State of emergency, not a reason to deny auto insurance

Out on the roads when you shouldn’t have been? You might still be covered in an accident

CBC News

Some good news for travellers during the state of emergency — if you were out on the roads when you weren’t supposed to be and got in an accident, you might still have a shot at being covered by your insurance company.

Erin Norwood, Atlantic Canada’s manager of government relations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said while companies don’t condone driving when it is prohibited by a municipality, it doesn’t necessarily violate your policy.

“Driving during a state of emergency in and of itself would not typically invalidate auto insurance coverage,” she said.

Amanda Dean, vice-president of IBC Atlantic, said other considerations still apply, such as who is at fault and whether your vehicle was in a fit condition to drive.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has ticketed drivers during the state of emergency for driving with windshields covered in ice and snow.

Dean said it’s essential to prove you took every safety precaution, including clearing snow from your vehicle.

Some people have run into trouble while starting their vehicles when the engine block is covered in snow. One person posted on Facebook about a family member’s vehicle catching fire because it wasn’t cleaned out under the hood.

File your claims ASAP

With the city digging out and people assessing their properties, Norwood said it’s important to let your insurance company know as soon as possible.

While insurance adjusters are not included in the professions exempt from the state of emergency, she said now is a good time for policy holders to gather photos and find old receipts.

Some houses suffered damage to shingles and siding during the hurricane-force winds last Friday.

Others had leaks from snow blowing into attics and melting down through the ceiling.

Dean said people should check their insurance policy to see if it covers alternate accommodations, so they can stay in hotels, motels or with relatives before their homes can be repaired.

Source: CBC News

Manitoba offering disaster aid to those affected by severe October snowstorm

WINNIPEG _ The Manitoba government is offering disaster assistance to municipalities, homeowners, farms and small businesses pummelled by a vicious snowstorm in October.

More than 250,000 electricity customers lost power at some point as thick, heavy snow brought down tree limbs and power lines.

The early blast of winter just before the Thanksgiving weekend moved Premier Brian Pallister to declare a state of emergency.

Pallister says the storm resulted in widespread damage and the financial aid will help with costs not covered by insurance.

The snow covered crops that farmers were still trying to harvest and also resulted in the Red River Floodway being used for the first time in the fall.

The province has already announced compensation related specifically to the floodway’s impact.

“The (disaster financial assistance) program will help cover the costs of response and recovery from the overall weather event,” Pallister said Thursday.

Manitoba Hydro said during the height of the storm that it had caused unprecedented damage to transmission lines and towers.

Among the hardest-hit areas was Portage la Prairie, a city of 13,000. Many people there were still without power three days after the storm first hit. City officials warned that sewage lift stations were operating on backup power and residents should not flush their toilets.

Several First Nations had to move seniors and other vulnerable people into a Red Cross emergency shelter in Winnipeg.

The provincial government asked all residents to avoid non-essential travel.

Black History Month stamp celebrates little-known hockey history

The Colored Hockey Championship stamp tells the story of overcoming adversity

HALIFAXJan. 23, 2020 /CNW/ – Canada Post today unveiled a stamp honouring the Colored Hockey Championship and the all-Black hockey teams in the Maritimes that competed for it between 1895 and the early 1930s.

In this little-known chapter in Canadian hockey history, determined organizers and players arranged their own challenge matches, dispelling hurtful misconceptions and changing the game in small but important ways.

In the late 19th century, Baptist Church leaders believed all-Black hockey would be a great way to attract young Black men to the Church to strengthen their religious path. Games became community events that brought mixed audiences together in the stands; and post-game meals united Black players from different communities.

There was no predetermined game schedule. Rather, teams challenged each other to matches by telegraph or by placing ads in local newspapers. Organizers, players and newspapers of the day called the ultimate prize the Colored Hockey Championship, a term not in use today, but which the stamp issue retains because it is historically accurate.

The stamp acknowledges some of the game’s early developments, including some of the earliest recorded uses of down-to-the-ice goaltending, which was later adopted by players in “white-only” leagues, including professional leagues. At that time, hockey goalies in other leagues stood upright.

The first record of an all-Black hockey game in the Halifax area dates back to March 1895 and involved the Dartmouth Jubilees and the Halifax Stanleys. Six more teams would soon form, including one from Prince Edward Island. There were the Halifax Eurekas, Africville Sea-Sides, Truro Victorias, Hammonds Plains Moss Backs, Amherst Royals and Charlottetown West End Rangers.

The golden era of all-Black hockey was between 1900 and 1905, when games often outdrew those of “white-only” leagues, but teams continued to play for the Colored Hockey Championship until the 1930s.

Designed by Lara Minja of Lime Design, the stamp features an illustration of the Halifax Eurekas, the Colored Hockey Champions in 1904. The illustration by Ron Dollekamp is based on a historical photograph. The stamp is available in booklets of 10; the Official First Day Cover is cancelled in Halifax.

Canada Post is proud to honour the courage of those who organized and played all-Black hockey and helped to make this little-known story part of Canada’s national discussion.

Click here for stamp images and Details magazine and canadapost.ca/magazine.

SOURCE Canada Post

For further information: Media Relations, 613-734-8888, media@canadapost.ca

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www.canadapost.ca

How Canadian researchers are using data to track the spread of the coronavirus

TORONTO _ Canadian researchers are making advances in tracking the trajectory of viral illnesses, like the emergent coronavirus, as they try to stay ahead of any potential threat to Canada.

From global flight patterns to learning the names of individual patients, scientists say they have more ways to monitor infectious diseases than ever.

These insights are drawn from new data-driven technologies, improved communication across public- health agencies and increased transparency in reporting infections.

But as our interconnected world has made it easier to share information, it has also multiplied the opportunities for viruses to spread, said Kamran Khan, a Toronto doctor who specializes in infectious disease.

“On one hand, the world is rapidly changing, where diseases are emerging and spreading faster,” said Khan, a scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital.

“On the other hand, we happen to have growing access to data we can use … to generate insights and spread them faster than the diseases spread themselves.”

The newly identified coronavirus has so far sickened close to 600 people in China and killed at least 17. Other cases have been reported in the United States, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Thursday that several people in Canada are under observation for signs they may have contracted the pneumonia-like illness, but that the risk to Canadians remains low.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization determined Thursday that it was “too early” to declare the outbreak a global health emergency, but cautioned that “it may yet become one.”

Khan, the founder and CEO of BlueDot, said his medical analytics company has been monitoring the virus since first detecting signs of an outbreak on Dec. 31 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where most of the early cases are concentrated.

Since the rise of commercial air travel, Khan said humans have become the key vectors, or virus carriers, driving the dispersion of diseases around the world.

BlueDot’s AI-powered system analyzes billions of data points, including airline ticket sales and online news reports, to map how viruses spread through the global transportation network and predict regions that are at the highest risk of an outbreak.

Khan said about 80 per cent of travellers from Wuhan to Canada are headed for Toronto and Vancouver, but he noted that there are no non-stop flights from the Chinese city, which means the volume of travel is relatively low.

BlueDot shares such insights with its clients across the private and public sector to keep them posted on the latest developments as an epidemic evolves, so they can co-ordinate their response, said Khan.

However, he admits that every prediction comes with some degree of uncertainty. For example, researchers are still piecing together the scale of the coronavirus outbreak, and how efficiently the virus is transmitted from person to person.

Meanwhile, laboratory networks across the country are working to make sure tests are available wherever cases may crop up, said Yoav Keynan, the scientific lead at the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases.

The coronavirus comes from same family that caused the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which killed at least 774 people worldwide, including 44 people in Canada.

Since then, Canada has taken steps to improve communication between provincial, federal and global public-health agencies, Keynan said.

“I think there’s a greater degree of knowledge-sharing across jurisdictions that allows us to track epidemics,” said Keynan, an associate professor in University of Manitoba’s medical microbiology department.

“Canadians should be encouraged by how much better the public-health infrastructure is compared to what it was 17 years ago.”

David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, who was part of Ontario’s response to the SARS outbreak, said the new coronavirus could serve as a  “stress test” for the protocols that have been implemented since.

For example, the virus appears to be highly transmissible in health-care settings, but not outside of them.

That means overcrowded hospitals and emergency rooms could potentially become petri dishes for the infectious disease.

“We’ve seen this movie before,” said Fisman.

“Our infection-control game is better than it was. But we still have this problem with the physical plant of our hospitals, with our emergency rooms, where people are stuck together cheek-by-jowl, and that creates vulnerability.”

Car crash injury claims aren’t increasing, insurance can handle costs

Car crash injury claims aren’t increasing, insurance can handle costs

LAUREN BOOTHBY

Edmonton Journal

An Alberta group advocating for fair auto insurance is out with a new report challenging the reasoning behind scrapping a rate cap that will now see some drivers paying nearly 30 per cent more for auto insurance this year.

Insurers have blamed climbing injury payouts for creating a “crisis” in the insurance industry, with companies claiming they were paying out more than they were bringing in through premiums. But an analysis by an actuary hired by Fair Alberta Injury Regulations found injury payouts have stabilized in the last few years and even started to dip in 2019.

“They’re not skyrocketing. They’re not significantly increasing from one year to the next. That’s been the case for (three) years now,” consulting actuary Craig Allen told Postmedia.

He acknowledges injury claims did climb between 2011 and 2016, but they have levelled out since then.

“I agree there has been a period of growth, but my interpretation is that period of growth has ended,” Allen said.

He also found that the previous rate cap was high enough to cover injury claims in the last few years, because the Automobile Insurance Rate Board’s (AIRB) allowed rate hikes accounted for claims increasing at a faster pace than what resulted.

“Allowable rate levels since late 2017 … provide more than adequate amounts for the estimated bodily injury claims costs that have subsequently emerged. For insurers that have kept up to date with their rate changes, further rate increases for bodily injury coverage appear to be unnecessary at present and for a period into the future,” Allen wrote in the report.

He said insurance companies and the AIRB overestimated the severity of injury claims, and so that left room to cover any higher costs the company faced.

Fair Alberta is skeptical of claims the industry is overburdened by claims costs, and the reason behind the provincial government’s decision to scrap the rate cap

“We don’t understand where the premier got the idea that personal injury claims are escalating out of control — that is not what this data shows,” he told Postmedia.

“There is not a crisis going on with bodily injury claims costs, and there is no need to take money away, or compensation away, from injured, innocent people to compensate for an industry that is saying that there is a problem.”

The group also says it expects insurers are claiming hardship ahead of lobbying for changes to consumer protection laws around injury compensation.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) takes issue with the report’s claims bodily injury claims have stabilized.

“Data from the independent rate regulator’s actuary clearly shows a steep increase in bodily injury claims since 2012. It’s clear that the auto insurance system no longer works for Alberta’s three million drivers: it’s expensive and offers little choice. We hope that all groups, regardless of what stake they have in the situation, will come together and work with the government-appointed expert committee on auto insurance to work on fixes that are in the best interest of drivers,” Celeste Power, IBC’s vice president said in an email statement.

When reached for comment, the AIRB only pointed to a panel reviewing insurance in the province, and did not comment further on the report.

“The government is reviewing the current automobile insurance system to ensure automobile insurance is sustainable and available for all Albertans. The AIRB looks forward to the expert advisory committee’s report and recommendations,” reads a statement from the AIRB.

Jerrica Goodwin, spokesperson for the provincial treasury board and finance, said in an email statement the AIRB is in the best position to comment on its methodology.

“Our government is addressing the issues in the automobile insurance industry that the previous government wasn’t willing to. We have appointed an advisory committee to review the system and are committed to an automobile insurance system that is fair, affordable and accessible for Albertans,” she wrote.

Report says auto insurance hikes unnecessary

City News

The excerpted article was written by Kenny Mason, Andrea Montgomery

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Drivers continue to see rising auto insurance rates but one group says the hikes aren’t needed.

Last month, the United Conservative government announced it was creating a panel to review the rise in insurance rates, less than six months after removing the rate cap.

During the press conference, Finance Minister Travis Toews said the cap was just a band-aid solution for the system.

According to a report from rights advocate group FAIR Alberta, some insurance companies said there was a crisis in the industry due to a reported rise in bodily injury claim costs.

Actuary Craig Allen, who compiled the report, believes this is false.

“From June 30, 2016, to June 30, 2019, the claims costs are roughly level, and that’s supported by the Insurance Bureau of Canada‘s submission to AIRB, the Alberta Auto Insurance Rate Board.”

In the report, Allen found the AIRB overestimated the severity of claims reported in its 2018 annual report, and has since revised those costs to lower amounts.

He added rates have gone up compared to 2010, but have been steady since 2016.

FAIR Alberta believes insurance companies are looking to change consumer protection laws to pay out less to injured Albertans while retaining more profit, which could lead to higher premiums.

“All this time, insurance companies have been blaming Albertans who have been injured in accidents for rising premiums, but now we have data that says that’s not true,” said FAIR spokesperson Mark Feehan. “We now know injuries aren’t driving insurance rates. We also know many insurers in Alberta are still making tens of millions in profit each year.”

The panel investigating auto insurance rates will deliver its recommendations to the province by this spring.

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