Can I lower my car insurance rates if I’m working from home?

Can I lower my car insurance rates if I’m working from home?

The excerpted article was written by Cathy Kearney · CBC News

Auto insurance is an essential financial protection, but as the COVID-19 pandemic forces more employees to work from home and results in others being laid off, many are left to wonder if they can drop some of their coverage to save on premiums.

CBC News reached out to several insurance brokers in Metro Vancouver who say they have been inundated with calls from drivers asking about making changes to their insurance coverage.

Kally Khosah with InsureBC says a number of people are cancelling their auto insurance altogether.

“The majority of people who have lost their jobs are coming in and cancelling their insurance,” said Khosah.

“I would say maybe one or two out of 10 customers is looking to cancel their insurance,” he said.

CBC News asked Khosah what drivers should consider when making decisions about lowering auto insurance coverage.

Can drivers lower their insurance rates if they are working from home and therefore not commuting anymore?

“They can. What they need to do is change their plan from work use to strictly pleasure. That can be changed at any time.

“And if they are going back to work — go see your broker and they will change it back to work use.”

How much will I save?

“It depends on how far you drive to work. If it’s under 15 kilometres you won’t see that big of a difference. If it’s over 15 kilometres it will be more. And if it’s for business use it will be even more of a savings.

“You can go all the way down to bare-bones basic coverage but that’s only going to give you $200,000 liability.

“At this level there’s no coverage on the vehicle if they have an at-fault accident. And there’s no comprehensive, so there’s no fire, theft or vandalism coverage at that level.”

Is it wise to drop coverage down to the the most basic level?

“I tell people never to go down that severely. A good way to decrease your insurance is to slightly lower your liability and raise the deductible. That’s a good way to save some money without losing all your coverage.”

What happens if I can no longer afford to pay my insurance?

“ICBC is offering a deferral program for up to three months.”

What should I do if I get into an accident?

“First thing you want to do is contact ICBC. You also want to write down as much information as you can about what happened and write down the other party’s information. If anybody’s seriously injured, of course you want to contact the police.”

I have been laid off and might consider doing deliveries for work. Do I need to change my policy?

Yes. Khosah says that change will be more expensive than business coverage though. The cost depends on the type of car, how old it is and how many kilometres are on it. But it will definitely be an extra fee.

Edited for ILSTV

Source: CBC News

Parents should respect custody arrangements during COVID 19 pandemic: Ont. courts

By Paola Loriggio

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Parents who share custody of their children should continue to split parenting duties with their former spouse during the COVID-19 pandemic, unless there is evidence the kids’ health is at risk, Ontario courts advise.

Though it has reduced its operations due to the public health emergency, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently issued a handful of rulings setting out guidelines for parents confused about how restrictions related to the novel coronavirus affect custody arrangements.

While government and health officials stress the need to stay home, keeping children in their primary residence and thus away from the other parent that is generally not in their best interest, the court said.

“Children’s lives and vitally important family relationships cannot be placed ‘on hold’ indefinitely without risking serious emotional harm and upset,” Justice Alex Pazaratz said in a ruling last week.

“In troubling and disorienting times, children need the love, guidance and emotional support of both parents, now more than ever.”

As such, Pazaratz wrote, the presumption is that existing parenting arrangements and schedules should continue in the majority of cases, while potentially making changes to transportation or exchange locations to ensure physical distancing guidelines are followed.

Some parents may have to forgo time with their child if they are under self-isolation due to recent travel or exposure to COVID-19, the judge wrote.

Parents who believe their ex isn’t taking the necessary health precautions can file an urgent motion with the court to review custody arrangements, but they must point to specific behaviours or plans that are inconsistent with COVID-19 protocols, Pazaratz said.

“There will be zero tolerance for any parent who recklessly exposes a child (or members of the child’s household) to any COVID-19 risk,” he wrote.

Justice officials in Quebec issued similar guidelines for parents, stressing the need for collaboration in working out any issues related to the current restrictions.

“The custody or access order should be complied with as much as possible,” the Ministere de la Justice said on its website.

“However, during this pandemic, you can try to work out new terms with the other parent to minimize travel.”

The province has set up a free legal aid hotline for residents unsure of their obligations during the COVID-19 crisis, which it said includes custody issues.

The Law Society of Ontario has also launched a hotline connecting callers with family lawyers who can provide 30 minutes of free legal advice to help determine if their matter is urgent.

Though there will likely be many more cases dealing with custody issues in light of the pandemic, Pazaratz’s ruling and at least two others issued by the Ontario courts send a “clear message” to parents, said Nicholas Bala, an expert in family law at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.,

“The message is…be reasonable, act in good faith and expect some eventual accountability if you haven’t done that,” he said, adding any breaches of custody orders will be noted once the courts resume normal operations.

This can be a difficult situation to navigate for many separated parents who feel “an understandable degree of hostility or mistrust towards the other person,” but they must focus on what’s best for their child, he said.

Nadine Russell, a family lawyer with Siskinds LLP in London, Ont., said it’s likely some parents have withheld access to children in a panic, but stressed there is almost always an alternative.

Even if a parent who normally has some access is quarantined due to the virus, video calls can be arranged so children can stay in touch without endangering their health, she said.

“However we can maintain relationships, we should do that,” because no one knows how long the pandemic will last, she said.

For Nicole Odermatt, physical distancing restrictions and prolonged school closures have meant dramatically altering custody arrangements with her ex-husband, with whom she shares the care of two young children.

The Cambridge, Ont., mother said she and her ex normally take their children a six-year-old boy and three-year-old girl for a week at a time, starting on Fridays.

But her ex has asthma and fell ill last week, and his partner is pregnant, which makes them both more vulnerable to COVID-19, Odermatt said.

So Odermatt, who works in the travel insurance industry, picked up the kids early, planning to work from home and care for them at the same time, she said.

Her workload proved overwhelming due to widespread travel cancellations, however, and Odermatt is now using up her paid leave from work, she said.

“It’s more (about) damage control/minimizing-the-risk situation at the moment,” she said.  “Obviously, he misses them, they miss him. It’s hard for me to have them full time but we’ve got to do what we can to keep everybody as safe as possible.”

#DriveSmartBC: Perpetuating Mediocrity

New Driver SignsI once stopped a vehicle being driven at 96 km/h in a posted 50 km/h construction zone. Approaching the passenger side, I spoke with the woman in the front seat and the young lady driving. When I explained why I stopped them, the woman suggested that she was unable to get the driver to slow down, and maybe I could do something about it.

The driver produced a learner driver’s license and no L sign was displayed on the vehicle.

To me, the solution was simple. The woman should have denied her daughter access to the vehicle unless she was willing to follow the traffic rules. The conversation told me that this was a known issue rather than a one time lapse on the part of the driver.

After they had departed and I sat doing the notes for the violation ticket I had issued, I wondered to myself if maybe it wasn’t so simple. Perhaps this woman should not have been given the privilege of teaching her daughter to drive. If the teacher is ill equipped to teach, the new driver will not learn what is necessary to drive correctly and safely.

Do parents read the Tuning Up for Drivers guide that their teen receives in the package with their new learner’s licence? The book contains 20 lessons to prepare for the class 7 road test presented in order for good skill development.

We all tend to think that we are better than average drivers, but I occasionally find myself in conversations with parents who tell me that their teen taught them about things that they were doing wrong when driving.

Yes, ICBC does test the new driver to see if they meet standards as they progress through the Graduated Licensing Program. These standards are much more stringent than they were when I took my driver’s test 30 years ago. The trouble is, attitude can easily be hidden for the duration of a test, but put back on as soon as the driver hits the highway alone.

Perhaps this young lady would be better off taking the complete GLP package at a driving school. She will receive instruction in both the mechanics and the ethics of being a good driver that she might not be getting at home.

Currently Nova Scotia, Quebec and Saskatchewan require a new driver to take formal training in order to get a full privilege driver’s licence. Given the level of complexity facing a learner driver today presented by both the vehicle and the driving environment, perhaps formal training should be mandatory in all provinces.

Resource Links:

Hospitality workers hit ‘first and hit hardest,’ says union seeking more support

The union representing many of Canada’s hotel and hospitality workers says almost all its 18,000 members face layoffs due to COVID-19, and it wants immediate help for service workers across the country.

Unite Here officials estimate their members and more than 200,000 other service-industry workers will be unemployed as up to 90 per cent of Canada’s hotels are expected to close amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Zailda Chan, president of Unite Here Local 40 in Vancouver, says hospitality workers are primarily immigrants, women, single parents and people of colour, often living paycheque to paycheque.

She says an 80 per cent wage replacement program is needed because newly announced federal supports or employment insurance will not be enough for workers making about $20 per hour.

Ian Robb, an Edmonton-based Canadian director of Unite Here, says the union must also be consulted as governments consider the take over of shuttered hotels to ease the burden on crowded hospitals.

He supports the move to put  “less needy” patients into hotels but says Unite Here wants to be  “part of the conversation” about who will operate the hotels and work in them.

Chan says the union also hopes any bailouts to the hotel and airline industries will include measures to help employees, such as extension of medical benefits.

“Hospitality workers were hit first and hit the hardest,” Chan said during a teleconference, adding they are among the lowest-paid and face a recovery period that could last six months to a year.

“Eighty per cent wage replacement is not just for hospitality workers, it is for all workers. We are highlighting hospitality workers because we represent thousands in that sector, but we think it should be for all workers,” she said.

Unite Here members are employed in six locals across Canada, in hotels, casinos, airports, arenas, universities, schools and remote resource camps, the union said.

COVID-19 and employment insurance – everything you need to know

The excerpted article was written by DLA Piper

Unprecedented numbers of Canadians are applying for Employment Insurance (“EI”) benefits due to an interruption in earnings caused by layoff, sickness or quarantine resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, we explore some of the most common questions arising in relation to EI benefits at this time.

What changes have been announced to the EI benefits program in response to COVID-19?

Regular EI benefits

Employees who have been laid off by their employers as a result of business slowdowns or mandatory closures may be eligible to receive Regular EI benefits. Eligible employees may be entitled to receive a maximum of $573 per week for up to 45 weeks. To date, the federal government has not announced any changes to its Regular EI benefits program in response to COVID-19.

EI sickness benefits

Employees who are quarantined or sick due to COVID-19 may be eligible to receive EI sickness benefits up to a maximum amount of $573 per week for up to 15 weeks. Certain measures were adopted with respect to EI sickness benefits in order to respond to novel challenges posed by COVID-19. These measures include:

  • waiving of the one-week waiting period to allow new claimants who are quarantined to be paid for the first week of their claim;
  • the creation of a dedicated toll-free number to support enquiries related to waiving the EI sickness benefits waiting period (1-833-381-2725);
  • waiving of the obligation for people in quarantine to provide a medical certificate in support of their claim;
  • the possibility for quarantined employees to apply for EI benefits at a later date and to have their claim backdated to cover the period of the delay.

How do employees apply for EI benefits?

At this time, applications should be completed online by visiting the Service Canada website. Individuals who present themselves to Service Canada and who would otherwise be able to complete their application online will not be serviced in person. Employees who present themselves to a Service Canada office in person should expect to go through screening and to be required to practice social distancing measures. Employees experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should not visit or enter any Service Canada office and should call 1-800-O-Canada for assistance with completing their EI application.

What must employers do once employees have experienced an interruption in earnings?

Without delay, employers must issue a Record of Employment (“ROE”) as this is the most important document allowing employees to access EI benefits. In order to complete the ROE, employers should be aware of and use the following codes when indicating the reason for the interruption in employee earnings:

  • When the employee is sick or quarantined, use code D (Illness or injury) as the reason for separation ‎‎(block 16). Do not add comments.‎
  • When the employee is no longer working due to a shortage of work because the business has ‎closed or decreased operations due to coronavirus (COVID-19), use code A (Shortage of work). ‎Do not add comments.‎

How long will it take for employees to receive their EI benefits?

Under normal circumstances, eligible employees are told to expect to receive their first payment within 28 days of submitting a completed application. In the present circumstances and in light of the fact that an unprecedented amount of applications are being received, the processing delay may be longer.

What other financial measures are available to assist employees and employers who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19?

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The Canadian government previously announced that it would make available an Emergency Care Benefit and an Emergency Support Benefit to employees who did not qualify for EI. On March 25, 2020, the government announced that it created a streamlined benefit, the “Canada Emergency Response Benefit” which combines these two benefits to streamline the application process and will provide $2,000 per month for four months to people who have lost their income due to COVID-19.

Supplementary Unemployment Benefit Plan

Employers who have no choice but to lay off their employees may elect to enroll in a Supplementary Unemployment Benefit Plan (SUB Plan) which allows employers to top up an employee’s employment insurance benefits during a period of unemployment due to a temporary or permanent layoff. The amount of the top up can be up to 95% of the employee’s weekly wages/salary, less the amount of the employee’s corresponding EI benefits.

Work-Sharing Program

The Government of Canada has instituted a “Work-Sharing Program” which exists to assist eligible ‎‎employers to avoid layoffs where there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business ‎activity, ‎namely as a result of COVID-19. Previously, a Work-Sharing Program ‎could only last for a maximum of ‎‎38 weeks, however the maximum period has been extended to 76 ‎weeks in response to COVID-19. ‎

Participating employees receive income support in exchange for agreeing to work a reduced schedule ‎‎and to share available work with other employees over a specified period of time. ‎

Provincial Measures

Additionally, many provincial governments across Canada have announced measures to assist their respective populations in overcoming what is a period of financial hardship for many. Employers and employees should verify if they are eligible for any such programs.

The COVID-19 situation is a rapidly evolving one with new measures being adopted or modified day-by-day and hour-by-hour. We recommend that you consult with a member of our Labour and Employment Team who will ensure that you are acting upon the most up-to-date information.

Source: Lexology

Lost your income due to COVID-19? Here’s what to do next

Lost your income due to COVID-19? Here’s what to do next

The excerpted article was written by

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are losing their jobs as the COVID-19 pandemic causes businesses across the country to shut their doors or cut back on operations.

For many, this may be a new experience. Here’s what to do if you’ve suddenly lost your income, from applying for employment insurance to taking care of your mental health.

Figure out which income support applies to you

The Trudeau government announced a new benefit Wednesday that will provide $2,000 a month for four months to Canadians who have lost their income due to the pandemic, after the government was flooded with applications for employment insurance.

Employment insurance generally doesn’t include self-employed or freelance workers, said Vancouver employment lawyer Andrea Raso. But the new benefit does. So, it’s important to check out both options and decide which one fits your situation before you apply for income support.

“People who are independent contractors or, you know, gig workers, they are typically left out.”

Figure out whether you’ve been laid off or terminated

If you’ve been “laid off” the first thing to do is figure out if the situation is permanent or temporary.

In other words, you need to figure out exactly what the terms of your layoff are. If it’s a temporary layoff, meaning your employer plans to bring you back later, you don’t get severance pay, Raso said.

“What it enables the employer to do is to keep the employees, because most employers in this situation want those employees back,” she said.

However, most provinces have a time cap on these types of layoffs (for example, in Ontario, it’s usually 13 weeks, with some exceptions). If the 13 weeks passes and you’re still not working, your employer has officially terminated you and you should check your contract to see what you are owed.

You also want something in writing stating whether you’ve been temporarily laid off or terminated, said Toronto employment lawyer Andrew Langille — and don’t sign anything without fully reading it, or even having it vetted by an employment lawyer.

“You have to clarify what the employer’s intention is in writing.”

If you have trouble getting termination pay from your former employer, Raso said you can escalate the situation.

“Employees have recourse through their employment standards tribunals, and those are very, very simple to access,” she said. (In Ontario, you can start here.)

Get a record of employment

Raso said the most important document you need from your former employer is a record of employment. Whether you’ve been laid off permanently or temporarily, this document is what will help you apply for employment insurance.

Langille says you should also get your T4 from the previous year, just in case.

Apply for government support, and keep track of your application

Next, it’s time to apply for either EI or the new benefit. There are few details about the new benefit, but when it comes to applying for EI, Raso warned that you will be in charge of keeping track of your application, and that with the higher volume of applicants, the process could take awhile.

Langille said it’s important to make a My Service Canada account so you can track your application using the four-digit code you’ll receive in the mail. You will also be responsible for making reports every two weeks, he said.

The Star Vancouver

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