Whether insurance companies can cancel an auto policy if your address isn’t updated

JASON TCHIR | The Globe and Mail

My auto policy was cancelled because the insurance company (Aviva) said they didn’t receive a form in time. They had asked for updated information and said to “return the completed and signed application” prior to a Monday deadline. Nothing had changed, but I still sent it out on the Thursday, four days before, by registered mail. We made our first claim last summer. Can they do this? – Mark, Toronto

Your insurance company can make you update your information any time, even if you haven’t moved or suddenly become an Uber driver.

And if you don’t get it to them by their deadline, they could send you packing.

“Policyholders have the responsibility to provide their insurer with updated information when requested,” Malon Edwards, spokesman for the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), the province’s insurance regulator, said in an e-mail statement. “Failure to provide the requested information within the prescribed period may result in an insurer’s decision to not renew a policy.”

Typically, the requests come before your policy is set to be renewed, Edwards said.

There aren’t general rules for exactly how much notice they have to give – the specific policies for each company, and how they can cancel your policy, are set out in the underwriting rules it files with FSCO.

“During the year, our customers can get into accidents, incur traffic violations or have changes to the information used to calculate the amount they pay for insurance – we need to make sure we have all the correct and up-to-date information to renew their policy,” Fabrice de Dongo, spokesman for Aviva Canada, said in an e-mail. “In fact, every customer that fulfills the update request is renewed.”

CHANGE IN RISK?

Even without a request, you have to tell your insurance company “promptly’ when there’s a “material change in risk” that could affect your rates – like a crash, speeding tickets, a change of address or change in the amount you drive. If you don’t, you’re violating your contract.

“… Not telling the truth, not paying your premiums, or not responding in a timely fashion would impact your relationship and coverage with an insurance company,” said John Bordignon, spokesman for Desjardins Insurance, in an e-mail.

So how quickly should you let them know?

“As a rule of thumb, in Ontario, you have to notify the [Ministry of Transportation] of an address change within six days, so you should yell you telling your insurance company by then,” said Anne Marie Thomas, senior manager of partner relationships for rate-comparison site Insurancehotline.com.

The rules vary by province. In the provinces with government-run insurance, you generally won’t lose coverage for, say, not updating your address or filling out a form too late.

ULTERIOR MOTIVE?

Sending out a bunch of requests for information – and knowing that people might not reply in time – can also be a way for insurance companies to get rid of clients who live in unprofitable areas, said insurance broker Adam Mitchell of Whitby, Ont.

“This is an exercise that a number of companies have gone through to lose business,” said Mitchell, president of Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers. “They can see where they’re going to be losing money going forward.”

When insurance companies aren’t meeting their targets, they “become even more harsh and less tolerant and give you less time,” Insurance Hotline’s Thomas said.

Is there anything you can do if you think they weren’t clear enough about the deadline? Complain.

“Each insurance company has an employee who works as a consumer complaint officer, and they are responsible for … ensuring that an individual’s complaint is addressed,” Edwards said.

SURVEY: ONE IN FOUR USE PHONES ON ROAD

At least a quarter of Canadians still aren’t getting the message about interacting with smartphones while driving, according to a recent survey.

In an Insurance Hotline survey conducted last month, 26 per cent of respondents had used their phones while their car was in motion. And, 41 per cent said they are “likely or somewhat likely” to use phones at a red light.

“It’s all the things you do with a smartphone on a daily basis – unlocking it, texting, checking voice mail,” said Jacob Black, Insurance Hotline’s managing editor. “Canadians know it’s dangerous behaviour but they can’t divorce themselves from these devices.

When told that 310 Canadians were killed by distracted driving in 2016 alone, 44 per cent said they’d change their ways.

New ChAD Compliance Courses

New ChAD Compliance Courses

To fulfill your professional development obligations, ChAD members must:

Earn 20 professional development units (PDUs) during each two-year reference period, in the following categories:

    • Compliance (minimum 3 of PDUs)
    • Administration, Insurance techniques or Law
    • Professional development (maximum of 5 PDUs)

Successfully complete the compulsory course entitled Focusing on Compliance: Your Duty to Inform, Explain and Advise (2 PDUs in Compliance) before December 31, 2019. This course is only available through EduChAD and must be purchased and completed through them.

All ILScorp ChAD PDU Subscribers now have access to 2 new ChAD Compliance courses. These courses invite you to have a close look at the Quebec insurance act entitled the Act Respecting the Distribution of Financial Products and Services. It is true of any Act that it cannot be summarizedfor the simple reason that it is a set of very specific details, all of which are important because they represent the particulars of a rule of law in a certain domain. These courses provide you with introductions to the various sections of the Act in the hope that this will help you to anticipate the focus by addressing it “one chunk at a time.” The objective of these courses is to assist you in using the Act itself as a reference when you need it.

Act Respecting the Distribution of Financial Products and Services Part 1
ChAD Compliance Course for 3 PDU’s
Act Respecting the Distribution of Financial Products and Services Part 2
ChAD Compliance Course for 3 PDU’s

Both of these ChAD compliance courses are included as part of the ILScorp ChAD PDU Subscription.
With the ChAD Accredited Online Courses Subscription you will:

  • have 6 months access to over 70 accredited ChAD insurance training courses in both text and streaming video formats
  • access over 100 PDUs in the categories administration and insurance techniques, professional development and professional compliance and Law and Legislation
  • save money compared to purchasing individual courses
  • have a digital record of your completed course work, which we keep on file for up to seven years
  • save time by completing your PDU requirements entirely online, no paperwork or commute

Remember, as a Quebec licensed damage insurance agent, broker or claims adjuster, you must complete 20 hours (PDUs) of training per two-year compliance period. The compliance period deadline is December 31, 2019.

ICBC Criticized For Not Practicing What It Preaches

In recent months both ICBC and the Provincial Government have been vocal in criticizing the use of medico-legal reports in injury litigation resulting in rule changes restricting the rights of litigants in relying on such evidence. In reality ICBC has no reservations seeking out numerous expert reports when it suits their interests in litigation. This inconsistency resulted in critical comments today from the BC Supreme Court.

In today’s case (McNeill v. Saunders) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision and sued for damages. The plaintiff has consented to being examined by a neurologist chosen by the defendant. The Defendant went on to request a further medical exam with a psychiatrist despite the Plaintiff not relying on a psychologist or psychiatrist in their claim. The Court raised concerns about this request and provided the following critical comments about ICBC’s practices versus their public stance on the utility of experts:

[23]         I am concerned about the potential for overlap with the neurologist’s opinion and for the bolstering of that opinion by the psychiatrist. I also accept that a psychiatric assessment is invasive. I also consider proportionality. The fact that the plaintiff is not at this time retaining a psychiatrist or psychologist expert strongly suggests that these injuries are not her main concern. However, the pleadings and the discovery evidence tip the balance here.

[24]         I order that the plaintiff attend the IME as sought in paragraph 1 of the Notice of Application. It is a discretionary order. Rule 11-5(7)(b), where the court is appointing an expert, specifically sets out that the expert can be given appropriate directions. I use that as a guide to my discretion here.

[25]         I direct that the IME must be limited to considering the psychiatric issues in the plaintiff’s pleaded claims of irritability, poor mood and depression, together with any psychiatric component to the sleep disorder, and together with any other evidence respecting psychiatric matters taken at the examination for discovery.

[26]         I order that the IME be limited to considering the psychiatric issues in the plaintiff’s pleaded claims of irritability, poor mood and depression, and any psychiatric component to the sleep disorder claim.

[27]         I order that all notes and any other primary evidence taken at the IME must be promptly provided to the plaintiff, within seven days of completion of the IME.

[28]         I have concerns that this IME will not be of much assistance. It flies in the face of the insurer’s stated public opposition to too many expensive medical reports. It is odd that the defendant, through its insurers, focuses on what would appear to be a relatively minor component of the plaintiff’s claim. However, that is the defendant’s choice.

[29]         I am adjourning the application for costs. That is to be dealt with by the trial judge after the conclusion of the trial.

Insurance Bureau of Canada – Ontario Budget a win for drivers

The Ontario Government’s multi-year plan to fix auto insurance is a win for consumers. These changes will give consumers greater choice in their coverage and better control over the price they pay for auto insurance.

A keystone of the “Putting Drivers First” plan is introducing “care not cash” to ensure insurance resources are used to pay for the treatment accident victims need to recover from their injuries. The plan will also make it easier for consumers to make informed choices about their auto insurance coverage.

“The Government has put Ontario drivers first with this budget. Today’s announcement focuses resources squarely where they should be: on helping those injured in auto collisions recover,” said Kim Donaldson, Vice-President, Ontario, Insurance Bureau of Canada. “Auto insurance is complex, but the proposed changes clearly intend to make the claims process simpler for consumers.”

The Government’s reform plan also addresses an important issue raised in the 2017 report by David Marshall on Ontario’sbroken auto insurance system. As Marshall noted, hundreds of millions of dollars of insurance benefits are diverted each year into contingency fees for lawyers. Today, the Government committed to re-evaluating the legal contingency fee arrangement to ensure consumers are protected, and to ensure agreements are transparent.

“Putting Drivers First” encourages greater competition. It also enables electronic proof of insurance, and electronic commerce and communications between insurers and clients to make it easier for consumers.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 126,000 Canadians, pays $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $54.7 billion.

If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC in Ontario.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow us on Twitter @InsuranceBureau and @IBC_Ontario.

If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

Duuo by The Co-operators announces next step in cross-country expansion

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Manitoba man fights to keep personalized plate referencing song

By Kelly Geraldine Malone

THE CANADIAN PRESS

WINNIPEG _ Bruce Spence is used to driving around Manitoba and seeing people pointing at his personalized NDN CAR licence plate, honking their horns, giving him a thumbs up and bursting out laughing.

That why the Nehiyaw man from Opaskwayak Cree Nation said he was shocked to find out Manitoba Public Insurance had revoked the plate, which honours  “Indian Cars,” one of his favourite songs.

“I just don’t think that a provincial government or Crown corporation should be able to walk all over an Indigenous person,” Spence said.

“I’ve been living under the jackboots of Canadian government my entire life. This is a small issue, it’s a domestic issue, it’s a provincial issue, but I think it’s an issue worth fighting.”

Licence plates in Manitoba belong to MPI and the agency has said it can recall or deny them for a variety of reasons, including if they are offensive, suggestive, discriminatory or include racial or ethnic slang.

Spence, who is a producer with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, was issued the plate about seven years ago.

He said it honours the folk tune  “Indian Cars,” by Indigenous musician Keith Secola.

Spence laughed explaining how the song is about a man who is trying to make it to the next powwow down the road.

“He’s got a crappy car and it’s funny and it has a good beat and you can dance to it,” Spence said. “I made an inquiry and the plate was available, so I applied for it.”

There were no problems until May 2018 when Spence said he received a call from MPI claiming the plate was offensive and  “ethnic slang.” He wrote the minister asking for an explanation.

Months went by without a response. Then in February, Spence said the insurer told him his plate was being revoked because it had been identified during a review as possibly offensive.

“I was afraid that MPI would just as arbitrarily suspend my insurance if I did not comply with their demand,” he said.

Soon after, Spence was contacted by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms offering to fight MPI’s decision.

It is the same group that is representing a Manitoba “Star Trek” fan, Nick Troller, who is fighting in court to keep his personalized ASIMIL8 licence plate, which was recalled in 2017.

Assimilate is a well-known saying by the alien race the Borg on the show, but the insurer said it had received a complaint that it was offensive to Indigenous people.

A Justice Centre lawyer argued in a Winnipeg court earlier this week the insurer’s “knee-jerk reaction” was a violation of Troller’s right to free expression.

Manitoba Justice lawyer Charles Murray countered that the word cannot be dissociated from the history of forced assimilation of Indigenous people in the province.

Spence said he understands there is a need for guidelines, but believes his plate was acceptable.

“My plate passed their sniff test seven years ago,” he said.  “And now the plate is gone and I don’t know why. I’d like to know why, and I’d like to get that plate back.”

Personalized licence plates have been controversial before.

A man in Nova Scotia is also to be in court this month over a personalized licence plate. Lorne Grabher has been trying to reinstate his  “GRABHER” plate since it was revoked in 2016 by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles following an anonymous complaint.

Saskatchewan Government Insurance recently denied Dave Assman (pronounced Oss-man) a licence plate with his last name on it. In response, he put a large “ASSMAN” decal on the back of his truck.

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