Esurance launches in Ontario with smart technology and financial savings

Esurance is expanding its online auto and home insurance to Ontario. Esurance uses advanced technology to offer an easy online experience and intuitive tools that help take the hassle out of insurance – something that’s sure to appeal to digitally-minded Ontarians.

 

Esurance is here to help Ontarians understand their insurance options so they get the best value for their money. As Ontario residents continue to experience some of the highest home ownership and auto insurance costs in the country, a recent survey conducted by Leger found that almost half (45%) of Ontarians do not believe that their current insurance company wants to save them money and eight in ten (79%) would consider switching providers for one designed to save them money.

“We are absolutely thrilled to enter the Ontario market, because we know Ontarians are looking for an insurance company that will provide better value and an easy, effortless experience. Not only do we offer value in terms of dollars, we also help our customers save time by leveraging technology whenever we can,” said Saskia Matheson, General Manager, Esurance Canada.

Insurance can be complicated. That’s why Esurance simplifies the process starting with the initial quote, explaining in plain English how rates are calculated. This helps customers become well-informed and empowered to make smart decisions about their coverage. And the claims process is just as easy. Esurance responds fast using smart technology to help customers get back to normal as quickly and painlessly as possible.

“Our customers love that they have access to our services and their policy from anywhere, at their convenience.  What’s more, through our intuitive online tools, consumers can see exactly what coverage is right for them and where they’re saving money, bringing a new level of transparency to the insurance process,” said Matheson.

Better value at an affordable price

The survey also found that almost one in four Ontarians (38%)  believe their insurance provider doesn’t give them better value, and more than half (52%) would consider switching to one that offers value-add tools. Online policy management and easy billing are at the core of Esurance’s value-add approach.

Esurance is changing insurance for the better, leveraging technology to reduce some of the costs that encumber traditional insurance companies, so customers receive quality coverage at an affordable rate, with more ways to save. For instance, the Esurance DIY Home Inspection app is the industry’s first home inspection app tool that enables customers to self-inspect their homes for additional policy discounts.

In fact, there are more than 10 ways for Ontarians to easily reduce their home insurance costs with Esurance. For example, customers can bundle their home and auto insurance for additional savings, and new customers can take advantage of the “Welcome Home” discount when they switch to Esurance.

Drivers in Ontario can also benefit, with special rate savings for safe experienced drivers, including a good driver household discount.  At Esurance, the way drivers manage both their auto policy and their behaviour behind the wheel can qualify them for cash-saving discounts. And to help Ontarians make smart decisions about auto insurance, Esurance created Coverage Counsellor, a proprietary online tool that provides a customized car insurance estimate in minutes.

Though Esurance is one of the first companies to offer online auto and home insurance in Canada, knowledgeable experts are also available to review coverage options over the phone. As a member of the Allstate family, Esurance has the financial strength and reliability of one of the most trusted names in insurance.

Survey highlights and methodology

A survey of 1,000 Ontarians was completed online from July 10 – 13, 2017 using Leger’s online panel, LegerWeb. Key findings include:

  • Three quarters of Ontarians (76%) carry car insurance and more than half (54%) carry homeowner insurance
  • More than half (52%) of Ontarians noted that if there was an insurance company that provided value-add tools such as online policy management and easy billing, they would consider switching from their current provider and eight in ten (79%) felt the same way about a company designed to save them money
  • Almost half (47%) of Ontarians didn’t agree that their insurance company wanted to save them money
  • One in four (38%) people didn’t feel that their insurance company wanted to give them better value
  • Almost a quarter (22%) of Ontarians do not trust their insurance company to look out for their best interest

Esurance is an Allstate company, with homeowner and auto insurance available across the US, Alberta and Ontario. For more information, visit www.esurance.ca.

About Esurance®
Esurance provides homeowners and auto insurance direct to Canadian consumers in Ontario and Alberta and offers multiple insurance products in the U.S. including auto, homeowners, motorcycle, and renters. Esurance was a pioneer in offering insurance online in the U.S. in 1999. With an award-winning website and innovative tools, Esurance is the smart choice for tech-savvy consumers in Canada and the U.S. As a member of the Allstate family, Esurance is a reliable choice for insurance, offering anytime, anywhere service just a click, call, or tap away. For more information, visit www.esurance.ca or call 1-888-ESURANCE (1-888-378-7262).

SOURCE Esurance

B.C. regulators order insurance firm, payday lenders to stop ‘deceptive’ sales tactics

An insurance company has been ordered to stop selling policies through two payday lenders and provide refunds after an investigation by British Columbia regulators.

The Financial Institutions Commission says it has issued a cease and desist order against Western Life Assurance Company to stop the sale of creditor group insurance through Venue Financial Ltd. and Cashco Financial Inc.

It says the payday lenders aggressively and deceptively sold Western Life’s insurance products and are prohibited from such sales involving any insurer in B.C. until the commission is satisfied their practices are conducted properly.

“A collaborative investigation produced evidence that payday lenders, Venue Financial Ltd. and CashCo Financial Inc., engaged in aggressive and deceptive sales of Western Life insurance products,” says a written statement from the commission.

It partnered on an investigation with Consumer Protection BC, and says legally required disclosures are not being made to consumers who aren’t told they’ve bought the insurance or that it’s a voluntary product.

The joint investigation also found consumers are not given enough information, or an opportunity, to make an informed decision about  whether they want or need insurance that may be sold to people who aren’t eligible for coverage.

The commission says Western Life must contact everyone who’s been insured through payday lenders and provide details of the insurance they bought, confirm eligibility and offer to cancel the insurance and give refunds to affected consumers.

Safe-Guard Canada names new national account manager

ONTARIO, Canada — Safe-Guard Canada has named Richard Comrie as national account manager, responsible for overseeing client relationship management and business development.

Comrie brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the company, which serves the automotive aftermarket, RV, marine and motorcycle industries, and its clients, having spent over 25 years entirely devoted to the finance and insurance (F&I) industry, with a focus on business development, customer relations management and daily operations.

“I am proud to welcome Richard to the Safe-Guard team as National Account Manager,” said Scott Ashby, general manager of Safe-Guard Canada. “Our clients and their dealers continue to see business grow across Canada.”

He added, “Richard is coming on board at just the right time and will help take our clients and their dealers to the next level. As we continue to integrate with our clients and drive sales with our field teams, Richard’s deep F&I experience and client leadership are vital in supporting our client’s growth and development.”

Most recently, Comrie served as the director of new business development for LGM Financial Services. Prior to LGM, Comrie held various positions in the automotive industry with responsibilities spanning from business operations to national sales and credit management.

“I am excited to join a very progressive, client-centric organization like Safe-Guard. I look forward to building upon the strong relationships we have with our current OEM partners and their dealers, and I am committed to leading our partners and driving business development for each of the brands that Safe-Guard Canada supports,” said Comrie.

Source: Safe-Guard Products Canada press release

CFIB: EI Insurance rate hike another impediment to small business success

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is renewing calls for the federal government to reduce the overall payroll tax burden on small businesses, following today’s announcement of an increase in the 2018 Employment Insurance premium rate.

The 2018 EI rate for employees, set by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC), is $1.66 per $100 of insurable earnings, a three-cent jump from 2017. Employers will pay $2.32 per $100 of insurable earnings, an increase of four centsfrom the previous year.

“This latest increase means that payroll budgets of every business will increase for six straight years when you take into account that the 2018 EI increase will be followed by five years of CPP premium hikes starting in 2019,” said Corinne Pohlmann, Senior Vice-President, National Affairs at CFIB. “These tax hikes — which come amid the spectre of the federal government’s proposed tax changes — will make it more difficult for small business owners to hire more workers, raise salaries and grow their businesses.”

In a recent CFIB survey of members, Employment Insurance was identified as a “serious” concern for 43 per cent of small businesses; total tax burden, including EI, CPP, and Workers’ Compensation costs, was the top concern.

To reduce the payroll tax burden on small business, CFIB will continue to push the federal government to adopt the following measures:

  • Create an EI tax credit that recognizes the investments that small and medium-sized businesses already make in hiring and training employees;
  • Put in place a permanent, lower EI rate for small businesses (e.g. gradually moving from a rate that is 1.4 times more than the employee rate to a 50/50 split over time); and
  • Implement an EI holiday for hiring youth, as was promised in the federal government’s election platform.

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Independent Business 

CAA says 10,000 consumers could be Equifax hack victims

By Armina Ligaya and David Hodges

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ The Canadian Automobile Association says it is informing about 10,000 of its members that they may have had sensitive data compromised by the massive Equifax cybersecurity breach.

The CAA said Thursday Equifax was its partner on the auto organization’s identity protection program, which began in March 2015 and was terminated on July 1, weeks before Equifax discovered the hack on July. 29.

The program required members to register their personal information such as credit cards, banking information and email address, with the option of providing a social insurance number.

The organization says it has been trying since the first reports of the Equifax breach surfaced to determine if it affects any of the approximately 10,000 CAA members who signed up for the program.

It says Equifax has not provided any answers so far. Equifax Canada did not respond to requests from The Canadian Press.

“We value our members’ privacy. Our contract with Equifax explicitly said customer data would be governed by Canada’s privacy law, PIPEDA, and we chose them as a partner because of their then high reputation. CAA did not handle or retain any of the information provided to Equifax,” said Ian Jack, CAA managing director of communications and government relations.

“We are informing the affected members that the data they shared with Equifax may have been compromised, and are writing Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner to express our concern about this breach and to ask that they push Equifax to provide more information to Canadians.”

Meanwhile, Canadians who are worried they might be victims of the Equifax Inc. hack say they are being treated as an afterthought in the wake of one of the largest online data breaches in history.

The company has provided consumers in the U.S. with a website that shows whether they are at risk of identity theft and is allowing them to monitor their files for free for one year.

But the online database does not provide Canadians with accurate information because it is based on U.S. social security numbers. The Equifax Canada website says it costs $19.95 per month for the same monitoring service.

Toronto lawyer Frances Macklin said she is frustrated that Canadians are being treated worse than their U.S. counterparts and questioned why there isn’t a dedicated portal for consumers north of the border.

“We’re equally affected. Just because I don’t have a social security number, I don’t get access to information,” said the partner at Gowlings law firm. “I’m completely bewildered by that.”

Equifax Inc. said last Thursday that a security breach occurred over the summer that compromised the private information of up to 143 million Americans, along with an undisclosed number of Canadians.

But the company has not provided further details, including how many Canadians may have been exposed. Equifax Canada did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

However, Equifax Canada’s customer service agents have told callers that only Canadians who have had dealings in the United States are likely to have had their information compromised in the data breach.

The credit monitoring company’s call centre staff said that Canadians who have Equifax accounts in the U.S. could be at risk of having their data compromised, such as those who have lived, worked or applied for credit south of the border.

Equifax Canada’s website says that “only a limited number of Canadians may have been affected” and it is working to find out how many.

It adds that personal information that may have been breached includes names, address and Social Insurance Number and “the breach is contained.”

Robert Johnson, lead plaintiff in a proposed class action lawsuit against Equifax Canada filed in Saskatchewan, said he is upset that Canadians have only been told that a limited number have been compromised.

The Regina business analyst said he trusted them with his personal information and does not understand why it is taking so long to provide more information about the hack.

Communications expert Warren Weeks believes Equifax could not have handled this issue in a worse way.

“We’re talking about the gateway to all of your financial information in your life,” said Weeks, who is the principal of communication firm Weeks Media Group.

“And Canadians, in specific, don’t know if they’ve been targeted or not or they’ve been impacted or not? I think in 2017, that’s unacceptable.”

Canadian snowbirds will face higher insurance costs even if unscathed by Irma

By Ross Marowits

THE CANADIAN PRESS

MONTREAL _ Canadian snowbirds who were lucky enough to escape property damage from hurricane Irma will still face higher costs as insurance providers jack up premiums and condo associations levy special assessments, say Florida insurance experts.

“We’re probably looking at across-the-board 15 to 20 per cent increase in property insurance costs over the next year,” says Brad Hubbard, the Tampa owner of an insurance agency and an engineering consulting firm specializing in flood risk.

He said the higher premiums could come from greater insurance losses and reinsurance companies determining there is a statistical increase in the risk that future storms will be more frequent and severe.

Hurricane Irma is expected to be one of the mostly costly storms in history with losses estimated at US$20 billion to US$65 billion, including up to US$50 billion in the U.S., according to risk modelling software company AIR Worldwide.

Additional insurance costs will be borne by all insured Florida homeowners, including the estimated 500,000 Canadians who own Florida properties.

Condo owners could also face special assessments if their building sustains heavy damage that isn’t fully covered by insurance or its policy has a high deductible.

“Your condo can be fine but at the end of the year you could receive a bill that says $3,500,” added Martin Rivard, an insurance broker in Boynton Beach originally from Shawinigan, Que.

The situation could be especially acute in areas like the Florida Keys, where 25 per cent of homes were destroyed by heavy winds and storm surge.

Rivard said he’s always amazed by homeowners _ especially Canadians who purchased second residences when they were extremely cheap during the housing collapse _ who decline to take out a policy because of the increased cost.

“I’m hoping that Irma was a wake-up call,” he said in an interview.

The average price of homeowner’s insurance in high-risk wind areas of Florida is US$2,055 or US$1,500 if you buy through Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, a state-run provider. Flood coverage premiums average US$450, providing coverage of $250,000 on the structure and $100,000 for the contents, says the Insurance Information Institute.

Canadians are eligible to buy homeowner’s insurance from Citizens Property Insurance and flooding insurance from the federal National Flood Insurance Programs. Only 16 per cent of Americans purchase flood insurance and less than 10 per cent have no insurance at all.

Canadians were eager to buy insurance after hurricane Andrew devastated southern Florida in 1992, but Rivard said the concern has waned because the state hasn’t experienced a big storm in about a decade.

Renee and Dino Picchioni are relieved their mobile home north of Tampa was spared because they didn’t carry any insurance.

“It’s too expensive to pay for insurance down there for four months out of the year,” Renee said from Windsor, Ont.

Since they don’t own the land where their mobile home is parked, the couple was prepared to walk away if the unit was destroyed.

Rivard expects many others will do the same if their insurance doesn’t cover repair costs.

Realtor Jass Tremblay of Marathon said most of the Canadian customers she knows in the Keys don’t have insurance. While people with a mortgage are required to have insurance that covers wind, they can roll the dice if they pay cash.

Tremblay, a Quebec City native, said she hopes those without coverage would have put money aside so they can face such a disaster.

“Some of them lost everything. They’re probably panicking,” Tremblay said from Deerfield Beach where she holed up during the storm.

Brent Leathwood, a realtor in Sarasota who is originally from Burlington, Ont., said about 80 per cent of his Canadian customers are fully insured even though tougher building codes after hurricane Andrew have helped to minimize damage.

“Canadians tend to be, I would say, sober and pragmatic in their assessments of things and they’re a little less inclined to take big, crazy risks like some of the people in the states are.”

Florida’s insurance system has been strengthened since hurricane Andrew as the number of people living in coastal areas surged 27 per cent between 2000 and 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We feel that we’re in the best position we can be in at this time,” said Michael Peltier, spokesman for Florida’s public insurance provider.

 

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