Economical Insurance continues to provide pandemic relief for businesses

WATERLOO, ON, May 1, 2020 — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Canadians, Economical Insurance has been supporting businesses across Canada with tailored and effective relief options. In recognition of the financial impact COVID-19 has had on small- and medium-sized businesses, Economical prioritized the importance of providing flexible options that will maintain the insurance coverage necessary for business continuity. Commercial customers of Economical should connect with their broker to review their policy and discuss individual options.

“Throughout this truly unprecedented time for Canadian businesses, Economical has been supporting our commercial customers by providing extensive options for their insurance needs,” said Fabian Richenberger, EVP, Commercial Insurance at Economical. “We recognize that many businesses have had to pivot or shut their doors, so Economical has adapted our practices to support the need for alternative insurance solutions and be there for our customers when they need us most.”

Options for businesses adapting

Some businesses have been able to adapt to changing restrictions and state of emergency orders. For those that have changed their operations to support COVID-19 relief efforts, Economical has flexible options to maintain insurance coverage.

As an example, one customer of Economical is a distillery that shifted their manufacturing to hand sanitizer to support the need in their community. After informing their Economical broker of this re-tooling, their coverage was adapted to appropriately cover their new manufacturing.

Other business customers have not changed what they offer, but have changed to a delivery model that respects physical distancing. For businesses that now offer delivery as a result of COVID-19, Economical is working with brokers to extend coverage to protect their business against claims arising from the use of non-owned delivery vehicles.

More commonly, companies have had to shift workforces to remote work. In this case, Economical has added $5,000 coverage at no extra cost to cover equipment that employees need to take home such as computers or monitors.

“From the onset of the pandemic we proactively considered the ways that we, alongside our broker partners, could provide relevant relief to businesses that would support their changing needs in this time,” said Obaid Rahman, VP, Commercial Insurance, Economical.  “It’s important that businesses inform their broker of any changes in operation so that we can continue proper insurance coverage that will protect them now and in the future.”

Options for closed businesses

Some businesses do not have the option to adapt but have had to close in response to provincial states of emergency or other lockdown measures. For businesses that have seen a drop of 30% or more in revenue, Economical will now adjust these business policies mid-term, allowing for a reduction in premium to support the tough circumstances these business customers face.

Further, Economical customers can rest assured that if their business is closed because of COVID-19, but they keep enough non-perishable stock or inventory on site to conduct regular business and they visit the premises at least once a week, their business will not be considered vacant or unoccupied and the insurance coverage will continue.

Temporarily closed businesses may experience unique challenges to protect both people and property as there is an increased risk for unauthorized access, theft, or vandalism. In order to keep a property secure, there are some steps businesses can take, such as:

  • Physical security: ensure all possible entrances are locked and secure, store valuable materials away from windows, and activate a security system alarm if possible
  • Lighting: good exterior lighting is a deterrent to many trespassers, while interior lighting indicates a presence on the property
  • Fire alarms and sprinkler systems: ensure all systems have been properly maintained and are functioning properly

Policy extensions and rate relief

In addition to the options above, Economical has committed to its commercial property customers that no policy will be cancelled during the state of emergency, unless a customer has violated policy conditions. When requested by the broker, businesses will be granted an extension until the state of emergency is over.

Further, in recognition of the enormous economic strain businesses across Canada are experiencing, Economical has amended its rating strategy to provide financial relief on insurance. Under normal circumstances, rates are adjusted periodically to reflect inflation, the cost of claims, and other factors, but during the COVID-19 pandemic these changes will be capped and restricted to provide affordable insurance solutions to Canadian businesses.

Another measure of relief is for any personal use vehicles insured under commercial policies, which will receive a discount for lower driving mileage and capped rates during the pandemic.

Commercial customers should connect with their broker

Economical has been providing these relief measures to commercial customers since the onset of COVID-19 and remains committed to offering tailored solutions through our valued broker partners.

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 $2.5 billion in gross written premiums and approximately $6.0 billion in assets as at December 31, 2019. Economical is a Canadian-owned and operated company that services the insurance needs of more than one million customers.

Economical Insurance 

 

 

What do we do with the kids?’ Experts say child care needed in reopening plans

By Stephanie Taylor

THE CANADIAN PRESS

REGINA _ Kelly Knowles has many questions about returning to work, including where her son would go.

The Regina hairstylist contacted his daycare after the Saskatchewan government announced last week that some businesses such as salons, shut down because of COVID-19, could reopen in mid-May.

She was told there is space for her 2-1/2-year old, but the centre is only caring for kids of essential workers. And with her partner still working, there isn’t anyone else at home to help, she said.

“If I did go back to work, we do need that extra care,” Knowles told The Canadian Press.

“I can’t open up my schedule and start accepting my guests to come in if I don’t have a daycare for my son.”

Questions about child care and schools are being raised as various provinces outline their plans to relax public health restrictions so that some services and businesses can reopen and residents can go back to work.

“For families with kids, they can’t participate in that if they don’t have child care,” says Jennifer Robson, associate professor in political management at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Each province is dealing with the issue differently.

In Saskatchewan, Premier Scott Moe has said students are unlikely to return to classes this school year. On Thursday, the province announced child-care spots reserved for the children of essential workers will also go to children whose parents are headed back work in the first two stages of its reopen plan.

Manitoba plans to keep schools closed, but intends to allow day camps with a maximum of 16 kids per site.

Schools and daycares in Quebec are to reopen May 11 outside greater Montreal, but high schools are to stay closed until September. In Ontario, publicly funded schools are to stay closed until at least the end of May.

The inability to provide hard timelines is understandable, Robson says, since those decisions are driven by medical evidence.

She says households with parents who can resume work will be figuring out what makes economic sense. And without child care or schools, someone has to stay home with the kids.

“Gender roles being what they are and gender-related pay gaps being what they are, odds are good that most families are going to elect to have Mom end up staying home with the kids.”

Lindsay Tedds, professor of economics at the University of Calgary, says women have already borne the brunt of the pandemic and, without child-care options, that could be exacerbated.

Citing a Statistics Canada labour force survey from March, Tedds says women were the hardest hit by job losses and a lot of the impact was felt in female-dominated sectors such as hospitality and tourism.

“Women had to leave their jobs even before the big shutdown started simply because the schools shut down.”

In a statement, the president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, acknowledges that restarting the economy will be tough for working parents if schools and daycares stay closed during the initial phases. Goldy Hyder encourages employers to be flexible.

Dan Kelly, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says some employers may not be able to find workers who can pull away from their families. But he feels it’s better to move ahead with an imperfect plan than to keep the economy frozen.

While some parents can work from home, those who work in bars, restaurants and sectors such as the airline industry cannot, Tedds notes.

She and Robson say household incomes will continue to take a hit if both parents can’t get back to work. Gains made over the last few decades have been in large part thanks to women entering the labour force.

They also say time away from work may mean not getting promotions or building up work hours associated with career advancement. As well, staying home means not paying into a pension plan or employment insurance, including maternity and paternity leave.

“If we’re … expected to go back to work and nobody has thought about what we do with the kids, we have a huge problem,” said Tedds.

The CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation says it’s time governments examine how child-care centres are funded. Right now, without receiving fees from parents, they could close.

Paulette Senior says Ottawa has a critical role to play.

“This government is committed to gender equality and gender equality is an essential rung to the economy.”

Maryam Monsef, federal minister for women and gender equality, says in a statement that the pandemic has shown long-term solutions are needed in child care _ and provinces need to collaborate.

“It is clear that the steps that all orders of government take in the next days and weeks as we contemplate slowly reopening our economy will require a vision for child care.

“We can’t resume without it.”

Many insurers offering rebates whether you’re driving or not but many others aren’t

The excerpreted article was written by Aaron Saltzman · CBC News

Some drivers are questioning why they aren’t seeing a significant reduction in insurance rates given the lockdown’s eerily empty roads, especially in light of the insurance industry promising rebates and relief in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars.

“They offered me a reduction of two dollars a month until August,” said Craig Fenn, a ground handler at Pearson Airport in Toronto. “That’s not much of a discount.”

Fenn’s wife, a teacher, is no longer driving to work. He says their broker told them their insurance company, Aviva, would only give them what amounted to about a one per cent rate reduction and only if they changed his wife’s insurance coverage from driving to work to driving for pleasure.

“They’re not giving discounts unless you change something on your insurance, and it has to be [a] big [change],” he said. He could have gotten his premium reduced in return for reduced coverage regardless of whether there was a pandemic, he said.

Fenn was one of a number of people who contacted CBC News after reading a story about Canada’s insurance industry promising to help drivers cut costs during the pandemic.

“I was so irritated by the fact that the insurance companies were getting good publicity,” he said.

In the United States, a number of companies are offering a 15 per cent refund to all their customers, regardless of circumstances. But the relief promised by Canada’s insurance industry has so far been a patchwork of different policies, with some companies issuing significant rebates, others cutting premiums only if coverage is reduced and at least one insurer going ahead with an increase, albeit one that was decided before the pandemic. ‘Doesn’t seem right’

“My premium went up 20 per cent,” said James Downey, a lighting director with his own production company in Toronto, who is with the Co-operators insurance. “That doesn’t seem right.”

Downey says he received the notice of the increase from the Co-operators in March, retroactive to January. He says nothing had changed in his driving record so he contacted the Co-operators, but wasn’t given a reason for the increase, other than it was a decision made before the pandemic hit.

Downey’s business is completely shut down, and his wife is on reduced hours at her job. The increase to his insurance amounts to about $400 annually.

“I’m in a spot where I can afford it for the next little while, but I know a lot of people I work with can’t,” Downey said.

Lisa Guglietti, executive vice-president and chief operating officer at the Co-operators, said, “these rates were implemented prior to the pandemic and reflect the claims experience that we have seen over the last number of years.”

The Co-operators is now offering a base 10 per cent refund for rates between April 1 and May 31.

“Due to the overall decrease in traffic on the road, this refund is available to all auto policyholders, even those continuing to commute to work,” Guglietti said.

Customers have to register online to claim the refund.

“But that still wouldn’t make up for the initial increase, which to me is not fair,” Downey said.

What some insurers are offering

Canadian Underwriter, a trade publication covering the insurance industry, has a comprehensive list of what many companies are and aren’t offering their drivers in terms of relief.

Allstate Canada is offering all its customers a one time 25 per cent refund on their May bills regardless of whether or not their driving has been reduced.

“We recognize that with fewer people driving, there are fewer collisions on our roads,” Allstate Canada CEO Ryan Michel said earlier this month, in citing the reasons for passing on cost savings to customers.

Several other Canadian companies are also offering across-the-board rebates, including CAA, Gore Mutual Insurance, iA home and auto, Unique insurance, La Capitale and Northbridge Insurance.

Another approach

But as of publication some of Canada’s biggest insurers, including RSA, TD Insurance, Desjardins, Wawanesa, Intact, and Aviva Canada are only offering reduced premiums if you’re driving less.

We’ve chosen not to adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for our customer relief measures, as we believe each customer’s situation is unique.– Janis McCulloch, of Aviva Canada

“We’ve chosen not to adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for our customer relief measures, as we believe each customer’s situation is unique,” said Aviva Canada’s Janis McCulloch in a statement. “We know many customers are driving less during this pandemic, while some are driving more.”

“We believe this is a fairer approach than an across-the-board reduction,” said Intact’s Jennifer Beaudry, senior consultant of external communications, “as it gives us the flexibility to provide additional relief to those who need it most and for longer than three months if needed.”

Still too early

Desjardins said it may yet end up offering across-the-board rate reductions, depending on how things play out.

“It’s still really early, and we don’t have enough claims frequency and severity data to consider reviewing our premium refund approach at this time. For one thing, the police have reported far more speeding and reckless driving on our roads. What impact will that have? We don’t know yet,” said Desjardins spokesperson Joe Daly.

Steve Kee, director of external relations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), which says its member companies are providing a combined $600 million in relief for Canadian drivers, said, “Each approach is different but nonetheless, meaningful to customers.”

The bureau hasn’t broken down the savings so it’s unclear how much of that total is coming from drivers opting to reduce their coverage because they’re driving less.

CAA Insurance Company Successfully Launches CSIO’s My Proof of Insurance Solution

Press Release:

(Toronto – April 29, 2020) CSIO is pleased to announce that CAA Insurance Company has successfully launched CSIO’s My Proof of Insurance as its preferred solution for sending customers their auto insurance cards (eSlips) over email. The launch coincides during a challenging time when paper and in-person meetings are less favourable and digital tools such as My Proof of Insurance are encouraged to ensure safe and consistent customer service.

Launched in 2018, CSIO’s My Proof of Insurance solution was developed collaboratively with industry support from insurers and brokers in response to a growing consumer demand for easier and convenient digital options within the insurance landscape. Since its release, support for the solution has grown year over year, with an increase in provincial approvals of electronic proof of auto insurance expanding across the country.

With a history of providing customers convenient and innovative auto insurance options, CAA Insurance looked to My Proof of Insurance as the next step in their digital roadmap. The solution provides customers with a free and secure way to receive, store and present their insurance documents and eSlips. Leveraging mobile wallet technology, eSlips are stored in a customers’ mobile wallet and can be accessed without the internet or having to download a separate app or sign into a company portal.

“Offering customers, a digital, efficient way to get their auto insurance cards, or eSlips, is an exciting addition to our service portfolio,” says Matthew Turack, President of CAA Insurance. “What was especially helpful was the fact that the registration, adoption, and launch of the solution was seamless. A simple and straightforward API meant we weren’t stuck in the implementation phase for months, allowing us to launch the solution in a timeframe we were comfortable with.”

– 30 –

About Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO)

CSIO is Canada’s industry association of property and casualty insurers, service providers and over 38,000 brokers. CSIO is committed to improving the consumer’s ease of doing business within the broker channel by overseeing the development, implementation and maintenance of technology standards and solutions such as My Proof of Insurance, eDocs, and eSignatures. In addition, CSIO operates the industry-owned mail network service, CSIOnet. CSIO maintains offices in Toronto and Montreal. For more information, visit csio.com.

www.csio.com

P.E.I. to remain closed to non residents as COVID 19 restrictions eased

By Teresa Wright

THE CANADIAN PRESS

CHARLOTTETOWN _ Every summer, Cavendish, P.E.I. transforms from a sleepy seaside village of just 300 residents into a resort area teeming with thousands of tourists trying to connect with the red shores and shining waters described in Anne of Green Gables.

But this summer, hotels and beaches will remain quiet and empty, thanks to the province’s COVID-19 restrictions _ a scene Dan James, owner of Kindred Spirits Inn and Cottages, says will be unfamiliar and eerie.

“Having grown up there and having lived year-round there for a lot of my life, come the middle of September it becomes a ghost town, so it’s going to be really strange to have that ghost-town feeling in the middle of June.”

James says he has cancelled any plans to see customers in May and June because of the pandemic, as 97 per cent of his business comes from visitors who now cannot travel to the Island.

“We are looking at significant losses of bookings. They just stopped at the end of February and the cancellations have piled up since then,” he said.

“We’ve lost a significant portion of our business.”

Prince Edward Island will remain closed to non-residents for the foreseeable future as it begins easing COVID-19 restrictions _ a measure that is protecting P.E.I. residents but blocking one of the province’s biggest industries.

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King has announced a four-phase plan that will start with limited expansions of freedoms and build up to restaurants and many other businesses and services reopening by mid-June.

Phase 1 of the plan begins Friday, allowing some elective surgeries and health screenings to resume as well as gatherings of up to five people outside at two-metre distances. Recreational activities like golf and fishing can also resume.

That P.E.I. is an island with only three entry points has helped to keep the virus contained to only 27 cases, no hospitalizations, no deaths and no community spread of the disease, King said.

But keeping the province’s boundaries closed to protect Islanders’ health means keeping out the more than 1.5 million tourists who visit the island every year.

King says this will have major impacts on many businesses and workers and province’s economy as a whole.

In 2019, tourist spending generated approximately $505 million for the provincial economy.

“Tourism is one of our three big sectors in terms of driving the economy, so the economic impact of this will be felt long past when the virus is in the rear-view mirror,” King said in an interview with The Canadian Press Wednesday.

“For now our job is to try to keep people safe and healthy and to try to work with people in the industries, such as tourism, to devise a plan to get back on the road to some kind of normal, knowing very well that’s going to be a difficult road.”

P.E.I.’s plans are unique in that they call for the province to continue to keep its provincial borders closed to any non-residents, allowing only health-care providers and essential workers, such as truck drivers delivering goods, to cross the Confederation Bridge.

The province implemented screening measures at all three points of entry in late March, and has been turning away anyone who isn’t a full-time resident, including people who own summer cottages in P.E.I. Any residents who have travelled within Canada or internationally are ordered to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning. Provincial officials have been making regular phone calls to check up on the 2,087 people currently in quarantine to ensure they follow the rules.

The province’s chief health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, said Wednesday these screening measures are examples of how Prince Edward Island’s plans to reopen its economy will look different from plans that may be implemented in other provinces.

“One of our biggest risks is the importation of the virus, so the plan for easing up restrictions here is fairly uniquely based on the fact we can control our points of entry,” she said.

“That will be really important  making sure those restrictions stay in place as we go forward.”

King says he recognizes this means the damage to the tourism sector will deepen, which will require a “significant amount of government investment.”

King says he has had a good working relationship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but he expressed frustration at the way some of the COVID-19 aid efforts are being rolled out.

New federal programs that involve provincial components are being announced with little consultation, which sometimes creates discrepancies between the help that’s needed and what’s on offer, King said.

“I do think going forward we are going to have to see a little bit greater co-operation and really… some ingenuity as to how we figure our way through this.”

During the weekly calls between Trudeau and the premiers, King says he has also raised concern about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the similarly designed student benefit creating a disincentive for people to work.

He would have rather seen the federal government give money to non-government organizations and businesses to allow them to hire people to help “kick-start the economy.”

Given that P.E.I.’s three biggest industries agriculture, tourism and fishing are all seasonal, there are also concerns about how federal emergency assistance programs could impact seasonal workers who rely on employment insurance to get them through the winter months.

With no EI-insurable earnings generated in the summer, they will be in trouble.

“That’s going to be another big, big problem for us heading into the winter and what could be the second wave of COVID,” King said.

Meanwhile in Cavendish, James says he is in favour of P.E.I.’s plans to keep its borders closed, even though it is hurting his business.

Not only is it good for the health and safety of Islanders, but it sustains P.E.I.’s reputation as a pristine sanctuary.

“We have a number of guests from New York City, for instance, who are emailing us saying, ‘I will do anything to come up there right now. P.E.I. is my safe place,”’ James said.

“It’s just reinforcing the brand that we’re safe, that we have such a low rate of infection.”

 

 

Foodora files for insolvency as it prepares to close Canadian operations

TORONTO _ Food delivery app Foodora has filed for insolvency as it prepares to close its Canadian operations in a couple of weeks.

The subsidiary of Berlin-based Delivery Hero SE filed a notice of intention to make a proposal to employees and other creditors under Section 50.4(1) of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Canada).

Foodora owes more than $4.7 million to hundreds of restaurants, liquor outlets, governments and employees, according to a court filing by trustee Grant Thornton Ltd. on Monday.

The largest claim of nearly $1.1 million is for office employees and $243,608 for Riders Employees.

Allied Properties REIT is owed nearly $568,000, Canada Revenue Agency $333,333, Revenue Quebec $177,000, Google $179,000, and workplace insurance agencies in Ontario, Quebec and B.C. a total of $419,000.

The company, which has operated in 10 Canadian cities over the last five years, plans to cease operations just before midnight on May 11.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has filed an unfair labour practices complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board arguing it broke the province’s labour law by closing down in order to defeat a union organizing drive.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 29, 2020.

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