Extra care and caution required on the roads with end of daylight saving time this weekend

With the end of daylight saving this weekend, changing weather and shorter days, pedestrian incidents tend to rise due to decreased visibility. CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) is reminding drivers and pedestrians that road safety is everyone’s responsibility – and great care and caution should be practiced.

“During the fall and winter months it is often dark when many of us are traveling to and from work,” said Kaitlynn Furse, public relations manager, CAA SCO. “It is important that motorists and pedestrians have heightened awareness of their surroundings during periods of decreased visibility, avoid distractions and be extra diligent when viewing blind spots and the road ahead.”

Motorists should keep the following tips top of mind:

  • Always look for pedestrians crossing the road – statistics indicate the need for better attention at intersections.
  • Be aware of blind spots when making turns at intersections.
  • Avoid distractions inside and outside of your vehicle.
  • Reduce your speed and obey speed limits in school zones and residential neighbourhoods.
  • Local streets and school zones will have different types of traffic, as well as children outdoors playing, riding bikes, skateboarding, etc. Be prepared for the unexpected.
  • Be cautious around stopped transit vehicles and be courteous to pedestrians with different mobility needs that may require more time.

Pedestrians should take the following precautions:

  • Wear reflective clothing or accessories at night to make yourself more visible.
  • Help drivers in their responsibility to look out for other road users.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings, avoid distractions and be alert while crossing the street.
  • Follow signals and cross at designated locations or crosswalks.
  • Stop, look and listen – ensure all traffic has come to a complete stop before crossing the road.
  • Make eye contact with motorists – never assume that drivers can see you or know your intentions.

CAA SCO reminds motorists that as of January 2016, drivers and cyclists must stop and yield the whole roadway at pedestrian crossovers, school crossings and other locations where there is a crossing guard on duty.

About CAA South Central Ontario
For over a hundred years, CAA has been helping Canadians stay mobile, safe and protected. CAA South Central Ontario is one of nine auto clubs across Canada providing roadside assistance, travel, insurance services and Member savings for our over 2 million Members.

SOURCE CAA South Central Ontario

www.caasco.com

Extended warranties may be unnecessary but offer peace of mind: experts

By Ross Marowits

THE CANADIAN PRESS

MONTREAL _ Sears Canada’s decision to close down and stop honouring extended warranties has highlighted the risk for consumers seeking peace of mind.

Charene Juraski, a real estate agent in Maple Ridge, B.C., said she was pressured by salespeople to buy the protection agreement even after she questioned what happens if Sears folds.

Fearing the retailer’s demise, she returned a fridge and stove for which she paid almost $700 for extra protection.

“I’m so glad now that I did. I felt really bad about it because I really wanted Sears to make it,” she said in an interview.

The troubled retailer, which started a liquidation process last month, said it won’t honour extended warranties and will only issue full refunds for protection agreements purchased between Sept. 18 and Oct. 18. The company has said most merchandise it sells comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, which is available to customers directly from the manufacturers.

The experience of many distressed Sears policyholders should be a wake-up call for Canadians and could affect purchases heading into the busy Christmas shopping season, said Kerry K. Taylor, author of the money blog Squawkfox.com.

“If you know someone who got burned by an extended warranty … you’re going to be very wary about going into that product purchase.”

For retailers, extended warranties prove extremely profitable, allowing them to subsidize consumers who don’t make the commitment., said Pranav Jindal, a University of North Carolina assistant marketing professor who authored a study on extended warranties.

Whereas retailers can earn 15- to 25-per cent profit on the sale of an appliance, the margin for extended warranties can run at 250- to 300-per cent, he said.

Extended warranties are popular with risk-averse consumers but the extra cost may be totally unnecessary, said David Soberman, a marketing professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

“From a purely financial point of view they’re not a good idea, but what we do is we buy many things in life for peace of mind,” he said.

Uncertainty is such a big issue for some consumers that they’re willing to fork over hundreds or thousands of dollars at the checkout, often without researching the fine print in the insurance policy, he said.

What started as a service offered decades ago when people owned just a few appliances has now become an important source of revenue for many retailers.

American consumers spent about US$17 billion on vehicle service contracts last year and roughly US$23 billion on protection plans for appliances, electronics, computers and mobile phones, says the trade publication Warranty Week.

Canadians are estimated to spend $3.5 billion to $4 billion a year on extended warranties, according to Michael Bailey of Superior Warranty Consulting Services in Vancouver.

Warranties come with a hefty price, estimated to range between 15 and 40 per cent of the price of the product itself.

Consumer Reports says extended warranties are not worth the cost.

“Chances are that what you spend will be money down the drain,” the U.S. publication wrote in a 2016 report.

It said many products these days are highly reliable and unlikely to need repairs before being replaced.

Instead, it suggests consumers self-insure by setting aside some money monthly with each purchase to cover future repair or replacement costs.

Consumer Reports said a manufacturer’s warranty offers protection in the first year of ownership and many credit cards extend that time when the item is charged.

Online videos can also offer tips that allow consumers to make the repairs themselves.

Soberman said there is little need for an extended warranty for electronics, as any problems will likely surface quickly. Products such as washers, dryers and cars are better suited for warranties, as they have moving parts that will eventually wear or malfunction.

 

Bank of Canada holds rate, suggests more hikes likely at more cautious pace

By Andy Blatchford

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ The Bank of Canada left its benchmark interest rate unchanged Wednesday following two straight hikes but suggested future increases are still likely, albeit at a more gradual pace.

In its scheduled announcement, the central bank said it held off this time in part because it expects the recent strength of the Canadian dollar to slow the rise in the pace of inflation.

To make its case, the bank also pointed to the substantial, persistent unknowns around geopolitical developments as well as U.S.-related fiscal and trade policies, such as the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Governor Stephen Poloz has introduced two rate hikes since July at consecutive policy meetings in response to the economy’s impressive run over the last four quarters. The increases removed the two rate cuts introduced in 2015 as insurance following the collapse in oil prices.

The bank suggested Wednesday that it will stick to its rate-hiking trajectory, although at perhaps a more-tentative pace.

“While less monetary policy stimulus will likely be required over time, governing council will be cautious in making future adjustments to the policy rate,” the bank said in a statement.

The bank stressed it will pay particular attention to incoming data to assess four areas: the unfolding impact of higher interest rates on indebted households, the evolution of the economy’s capacity, wage growth and inflation. Its next rate announcement is set for Dec. 6.

Later Wednesday, Poloz told reporters that almost any departure from the bank’s projections on these four issues would be fodder for deeper discussion about the trend-setting rate.

“We must be open. We can be surprised in either direction relative to our forecast,” Poloz said. “But we need to be extremely interpretive of those movements.”

Poloz reiterated his recent comments that each policy meeting is “live.”

The central bank also released updated projections Wednesday that forecast economic growth to moderate after Canada’s powerful performance, particularly since the start of the year.

It now expects real gross domestic product to slow from its robust annual pace of 3.1 per cent this year to 2.1 per cent in 2018 and 1.5 per cent in 2019.

The economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.7 per cent in the first three months of 2017 and 4.5 per cent in the second quarter. The bank’s latest outlook now predicts real GDP to grow at an annual rate of 1.8 per cent in the third quarter and 2.5 per cent in the final three months of 2017.

“Real GDP growth is expected to moderate to a still-solid pace close to two per cent … over the second half of the year,” the bank said.

The bank forecasts declining contributions from residential investment and consumption, which largely fuelled Canada’s recent growth spurt. These changes will largely be consequences of higher borrowing rates, higher household indebtedness and policy measures aimed at cooling hot real estate markets, the report said.

The bank provided an estimate for the economic impact of incoming guidelines to reinforce mortgage underwriting practices, which were announced recently by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. The changes, which will take effect next year, are expected to trim 0.2 per cent from GDP by the end of 2019, the bank said.

Moving forward, the bank said economic activity will advance on a “more-sustainable” trajectory led by rising foreign demand, recent increases in commodity prices, still-low borrowing rates and government infrastructure spending. It also projects steady growth in business investment, which rebounded in early 2017.

The weaker-than-expected rollout of federal infrastructure spending will provide a smaller boost for the economy in 2017 than the bank had anticipated. The commitments, however, are expected to lift growth over the coming quarters, the report said.

Poloz was asked Wednesday about the potential economic impacts of the Trudeau government’s announcement this week that it would enhance its child-benefit program so payments to families with kids start rising with the cost of living next July, two years earlier than Ottawa had initially promised.

The change will lower government revenues by $5.6 billion over five years, the government estimates.

Poloz declined to comment on the specifics of the government’s announcement, but he did credit the introduction of the original program last year as a “significant contributor” to the economy. He said the child benefit lifted GDP growth for a year by 0.5 per cent.

“As for the change, at the moment, it doesn’t sound anywhere near as large as what was done last year,” said Poloz, who added the bump in growth from the child benefit was likely only felt in the program’s first year.

“In real terms, it’s maintaining it.”

When the weather outside is frightful: safe driving tips for winter conditions

SGI: News Release – Nov. 1, 2017

Winter is coming, but winter driving conditions are already here. When roads are icy and swirling snow reduces visibility, it can be intimidating for drivers. Here are some tips to keep you and yours safe out on the roads this winter:

  • Clear snow from your vehicle, including headlights and taillights, and be sure your windows are completely defrosted before you drive.
  • Slow down. Posted speed limits are for ideal driving conditions. Adjust your speed accordingly when conditions are less than favourable, like when roads are icy or there is low visibility.
  • Leave more distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you, so you have more time to stop. SGI recommends at least a four-second following distance.
  • Give yourself extra time to get to your destination so you’re not tempted to drive too fast for road conditions.
  • Turn on your headlights at night and any time visibility is poor, since some vehicles do not have taillights on when daytime running lights are being used.
  • Don’t use cruise control in slippery conditions.
  • Invest in a set of winter tires, which provide improved traction on winter road surfaces.
  • Buckle up. Every time.

Lastly, be sure to check the weather forecast and the Highway Hotline (1-888-335-7623) before you set off on your travels. If travel isn’t recommended, stay off the roads.

Driving in a blizzard

Keep an emergency travel kit in your vehicle in case you get stranded. The kit can include warm clothes, a shovel, blankets, a snow brush, ice scraper, booster cables, flashlight, flares, matches, a candle and a tin cup (to melt snow for water) and food like chocolate, granola bars, dried fruit, nuts or soup mixes that can be added to water.

Unfortunately, taking precautions against blizzard conditions doesn’t mean you can prevent them. If conditions deteriorate while you’re on the road, stop at the nearest town or rest area and wait until it’s safe to drive.

If you find yourself stranded with your vehicle:

  • Remain inside your vehicle because it will offer you protection from the harsh winter elements.
  • Run your engine sporadically to get some heat but be careful not to run out of gas. In that case, the blankets, candles and matches you packed in your roadside emergency kit will serve you well.
  • When running your engine, ensure that your vehicle’s exhaust pipe is clear of snow and ice. If it’s plugged, fumes will seep into your vehicle, resulting in possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If you find you need fresh air, your best option is to slightly lower the windows facing opposite the wind direction and open your vehicle’s heater vent.

Slow to 60

If an emergency vehicle (police, fire, ambulance) is stopped on the side of the road with its lights flashing, you must slow to 60 km/h, unless you’re driving on the opposite side of a divided highway. The same rule applies for tow trucks at the side of the highway with amber or amber and blue lights flashing.

Failing to slow down puts emergency workers and other motorists at risk of serious injury or even death. What’s more, you’ll face a fine of $140, plus $2 for every kilometre over the 60 km/h speed limit. If a driver is over 90 km/h, the fine increases to $4 for every kilometre over the 60 km/h speed limit.

If snow plows are working the roads, give them room to work, and stay back when you approach the mini-blizzard they create. They travel slower than the average vehicle, so be patient. Snow plows will pull over at regular intervals (every 10 km or so) to allow vehicles to pass.

Car seat safety

Have a little one travelling with you? SGI recommends you dress your child in thin, warm layers or a light jacket with a blanket overtop, instead of a bulky snowsuit or winter gear. If there is anything thick between the straps and the child – for example winter clothes, a bunting bag, a pad or blanket – the seat stops working like it’s designed and crash tested to work.

A good test to determine if the child’s winter jacket is too bulky is to buckle your child in the car seat with the jacket on. Then, take your child out of the car seat, take off their jacket, and see how loose the straps are. Remember that you should only be able to fit one finger between the strap and the child’s chest.

No matter what season it is, every driver and passenger should always wear a seatbelt, avoid driver fatigue, and never drive impaired. SGI reminds drivers to refrain from habits that cause distracted driving like using a hand-held cellphone, eating or grooming.

Ed Dubrovsky appointed Managing Director of Cyber Breach Response by Cytelligence Inc.

Ed Dubrovsky, a 24-year veteran of information security, has been appointed Managing Director, Cyber Breach Response, by Cytelligence CEO Daniel Tobok.

Mr. Dubrovsky will manage Cytelligence’s cyber security teams assigned to respond to client emergencies, to deal with the range of cyber threat actors from independent hackers, to industrial spies, to organized crime rings, and state-sponsored threat actors. Read Mr. Dubrovsky’s bio here.

“Cyber security is now one of the top risks for all organizations. I believe that cyber security must be strategic, resilient, scalable, and cost-effective for organizations to achieve their business goals,” said Mr. Dubrovsky.

His areas of expertise include: incident response; strategic information security planning; securing enterprise infrastructure; application security; penetration and vulnerability testing; and research and education.

Cytelligence, the elite force of global cyber security, now employs over 60 cyber security experts including investigators, security specialists, forensic specialists, and ransomware specialists. Cytelligence also has a number of “white hat” hackers with very advanced cyber skills that help companies to proactively test their security using so-called “penetration testing.”

“Cyber security has exploded as a critical service, both as an emergency service and a proactive service for companies to secure their information and web infrastructure, for one very simple reason: the number of cyber criminals has exploded, too,” said Mr. Tobok.

“Ransomware and phishing are the attack vector of choice for cyber criminals. Ransomware is the perfect crime. It is anonymous, decentralized, digital, scalable, and uses cryptocurrency which is heavily encrypted,” said Mr. Tobok. Read his bio here.

The range of Cytelligence clients in critical industries includes:  financial institutions, including banks, brokerage, and insurance firms; law firms; oil & gas facilities; refineries & petrochemical industry; power generation and transmission; research and development; software and technology companies; telecommunications; airports, seaports, trucking and transportation hubs; defense & homeland security; and water utilities.

Cytelligence is headquartered in Toronto and serves clients in Canada, the U.S., and Europe.

SOURCE Cytelligence Inc.

Social media a top priority for P&C brokers Economical survey reveals

Canadian P&C insurance brokerages prefer Facebook to communicate with customers and prospects, say 90% of respondents to a social media survey conducted this summer by Economical Insurance. 61% of respondents use LinkedIn and just over half share over Twitter.

These are some of the learnings from responses from nearly 300 insurance professionals in P&C brokerages across Canada about the use of social media in their companies.

The majority of brokerages surveyed acknowledge the value of social media in creating an engaging customer experience, and 85% of respondents agree that organizations with an engaging social media presence have a competitive advantage over those that don’t.

A key insight from the survey is an indication of the business objectives that drive social media activities by brokerages in Canada:

“Social media is helping change the way Canadian P&C insurance brokers engage with customers,” said Michael Shostak, Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer at Economical Insurance. “Brokers are using social media in a variety of ways, from generating new leads and sales, to providing customer service. But it’s early days and as an industry, we haven’t yet fully realized the potential of the medium. Our survey tells a story of an industry that desires change, yet lacks the time, resources, and knowledge to implement an effective social media strategy.”

“Most brokers recognize there’s value in having a strong social media presence,” said Naheed Somji, Senior Social Media Specialist at Economical Insurance. “The top spenders agree that an engaging social presence gives an organization a greater competitive advantage.”

To download the report of the survey results, go to 2017 Pulse Check: Social Media Usage in the Canadian Insurance Industry.

About Economical Insurance
Founded in 1871, Economical is one of Canada’s leading property and casualty insurers, with more than $2.2 billion in annualized premium volume and more than $5.5 billion in assets as at June 30, 2017. Based in Waterloo, this Canadian-owned and operated company services the insurance needs of more than one million customers across the country. Economical conducts business under the following brands: Economical Insurance, Economical, Western General, Economical Select, Perth Insurance, Sonnet, Petsecure, Economical Financial, and Family Insurance Solutions.

SOURCE Economical Insurance

For further information: Doug Maybee, Manager, Public and Media Relations, Economical Insurance, (T) 519-570-8249, (C) 519-404-0989

Related Links

www.economical.com

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