Economical Insurance to provide insurance solution for Uber

Economical Insurance to provide insurance solution for Uber

Economical Insurance will provide peace of mind for drivers who use the Uber network and their customers in four Canadian provinces beginning September 1, 2020

WATERLOO, ON, August 18, 2020 — Economical Insurance announced today a new and significant relationship with Uber in Canada, designed to provide insurance coverage for every Uber Rides and Uber Eats trip in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. The relationship is expected to launch on September 1, 2020.

“At Economical, we believe in finding innovative solutions to changing customer expectations, which is exactly what Uber has done for transportation globally,” said Rowan Saunders, President and CEO, Economical Insurance. “Our initiative with Uber continues our focus on digital transformation. It is another example of how we’re blending our insurance industry expertise with technology to support a better customer experience. We are proud that Uber has chosen Economical as their rideshare insurer in Canada going forward.”

“Uber has been a leader in the ridesharing industry, making sure every trip is insured. As our business has grown, we recognize the importance of strong partners like Economical Insurance. We are excited to partner with Economical Insurance in Canada to bring their high class service and trusted protection to riders, drivers, and eaters who use the Uber app,” said Gus Fuldner, Vice President of Safety and Insurance, Uber.

This announcement follows the innovative solutions for customers and brokers Economical Insurance has developed as it continues to make progress on its plans to convert from a mutual company to a publicly traded share company. The launch of Sonnet in 2016 introduced Canada’s first coast-to-coast fully online home and auto insurance experience. More recently, Economical launched Vyne, which uses advanced technology to provide faster service, improved workflows, and sophisticated products and pricing for brokers and their customers.

“Our sophisticated products, broad underwriting capabilities, and dedicated team give us the opportunity to provide coverage for a business as large and successful as Uber,” said Fabian Richenberger, EVP, Commercial Insurance, Economical Insurance. “As we look to the future, we know Canadians are changing how they order food, use cars, and get from one point to another, and we are dedicated to being there to protect them.”

Insurance coverage for drivers operating on the Uber platform will continue seamlessly. Economical will share more information and further details on the initiative in the coming weeks.

Aon acted as the insurance broker who facilitated the initiative.

About Economical Insurance

Economical Mutual Insurance Company (“Economical” or “Economical Insurance”, which includes its subsidiaries where the context so requires) is a leading property and casualty insurer in Canada, with approximately $2.6 billion in annualized gross written premiums and approximately $6.2 billion in assets as at June 30, 2020. Economical is a Canadian-owned and operated company that services the insurance needs of more than one million customers.

About Uber

Uber’s mission is to create opportunity through movement. We started in 2010 to solve a simple problem: how do you get access to a ride at the touch of a button? More than 15 billion trips later, we’re building products to get people closer to where they want to be. By changing how people, food, and things move through cities, Uber is a platform that opens up the world to new possibilities.

 

 

Morneau’s successor faces challenges amid pandemic spending, unemployment

Canada’s next finance minister faces a serious challenge as the country charts its way through the most difficult economic circumstances since the Great Depression.

Chrystia Freeland, who will be sworn in later today after Bill Morneau resigned Monday night, will have to manage a COVID-19 recovery that is still very much underway, with more than 40 per cent of the three million workers who lost jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic still unemployed as of mid-July.

Fewer than one-third of the 4.7 million Canadians who were receiving the $2,000-per-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit at the beginning of August would qualify for Employment Insurance when the CERB ends on Sept. 26, making the transition to EI another hurdle.

Meanwhile the spectre of protectionism continues to loom large after U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed tariffs on Canadian aluminum earlier this month _ Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also harbours protectionist sentiments _ further complicating trade relationships.

Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter says the longer-term issue is whether the surge in spending linked to the coronavirus will morph into a more permanent trend, with attendant tax and debt implications.

Ottawa has been pumping money into the economy since March, resulting in a projected debt of $343 billion, an increase of more than 1,000 per cent from the previous year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2020

Experts say COVID waivers unlikely to shield private schools from legal action

By Cassandra Szklarski

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Some private schools afraid they’d be blamed if a student gets COVID-19 are considering waivers to absolve them, but experts say that wouldn’t stop a parent from suing or a school from racking up legal bills.

Toronto lawyer John Schuman says he’s provided “a couple of clients” with contracts that essentially have parents accept full responsibility if their child contracts COVID-19 in a school setting.

He says private schools could be targeted if they fail to enforce provincial and public health rules around COVID-19 and even if they do follow the rules, they could still be vulnerable.

“What schools are also worried about is that they’re going to do everything and they’re going to be careful and they’re going to sanitize stuff (but) some kid’s going to walk in and before even getting screened, sneeze on a bunch of kids and spread COVID-19,” says Schuman, senior partner at Devry Smith Frank LLP.

“And then they’re going to get sued even if they’ve done everything they could possibly do to stop the virus.”

Eric Roher of the Toronto law firm BLG says COVID-19 waivers are not common but that he has been asked to provide them to some alternative and independent schools.

Nevertheless, he doubts that a parent could be held to a promise not to sue if an outbreak occurs.

“There’s a real issue about whether _ even if the waivers are signed _ they’re enforceable,” says Roher.

“What I would prefer to be honest with you, is that we spell out what the safety and learning protocols will be and have parents confirm that they’ve read and understood them. I think that’s a safer approach.”

That also seems to be more common, he adds, describing the number of schools seeking extreme legal safeguards as  “very few.”

The problem with waivers is that they can be hard to enforce, especially if they’re suddenly foisted on parents who’ve already paid tuition and confirmed enrolment.

“Parents have to have time to consider them and make sure they understand them, and perhaps consult a lawyer,” says Schuman, a specialist in child and family law.

“Where there’s less of that freedom, or (if) parents aren’t really free to fully understand what’s going on and to walk away if they need to, waivers become less enforceable.”

High schools aren’t alone in this request.

Incoming students at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., were asked to sign a waiver before they could attend class, but that was contested by 350 students, staff, alumni and local residents who signed a protest letter.

The province’s minister of advanced education has since assured students the waiver would be changed.

The original waiver required students give up potential legal claims of “negligence, breach of contract, or breach of any statutory or other duty of care,” even if the university fails to take reasonable steps to safeguard them from COVID-19 risks.

Schuman suspects pressure from insurance companies has spurred some schools to take extraordinary steps.

“(If) two kids in Grade 5 in the back corner take off their mask while they’re talking to each other and whispering, (a teacher) can be seen to be negligent because they haven’t enforced the expected protocols,” he says.

“Generally, private schools operate on fairly thin margins so all the extra costs of sanitizing is going to stretch their finances a bit and (if they also) have an insurance company who’s going to tell them, ‘We’re going to raise your rates if you don’t take some precautions, you don’t have a waiver,’ (then) they need to have the waiver signed.”

The pandemic has already seen several proposed lawsuits target long-term care facilities, where a disproportionate number of Canada’s deaths have occurred.

A COVID-19 school waiver would raise red flags for educational consultant Karen Wolff.

She hasn’t heard of the phenomenon in her work advising families how to choose the right school but says if such contracts are on the way, she’d expect to see them in the coming days and weeks when virtual open houses and introductory sessions begin.

“I would call my lawyer, and I would have a conversation and just sort of say, ‘How enforceable is this? What are the ramifications if I choose not to (sign)? And do I have a choice?” says Wolff, who has one child in private school and another in public school.

Wolff is less concerned with signing a code of conduct that outlines expected precautions.

“Schools and parents need to be partners they need to be partners in everything including protecting the health and welfare and safety of their students,” says Wolff, of Wolff Educational Services.

The Ontario government made it clear earlier this month that private schools are subject to the same reopening guidelines imposed on public schools, says Roher. Nevertheless, he says his office encouraged its private school clients to exceed those measures.

Evidence of less infection risk outdoors is spurring many private schools to boost outdoor programming and excursions activities that are also requiring more waivers this school year, says Sarah Craig of the Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario, which represents 45 schools.

But she notes off-campus waivers were required pre-pandemic, too.

And of course, COVID-specific waivers aren’t really new _ many camps and sports activities began issuing them over the summer, says insurance broker Brooke Hunter, president of Hunters International Insurance.

“I think I’ve signed something like nine waivers so that my nine-year-old can play soccer,” says Hunter.

But it was relatively easy for a parent to walk away from camp if they balked at a waiver, she acknowledges. School is another matter.

Hunter expects to see an overall increase in the use of waivers. She suggests parents who are thinking about forming a learning pod with another family consider the possibility that they, too, could face legal action if things go sideways.

“Unless you’re incorporating your pandemic pod, you’re attracting personal liability,” she warns.

Several jurisdictions in the United States have taken steps to protect businesses, non-profits and government agencies from legal action, as long as they follow health standards and don’t exhibit gross negligence.

British Columbia introduced a broad ministerial order back in April that similarly protected many essential services, later adding emergency protections for child-care operators and amateur sport organizations. In June, it introduced legislation that would allow those provisions to be formalized  “as appropriate” after the provincial state of emergency ends.

Hunter would like to see broad protections offered in Ontario.

“Can we agree that it’s ridiculous to hold each other liable whether it’s organizations or individuals for COVID-19 transmissions?” she says.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on Aug. 17, 2020.

Winnipeg company hopes near-miss monitoring will prevent traffic fatalities

The excerpted article was written by JAMES SNELL | Winnipeg Sun

Winnipeg-based engineering startup MicroTraffic has launched a grant funding program in partnership with Aviva Canada insurance to help Canadian cities improve road safety.

MicroTraffic uses artificial intelligence technology and existing traffic cameras to automatically detect and trace vehicle speeds, pedestrians, and bicycles to identify near misses. If the system detects that near misses are unusually high for a particular road or pedestrian crossing, municipalities can use data to change signal timing, add signs, or even reconfigure the layout of an intersection.

Craig Milligan, CEO and co-founder of MicroTraffic, said on Monday that providing traffic analysts information based on serious near-misses means the company can tell them where and how the next fatalities are likely to happen.

“This really is a game-changer for cities, so we’re encouraging all municipalities and provincial road authority departments to apply so we can work with them to make their local roads safer,” he explained.

Milligan said the Aviva partnership could mean great things for company expansion, adding the program allows cities to try the technology on a risk-reduced basis.

“We have a 22 person team of artificial intelligence scientists, data scientists and road safety engineers,” he said. “Every startup dreams of going public (on a stock exchange) but we have a lot of work to do to build the company right now.”

The company said in a news release that almost eight in 10 road fatalities happen where no fatalities had occurred previously, adding only historical crash data that involves a fatality — not near misses — is currently being used to change road infrastructure in many cities.

To date, 40 governmental departments and agencies in North America — including in the Greater Toronto Area, Los Angeles, Austin, Detroit, New Jersey, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton have programmed over $200 million of road safety improvements using MicroTraffic’s diagnostic technology.

The grant program, which is financed by Aviva, is open to traffic safety and road management agencies until Sept. 8. Applicants must be from cities with 100,000 or more people in order to be eligible for the program. Up to five cities — 10 intersections per city — will be selected.

Grant decisions will be based on the needs of each city and their commitment to road safety and collaboration.

Selected agencies are expected to pay 25% of the costs up to maximum of $12,500.

Thousands of CRA and government accounts disabled after cyberattack

Thousands of CRA and government accounts disabled after cyberattack

By Lee Berthiaume

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ Federal authorities were scrambling for answers over the weekend after revealing that hackers used thousands of stolen usernames and passwords to fraudulently obtain government services _ with the extent of the damage still unclear.

More than 9,000 hijacked accounts that Canadians use to apply for and access federal services have been cancelled after being compromised in what the Treasury Board of Canada described as  “credential stuffing” attacks.

“These attacks, which used passwords and usernames collected from previous hacks of accounts worldwide, took advantage of the fact that many people reuse passwords and usernames across multiple accounts,” the federal department said in a statement.

The hacked accounts were tied to GCKey, which is used by around 30 federal departments and allows Canadians to access various services such as employment insurance, veterans’ benefits and immigration applications.

One-third of those accounts successfully accessed services before all of the affected accounts were shut down, said the Treasury Board, which is responsible for managing the federal civil service as well as the public purse.

Officials are now trying to determine how many of those services were fraudulent.

The GCKey attack included thousands of Canada Revenue Agency accounts, through which Canadians can access their income-tax records and other personal information as well as apply for financial support related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 5,500 CRA accounts were targeted through the GCKey attack and an earlier “credential stuffing” scheme, the Treasury Board said.

“Access to all affected accounts has been disabled to maintain the safety and security of taxpayers’ information and the Agency is contacting all affected individuals and will work with them to restore access to their CRA MyAccount,” the department said.

Yet at least one victim says she has yet to hear anything from the government after someone hacked into her CRA account earlier this month and successfully applied for the $2,000-per-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit for COVID-19.

Leah Baverstock, a law clerk in Kitchener, Ont., says she first realized her account had been compromised and contacted the revenue agency herself when she received several emails from CRA on Aug. 7 saying she had successfully applied for the CERB.

“The lady I spoke to at CRA, she’s said: ‘This is a one-off,”’ said Baverstock, who has continued to work through the pandemic and did not apply for the support payments.

“And she told me a senior officer would be calling me within 24 hours because my account was completely locked down. And I still haven’t heard from anybody.”

Baverstock expressed frustration at the lack of contact, adding she still does not know how the hackers accessed her account. She has since contacted her bank and other financial institutions to stop the hackers from using her information to commit more fraud.

“I am quite concerned,” she said. “Somebody could be leaving under my name. Who knows. It’s scary. It’s really scary.”

The Treasury Board did not reveal how many of the CRA accounts were compromised or the cost of the suspected fraud, but said federal officials as well as the RCMP and federal privacy commissioner were conducting separate investigations.

And while the CRA says victims will get letters explaining how to confirm their identities to regain access to their accounts, it did not say how those receiving the Canada Child Benefit, CERB and other services will be affected by their accounts being suspended.

The government warned Canadians to use unique passwords for all online accounts and to monitor them for suspicious activity.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says more than 13,000 Canadians have been victims of fraud totalling $51 million this year. There have been 1,729 victims of COVID-19 fraud worth $5.55 million.

 

I’ll Drive if I Want to

Devil's HeadI watched a television news story about a traffic collision that interviewed family members exiting the courthouse. One of the people lamented that if the known bad driver had been prohibited from driving the whole incident that brought them there never would have happened. If only it were that simple, because a driver will only stop driving after being prohibited if they want to comply with the law.

My contact with a driver like this began when I stopped a business vehicle for speeding. The driver was the sole proprietor of the business and had been prohibited from driving for, you guessed it, too many speeding tickets. He explained to me that if he couldn’t drive, he couldn’t carry on his business and his family would be in trouble. I did feel sorry for his plight but dealt with him as the law required.

Fast forward a few weeks and I saw the same business vehicle in traffic again. Knowing the owner’s prohibited status I stopped it and found the same man behind the wheel. He was taking his son to the boy’s Little League baseball game. This was obviously a drive for pleasure and had nothing to do with earning money to support his family.

I’ve also had conversations with ICBC Driver Examiners in the past. Occasionally they would have a senior to re-examine and after a road test would fail the driver. Many of them would hand in their driver’s licence, return to their vehicle and drive home.

ICBC traffic ticket statistics show an average of about 2,400 driving while prohibited charges under the Motor Vehicle Act each year from 2014 to 2018. There were also about 310 criminal charges for driving while disqualified annually during that time frame.

In an attempt to make punishment immediate for drivers who drive without a licence or are prohibited from driving, the BC government created the Vehicle Impoundment Program in 2005. Police are required to impound vehicles when these drivers are found on our highways. This usually happens through Automated Licence Plate Recognition or because the driver commits a traffic rule offence.

There is a 7 day impoundment for the first infraction, a 30 day impoundment for a second infraction and a 60 day impoundment for a third or subsequent driving infraction within a two year period.

An unintended consequence of this program is the number of vehicles being abandoned in lieu of paying the accumulated towing and storage charges.

To make a long story short, this man is one of many drivers who will follow the traffic rules when they suit him and won’t when they do not. This sense of entitlement is visible on our highways every day. Unfortunately, the only way to stop some prohibited drivers from driving is to lock them up.

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