Uniban Canada and Desjardins Insurance renew 12-year technological agreement

Uniban Canada

Uniban Canada is pleased to announce the renewal of a substantial 12-year agreement with Desjardins Insurance for the use of the Conversense portal, Uniban’s automotive glass claims management system.

Desjardins Insurance’s proven expertise, combined with Uniban’s know-how and their Conversense platform, reduce customers’ wait time and simplify the claims process, transforming an often-difficult claim experience into a positive one. The true winners of this agreement are the policyholders.

“It is an honor to sign an agreement of this duration and magnitude with Desjardins Insurance. We are delighted by the strength of this partnership as it is a testament to the confidence established between our two companies over the years. At the heart of a rapidly changing industry, this collaboration allows us to better continue the transformation of the client experience in favour of greater autonomy and a more engaging technological environment,” said Marc Desmarais, President and CEO of Uniban Canada.

About Uniban Canada

Uniban Canada is distinguished by its unique business model that has earned several distinctions in recent years (innovation, communication / marketing and franchisor of the year). Uniban encourages sustainable development through various programs and is now the leader and standard for major insurance companies in the management of automotive glass claims.

For more information, visit www.unibancanada.ca.

SOURCE Uniban Canada

Canadian Health Insurance Company to Cover Medical Cannabis

Excerpted article was written by Allison Tierney 

A major Canadian health insurance company will soon cover medical cannabis. Sun Life Assurance Co. is set to add medical cannabis to its group benefits plan on March 1. It will be the first major Canadian insurance company to take this step.

“Sun Life’s approach reflects current evidence-based clinical knowledge regarding the medical use of cannabis,” Sun Life said in a release on Thursday.

“As this has become something our clients—being the individual companies known as plan sponsors—have been asking us about more and more, we have moved from the stage of evaluate and review, to now offering it as a benefit for medicinal purposes,” Dave Jones, senior vice-president of group benefits at Sun Life, told the Globe and Mail.

The yearly maximums for those who will be covered through Sun Life for medical cannabis range from $1,500 to $6,000 per person per year. Medical cannabis will be an optional coverage through Sun Life, which insures more than 22,000 companies in Canada. Sun Life currently lists the following conditions and symptoms as being eligible for coverage: cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, and for patients in palliative care. There will be a prior approval process for those seeking coverage.

Justin Loizos, owner-operator of the compassion club Just Compassion in Toronto, has officially been a medical cannabis patient since 2012. Loizos uses cannabis as a medicine because he has MS and post-traumatic stress disorder. He estimates he would spend about $80,000 per year for his medical cannabis if he didn’t have access to wholesale pricing through the compassion club he owns.

“I own and operate a dispensary—the only reason I can afford my medicine is because of this,” Loizos said.

Loizos said going through the current legal system rather than the grey area his dispensary operates in isn’t an option to for him right now because what’s offered would fall short of his needs and wouldn’t keep him out of the hospital.

Loizos said the average grams used for medical cannabis patients would be significantly lower than his needs, however, as he describes himself as an “oddity.” He estimated it would be three to five grams per day for an average medical cannabis patient, whereas he uses around 40 grams per day (though it can vary depending on his medical needs).

Loizos said Sun Life’s coverage would likely cover only about a gram per day.

However, Craig Jones, the executive director of NORML Canada, said that he’s hopeful the cost of cannabis will go down after Canada’s cannabis legalization and regulation are put into action this year. NORML Canada is a non-profit that “aims to eliminate all civil and criminal penalties” for private cannabis use.

“It’s likely that the cost of cannabis will decline and—once people figure out which strains work best for which conditions—they’ll have no problem accessing through government vendors or from friends,” Jones told VICE via email.

Jones said it’s essential that more good-quality research is conducted on cannabis. He said that doctors are slow to pick up on new therapies such as cannabis—in part due to its stigmatization, but also because there needs to be more quality research and the results of such in the public domain.

“NORML Canada has long held that the full potential of cannabis is yet to be discovered—and with legalization and the end of bureaucratic obstacles, we may be on the verge of a whole new research era,” Jones said.

“I expect that insurers will expand availability as we learn more about what cannabis therapies work for which groups and conditions,” Jones told VICE. “We are at early days. Expect the unexpected.”

Sun Life’s coverage will categorize medical cannabis under “medical services and equipment” rather than under a drug benefit since it does not have a drug identification number (DIN). Medical cannabis does not have a DIN since it has yet to be approved by Health Canada under the Food and Drugs Act.

For Loizos, medical cannabis has greatly improved his life. Proper dosage level has meant that he has greatly reduced his number of hospital visits for MS-related issues, including being able to avoid potentially dangerous therapies such as those including large amounts of IV steroids.

A next step forward, Loizos said, is for provinces’ disability support programs (such as Ontario’s ODSP) to cover costs—not just a gram per day, but whatever amount a doctor prescribes—of medicinal cannabis.

“Sun Life taking this first step is gigantic,” Loizos said. “Even if it’s a gram a day or whatever, it’s not a joke, it’s showing that a major staple in our medical community has accepted cannabis as medicine and is allowing coverage. That’s very positive.”


Feds forced to pony up extra $800M to pay for support to injured troops, vets

OTTAWA _ The federal government is blaming a dramatic increase in the number of military personnel struggling with PTSD and other psychological trauma for a multimillion-dollar shortfall in a government-backed insurance program.

More disabled veterans are also demanding health services and financial support than expected, which has required the government to add more money than expected into the mix.

The government hasn’t said how many more active and retired service members are seeking assistance.

But financial documents tabled in the House of Commons this week show the government is being forced to contribute an additional $800 million to take care of active and retired service members who have been injured while in uniform.

That includes $623 million to address the shortfall in the insurance program, which is known as the Service Income Security Insurance Plan, and $177 million in additional funding for Veterans Affairs Canada.

The government says the increased demand comes from more awareness about supports available, but experts have long warned that it will take years to reach a full understanding of the psychological cost of the war in Afghanistan.

Ottawa rescues military disability insurance plan with $622 million bailout

By Murray Brewster, CBC News

The Liberal government is spending more than $622 million to bail out the Canadian military’s long-term disability insurance plan, newly tabled federal budget documents reveal.

The enormous infusion of cash comes almost five years after the former Conservative government settled a class-action lawsuit with disgruntled veterans who were angry that their payments were being clawed back.

Supplementary budget estimates for the current fiscal year, tabled this week in the House of Commons, show the Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) is running in deficit and the federal government is “contractually obliged” to keep it afloat.

The plan, which serves both full-time and part-time soldiers, is underfunded “due to a significantly higher number of claims, largely owing to increased awareness and recognition of post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health,” says the estimates document.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a conference call Thursday the government has committed to looking after members of the military.

“We’ll continue to make the right investments,” he said.

In 2013, the Harper government paid out $887 million for a settlement with 7,500 former soldiers whose long-term disability income had faced clawbacks for over 35 years.

In an email, National Defence said the bailout was necessary to keep the Service Income Security Insurance Plan afloat in the face of “the continuing growth in the number of claims” over the past few years.

“This sum is required for the [Canadian Armed Forces] to continue to adequately fund its group disability plan,” the department said.

Veterans Affairs is also getting an extra $177 million top-up to cover a higher-than-expected number of disability claims for ex-soldiers.

The supplementary estimates document says the department is seeing an “increased number of veterans accessing programs, such as the Disability Award, and increased requirements for health services.”

‘Left out in the cold’

The news comes as veterans converge on Parliament Hill Thursday for an outdoor protest they have dubbed “left out in the cold.”

Most of their anger and frustration relates to the Liberal government’s plan to give injured veterans a choice between a lump sum compensation payment for injuries and a lifetime pension.

Critics — both in the veterans community and on the opposition benches — have said the plan falls short of what the Liberals promised in the 2015 election campaign.

Trevor Sanderson was camping overnight this week beneath the walkway connecting the East and West Memorial Buildings on Wellington Street, ahead of Thursday’s protest for better services for veterans. (Marc-André Cossette/CBC)

Afghanistan veterans who claim the system discriminates against them have vowed to carry on with a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s pension policy. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau managed to increase tensions with veterans at a town hall appearance a few weeks ago.

Asked why his government is still fighting veterans in court, Trudeau told the town hall audience that the veterans are “asking for more than we are able to give right now.”

The Conservatives plan to introduce a motion Thursday calling on Trudeau to formally “apologize to veterans for his insensitive comments.”

They’re also demanding that he live up to his campaign vow that, under his government, no ex-soldier would “be forced to fight their own government for the support and compensation they have earned.”

Farmers Edge to use data to edge into insurance sector

Canadian Cattleman | By 

Farmers Edge has signed a four-year agreement with global reinsurance company PartnerRe to bring precision farming technology together with ag insurance.

Under the agreement announced this week, the two companies plan to work together to develop new insurance products for the agricultural market.

While Canadian farmers have access to government-run, subsidized crop insurance programs, as well as some private sector insurance options, farmers in some parts of the world don’t have this luxury.

“There are different maturity levels of crop insurance in each country,” said Ron Osborne, Farmers Edge’s chief strategy officer.

One reason ag insurance markets are thin in some countries is the lack of data. Historic crop yield data is important, but other data sets also play a part.

In Canada, for example, “we’ve got rich data sets on soils, and soils maps,” said Osborne. “We’ve got a fairly dense network of weather stations.”

Working with PartnerRe, FarmersEdge plans to export its data expertise around the world, “bringing risk management in a way that they’ve never been able to have before.”

This will include places where there was so little data available, Osborne said, that companies “didn’t feel comfortable writing a policy.”

One large-scale farm in Brazil, he said, had not been able to insure its production. “We deployed our system and they were almost immediately able to get insurance.”

Here in Canada, Farmers Edge plans to use its extensive data platform to develop new products to help farmers work with insurance companies faster. “Imagine you had a hail event and you got paid the next day,” Osborne said.

The first step FarmersEdge hopes to take is to enhance data transfer capabilities between farmers and existing insurers. “What we’re working on is trying to make it easier for the farmers to do business.”

Farmers Edge has ambitious future plans in the North American market. “Step no. 2,” Osborne said, “is providing new types of coverage.”

Farmers Edge has grown from two Manitoba agronomists doing precision data work in 2005 to a company with 450 employees operating in five countries around the world.

In Western Canada, Farmers Edge offers precision farming solutions including variable-rate technology and satellite imagery.

PartnerRe, meanwhile, provides reinsurance to insurance companies in 150 countries, including specialty weather and credit protection services. The Bermuda-based company is publicly traded and has been in business since 1993.

— Leeann Minogue is the editor of Grainews at Griffin, Sask. 

Quebec coroner’s report into ride sharing death a warning to users

By Sidhartha Banerjee


MONTREAL _ A Quebec coroner is warning ride-sharing users they don’t have any guarantees about the state of the vehicle they’re getting into.

Dr. Jean Brochu said raising awareness was his main goal in a report into the October 2016 death of Katy Torres Davila of Gatineau, Que.

Torres Davila, 30, was a University of Ottawa doctoral student who died after the AmigoExpress car-sharing vehicle in which she was a passenger slammed into a minivan in the oncoming lane on Highway 40, west of Montreal.

She was travelling to Montreal for Thanksgiving and was using the intercity carpooling service, which links drivers and potential passengers seeking rides.

Drivers post their rides and the empty seats in their vehicle, and passengers search for the match that gets them where they need to go.

“In spite of what they write on their internet sites, these groups express wishful thinking when they say that the car will be in good condition and the driver will be competent,” Brochu said in an interview Tuesday.

The coroner found that although the car was just four years old (a 2012 model), an inspection showed worn back brakes and threadbare tires. There was also heavy rain on the day of the accident.

“As soon as the pavement became wet, the driver lost control and the young lady was killed,” Brochu said.

The driver exercised her right to not take part in the coroner’s probe, the report noted.

Brochu stopped short of recommending inspections for all vehicles, a practice that exists in Japan and in several European Union countries.

“The recommendation has been made before to the (Quebec automobile insurance board) and it was not well received,” Brochu said. “I’m not sure either that the public would be very happy about a recommendation making vehicle inspections compulsory.”

But the coroner says he wants the public to know that unlike buses, taxis, or heavy vehicles, private vehicles used in increasingly popular carpooling or ride-sharing services are not subject to compulsory inspections.

That said, Brochu noted the companies probably have very good cars and drivers. But he added that, given the voluntary nature of the business model, there’s no way for the firms to check or control the compulsory inspections of the cars.

He said most drivers take good care of their vehicles.

“I think it’s a matter of common sense,” Brochu said. “No one wants to ride around in a vehicle that puts you at risk of ending up in a ditch at any moment.”

AmigoExpress, which has 480,000 members, said in a statement it is in favour of stricter rules governing cars on the road and would welcome the possibility of imposing periodic mechanical inspection.

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