Ottawa criticizes Ontario for eliminating out-of-country health insurance

TORONTO — Eliminating out-of-country health insurance could jeopardize access to necessary medical care and become a hardship for some travellers, the federal health minister warned Wednesday in a letter to her Ontario counterpart.

Ginette Petitpas Taylor said the move announced by Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government will hurt people who travel regularly to the United States.

“If all publicly financed reimbursement of out-of-country physician and hospital services is eliminated, private health insurance premiums for travellers will inevitably rise for all Ontario residents,” Petitpas Taylor said in her letter to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott. “Even modest increases could pose a hardship for some individuals.”

The program currently covers out-of-country in-patient services up to $400 per day for a higher level of care, such as intensive care, as well as up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient and doctor services.

In May, Elliott announced the decision to scrap the program following a six-day public consultation, saying it is very costly and does not provide value to taxpayers.

The change is expected to come into effect Oct. 1.

A spokesperson for Elliott confirmed Wednesday that the government intends to wind down the program and strongly encourages people to purchase travel health insurance.

“The program’s coverage is very limited with only five cents of every dollar claimed,” Travis Kann said in a statement. “With this limited coverage and low reimbursement rate, OHIP-eligible Ontarians who do not purchase private travel health insurance can be left with catastrophically large bills to pay.”

Elliott has said the province spends $2.8 million to administer approximately $9 million in claim payments through the program every year.

On Wednesday, Petitpas Taylor stressed that if Ontario moves ahead with its plan, it will be the first jurisdiction in the country to provide no coverage for emergency hospital and physician services received out of country.

The minister said this would be “inconsistent” with the Canada Health Act, which stipulates that all Canadians are entitled to continuing coverage of their provincial health plans when they are temporarily absent from home.

“Ontario’s approach will mean that Ontario residents will have to cover the costs of care out of pocket, should they require medical attention while travelling,” she said.

Opposition politicians have said ending the program will hurt frequent travellers. In April, NDP health critic France Gelinas wrote Petitpas Taylor and asked her to intervene and stop Ontario from eliminating the coverage.

“I am urging you to follow through on the prime minister’s commitment … where he affirmed the federal government’s responsibility to ensure provinces follow the requirements of the Canada Health Act,” she said.

The Canadian Snowbird Association has urged the government not to make the move and said it would not only impact seniors who travel south during the winter months, but also cross-border shoppers and anyone planning a family vacation.

In her 2018 report, auditor general Bonnie Lysyk said the Ministry of Health processed an average of 88,000 out-of-country claims per year over a five-year period and paid an average of $127 per claim.

Lysyk also noted the high administrative costs of the program, but said they arise because staff must check varying physician services fee rates and process claims manually. She recommended that the government seek ways to reduce administrative costs by adopting a single reimbursement rate for all health services obtained out-of-country.

She also recommended the government bolster efforts to inform Ontarians of the limit on reimbursement rates under the program and on the need to purchase private health insurance before travelling.

 

Judge rules employees can speak to media about human rights abuses; Allstate says it might appeal ruling

Read more

Are you unsure of what your insurance covers in Brampton? If you are, you’re not alone!

According to a national survey conducted by Belairdirect, nearly a quarter of Canadians have not read their home (23%) or car (25%) insurance policies.

Despite this, the main worries that keep them up at night about insurance are what their policies cover and how much they cost.

Three-in-ten Canadians told Belairdirect that understanding their insurance is like a daily commute; tedious, but necessary.

Another 16% feel it’s like watching a boring movie, you want to turn it off, but you want to know how it ends.

“Canadians are becoming savvier when it comes to an understanding of their insurance policies, but we know that they still have questions. Insurance is complex, and we are committed to simplifying that experience to help educate consumers,” said Anne Fortin, the Senior Vice President, of Direct Distribution and Chief Marketing Officer. “Having proper coverage is key to protecting the things that you care about, and our goal is to ensure Canadians understand what they need for home and auto insurance.”

The survey also revealed some other interesting facts, such as:

  • 31% of Canadians with home insurance never take inventory of their property.
  • Nearly one-in-ten Canadians wonder if they are covered by animal damage – either by rodents to their home (8%) or large animals, like a moose, to their car (10%).
  • Four-in-ten Canadians with home insurance believe their policies automatically protect all of their valuables, while only 36% think they’re covered for a sewer back-up.
  • 39% of Canadians think they are covered for their golf bag if it’s in their car when stolen,  and 38% think they are covered if a drone crashes into their car windshield.

Most home or tenant insurance policies cover the most important items people care about. The only exceptions may be for specific items, such as jewellery, bicycles, collections, boats, or money, which vary by policy.

Personal belongings are worth more than you may think. It is recommended to create a complete inventory of your possessions and share it with your insurance provider. The agent can help tell you if you own the coverage that fits your needs, including adding special protections as necessary.

Nearly all Canadians with car insurance (98%) know at least one thing that affects their insurance premiums. The most common include:

  • Driving records (87%)
  • History of claims (85%)
  • Driving experience (77%)
  • How often you drive
  • Location and the risk of theft

Only 47% of Canadians with car insurance believe if someone borrows their car, they are covered by their insurance.

In reality, when you lend your car, you share your insurance as well.

Lots of people with a home or car insurance plan understand its importance, but many (52% and 48% respectively) find it challenging to understand their policy.

The best advice for anyone who doesn’t understand their policy is to speak to their insurance providers.

They may also visit a client centre online to review their policies.

Do you know what your insurance policies cover in Brampton?

Canada’s auto industry fears blowback over government’s tough emissions stance

The excerpredted article was written By Rob Bostelaar | Automotive Canada

OTTAWA — Canada’s alliance with California in a battle over greenhouse-gas emissions could erase hard-won trade protections, deter investment and drive up prices for car buyers, auto industry officials warn.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in June that Canada will align with California in a plan to maintain stringent fuel-economy standards even if U.S. federal regulators dial back the limits scheduled for model-year 2021-2025 vehicles.

The agreement contains no commitments beyond a pledge to work together on regulations to cut greenhouse-gas production and promote clean vehicles.

“In our view it’s premature to be saying this is the road we’re going to go down without understanding all the consequences and costs of going down that road,” said David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada.

“It would have been our preference that Canada work with the U.S. and California to come up with a single, integrated system of standards.”

Automakers now build to a single set of standards adopted by the United States and California in 2012. A U.S.-California split could force them to produce separate vehicles for two markets, or build vehicles to the higher standard.

The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA), representing the Detroit Three, said any dual-market system could undermine the still-to-be ratified treaty that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Why did we just spend the last two years renegotiating an agreement that underpins North America as a trade bloc, that preserves the three country approach, preserves our integrated industry and supply chains, and is designed to remove technical barriers to trade and to align regulations ultimately because of the efficiencies?” said CVMA president Mark Nantais.

Canada has long matched the United States on safety and emissions regulations. But McKenna’s announcement signals that Canada won’t follow U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations to freeze tailpipe standards at 2020 levels through 2026 instead of requiring yearly improvements to reach a fleet average of 54.5 mpg in government testing, or about 36 mpg in on-road driving.

Carmakers had lobbied for lower yearly increases to the 54.5 mpg target — though not a freeze — arguing that the Obama-era federal regulations they signed on to in 2012 didn’t anticipate softening fuel prices and rising consumer demand for larger vehicles.

It also inserts Canada into a political confrontation typical of the President Trump era. California is leading a coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia in a federal court suit to overturn the EPA plan, while the Trump administration is seeking to revoke the right of California — long a driver of U.S. emissions policy — and other states to set their own limits.

IS TOUGHER BETTER? 

McKenna said aligning with California’s mileage targets and zero-emission vehicle program could spur investment in clean transportation in Canada. The two jurisdictions represented four million of the 19 million new light vehicles sold in Canada and the United States in 2018.

“We can build the vehicles of the future here at home, create good jobs, and remain competitive, all the while reducing pollution and helping Canadians save hundreds of dollars a year at the pump,” McKenna said in a statement.

Industry groups say a more likely result would be reduced product offerings and higher prices as consumers compete for fewer available vehicles.

“Any movement away from a harmonized approach will hinder choice and increase costs for Canadian consumers,” warned the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA), representing 3,200 franchised new -car and truck dealerships across the country.

CADA didn’t estimate how much prices could rise, but spokesman Huw Williams suggested some shoppers could end up keeping their old cars instead of moving to cleaner, less thirsty vehicles.

“That’s a consumer cost as well, and an economic cost,” Williams said.

Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, said that Canadian assembly plants now are chiefly devoted to crossovers and larger vehicles. McKenna’s contention that the MOU would encourage automakers to change the type of vehicles they build in Canada is unrealistic, he said.

“You would put companies into a difficult position of not selling locally what they make locally, increasing their cost per unit and decreasing the competitiveness of local manufacturing,” he said. “And you would de facto put a cloud over the Canadian automotive value proposition.”

Still, Volpe believes the federal Liberals took a “prudent step” with the non-binding agreement, which conveys opposition to lower limits on emissions but doesn’t lock Canada in. He said government officials, who are conducting their own midterm review of the fuel-economy standards, heeded industry advice in devising Canada’s strategy.

FEAR OF TWO STANDARDS 

If automakers sought relief from the Obama-era reductions — which could still remain as the effective standard if enough states side with California — they’re more concerned at the prospect of building to two markets even as they invest hundreds of millions in electric vehicles and other alternatives to meet longer-term emissions goals.

Adams and Nantais said their groups have joined their U.S. counterparts in pressing for a single standard acceptable to California, Canada and U.S. federal regulators.

“We want a reasonable standard or regulation that’s achievable, recognizes the dynamic in the marketplace, recognizes fuel costs, recognizes technology costs,” said Nantais.

Any resolution, however, could be far off.

“I think the drama on this is far from over, and that’s both political and litigious,” said Volpe. “It is still very early days.”

Linda Regner Dykeman to lead AGCS in Canada – Allianz Global

Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE  (AGCS) has appointed Linda Regner Dykeman as Chief Agent of Canada. Effective immediately, Dykeman will lead AGCS’ Canadian business operations, reporting to Bill Scaldaferri, AGCS President & CEO for North America.

Based in Toronto, she succeeds Ulrich Kadow, who served as Chief Agent of Canada for more than four years before moving into a new role as AGCS Global Head of Marine, effective July 1, 2019.

Since 2016, Dykeman has been the Head of MidCorp for AGCS Canada. During this time, she developed and executed the MidCorp strategy for Canada, and has overseen a strong and growing team of underwriters and managers. She has more than 25 years of commercial insurance and leadership experience. She first joined Allianz from Travelers Canada where she served as Head of Business Insurance, and also previously held the role of Senior Vice President, Specialty Insurance and National Business Development for Aviva Canada.

A successor to Dykeman as the Head of MidCorp for AGCS Canada will be announced in due time.

“Linda’s deep understanding of the Canadian market and her proven leadership skills in the MidCorp space make her a natural successor to Ulrich and someone I greatly look forward to working closely with,” said Scaldaferri. “Canada is and remains an area of great strategic importance for AGCS both within North America and globally.”

Summer Holiday Schedule for ILSTVNews Canada’s Source For Insurance Professionals

Summer Holiday Schedule for ILSTVNews Canada’s Source For Insurance Professionals

ILSTVNews Canada’s Source For Insurance Professionals is taking this coming summer off to spend time with loved ones, family and friends. For subscribers to the ILSTV Insurance Industry Newsletter, your daily dose of Canadian Insurance News returns to your inbox on Tuesday, Sept 10th.

But not to worry we have your insurance news covered. Our Weekly Canadian Insurance Newsletter will continue through the summer so I know if you haven’t already you’ll want to sign up for our weekly Canadian Insurance News to stay up-to-date while you enjoy your summer.   Follow this link to sign up for our Weekly Insurance Newsletter – ilstv.com

Stay safe and have a fabulous summer, everyone!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from ILSTV

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest