Manulife unveils COVID 19 related travel insurance in face of advisories

By Christopher Reynolds

Manulife Financial Corp. is offering COVID-19-related travel insurance for Canadians who take international and domestic trips, eliciting mixed reactions from the industry.

The policy, slated to roll out in October, will provide emergency medical coverage that includes the coronavirus and related conditions.

It will also provide some coverage linked to trip interruptions or cancellations in the event of quarantine, Manulife said in a release Wednesday.

The new “pandemic travel plan” includes visits to regions subject to a level-three travel advisory, which warns against non-essential travel and which Canada has issued for all countries.

The nation’s largest insurer follows some smaller providers in offering medical travel insurance that covers COVID-19, including the Canadian Association of Blue Cross in Ontario and Quebec. Trip interruptions are not covered under Blue Cross plans.

The Manulife plan includes emergency medical coverage up to $200,000 for COVID-19 and related conditions after a positive test result as well as emergency air transport to return home.

That ceiling is a far cry from the $5 million in emergency medical expenses the company covers for non-coronavirus health issues.

“Is the limit of $200,000 sufficient for more serious cases in places like the United States, where the medical expenses are astronomical?” asked insurance lawyer Sivan Tumarkin.

“We’ve heard about these cases of people who are hospitalized on ventilators for days, weeks, who are close to death and it takes them months, perhaps, to recover.”

Exclusions based on pre-existing conditions are another concern. Manulife has not yet released details about the new plan or how health conditions such as asthma or lung disease might factor in to coverage availability.

“I’m happy that these coverages are coming because people want to travel and we need insurance, but my thing would be just release the policy, release the verbiage,” Tumarkin said.

“The devil is in the details.”

New insurance offers that arguably incentivize travel fly in the face of authorities urging Canadians to stay home, says Marty Firestone, president of Travel Secure Inc., a Toronto-based company that specializes in travel insurance.

“It’s good, it’s a step in the right direction. But why are we encouraging travelling and covering COVID if our own Canadian government is extending the U.S. border closure,” he asked, referring to Manulife’s plan. “That’s a little contradictory.”

At least one Manulife rival seems to agree. Orion Travel Insurance Co., a major travel insurance provider owned by CAA, “is not proactively encouraging international travel while advisories remain in effect,” CAA spokesman Elliott Silverstein said in an email.

Orion’s emergency medical insurance plan will include COVID-19-related costs when Global Affairs Canada brings travel advisories to a lower level, he said.

Air Canada and WestJet now offer free travel insurance with a $100,000 coverage limit on flights to Mexico, the Caribbean and, in WestJet’s case, Europe.

Firestone said he is concerned about companies “luring passengers…with this false sense of security.”

WestJet has highlighted “peace of mind” through safety protocols and the no-charge insurance, which applies to reservations made starting this Friday.

“We know Canadians are seeking reassurance and our guests can now have confidence knowing they are protected against unforeseen medical costs related to the pandemic when choosing to book with WestJet,” chief commercial officer Arved von zur Muehlen said in a statement last week.

Manulife’s plan also covers daily quarantine-related costs of $150 per person or $300 per family for up to two weeks.

Basic travel insurance plans generally don’t cover pandemics, with viral exclusions comprising a part of various insurance policies since the SARS epidemic.

“The pandemic has had extraordinary impacts on the day-to-day lives of Canadians, and at Manulife, our top priority remains the health and safety of our customers, employees, partners and communities. This specialized travel insurance is aimed at helping protect what matters most,” Alex Lucas, head of insurance at Manulife, said in a statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2020

Westland Insurance Acquires Four New Brokerage Firms

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Source: Westland Insurance Group Ltd.

SURREY, British Columbia, Sept. 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Westland Insurance Group Ltd. (“Westland”) is pleased to announce the closing of four acquisitions, effective August 31, 2020. The new retail offices, which are located in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba, support Westland’s expansion strategy to serve more communities across the country.

“This is an exciting time for Westland as we continue our strategic expansion across Canada. These acquisitions strengthen our presence in western Canada, and, for the first time, provide us the opportunity to support clients in Manitoba,” said Jason Wubs, CEO of Westland Insurance. “These are all client-focussed agencies with deep roots in their communities, and they are perfectly aligned to Westland’s core values. Their professional advisors will continue to provide the same great service, and we are excited to welcome our new team members to the Westland family.”

Manitoba

King Insurance:
Founded in 1962, King Insurance is a family-owned brokerage located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Its professional insurance advisors are experts in residential, auto, business, life and disability insurance.

Alberta

Johnson Agencies:
Johnson Agencies has served the insurance needs of Leduc, Alberta, and the surrounding areas since 1967. They provide residential, auto, recreation, commercial, farm, travel and life insurance.

Hedderick Insurance Agencies:
Located in Pincher Creek, Alberta, Hedderick Insurance Agencies has been serving clients since 1949. They provide residential, commercial, recreation, farm and auto insurance.

British Columbia

Nauroth & Associates:
Family-owned Nauroth & Associates has been serving the Prince George, BC, area for over 25 years. Their expert advisors provide the community with auto, residential, commercial, travel and life insurance.

With these acquisitions, Westland Insurance will be adding four branches and over 30 employees across Canada. Post-acquisition, Westland will have nearly 1500 employees and more than 120 offices in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

About Westland Insurance Group

Westland Insurance Group is a client-focused and community-based Property & Casualty insurance brokerage established in 1980 in Ladner, B.C. The company is one of Canada’s largest independent P&C insurance distributors with over 120 offices throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Westland is considered a leader in home, business, farm and auto insurance.

www.westlandinsurance.ca

Millennial Money: 6 Great Recession lessons that still apply

Millennial Money: 6 Great Recession lessons that still apply

By Melissa Lambarena Of Nerdwallet

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Great Recession demolished jobs across the U.S., and it eventually came for mine, too. After graduating in 2009, I worked four months as an entry-level executive assistant at a non-profit before being laid off.

I had limited financial knowledge, a short work history and a lot to prove to break into the field of journalism, my ultimate goal. Along the way, I picked up valuable lessons that might help you manage your finances during the coronavirus-related recession.

1. SAVE WHAT YOU CAN

My short work history disqualified me from receiving unemployment benefits, so I relied on my savings account. Even a small emergency fund of $500 can prevent you from falling into debt, and I had socked away enough to cover a few months of expenses.

If you’re still employed, “pay yourself first,” said Samuel Deane, a financial planner at Deane Financial in New York. “Even if it’s $20 every time you get paid, make sure you put that $20 away first and then live your lifestyle with the remainder.” Automate it with direct deposit if you can.

If you’ve lost your job, saving will obviously be tougher. Apply for unemployment if you qualify, and contact your landlord, creditors, area nonprofits and family members to seek relief. If you’re still employed but have had your salary cut, consider a side gig and work on trimming expenses.

2. THINK TWICE BEFORE REJECTING JOB OFFERS

After many interviews and dead ends, I applied for an administrative role at an accounting firm and got hired in December 2009. It paid about $7,000 less than my previous salary. I knew it wouldn’t put my career on track, but it would cover most of my bills, so I took it.

Amanda Grossman, now a certified financial education instructor in El Paso, Texas, made similar compromises after being laid off as a market researcher in Florida in 2008. She took a career counsellor’s advice and relocated to Texas for a lower-paying job in the environmental industry.

“(The counsellor) said, `Look, the economy is not doing well. You need to take that job, it’s going to keep going down; you’re not going to be able to find work,”’ Grossman said.

If your sector is hurting and unemployment benefits or savings are lacking, even a less-than-ideal role can help you ride out a recession.

3. GET SMART ABOUT MONEY

You’ll find a myriad of financial literacy resources online and at your local library, assuming it is open and safe to visit during the pandemic.

I struggled to save money on a lower salary. Credit cards became my emergency fund. I don’t recommend this approach, but times were tough. Had I learned about financial hardship programs, student loan repayment options or balance transfer credit cards, I would have saved heaps on interest and ditched debt faster.

4. ESTABLISH MULTIPLE STREAMS OF INCOME

I still wanted journalism experience and extra income, so on top of my new full-time job, I learned to shoot and edit video. I began freelancing in 2010. A year later, I also launched a small social media consulting business.

Grossman, too, had other goals. “I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I love, love, love talking about money,” she said.

While she was unemployed in Florida, she launched the blog “Frugal Confessions.” She learned new writing skills from books and sought feedback from editors at newspapers. In 2013, she left her environmental job in Texas to run her blog full time.

5. PROTECT YOUR CREDIT BUT PROTECT YOURSELF FIRST

In a crisis like COVID-19, many normal financial rules don’t apply. You may need to carry a credit card balance to buy groceries or address an emergency. You may need to make only the minimum payment to cover rent. You may even need to contact your card issuer and ask for relief options like payment deferrals.

Even with three jobs, I struggled at times to make the minimum payments on my credit cards due to high balances and interest rates. I never defaulted, but I did stress and scramble over it. I wanted a record of on-time payments and the good credit they build so that I could qualify for future low-interest rate offers.

That’s a worthy goal, but in times of emergency, prioritize getting back on your feet first. Once you do, you’ll have time to address your credit scores.

6. MAKE CALCULATED MONEY MOVES

Eventually, I left my apartment and moved in with roommates. I also read the post-recession climate and, in successive jobs, learned how to ask for a raise. Every year that my workload and responsibilities increased, I made a case for a higher salary. Asking is uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier. The extra money eventually paid off my debts.

A recession’s impact is largely out of your control, but your reaction isn’t. With strategic steps, you can insulate yourself and create new opportunities.

_______________________________

This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Melissa Lambarena is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: mlambarena?nerdwallet.com. Twitter: ?lissalambarena.

RELATED LINKS:

NerdWallet: COVID-19 and your money: Our guide to getting relief and managing your finances http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-covid19-guide

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: An essential guide to building an emergency fund http://bit.ly/consumer-finance-start

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: Money Smart Online Tools https://fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/learn.html

 

What’s The Difference? An Insurance Policy Versus An Insurance Contract For A Group Insurance Program

What’s The Difference? An Insurance Policy Versus An Insurance Contract For A Group Insurance Program

The Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Van Huizen v. Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company, 2020 ONCA 222 underscores the distinction between an insurance policy and an insurance contract; particularly the importance this difference has in determining whether an insurer’s duty to defend is engaged for individuals participating in a group insurance program.

Background

Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company (“Trisura”) issued a professional liability insurance policy (the “Master Policy”) to the Appraisal Institute of Canada (“AIC”). The Master Policy pertained to claims made against AIC members, their personal corporations, employers, and the AIC, for the negligent provision of professional appraisal services.

Coverage was extended to individual members of the AIC under the Master Policy by way of individual application. An individual certificate of insurance was issued to each member.

Mr. Van Huizen, a professional appraiser and member of the AIC, made a claim under the Master Policy and his individual certificate of insurance (the “Van Huizen Insurance Contract”) for coverage in respect of three proceedings (two actions and a third party claim), which were brought against Mr. Van Huizen and a business style, Hastings Appraisal Services (collectively referred to as “Van Huizen”).

These proceedings arose from an allegedly negligent property appraisal performed by another AIC member, Mr. Barkley. Mr. Barkley was also insured under the Master Policy and had his own individual certificate of insurance issued by Trisura (the “Barkley Insurance Contract”). Mr. Barkley passed away in October 2016.

Before Trisura could issue its coverage position in respect of the Van Huizen claim, Van Huizen commenced an action against Trisura seeking a declaration that Trisura had a duty to defend and indemnify them under the Van Huizen insurance contract for the three proceedings.

The Summary Judgment Motion

Trisura brought a summary judgment motion to dismiss the action on the basis that it owed no duty to defend. In particular, Trisura took the position that, among other things, no coverage was available under the Van Huizen Insurance Contract because it did not provide coverage for Mr. Barkley’s alleged professional negligence.

The motion judge dismissed Trisura’s motion and granted judgment in favour of Van Huizen. In reaching this conclusion, the motion judge adopted a broad interpretation of the Master Policy and concluded that “Mr. Van Huzien has coverage for a legal claim arising from his own actions and also when it flows from his legal status as an employer of the alleged wrongdoer [Mr. Barkley].” The motion judge also found that Trisura had a duty to defend Van Huizen on the basis that such an interpretation was necessary for the vicarious liability provision to have any practical effect.

Trisura appealed the motion judge’s decision.

The Appeal

The primary issue on appeal was whether the motion judge erred in finding that Trisura’s duty to defend Van Huizen was engaged under the Van Huizen Insurance Contract.

While the motion judge correctly identified the relevant interpretative principles in determining whether there was a duty to defend, the Court found the motion judge erred by treating the Master Policy as the entire insurance contract for all AIC members.

The Court’s decision turned on the differences that separate insurance policies from insurance contracts as recognized by the statutory definitions of “contract” and “policy” in the Insurance Act, RSO 1990, c. I.8.1 The Court noted insurance policies are instruments that do not create legal obligations simply through their existence. Without an added contractual relationship, a policy is merely a recitation of terms and conditions that does not attach to a particular person or item.

In contrast, an insurance contract creates contractual obligations between parties. Like any contract, there must be an offer, acceptance, and agreement on all material terms. Premiums, the nature and duration of risks, and the extent of liability, are all material terms in an insurance contract.

The motion judged interpreted the Master Policy as if it constituted a binding agreement between Trisura and all members who had been issued certificates. Since both Mr. Van Huizen and Mr. Barkley each held certificates under the Master Policy, the motion judge incorrectly concluded they were both “Insureds” and entitled to coverage.

The Court explained that the Master Policy did not constitute a binding agreement on its own and merely set out the terms of the professional liability insurance being offered to the AIC members. Each AIC member who desired coverage must apply and, provided the member and the insurer come to an agreement on the remaining essential terms (e.g. premium to be paid and the term of insurance), a certificate of insurance must be issued to the member to confirm the existence of the insurance contract. Thus, the certificates issued to Mr. Van Huizen and Mr. Barkley were evidence of separate insurance contracts.

In light of this, the individual certificate issued to Mr. Van Huizen should have been used to determine whether Trisura had a duty to defend. Since the motion judge erred by finding a duty to defend based solely on the Master Policy, the Court reconsidered the issue based on an interpretation of the true contractual relationship between the parties.

As Mr. Barkley’s certificate did not form part of the Van Huizen Insurance Contract, only Van Huizen would be captured under the definitions of “Member”, “Insured” and “Wrongful Act”. In other words, coverage was only available for claims against Van Huizen respecting Mr. Van Huizen‘s provision of professional services. Consequently, there was no coverage under the Van Huizen Insurance Contract for Mr. Barkley‘s alleged professional negligence.

Ultimately, the Court found Trisura’s duty to defend was not engaged and the motion judge’s order was set aside.

TAKE AWAY

The appeal decision in Van Huizen v. Trisura serves as a useful reminder of the important distinction between an insurance contract and an insurance policy, particularly where coverage is offered under a group insurance program. It is the insurance contract, not the insurance policy, which must be considered when determining an insurer’s liability.

Footnote

1 Section 1 of the Insurance Act defines “contract” to mean “a contract of insurance, and includes a policy, certificate, … evidencing the contract …” and “policy” to mean “the instrument evidencing a contract”.

Originally published by Clyde & Co, August 2020

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.

Read more at Mondaq

Economical Insurance to provide insurance solution for Uber

Economical Insurance to provide insurance solution for Uber

Economical Insurance will provide peace of mind for drivers who use the Uber network and their customers in four Canadian provinces beginning September 1, 2020

WATERLOO, ON, August 18, 2020 — Economical Insurance announced today a new and significant relationship with Uber in Canada, designed to provide insurance coverage for every Uber Rides and Uber Eats trip in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. The relationship is expected to launch on September 1, 2020.

“At Economical, we believe in finding innovative solutions to changing customer expectations, which is exactly what Uber has done for transportation globally,” said Rowan Saunders, President and CEO, Economical Insurance. “Our initiative with Uber continues our focus on digital transformation. It is another example of how we’re blending our insurance industry expertise with technology to support a better customer experience. We are proud that Uber has chosen Economical as their rideshare insurer in Canada going forward.”

“Uber has been a leader in the ridesharing industry, making sure every trip is insured. As our business has grown, we recognize the importance of strong partners like Economical Insurance. We are excited to partner with Economical Insurance in Canada to bring their high class service and trusted protection to riders, drivers, and eaters who use the Uber app,” said Gus Fuldner, Vice President of Safety and Insurance, Uber.

This announcement follows the innovative solutions for customers and brokers Economical Insurance has developed as it continues to make progress on its plans to convert from a mutual company to a publicly traded share company. The launch of Sonnet in 2016 introduced Canada’s first coast-to-coast fully online home and auto insurance experience. More recently, Economical launched Vyne, which uses advanced technology to provide faster service, improved workflows, and sophisticated products and pricing for brokers and their customers.

“Our sophisticated products, broad underwriting capabilities, and dedicated team give us the opportunity to provide coverage for a business as large and successful as Uber,” said Fabian Richenberger, EVP, Commercial Insurance, Economical Insurance. “As we look to the future, we know Canadians are changing how they order food, use cars, and get from one point to another, and we are dedicated to being there to protect them.”

Insurance coverage for drivers operating on the Uber platform will continue seamlessly. Economical will share more information and further details on the initiative in the coming weeks.

Aon acted as the insurance broker who facilitated the initiative.

About Economical Insurance

Economical Mutual Insurance Company (“Economical” or “Economical Insurance”, which includes its subsidiaries where the context so requires) is a leading property and casualty insurer in Canada, with approximately $2.6 billion in annualized gross written premiums and approximately $6.2 billion in assets as at June 30, 2020. Economical is a Canadian-owned and operated company that services the insurance needs of more than one million customers.

About Uber

Uber’s mission is to create opportunity through movement. We started in 2010 to solve a simple problem: how do you get access to a ride at the touch of a button? More than 15 billion trips later, we’re building products to get people closer to where they want to be. By changing how people, food, and things move through cities, Uber is a platform that opens up the world to new possibilities.

 

 

Canada: Life Insurance: Expense Or Investment?

Life insurance is often thought of as something you buy to protect loved ones in the event of your death. Viewed through this lens, the premiums you pay seem more like an expense than an investment. On the other hand, an insurance policy that will take care of your family members and your business partners could let you spend more of your money guilt-free as you age and ease into retirement. From this perspective, life insurance is a great investment and well worth the cost. Here’s why.

“The goal of leaving a big inheritance to your children, a faith group, or a favourite charity can discourage a lot of people from tapping into their wealth and enjoying the rewards of their hard work,” says David Camps, Vice-President of Marketing and Client Experience at Lawyers Financial. “That’s unfortunate because the strategic use of insurance can let you access your net worth while you’re alive, knowing the policy will take care of your beneficiaries.”

As your Lawyers Financial Advisor can explain, there are many ways to protect your family and your business interests. The key is assembling the right combination of policies. That’s what our advisors do best.

PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY

The younger you are, the less likely you are to have substantial assets that can be handed down to your children or used to pay off debt. As for the assets you do have, the cost of passing them on may erode their value (probate fees and estate taxes could kick in).

That’s why you should consider an insurance policy such as Lawyers Financial Term 80 Life insurance. It provides a cost-effective and tax-efficient way to protect your family and ensure their financial well-being. A guaranteed payout could be used to:

  • Pay off your mortgage.
  • Pay off other outstanding debts.
  • Replace your income.
  • Pay for your children’s education.
  • Provide cash to pay probate fees and taxes without needing to liquidate assets.

PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS

If you are a sole practitioner or member of a small firm, an investment in life insurance has two immediate benefits:

1. It can be used as collateral

A term life insurance policy can be assigned to a lender as collateral for a loan or line of credit. Upon your death, the insurance company would pay the loan balance and anything left over from the insurance benefit would be paid to your beneficiaries.

Consult with your Lawyers Financial Advisor if you anticipate the need for business financing. They can help you put the right, and most affordable, coverage in place.

2. It can help in business succession

If you are a partner in a law firm, you likely have a buy-sell agreement that addresses the death of a partner. Life insurance can help all of you fulfill the terms of your agreement in a simple, cost-effective manner, allowing you and your remaining partners to focus on your business.

Whatever your situation, life insurance is an investment and an important part of a financial plan that allows for more financial options while you are alive and still provides a guaranteed payout to your beneficiaries down the road.

Originally published 08 August, 2020

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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