If my e-scooter hits a pedestrian, am I covered by insurance?

We got e-scooters in Calgary this summer. They’re fun, but they go faster than you think. They also get left in the middle of the sidewalk, nobody wears a helmet and I’ve seen people get out of the bar and hop on them. I’m wondering what happens if one of them hits a pedestrian. Do they have insurance? – Ian, Calgary

If you hit somebody on a shared scooter, you might be left on your own to cover the damages.

“I think there’s no question that if you’re on a scooter and you injure somebody through your own negligence, you’ll be liable for that accident and that injury,” says Fred Litwiniuk, a Calgary-based personal injury lawyer.

Several Canadian cities, including Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal, are running pilots allowing dockless e-scooters – electric scooters that you rent by-the-minute through an app and leave them when you’re done – in public spaces. In Calgary alone, there have been more than 675,000 trips so far since the pilot started in July.

When it comes to insurance coverage, Bird Canada chief executive officer Stewart Lyons said that the company is “heavily insured.” Bird, along with Lime, are the two e-scooter companies taking part in the Calgary and Edmonton pilots.

“In Canadian cities, municipal insurance requirements are five times more than the typical U.S. city,” Lyons said in an e-mail. Calgary in particular requires a minimum of $10-million in commercial liability insurance for injury, death and liability.

But that insurance doesn’t necessarily cover riders if they hurt someone – just the company and the city.

“With respect to the rider, it’s no difference if they have an accident on their personal bicycle, while on a skateboard, or even while running,” Lyons said. “If the rider is negligent, then they are negligent – and that doesn’t change just because they are on a scooter.”

By contrast, Lime said that riders and anyone they hit would be covered by its insurance, although the company also declined to comment further on the details of the policy or the amount of coverage included. The company said that anyone wanting to make a claim would have to call Lime customer service.

Lime’s user agreement, however, states: “You are responsible for any harm you cause to other people or property (unless something we did or didn’t do was the actual cause of such harm).”

So, you could be on the hook if you hit somebody, they’re badly injured and it can be proved that you were at fault.

“It’s probably going to take some legal actions in the court to figure out who’s paying for these accidents,” Litwiniuk says. “If somebody can’t work for a period of time or has a rehabilitating brain or spinal injury and you can’t pay, then they could be left in the cold.”

HOME (INSURANCE) ADVANTAGE?

If your homeowner’s insurance includes liability, you may be covered if you hit someone on an e-scooter. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance company to see whether you’re covered before taking a scooter out.

In the three months since the pilot launched in Calgary, there have been 541 emergency room visits involving e-scooters.

The “overwhelming” majority of those were riders and not bystanders, says Dr. Eddy Lang, a Calgary emergency-room doctor.

“We’re seeing the whole gamut of things: fractures, lacerations, head trauma,” Lang says. “It’s kind of like what we used to see when roller-blading was popular.”

Ten per cent of the injuries were serious enough to require an ambulance, Lang says.

The e-scooters have a top speed of 20-25 kilometres an hour. In Calgary, they’re allowed on sidewalks. In the other Canadian cities, they’re not. Helmets are not legally required. But e-scooters do count as motor vehicles under Canada’s Criminal Code, so you could face impaired driving charges if you’re caught riding one with a blood alcohol level above .08.

While there have been pilots on private property in Waterloo and Toronto, neither are on the scale of the proposed a five-year pilot in Ontario, which would allow e-scooters to go everywhere bikes are allowed.

But before that happens, the questions around liability need to be clearly answered, says Nick Smith, a personal injury lawyer with Oatley Vigmond in Toronto.

“Some cities are eager to get these things on the road without understanding what the fallout will be,” Smith says. “Regulations need to be in place and clearly delineated.”

Source:

The Globe and Mail

Consumers, tech companies look to life beyond the Social Insurance Number

Christopher Reynolds

The Canadian Press

In the wake of data breaches at both of Canada’s credit monitoring agencies, some experts say the problem isn’t theft of social insurance numbers and other information, but rather our approach to proving who we are.

As social insurance numbers (SINs) continue to flow into the hands of hackers, industry players and consumers are increasingly on the hunt for an overhaul to how we identify ourselves in the digital age.

Over a lifetime, Canadians hand out their SINs left and right — to landlords, credit agencies, credit card companies, car rental firms, colleges and universities. In none of those cases are they required to do so, although a SIN is often requested.

Federal rules require citizens to provide their SIN only to certain government agencies as well as employers and — if the account earns interest — to financial institutions.

Starting in 1964, SINs originally served as client numbers tied to employment insurance programs and the Canada Pension Plan. Its current use as a kind of ultimate identity marker has far outgrown its original intent, providing effective proof of who you are when matched up with another personal document or piece of information such as a driver’s license or date of birth.

However, if criminals gets a hold of more than one of those ID verifiers, they could use them to file a fake tax return or apply for a loan or mortgage in your name, with consequences that could last decades.

Until the digital age, computer hacking hardly posed a risk to people’s data. Nor were there large databases that stored millions of SINs, outside of government institutions and banks, says Rich Mogull, CEO of Phoenix-based security firm Securosis.

“Earlier, even in my lifetime — I’m only in my 40s — everything was more local. We went into our local bank, even credit cards were generally issued from a local bank,” he said.

“But we started moving toward large-scale regional and national banking…and we started applying for things like loans online” — boosting the need for unique identifiers that could be presented remotely and recognized by a computer.

Increasingly, credit monitoring agencies, utilities companies and credit card vendors began to use social insurance numbers — or social security numbers in the United States — as key identifiers to keep track of clients.

“Everybody is relying on one number, and it’s not a secret,” Mogull said.

“When I went to university my student ID number was my social security number,” he recalled, shaking his head. “Once that number’s out there and exposed, there’s no taking it back. And it can be used for all sorts of fraud.”

The problem drove Quebec resident Pierre Langlois to launch an online petition calling on Ottawa to replace social insurance numbers compromised by identity theft.

Moved to action last summer after a breach at Desjardins Group scooped up data from nearly 2.9 million members — including their social insurance numbers, names and addresses — Langlois posted a second petition asking the government to propose a “quick solution to this security problem.”

With more than 147,000 signatories, the petition shied away from a more specific demand for two reasons, Langlois said: the difficulty of changing your SIN — proof of fraudulent use must be shown — and the dubious benefit of that tactic in the first place, since those newly assigned citizens could be just as susceptible to data breaches down the line.

“The government is asking us to give it to every employer you’ve ever worked for. Do you think the small restaurant where you worked has higher security than a bank?” Langlois asked in a phone interview.

The solution, says Mogull, lies in local transactions or encrypted SIN storage that would make data theft harder.

Cryptographic keys comprise a long string of random numbers that can be used to unlock personal data, but Greg Wolfond, chief executive at Toronto-based SecureKey Technologies, is skeptical of cryptographic identifiers as the answer.

“I fear that the bad folks are still going to be able to take this data and use AI and put it together in smart ways to try to become you to get a loan, to file a fake tax return in your name,” Wolfond said.

He wants to get away from the “static information” model that underpins ID confirmation and motivates data hacks. Instead, Wolfond is advocating something called real-time verification as the best way to show that you are, in fact, you.

His company’s product, dubbed Verified.Me, allows customers to provide proof of their identity using information they’ve already given their financial institutions. The Verified.Me smartphone app connects with participating financial institutions and removes many of the steps currently required to establish a person’s identity.

Though only a few financial products are available through the app, Verified.Me counts Desjardins and the Big Five banks as Canadian partners.

In the long run, the approach could include applying for a mortgage, renting an apartment or obtaining a driver’s licence, Wolfond said.

In the past three years, millions of consumers have been affected by hacks against a panoply of companies including Canadian-based cheaters’ website Ashley Madison as well as British Airways, Uber, Deloitte and Walmart.

TransUnion revealed Wednesday that the personal information of 37,000 Canadians may have been compromised this past summer, leaving both of Canada’s credit monitoring agencies with data blemishes on their record.

Equifax announced in 2017 that a massive data breach compromised the personal information and credit card details of 143 million Americans and about 19,000 Canadians.

SSQ Insurance participates in a unique research project with Le Pole Sante – HEC Montreal

QUEBEC CITY, Oct. 10, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ – SSQ Insurance is proud to partner up with Le Pôle Santé – HEC Montréal to study the link between health and wellness management practices in the workplace and the most common insurance claims made by employees. By participating in such a project, the insurer hopes more will be learned about the impact that corporate practices have on the health of individuals, and help participating companies apply the findings to improve the health and wellness of their employees.

For this study, SSQ Insurance will be soliciting some of its group insurance planholders. Data gathered on a voluntary and confidential basis will be used to identify promising health and wellness workplace management strategies. These will be based on each sector’s context, in an effort to curb financial, human and social costs, improve quality of life at work as well as bolster performance and productivity. Companies who participate in the study and follow its recommendations could reap significant benefits.

The climate that Canadian companies find themselves in confirms the need for such a study. Currently, several millions of Canadians are living with a chronic illness, making it the most common category of illness. Of all chronic illnesses, mental disorders will be the number one cause of disability in high-income countries by 2030. The loss in productivity caused by mental disorders will cost Canadian companies $198 billion by 2041 – the current cost of Canada’s public health insurance plan1.

“Health problems at work and professional burnouts plague all sectors. We are very proud to partner up with Le Pôle Santé – HEC Montréal in order to help companies fight mental health issues and take concrete action for the health and wellness of their employees. This initiative is a testament to SSQ Insurance’s concern for its customers’ health,” said Geneviève Fortier, Senior Vice-President – Sales and Distribution, SSQ Insurance.

This research project, conducted with the Le Pôle Santé – HEC Montréal, is an extension of SSQ Insurance’s HealthInSight program and the initiatives spearheaded by its Innovation Team. Designed as an incentive for developing healthy habits in insureds, the Health InSight Program instills and fosters awareness by applying tangible solutions adapted to each workplace.

For more information about Le Pôle Santé – HEC Montréal, please visit polesante.hec.ca (French only).

About SSQ Insurance
Founded in 1944, SSQ Insurance is a mutualist company that puts community at the heart of insurance. With assets under management of $12 billion, SSQ Insurance is one of the largest companies in the industry. Working for a community of over three million customers, SSQ Insurance employs over 2,000 people. Leader in group insurance, the company also sets itself apart through its expertise in individual life and health insurance, general insurance and the investment sector. For more information, please visit ssq.ca.

1.

Sources:

Mathers, C.D. and Loncar, D., Projections of Global Mortality and Burden of Disease From 2002 to 2030, PLoS Medicine, vol. 3, no 11 (2006), p. e442.

Roberts, G. and Grimes, K. (2011), Return on investment: mental health promotion and mental illness prevention, Canadian Policy Network at the University of Western Ontario, March, 67 pp.

Smetanin, P., Stiff, D., Briante, C., Adair, C.E., Ahmad, S. and Khan, M. (2011). The life and economic impact of major mental illnesses in Canada: 2011 to 2041. RiskAnalytica on behalf of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

SOURCE SSQ Insurance

ssq.ca

Victim of negligent Toronto lawyer wins partial compensation after years of court battles

A man who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of a negligent Toronto lawyer has finally received partial compensation, years after winning a court judgment that has proven unenforceable.

The $150,000 payout to Nalliah Balachandran late last month came after The Canadian Press reported in December on a glaring gap in the insurance system designed to protect victims of unscrupulous or incompetent Ontario lawyers.

“This money will help,” Mr. Balachandran said. “At least I can pay off some debts.”

Mr. Balachandran, 64, now of Calgary, had been unable to collect on $188,646 in damages an Ontario Superior Court justice awarded him in 2012 against lawyer Michael (Mike) J. Webster, who was disbarred after an avalanche of complaints.

Other cases The Canadian Press reviewed turned up several people who had lost out on compensation for car-crash injuries or ended up in jail because lawyers failed to do their jobs. None was able to collect on court-ordered damages, even though all members of Ontario’s legal profession must carry liability coverage through the insurance company known as LawPro.

Despite judicial criticism of the situation, LawPro denies coverage when lawyers fail to report a client’s claim against them or refuse to help defend the action. The result is usually disbarment – and clients left without access to compensation.

Several lawyers trying to help hapless clients expressed dismay that LawPro, owned by the 50,000-member Law Society of Ontario and with assets of close to $735-million, would take that position.

“It’s very unfair and unfortunate – and to my mind shocking,” one lawyer, Ava Hillier, said last year. “People need to know that they’ve got nothing if their lawyer just decides not to pick up the phone.”

What lawyers involved in such cases said they had never heard of is a policy the law society adopted in 1997. It provides victims of lawyers access to an internal compensation fund when LawPro declines coverage. The fund can reimburse victims up to $500,000.

Days after an interview with its treasurer last November, the law society updated its website to explicitly refer to the obscure policy. Five claims, including Mr. Balachandran’s, have since been made against the fund, one quarter of all claims in 1997. Two have been settled.

A spokeswoman said that over the past 20 years, the fund has paid out a total of $552,565 for 14 claims involving 13 lawyers – a fraction of the $100-million LawPro lays out for claims annually.

“Our focus as the regulator is on protecting the public, and, as per our policy, the Law Society’s compensation fund will consider claims where LawPro coverage is denied in special circumstances – where a lawyer fails to report a claim to the professional liability insurer or fails to co-operate with the insurer,” Susan Tonkin said.

Mr. Balachandran, who works for Alberta Health Services, received his cheque for the maximum amount in effect at the time of his initial claim. A timely payout, he said, would have spared him and his wife years of stress and tens of thousands of dollars in interest on mounting debts he still can’t pay off.

He also faulted the society for its previous failure to make the compensation fund widely known, potentially saving him from a fruitless battle to collect the almost $200,000 Mr. Webster now owes him and which the law society will try to recover.

As important, he said, is the law society’s move to transparency about the 1997 policy.

“It’s going to help not just me but the whole community,” Mr. Balachandran said.

LawPro, which has been subject to several lawsuits over its refusal to cover such cases, has called such situations rare. It has defended the mandatory insurance program as being in the best interests of the public and Ontario lawyers.

Hub International Acquires Ontario-based PDF Financial Group Inc.

Chicago, October 8, 2019Hub International Limited (Hub), a leading global insurance brokerage, announced today that it has acquired PDF Financial Group Inc. (PDF). Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, PDF is an independent brokerage offering consulting and outsourcing services for employee benefit programs, human resources, and related financial advice. Peter Demangos, Founder and President of PDF, will join Hub International Ontario Limited (Hub Ontario).

The move continues to reinforce Hub’s ongoing Canadian employee benefits growth and services strategy to expand its best-in-class employee benefits and retirement solution, addressing the challenges clients are facing, including in benefits communication, health and wellness, and retirement.

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.

No Underinsured Coverage For Ontario Truck Driver

Article by Brian Sunohara

In Kahlon v. ACE INA Insurance, 2019 ONCA 774, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that a commercial truck driver was not entitled to underinsured coverage from either his personal automobile insurer or a fleet insurer.

Overview

Kahlon was involved in a serious accident in Florida. He had been operating a truck. He stepped out of the truck to see what was causing a traffic delay and was struck by another vehicle. The at-fault driver only had $20,000 in liability insurance.

Kahlon was insured under a personal automobile policy in Ontario with Allstate. The company for which Kahlon was operating the truck had fleet insurance in Ontario with ACE INA.

On a motion, Justice Whitten determined that Allstate was obliged to respond for underinsured coverage and that ACE INA was not required to respond. The Court of Appeal held that neither Allstate, nor ACE INA, was responsible for underinsured coverage.

Purpose of Underinsured Coverage

The purpose of underinsured coverage is to protect an insured who may be involved in an accident with a driver who has low liability insurance limits. The insured’s own insurer must make up the shortfall in damages, up to the insured’s policy limits.

Although underinsured coverage is optional, most personal automobile policies in Ontario have such coverage.

However, expert evidence showed that commercial fleet insurers in Ontario have not offered underinsured coverage in respect of heavy commercial vehicles for around 15 years. They stopped doing so because of the increased risk posed by truck fleets travelling into the United States. Many drivers in the United States have very low liability insurance limits.

OPCF 44R Endorsement

In Ontario, the OPCF 44R endorsement governs underinsured coverage.

Section 22 of the OPCF 44R endorsement states: “Except as otherwise provided in this change form, all limits, terms, conditions, provisions, definitions and exclusions of the policy shall have full force and effect”.

Therefore, the conditions in the Ontario Automobile Policy (OAP 1) are applicable to underinsured coverage.

Section 2.2.3 of the OAP 1 provides that, if an insured is driving a vehicle not described on the policy, that vehicle must not have a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 4,500 kilograms.

In other words, the OAP 1 excludes coverage for heavy commercial vehicles.

Court of Appeal’s Decision

Since Kahlon was operating a heavy commercial vehicle, the Court of Appeal said that he was not entitled to underinsured coverage from Allstate.

Further, underinsured coverage was not available under ACE INA’s fleet policy because that policy contained an endorsement which restricted such coverage.

Specifically, the endorsement provided that underinsured coverage was only available when the driver was operating a private passenger vehicle or light commercial vehicle, not a heavy commercial vehicle.

The endorsement was held to be applicable even though it was not in an approved form.

Conclusion

No underinsured coverage whatsoever was available to the plaintiff. Since the plaintiff sustained serious injuries, there will likely be a shortfall in his recovery of damages, unless the at-fault driver has sufficient assets to personally satisfy a judgment.

The Court of Appeal found this to be an unfortunate, but necessary, result, noting that “this outcome follows from the decision of the provincial government many years ago not to make underinsurance coverage mandatory”.

The Court of Appeal concluded: “courts have no authority to simply override contractual language in order to force the provision of coverage where none is contemplated by the existing language of the insurance policy and the endorsement, just because they might consider it good public policy to do so. This is the business of the provincial government, not the courts”.

Rogers Partners LLP is an experienced civil litigation firm in Toronto, Ontario. The firm represents insurers and self-insured companies in numerous areas, including motor vehicle negligence, occupiers’ liability, product liability, professional negligence, construction claims, statutory accident benefits, disability benefits, municipal liability, medical negligence, sexual abuse, and insurance coverage disputes.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

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