbers from Giroux will fuel cross-party talks on ways to address gaps in the system, including the thousands of claimants who go for weeks without income before getting back to work, or don’t qualify for disability pensions through the Canada Pension Plan.

“What’s clear to me ΓǪ is we need to move beyond the 15 weeks as soon as possible,” said New Democratic Party critic Niki Ashton. “This is a very serious issue for people who live with illnesses and have not been able to access the supports they need.”

Conservative critic Karen Vecchio said MPs need to assess what Canadians want out of the program and also what they’re willing to pay.

“We have to find something that helps Canadians,” she said, adding that “for some families, this is make or break.”

In 2017, the most recent year for which numbers are available, sickness benefits were provided to more than 400,000 claimants at a cost of about $1.6 billion — about one-fifth of all EI claims.

The additional costs to stretch payments to 50 weeks would vary depending on the number of claimants and the average length of time they are off work, from between $899 million and $1.26 billion in the first year, to between $1.06 billion and $1.48 billion after five years.

To pay for it all, Giroux calculates the government would have to raise EI premiums to $1.68 for every $100 of insurable earnings, an increase of six cents.

Marie-Helene Dube, a cancer survivor who has run a campaign called “15weeks” for a decade calling for an extension of the sickness benefit, said workers would spend more on coffee each day than extra premiums.

“I am outraged at this government’s chronic inaction on this issue, despite all of its promises,” she said. “It shows very little respect for the sick citizens who have made contributions (to EI) all their lives.”

Workers who qualify for payments must have worked at least 600 hours in the 52 weeks before they filed their claims, the equivalent of about 16 weeks of full-time work.

In a separate report, Giroux estimated that cutting the number of qualifying hours to 360 would allow just over 73,000 more people to access payments and cost the EI program roughly $325 million in the first year. Giroux said this change would require EI premiums to go up by two cents each year.

Export Development Canada reviewing insurance policy

By MATTHEW MCCLEARN & NICOLAS VAN PRAET | The Globe and Mail

A federal agency that supports Canadian exporters through loans and insurance has retained legal counsel to review an insurance policy covering political risk it underwrote on SNC-Lavalin’s behalf in 2011.

On Wednesday, the CBC reported that an SNC-Lavalin employee who requested anonymity had alleged that portions of loans the engineering giant obtained from Export Development Canada were intended to pay bribes. The Crown corporation told The Globe on Wednesday that it hired the law firm Fasken to conduct the review on March 6 after learning the source alleged EDC had “turned a blind eye” to improper payments in connection with Angola’s Matala Dam.

“Our review is primarily focused on the steps EDC took during the transaction screening process for the Angola transaction to ensure that we did not do what the CBC’s unnamed source has alleged,” EDC spokeswoman Jessica Draker wrote in a response to questions.

It’s the latest twist in a commercial relationship stretching back decades. Between 2001 and the end of last year, SNC-Lavalin benefited from 18 EDC financings worth a combined value of between $2-billion and $4.3-billion. (EDC does not disclose precise values of the support it provides to companies.) Additionally, EDC has occasionally provided loan guarantees and political-risk insurance policies to the company’s benefit.

Data provided by EDC and analyzed by The Globe and Mail suggest SNC-Lavalin has been among the leading recipients of EDC financings over the past two decades.

Bribery allegations against SNC-Lavalin over its activities in Libya have been at the heart of recent political turmoil in Ottawa. Former attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould told a parliamentary committee she came under pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to defer the prosecution against the company in the Libya case.

The Matala Dam was one of several large hydroelectric dams damaged during Angola’s decades-long civil war. SNC-Lavalin won the contract to repair the dam and a bridge in 2010. The following year, EDC underwrote a political-risk insurance policy for Société Générale Canada worth an undisclosed value between $250-million and $500-million to support SNC-Lavalin’s “sale of engineering and procurement services” in connection with the dam’s rehabilitation. According to reports at the time, Société Générale provided an export loan of US$281-million to the Republic of Angola to finance the work; EDC’s insurance covered a portion of that loan.

That year, Angola ranked among the worst 20 of 183 countries on Transparency International’s ranking of perceived levels of public-sector corruption. Hydroelectric projects have long been regarded as particularly vulnerable to corruption. “Today, billions of development dollars are earmarked for large dams and associated project infrastructure in Africa,” noted a 2010 briefing by International Rivers, an NGO that focuses on large dam projects in developing countries. “Lucrative construction, power purchase and investment contracts can drive bribery and other corrupt business practices. The lack of transparency and limited legal enforcement to halt these practices allow shady deals to go forward.”

According to the CBC report, the anonymous source alleged EDC’s due diligence procedures should have detected problems with “technical fees” paid by SNC-Lavalin, some of which went to agents in foreign countries to win the contracts.

EDC said it would not knowingly participate in a transaction involving bribery. “We have a rigorous transaction screening/due diligence process” that meets or exceeds practices recommended by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the federal agency said, “but there are limits as to what it can reasonably detect.” EDC did not provide further details about the due diligence it had conducted on the transaction.

In 2011, news broke of an RCMP investigation into alleged corruption at SNC-Lavalin; the company faced numerous corruption-related allegations in the following years. EDC says it increased its monitoring of the company in 2012. Nevertheless, in 2013 and 2014, at a time when SNC-Lavalin had already been debarred by the World Bank for corruption-related infractions, EDC provided two financings that benefited SNC-Lavalin, each in an amount between $50-million and $100-million.

In late 2014, EDC suspended support to SNC-Lavalin. “We can appreciate that people will say that we didn’t act soon enough,” EDC said in a statement on Wednesday. “We don’t disagree with that view … we could have – and perhaps should have – suspended business earlier.”

EDC’s suspension remained in effect until spring of 2017, by which point the Crown corporation was satisfied with measures taken by SNC-Lavalin, including replacing the management team and board and introducing new compliance and ethics programs. Since then SNC-Lavalin has benefited from three additional EDC financings.

In response to questions from The Globe, Ms. Draker confirmed that SNC-Lavalin had not notified EDC of any improper payments in connection with the Matala insurance policy or any other EDC-financed projects.

“It’s important to note that this is not the first time that we have reviewed SNC-Lavalin and SNC-Lavalin-related files,” Ms. Draker wrote. “In fact, we have actively reviewed, as part of our due diligence processes, the company and various SNC transactions throughout our financing history.

“When allegations arose, we worked to understand them and take appropriate actions given the information available at the time.”

Daniela Pizzuto, spokeswoman for SNC-Lavalin, said the allegations about the way the company did business date to before 2012, when SNC-Lavalin was under different management. She declined to comment further.

Société Générale also declined comment. The company said it no longer participates in export finance in Canada.

Hub International Acquires Alberta-Based Del Fisher Insurance Inc.

Hub International Limited (Hub), a leading global insurance brokerage, announced today that it has acquired Del Fisher Insurance Inc. (Del Fisher Insurance). Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Del Fisher Insurance is an independent insurance broker providing personal and commercial insurance solutions, including home, auto, business and contract bonding to area residents and businesses since 1981. Del Fisher Insurance represents some of the largest and most respected insurance companies in Canada.

Jeff Alderman, Office Manager/Partner of Del Fisher Insurance, will join Hub International Barton Limited and will be a member of the Prairie Arctic leadership team. John Dewit, President/Partner of Del Fisher Insurance, and L.M. (Mike) Santiago, Vice President/Partner of Del Fisher Insurance, will be retiring.

About Hub’s M&A Activities
Hub International Limited is committed to growing organically and through acquisitions to expand its geographic footprint and strengthen industry and product expertise.  For more information on the Hub M&A experience, visit WeAreHub.com.

About Hub International 
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Hub International Limited is a leading full-service global insurance broker providing property and casualty, life and health, employee benefits, investment and risk management products and services. With more than 11,000 employees in offices located throughout North America, Hub’s vast network of specialists provides peace of mind on what matters most by protecting clients through unrelenting advocacy and tailored insurance solutions. For more information, please visit www.hubinternational.com.

SOURCE Hub International Limited

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