How technology is reshaping the insurance industry

Canada has a rich history of innovation, but in the next few decades, powerful technological forces will transform the global economy. Large multinational companies have jumped out to a headstart in the race to succeed, and Canada runs the risk of falling behind. At stake is nothing less than our prosperity and economic well-being. The Financial Post set out to explore what is needed for businesses to flourish and grow. You can find all of our coverage here.


In its simplest form, insurance spreads the risk of loss suffered by one person amongst many. But in today’s modern economy, constantly evolving with the tides of innovation, insurance has never been so complex. Technological drivers of change present the industry with some of its greatest opportunities and risks in decades; however, if not managed carefully, technology could be as catastrophic as it is revolutionary to the industry.

Historically, the growth and establishment of insurance originated in the days of the shipping industry when a vessel and its cargo could be damaged or lost due to storm, loading and unloading, fire, or even pirate attacks.

Today, the rapid and significant changes in technological innovation of products present the insurance industry with its greatest risk – and opportunity – since pirates took to the seas. The most significant agents driving this change in the insurance industry are: the Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous vehicles.

The IoT is the connector between companies, products and consumers. It can also be the engine behind the creation of a multitude of connected devices and technology that will directly present both risks and opportunities for insurers and consumers alike.

Perhaps the most significant IoT-related development is the category of wearable technology. Wearables have expanded beyond their initial explosion into eHealth and are now equipped with the technology required to communicate with one another – and with insurers. Insurers can use this technology to adjust rates and premiums to more accurately reflect usage, as opposed to simply applying statistical averages that may not represent the specific individual.

This technology has advanced to the point where consumers are beginning to endorse insurer use of wearable data, as has been seen in the auto insurance industry using telematic devices that can be connected to your vehicle to transmit user data to insurers. This technology is being embraced by consumers as an opportunity to reduce premiums for good driver behaviours. Something that should only improve with the introduction of autonomous vehicles.

More than 90 per cent of car accidents are caused by human error. The advent of autonomous vehicles is predicted to eliminate human drivers and therefore human error. This likely won’t result in a 90 per cent reduction in car accidents, at least initially, but even a conservative estimate of cutting accident rates in half means massive savings in claims paid.

Technological innovations on the road today such as advanced braking and lane keep are already reducing collisions and accordingly premiums associated with vehicles equipped with those technologies. Some savings will be offset by the anticipated higher cost of repairing these complex and expensive vehicles, but if claims paid are reduced, premiums should follow suit.

Given that 42 per cent of property and casualty premiums are derived from car insurance, significant questions arise around how the industry is going to survive such reductions in its present structure.

As part of the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) paper, Auto Insurance for Automated Vehicles: Preparing for a Future of Mobility, the IBC sets out a “single policy” insurance framework where one policy would respond to any claim made against the “driver,” even if the vehicle is being operated in autonomous mode. In this way, insurers move from insuring not only the negligence of the driver but also any negligence with respect to the autonomous features that may have been involved. Whether the various provinces and territories will adopt this approach remains to be seen, but the insurance industry has correctly perceived a risk and is attempting to mitigate that through new opportunities.

Of course, as technology advances, so do the accompanying risks. For example, many vehicles have a keyless feature wherein simply approaching your locked vehicle allows you to open the door and drive away without using the key. Car thieves have responded with a device that detects the signal being emitted from the key fob and can boost that signal so that it reaches the locked vehicle in the driveway. The thief can then steal the car while the keys are still “safely” locked inside the home.

Consumer behaviour changes gradually and this gap between initial adoption and understanding creates an opening for criminally-minded technology experts to manipulate.

Like the sea-faring pirates of old, the new security risks will both create opportunities for insurers and raise concerns for consumers and insurers alike. To succeed in the decades ahead, insurance companies of the future need to embrace innovation and adapt rapidly. Consumers will remain the central drivers of these changes as expectations for more personalization and convenience will remain high. But in a fast evolving industry which is as vital to consumers and business as it is the economy, caution and control must be applied. Regulators will need to listen to both insurers and consumers alike to futureproof the industry and develop frameworks that protect both the sector and society.

Special to Financial Post

Robert L. Love is a partner in the Toronto office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) and national leader of the auto industry group. He is one of the contributors for BLG’s latest report, Innovative Industries Reshaping the Canadian Economy.

Source: Canada.com

Federal government insured Suncor’s Middle East misadventures

The excerpted article was written by  | The Globe and Mail

The federal government paid Calgary-based Suncor Energy as much as $600-million to compensate for Middle East oil and gas assets and income lost since the Arab Spring in 2011.

On Wednesday Suncor disclosed in its quarterly financial results that it had received $300-million in “risk mitigation” payments relating to its Libyan operations. This followed a separate $300-million payment linked to its Syrian enterprise in 2012. Suncor declined to answer questions about the payments.

Suncor reported a profit of $3.3-billion on revenue of $38.98-billion for the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2018. With an enterprise value of $76-billion at the end of last year and daily production capacity of about 830,000 barrels, Suncor by any measure ranks among Canada’s largest energy companies.

Export Development Canada (EDC), the national export credit agency, has long offered political risk insurance. That insurance protects EDC’s customers against the dangers of doing business in high-risk emerging markets, such as expropriation, political violence and the inability to transfer or convert local currency. The insurance cushioned the blow for Suncor, which wrote off assets worth billions of dollars from its former Middle East operations.

Political risk insurance is a niche product, and Suncor’s claims are massive by both Canadian and international standards. The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corp., one of the world’s largest political risk insurers, has paid out 300 settlements since it was established by president Richard Nixon in 1971; the combined value of those claims was only US$977.4-million.

Although a handful of commercial insurers have offered the product, the Crown corporation is known for taking risks the private sector would never entertain. In the years leading up to 2011, EDC charged a premium of around 1 per cent or slightly less for this insurance. EDC has typically earned around $10-million to $20-million in premiums annually from selling political risk insurance; at that rate, it would take decades to cover Suncor’s claims.

EDC underwrote Suncor’s insurance policy in 2006 at a time when Petro-Canada (which merged with Suncor in 2009) produced crude oil in Libya and was pursuing a new natural gas development in Syria, having just sold a portfolio of mature assets there. Petro-Canada began developing the Ebla natural gas project in Syria in the late 2000s, where it saw “significant upside potential.” Meanwhile, it also established itself as one of Libya’s larger oil producers through Harouge Oil Operations, a joint venture with that country’s national oil company.

The company pumped hundreds of millions of dollars in capital spending into the two countries. But it knew its overseas assets were threatened by unrest, economic and legal sanctions and war, and purchased political risk insurance from EDC and commercial insurers to mitigate those perils.

EDC, meanwhile, wanted to encourage more Canadian foreign direct investment. One way to accomplish that was by offering increased volumes of political risk insurance to Canadian companies interested in doing business in volatile emerging markets. In 2006 EDC broadened its political risk insurance program to cover a wider variety of investments. That year it underwrote $4.8-billion in political risk insurance, substantially beating its own target.

Canadians had little way of knowing about Suncor’s insurance policy. Although EDC disclosed most of its financing transactions since 2001, it reveals political risk insurance policies only when the beneficiaries were lenders such as banks. In 2006 it disclosed political insurance policies in Mauritania, Jamaica and Mexico, but none in the Middle East. EDC declined to answer most of The Globe’s questions about the Suncor policy. “We are obligated to respect the confidentiality of our policy holders and their policies with us,” it said in a statement.

EDC continued expanding its insurance business in the Middle East and Africa throughout the late 2000s, and by the dawn of the Arab Spring, 37 per cent of its political risk insurance portfolio resided in that region – by far its largest regional exposure.

The timing proved unfortunate.

Things soured quickly in February, 2011, when what began as anti-government rallies in Benghazi grew into an armed uprising against the government of Moammar Gadhafi. Meanwhile, pro-democracy protests in March, 2011, in southern Syria also mushroomed into widespread unrest throughout the country, prompting a crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad and, ultimately, civil war.

Responding to international sanctions, Suncor suspended operations in both countries. In Syria the suspension proved indefinite, and the company filed a claim to EDC in 2011. The following year, Suncor reported receiving $300-million in “risk mitigation” payments relating to its Syrian operations, without identifying the source. Meanwhile, EDC disclosed a $300-million claim without identifying the customer. “EDC had the largest political risk insurance claim charge in its history as a result of the turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East,” Pierre Gignac, EDC’s then-chief risk officer, mentioned in a 2013 commentary.

Another was coming.

Suncor’s withdrawal from Libya unfolded in a less straightforward manner. After Mr. Gadhafi was removed from power and murdered in 2011, Suncor was optimistic it could continue doing business under the new government. It resumed production later that year. But beginning in July, 2013, Suncor found its Libyan oil shut in again, a situation that worsened after export terminals it relied on were closed. The result was the same: As unrest escalated, Suncor concluded it could no longer operate in Libya, either.

Suncor received its second $300-million payment earlier this year. The company noted it might have to repay some of that sum “dependent on the future performance and cash flows from Suncor’s Libyan assets.” But as of press time, Suncor said continuing political risk continues to impede its production in Libya. As the latest payment has yet to appear in EDC’s financial statements, it’s not clear the Crown corporation paid the full balance.

In the years following Suncor’s monster Syrian claim, EDC disclosed additional political risk insurance exposures across the Middle East, including $300-million of liability in each of Tunisia, Qatar, Algeria and Yemen. EDC continues to offer this type of insurance, but in 2017 its total exposure fell below $1-billion for the first time in years, and its Middle Eastern liability had fallen to 10 per cent of its total portfolio.

EDC says it is self-funding. However, as a Crown corporation, its benefits from the federal government’s triple-A credit rating.

EDC declined to discuss whether it had changed its underwriting or risk management practices as a result of Suncor’s claims.

Jim Carr, the Minister of International Trade Diversification, bears primary responsibility for supervising the Crown corporation. In a statement, his office said: “In these cases, the political risk insurance was purchased under the previous government and these payments were simply following the contracts signed under those agreements.

“We will continue to work with the agency and their new CEO to ensure that they uphold the values of openness and transparency that Canadians expect. ” (Former long-time Bombardier executive Mairead Lavery was appointed EDC’s new president and CEO on Feb. 5, replacing Benoit Daignault, who held the post five years beginning in 2014. She is the first female to hold the position.)

In addition to Suncor, other Canadian companies have historically also experienced significant losses while operating abroad – often because of expropriation.

Robert Wisner, a lawyer with McMillan LLP in Toronto who specializes in international arbitrations, said disputes between companies and governments involving political risks are increasingly resolved under international investment treaties. “In that field there have been billion-dollar awards, including for Canadian companies,” he said. Prominent Canadian examples include Canadian mining companies operating in Venezuela such as Crystallex International Corp., Rusoro Mining Corp. and Gold Reserve Inc. that lost properties through expropriation in Venezuela.

“Obviously the billion-dollar cases are at the very high end,” he added, “but there have been other cases where awards have been paid out for hundreds of millions of dollars.”

It’s cold, but warming real

By David Suzuki

Weather and climate aren’t the same. It’s one thing for people who spend little or no time learning about global warming to confuse the two, but when those we elect to represent us don’t know the difference, we’re in trouble.

For a U.S. president to tweet about what he referred to as “Global Waming” because parts of the country are experiencing severe winter conditions displays a profound ignorance that would be embarrassing for an ordinary citizen, let alone the leader of a world power.

To understand the distinction, it’s important to know the difference between “global warming” and “climate change.” Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there’s a subtle difference. Current global warming refers to the overall phenomenon whereby global average temperatures are steadily increasing more rapidly than can be explained by natural factors. Much of the climate change we’re already seeing — from increasing extreme weather events to floods and drought to altered ocean currents — is a result of global warming.

That’s leading to a range of impacts, “including rising sea levels; shrinking mountain glaciers; accelerating ice melt in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic; and shifts in flower/plant blooming times,” according to NASA. That, in turn, affects everything from the food we grow and eat to water availability to human migration.

Both “global warming” and “climate change” refer to average long-term phenomena and effects, whereas “weather” refers to local changes in climate “on short timescales from minutes to hours to days to weeks,” such as “rain, snow, clouds, winds, thunderstorms, heat waves and floods,” NASA says.

So, what about those record cold temperatures in parts of the eastern U.S. and Canada? To start, global warming is global; it doesn’t refer to one specific place. While parts of North America are experiencing record cold, places like Australia are seeing record-breaking heat. Globally, the past four years have been the hottest on record, and the warmest 20 have occurred over the past 22 years.

Several studies show global warming is causing an increasing number of cold-weather events in eastern North America. “Warm temperatures in the Arctic cause the jet stream to take these wild swings, and when it swings farther south, that causes cold air to reach farther south. These swings tend to hang around for awhile, so the weather we have in the eastern United States, whether it’s cold or warm, tends to stay with us longer,” said Jennifer Francis, research professor of marine and coastal sciences in Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, who co-authored one study published in Nature Communications.

This, according to National Geographic, also means “floods last longer and droughts become more persistent.”

The study found, “severe winter weather is two to four times more likely in the eastern United States when the Arctic is abnormally warm than when the Arctic is abnormally cold.” Winters are also colder in northern Europe and Asia when the Arctic is warm. The opposite is true in western North America, where severe winter weather is more likely “when the Arctic is colder than normal.” The effects are more pronounced when Arctic warming reaches beyond the surface, causing disruptions in the stratospheric polar vortex.

Warmer temperatures can also lead to increased precipitation, which falls as snow when temperatures drop below freezing. As a Scientific American article notes, warmer temperatures in winter 2006 prevented Lake Erie from freezing for the first time in history, which “led to increased snowfalls because more evaporating water from the lake was available for precipitation.”

Melting ice in the Arctic, Antarctic and on glaciers exposes land or sea, creating feedback loops, as dark surfaces absorb more solar heat than ice and snow, which reflect it. This accelerates warming.

So, no, a cold day where you live isn’t evidence that global warming is a “hoax.”

– David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Source: Castanet

To See, or Not To See – Tinted Windows

One of my preferred enforcement practices was to use an unmarked car and drive in the right hand lane at or just under the speed limit. This gave me plenty of time to look at and into whatever passed by on my left. Vehicle defects, failing to wear a seatbelt, distracted driving and other things of interest to a traffic cop were often easily discovered.

I recall doing this once on a cold and rainy afternoon. A car passed by me with both the front side windows rolled down completely and both front seat occupants staring resolutely ahead. Why do you think they were willing to get wet as they pretended not to see me?

As you have probably guessed by now, it was illegally tinted front side windows.

Vehicle owners who do this are surprisingly resistant to following the law.

7.05 (8) No person shall drive or operate on a highway a motor vehicle which has affixed to or placed on the windshield or a window any material that reduces the light transmitted through the windshield or window unless the material is affixed to or placed on

(a) the windshield but not more than 75 mm below the top of the windshield,

(b) a side window that is behind the driver, or

(c) the rear window if the motor vehicle is equipped with outside rear view mirrors on the left and right side of the motor vehicle.

(9) If a motor vehicle contains manufactured glass, tinting contained within the glass must meet the minimum light transmittancy requirements under the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

In my experience, virtually all Notice & Order #3’s were ignored. Ditto the offer to cancel a traffic ticket if the tint was removed and the vehicle presented for inspection. Sometimes it took multiple tickets and Notice & Order #2’s to correct the issue.

I know of one business that actually told their customers that if they were stopped by the police they could come back, have the tint removed, present the vehicle for inspection and then have the tint put back on. Once. Free of charge.

222   A person must not sell, offer for sale, expose or display for sale or deliver over to a purchaser for use a motor vehicle, trailer or equipment for them that is not in accordance with this Act and the regulations.

You could even find vehicles with illegal tint being displayed for sale at businesses.

8.01   No person who is engaged in the business of selling motor vehicles shall keep for sale, or sell or offer for sale, any new or used motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is equipped as required by these regulations.

Some drivers tried to convince me, even producing a doctor’s note, that they had health or vision issues that required the tint. I could understand this for people who suffered from cutaneous porphyria, but only RoadSafetyBC can grant an exemption from these rules and they will not do so.

Why bother enforcing these rules? The information that we need to drive is predominantly visual:

  • Tint prevents other road users from making eye contact with the driver
  • Impairment of the driver’s ability to identify and react to a low contrast target, particularly among older drivers
  • Tint remains in place at night and during times of impaired visibility

So, to see or not to see. Why would you limit your ability to drive safely on purpose?

Aon announces strategic partnership with Jaguar Land Rover Canada

Aon, the leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, is pleased to announce brand-specific insurance coverage, in a strategic partnership with Jaguar Land Rover Canada ULC. Customers of the world’s leading premier and luxury vehicles will now have privileged access to insurance policies fueled by Aon Reed Stenhouse.

“The partnership offers a way to personalize the buying process even further,” says Caroline Mills-White, Senior Vice President and National Director of Aon Personal Lines, Affinity. “We’re integrating the insurance component into the brand experience, and we’re able to do so with a partner who believes in providing the highest level of standards, just like us.”

Jaguar Insurance and Land Rover Insurance by Aon officially launches across Canada on February 4, 2019.

Exclusive Brand-Specific Insurance Coverage for Canadians

Together with Jaguar Land Rover Canada ULC, Aon is introducing customizable insurance solutions tailored to drivers’ vehicle(s). Boasting a variety of benefits, opportunities for premium discounts, and unparalelled service, the coverage is offered to all driver types, including vehicles for daily commuters, collector editions, and antique models.

Canadians now have the perks of an official coverage option that guarantees drivers with genuine parts to keep their vehicles true to form, where in some cases, insurers won’t provide this type of insurance due to the associated repair costs. At the brand’s approved facilities, trained technicians will complete all repairs that come from claims.

Streamlining Insurance with Retailers

The partnership is founded with purpose, to create a frictionless customer experience. “We’re introducing insurance right into the vehicle buying process at retail locations – and, it doesn’t end here,” Ms. Mills-White explains. “Aon will continue to innovate and bring new ways of delivering brand-centric insurance coverage options online and through mobile. We want the process to be as seamless and easy as possible.”

Jaguar Land Rover customers now have access to a network of experienced and trusted brokers to help take away the stress of vehicle protection.

Bringing a Successful Model to Canada

With remarkable success leading the strategy in Canada, Rob Whisson, Director Customer Service Canada, shares his vision for global expansion. Bringing the concept to this market means that “We’ve taken a hard look at our business in an effort to improve our performance and transform our technology offering. We’re providing more choice.” Mr. Whisson adds, “Our plan to lay foundations for long-term growth also starts with finding a Canadian partner who is aligned with our vision.”

The partnership with Aon, comes with the agreement to become an extension of the Jaguar and Land Rover brands as white label solutions.

For more details, visit www.insurance.jaguar.ca or www.insurance.landrover.ca

About Aon

Aon plc (NYSE: AON) is a leading global provider of risk management, insurance brokerage and reinsurance brokerage, and human resources solutions and outsourcing services. With more than 50,000 colleagues worldwide, Aon unites to empower results for clients in more than 120 countries, offering innovative risk and people solutions. For further information, visit http://aon.mediaroom.com.

Follow Aon on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Aon_plc 
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SOURCE Aon Risk Solutions

Morneau taking close look at return to 30-year insured mortgages

By Bill Curry | Ottawa

The Globe and Mail

The federal government appears to be considering a budget announcement that would allow first-time homebuyers to obtain 30-year insured mortgages, up from the 25-year limit now, according to the Canadian Homebuilders’ Association.

Such a move would represent a change in direction after more than a decade of measures by federal Conservative and Liberal governments since the 2008 recession aimed at cooling housing markets and encouraging Canadians to take on smaller mortgages.

While the Bank of Canada continues to express concern about high household debt, politicians are also getting an earful from younger Canadians – a potentially key voting demographic – who can’t afford to enter the housing market.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s coming budget will be the government’s last before the scheduled October election. The minister recently said he is looking at home affordability issues for millennials, but he has not publicly speculated on potential policy options.

Over the past two weeks, top officials from the Prime Minister’s Office and Mr. Morneau’s office met with Kevin Lee, the chief executive of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, to discuss potential budget measures.

Association spokesman David Foster said there is clear interest from government in the request put forward by housing industry groups to bring back 30-year insured mortgages.

“They keep wanting to talk with us about it, and it wouldn’t cost them a dime, so I’ve got to think those are somewhat positive signals,” Mr. Foster said on Wednesday.

The association discussed the matter earlier this week with Mr. Morneau’s chief of staff, Ben Chin. They also met last week with Sarah Hussaini, a policy adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Pierre-Olivier Herbert, a spokesperson for Mr. Morneau, declined to comment, saying the office does not speculate on potential budget measures.

The association has had several meetings with officials and MPs over the past year in the run-up to the 2019 pre-election budget and recently narrowed down its wish list to just two items: a return to 30-year insured mortgages for first-time homebuyers and an easing of stress test measures that restrict access to non-insured mortgages.

Mr. Foster said officials are expressing interest in both options, but especially the 30-year mortgage proposal because it can be enacted unilaterally by the Finance Department. Changes to the stress test would require the co-operation of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, an independent regulator that just this week defended the existing rules.

MP Francesco Sorbara, who chairs a Liberal caucus on housing affordability issues that formed last year and is a member of the House of Commons finance committee, did not dismiss the 30-year mortgage proposal as a way of helping first-time homebuyers.

“It is one idea of many that is worthy of consideration, with the caveat that we maintain a secure and healthy housing market and that individuals are not overextending themselves,” he said.

Paul Taylor, president and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada, is also advocating for the 30-year mortgage option and said he was “encouraged” by Mr. Morneau’s recent comments about addressing affordability for millennials. However, Mr. Taylor said he has not received any indication from federal officials that a decision has been made.

The date of the budget has not yet been announced. The House of Commons only sits for one week in March, which makes the week of the 18th a likely window for the minister to deliver the budget. However, there is also speculation in Ottawa that the budget could be released in the final week of February.

Homebuyers with a down payment of at least 5 per cent of the purchase price but less than 20 per cent must be backed by mortgage insurance. This is offered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. – a Crown corporation – as well as two private insurers.

In 2008, after briefly allowing insured mortgages with a 40-year amortization period, then-Conservative finance minister Jim Flaherty reduced the maximum period to 35 years. The Conservative government lowered the maximum to 30 years in 2011 and acted again in 2012 to bring it to 25 years, where it has stood since. The moves were promoted as a way to prevent high-risk borrowing.

Shortly after the Liberals formed government in 2015, Mr. Morneau announced further mortgage tightening rules that December by doubling the size of the required down payment for insured mortgages for the portion of a home’s value from $500,000 to $1-million.

Mr. Foster, of the home builders’ association, said restricting insured 30-year mortgages to first-time homebuyers should prevent consumers from getting in over their head.

Millennials have most of their working years ahead of them and would likely pay off the mortgage sooner than 30 years, he said.

“We don’t think it involves any additional risk,” he said. “These are prime borrowers.

Source: The Globe and Mail

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