Paris air travel proceeds, but some cancel future visits as subdued mood prevails

By David Koenig

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Even as airlines operated a normal schedule of flights into and out of Paris, travellers with future plans to visit the French capital reconsidered their options after a series of terror attacks. Some quickly cancelled their tickets, a worrisome sign for the travel and tourism industries.

Joe Nardozzi, a 31-year-old New York investment banker, and his wife won’t be taking the wedding-anniversary trip they planned later this month.

“I have no interest in losing my life over a trip to Paris,” he said.

Travel agents said some clients called to cancel trips, and one advocacy group for business travellers predicted that corporations would let frightened employees do the same.

Decisions by companies and leisure travellers could hinge on whether the Paris attacks are seen as a one-time event or the vanguard of a stepped-up campaign by Islamic radicals. Islamic State, the group fighting in Syria and Iraq, also claimed last month that it bombed a Russian passenger jet over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, although investigators have not determined the cause of the crash that killed 224 people.

Still, some Americans cancelled upcoming trips after seeing coverage of the terror on Paris streets.

Blake Fleetwood, president of New York-based Cook Travel, said about 10 customers out of the roughly 30 with trips booked to Paris told him they want to cancel. He and his wife might do the same next month.

“It’s a terrible situation,” Fleetwood said. “It’s going to hurt the travel industry, the hotels, the airlines, the restaurants.”

Tourism to the French capital already took a big hit earlier this year from the attacks in January that killed 17 journalists, police and shoppers at a kosher grocery. The Paris tourist office said the number of hotel stays fell 3.3 per cent in the first three months of the year, a drop it blamed specifically on the January attacks.

The situation had just begun to improve, with summer visits by U.S. travellers, who are Paris’ biggest group of foreign visitors rising significantly.

The new attacks targeted neighbourhoods in Paris’ trendy east side, which Paris tourist officials had specifically mentioned in a recent update on tourism in the capital.

Kevin Mitchell, who runs an advocacy group called the Business Travel Coalition, expects some worried corporate travellers to cancel trips to Europe.

“These companies have to continue to do business,” he said, “but for some period of time they’ll give employees a lot of leeway about travelling to Europe and Paris in particular.”

It’s not just Western visitors who might avoid Paris after the attacks. Egyptian college graduate Aya Sayed has always dreamed of strolling the streets of the City of Light.

“I would be too afraid to go because I don’t want to be mistreated because of my headscarf or ethnicity,” she said. “Who knows what they might do to us now?”

Consumers with travel insurance that includes terrorism coverage can probably recover the cost of a trip to Paris, according to Squaremouth, a policy-comparison website. But even policies that cover terrorism may only apply to trips scheduled in the next week or month and might not apply to travel in other parts of France or Europe more broadly, a company spokeswoman said.

Wendy Perrin, who writes about consumer topics for TripAdvisor, encouraged people to keep travelling in a post on her Facebook page.

“The answer is not to stop travelling … The answer is to keep travelling, to make friends around the world, to be a thoughtful ambassador for your country,” she wrote.

Even travellers who go to Paris are likely to be in a less celebratory mood. Toronto residents Mark Hutchison and Ashleigh Marshall planned a big night out during a Paris stopover on their trip back home from Tanzania _ “go to a restaurant, go to a bar, have a glass of wine,” Hutchison said. Instead, they decided to hunker down in their hotel with a bottle of wine once the sun went down Saturday evening.

“It’s a lot to take in,” he said of the deadly attacks. “You can’t make sense of it.”

canada-press

 

Gift Giving Guidance That Won’t Turn You Into A Grinch

Gift Giving Guidance That Won’t Turn You Into A Grinch

TORONTO, Nov. 12, 2015 /CNW/ – With the holidays just around the corner, it’s time to decide who’s on the “nice” list this year. A recent TD survey found that when it comes to purchasing gifts for loved ones, instead of battling the busy malls, more than seven in 10 (72 per cent) Canadians surveyed do at least some of their holiday shopping online.

While online shopping may have its conveniences, there can also be the impulse to splurge and overspend. The TD survey found that over one-third (37 per cent) of those surveyed who do most of their holiday shopping online are more likely to say they spend more than they would in store.

“Buying gifts for the special people in your life is one of the best parts of the holidays, so it’s easy to understand how people get carried away when adding items to their online shopping cart,” said Frank Psoras, Vice President, Credit Cards, TD Canada Trust. “The survey found that forty-two per cent of Canadians surveyed who do their holiday shopping online do not follow a budget. Making a plan and tracking each purchase is an easy way to help manage temptation. That way, there should be no surprises when you see your credit card bill at the end of the month.”

To help savvy shoppers plan their online holiday shopping without breaking the bank, TD worked with Cathie Mostowyk, online shopping expert and president of Shoestring Shopping Guide Inc., to help create and share a list of some simple budget-conscious shopping tips:

  • Pick your price: Canadians love a good bargain. The TD survey found that 57 per cent of Canadians surveyed shop online looking for better pricing. You can use online shopping to compare prices so you can help ensure you get the best deal without having to face a crowded mall.
  • Sign up for savings: Sign up with your favourite retailers for their email updates. They often send out information about upcoming sales, or special pricing and offers for their subscribers.
  • Maximize rewards: Think about taking advantage of loyalty rewards. For example, there are a variety of redemption options available to TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite* credit cardholders, including redemptions for travel purchases as well as for brand-name retail merchandise and gift cards.
  • Consider international expenses: If you’re like the 39 per cent of Canadians surveyed who shop online for the ability to shop with international retailers, make sure you factor in duty taxes, exchange rates, and consider the return shipping costs, as those costs can quickly add up.
  • Cut shipping costs: Many stores offer reduced or even free shipping with a minimum dollar amount spent. Think about how many people you can cross off your list from one retailer – it can help save you time and money.

Mostowyk adds, “Start your online shopping early to ensure items are still in stock and you’re not hit with rushed delivery expenses. I also recommend checking return policies to ensure you can either return in-store or with free shipping, if necessary.”

The TD survey also found the top reason (70 per cent) Canadians surveyed shop for holiday gifts online is for convenience. Psoras notes it’s no surprise that the majority (86 per cent) of those surveyed also use credit cards as a quick way to pay for their purchases.

“Redeeming your loyalty rewards for your holiday gifts is one way you can help stay within your budget, while making buying gifts easier and giving yourself more time to spend with your loved ones this holiday season,” says Psoras.

For more information, tools and resources on budgeting, visit: www.tdcanadatrust.com

About the TD Bank Group Life in the ‘Anatomy of an Online Shopper’ Poll
TD Bank Group commissioned Environics Research Group to conduct a custom survey of 6,149 Canadians aged 18 and older. Responses were collected between January 20 and February 8, 2015. All of the statistics used in this report are based on the Canadians surveyed including a subgroup of 4,411 Canadians who indicated that they shop online.

About TD Canada Trust
TD Canada Trust offers personal and business banking to more than 11.5 million customers. We provide a wide range of products and services from chequing and savings accounts, to credit cards, mortgages and business banking, plus credit protection and credit travel medical insurance, as well as advice on managing everyday finances. TD Canada Trust makes banking comfortable with award-winning service and convenience through 24/7 mobile, internet, telephone and ATM banking, as well as at over 1,100 branches, with convenient hours to serve customers better. For more information, please visit: www.tdcanadatrust.com. TD Canada Trust is the Canadian retail bank of TD Bank Group, the sixth largest bank in North America.

SOURCE TD Bank Group

For further information:

Jamin Robertson
TD Bank Group
416-982-3591
jamin.robertson@td.com

 

Court Sets Mileage Rate at 50 cents / km for Independent Medical Exam Travel

Today’s guest post comes from B.C. injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken

Reasons for judgement were released recently by the BC Supreme Court, Kamloops Registry, finding a Defendant should pay 50 cents per kilometer as reasonable mileage money when a Plaintiff is compelled to travel to see a defense selected physician.

In the recent case (Nieman v. Joyal) the Defendant wished to have the plaintiff examined by an occupational therapist int he course of an injury lawsuit but could not agree on various terms including appropriate conduct money. In finding 50 cents / km is reasonable Master McDiarmid provided the following reasons:

[28]        A careful reading of Rule 7‑6 reveals that it refers to an order that the person submit to examination by a medical practitioner, and then the court is permitted to make an order respecting any expenses connected with the examination. No specific reference is made to the Schedule 3.

[29]        It seems to me that there is no difference in principle between the reasonable expenses of a plaintiff attending his own doctor, such as was awarded at 50 cents a kilometre in several of the cases, including the ones of Justice Stewart and Justice Schultes, and a plaintiff attending an independent medical examination, especially where the plaintiff agrees to attend an independent medical examination located in a different city.

[30]        Accordingly, I order the following:

1)    the plaintiff is to attend to be examined by Gary Worthington‑White, an occupational therapist, on a date to be agreed upon by the parties, with liberty to apply if there are difficulties;

2)    the defendant must provide conduct money as follows: firstly, mileage for 730 kilometres at 50 cents a kilometre, which is $365; secondly, overnight accommodation for one night at $175; and third, meals in the amount of $75. I apprehend that there will be at least four;

I know that it is approximately three and a half hours’ driving time from Burnaby to Kamloops, and it seems to me that what is reasonable here is that if the appointment ends before 4:30 p.m., it is reasonable for the plaintiff to drive home. So this is the next part of the order:  If the appointment ends after 4:30 p.m. on the date it commences, the defendant must promptly reimburse the plaintiff for one additional night’s accommodation and $12 additional meal allowance;

3)    if there are parking expenses not included in the hotel accommodation, those are to be promptly reimbursed upon being provided with the invoicing;

4)    the plaintiff can submit actual meal expenses, including alcohol, less whatever he has received in his allowance, as costs and the registrar can determine the reasonableness on assessment; and

5)    any notes recording any history or observations and data, including test results, are to be provided by October 31, 2015, or at such other date as may be agreed upon by counsel, if the presently‑scheduled examination does not go ahead.

[31]        It does seem to me that the plaintiff has been largely successful here, and so the costs of this application are to the plaintiff in any event of the cause.

#IBM: Three Ways Cognitive Computing Will Help the Insurance Industry

#IBM: Three Ways Cognitive Computing Will Help the Insurance Industry

By Christian Bieck and Craig Bedell, IBM

The insurance industry is facing a broad range of disruptive forces: changing demographics, volatile economies, sophisticated fraud attacks and rapid digitization of the industry.

At the same time, empowered consumers are demanding more from their insurance providers. Yet the traditionally conservative insurance industry has been slow in recognizing customers as individuals and providing personalized products and services.

In a recent IBM Institute for Business Value survey, 41 percent of respondents said that they changed insurers because the companies were too slow to react to their changing needs. That number is likely to grow as more customers become accustomed to faster and omni-channel service in other industries, such as retail.

To be successful amid such chaos and change, insurance leaders must be smarter in how they approach data. While the digital age has brought a massive amount of data brimming with potentially useful insights for insurers, organizations still struggle to unlock the full value of all that data.

Welcome to the age of cognitive computing, where cognitive-based systems can help bridge the gap between data quantity and data insights.

Intelligent machines simulate human brain capabilities to help solve society’s most vexing problems. They can build knowledge, understand natural language and provide confidence-weighted responses. And these systems can quickly identify new patterns and insights — capabilities that the insurance industry has never had before.

For the insurance industry, cognitive computing has indeed arrived, and its potential to transform the industry is enormous. Already, cognitive systems are using digital agents to help insurance underwriters make better decisions about their customers.

Our new research indicates that insurance industry leaders should focus on three areas to deal with the technological, economic and societal factors that are disrupting the industry today. They are:

1) Engagement: Cognitive systems can fundamentally change the way humans and systems interact. They can significantly extend the capabilities of humans by taking advantage of the systems’ ability to provide expert assistance. They provide advice by developing deep insights and providing this information to people in a timely, natural and usable way.

Because they are able to engage in dialogue with humans, cognitive systems can understand customers based on past communication and behavior. They use evidence-based reasoning. Today, these types of cognitive systems help insurers offer engaging and personalized interactions with consumers.

2) Discovery capabilities: Some discovery capabilities have already emerged. By using insights into customers’ behavior, providers can send personalized offers to individual consumers. Advanced cognitive capabilities have improved the bottom line by reducing operational costs.

In the near future, cognitive computing could scan images and contents of all legal and claims documents, and cross reference this information against each of the 50 states’ laws in the U.S., which often differ from state to state. In addition to improving costs, this process would help insurers better make better risk assessments and calculate premiums.

3) Decision capabilities: Cognitive systems aid in decision making and reduce human bias by offering evidence-based recommendations. They continually evolve based on new information, outcomes and actions. Current cognitive systems perform more as advisors by suggesting a set of options to human users, who ultimately make the final decisions.

These systems are helping insurance professionals make more informed and timely decisions. In claims management, they can greatly reduce processing times by instantly recognizing relevant passages from documents and communications.

Future applications might help underwriters assess the individual risk of each customer in a more personalized manner by combining weather data, geolocation data and other sources through mobile and newer technology.

The benefits of cognitive computing are not realized in a single “big bang” when they are initially rolled out. Instead, cognitive systems are evolutionary and provide increasing value over time. For the insurance industry, cognitive systems will enable insurers to be more nimble, more innovative and connected to their customers.

Christian Bieck is the Global Insurance Lead for the IBM Institute for Business Value.

Craig Bedell is a Global Insurance Industry Executive for IBM

ILScorp: Scheduled maintenance on Friday, Oct 30 from 7pm PST to Sunday Nov 1

We will be performing some planned maintenance on ILScorp.com on Friday October 30, 7pm to Sunday November 1, Pacific Time.

scheduled-maintenance

During this time, all e-learing campus and course access will be offline.

We strive to offer a consistently high uptime and need to perform some crucial hardware and database upgrades to ensure that reliability continues. These upgrades will also bring you a better and faster e-learning experience, along with improved security measures.

We try to keep longer planned maintenance windows like this one to a minimum and schedule them for low-traffic hours. We hope this won’t be too much of an inconvenience as we work to bring you the best online learning experience possible.

Thanks in advance for your patience.

ILScorp.com

Know what features you’ll actually use when picking a credit card

By Craig Wong

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA – Air Miles, Aeroplan points, low-interest, no-fee the options available on credit cards are dizzying for consumers looking to compare their options when shopping around.

When looking for a credit card, experts say consumers should start with an honest assessment what they need and what they will use.

Those who think they might routinely carry a balance may want to focus on low-interest-rate cards rather than those that offer rewards, because interest charges can quickly outweigh any benefits a rewards card might bring, especially if you only pay the minimum required.

But for those who pay off their balances every month, the choices are abundant.

Sean Gibson, a branch manager at the Royal Bank in Ottawa, says how you plan to use your credit card will drive your choice.

“If you’re paying a monthly fee on a card, you better get the value out of it,” he says.

If you don’t travel much, then travel rewards might not be much use to you, while cash back or points redeemable for groceries could very well be.

Travel insurance including rental car coverage can be options too, but cards that offer that usually charge an annual fee, something you will have to weigh against any potential benefits.

Gibson says you should consider just how much you’ll need to spend to accumulate enough points to be useful to you and whether that’s realistic for you.

“Some people will say put everything on your credit card and pay it off at the end of the month, but that requires a discipline that not everyone has,” he said.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada offers a credit-card selection tool to help consumers compare more than 250 credit cards from a wide range of financial institutions.

The site allows you to filter the cards by feature, picking out just the ones with travel rewards, for example, or sort out the cards that offer cash back on purchases.

FCAC spokeswoman Natasha Nystrom says the tool help narrow down choices for those shopping around for a credit card.

“It enables them as well to compare different credit cards that are out there that correspond to the features that they’re looking for,” she said.

But the final decision rests with the consumer.

“It is definitely important for consumers to take that responsibility,” Nystrom said.

Gibson says people should also be careful about just how many credit cards they accumulate because they have an impact on credit profile even if you don’t use them and they just sit in a desk drawer.

“If you’re not using it, you need to make sure you cancel it,” he said.

Regardless of what card you choose, Gibson says to be sure to use your card responsibly if you don’t, the benefits of paying by credit card will quickly disappear.

canada-press

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