Validus Reinsurance would provide insurance for insurance companies

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Judge refuses to order insurance company to pay victims of negligent lawyer

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

TORONTO — It is up to the provincial legislature or the law profession’s regulatory body to decide whether victims should receive compensation when harmed by lawyers who end up without insurance coverage, an Ontario court has decided.

The Superior Court decision means the family of a couple badly hurt in a car crash cannot force payment from the insurance all lawyers in the province must carry in the public interest.

“I…am bound by the law and the facts of this case,” Justice Jamie Trimble said in his decision this week. “If there is a remedy for the Caputos, that remedy lies with the Law Society or the legislature.”

The case arose in 2004 when Francesco Caputo was in a car crash that cost him his life and left his passenger wife Carolina Caputo, who has now died, badly and permanently injured. However, their now-disbarred lawyer, Wayne Novak, failed to file an auto insurance claim. In 2014, a judge ordered Novak to pay the Caputos $321,500.

Because he had no money, the Caputos looked to his insurer, the Lawyers Professional Indemnity Company, known as LawPro, for the money.

LawPro refused to cover the award on the grounds that Novak had refused to co-operate with its investigation. The Caputos, using a novel legal approach, asked the courts to force LawPro to pay up for Novak.

The Law Society of Ontario, which governs the province’s 50,000 lawyers, set up LawPro more than two decades ago to defend and cover claims against its members. Lawyers must carry the insurance to practise. However, if a lawyer fails to report a claim or won’t co-operate with LawPro’s investigation, the insurance company — with about $743 million or 83 per cent of the law society’s total assets — denies coverage.

An investigation by The Canadian Press last year turned up several cases in which victims of negligent lawyers went uncompensated after LawPro would not pay. In response, the law society updated its website to refer to a little known policy which it said offers coverage in those cases.

On Tuesday, the society said it would consider claims denied because a lawyer fails to report a claim or to co-operate with the insurer “provided that the lawyer intended to prejudice the claimant’s efforts to obtain compensation.”

In his decision, Trimble found LawPro, had solid grounds to refuse to cover Novak given his serious failure to co-operate with its investigation.

“My conclusion that LawPro’s denial of coverage to Mr. Novak is appropriate acts as a bar to the Caputos’ notice of garnishment,” Trimble wrote. “LawPro owes no debt to Mr. Novak and therefore, there is nothing exigible under the policy for the Caputos to garnishee.”

In essence, Trimble concluded, the Caputos were asking him to create public policy by declaring that LawPro provide no-fault coverage, which it doesn’t.

“What the Caputos are really asking is that the court engage in judicial legislation (but) it is not the court’s job to legislate,” Trimble said. “The question of whether there should be no-fault coverage for lawyers in Ontario is a question for the (law society) within its statutory mandate, or the legislature.”

Ava Hillier, who represented the Caputos at no charge, expressed disappointment at the decision and noted the family was now potentially on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in LawPro’s legal costs. Hillier said the family was also considering an appeal, which also carries the risk of further costs.

“Our clients deserve to be compensated; there’s no question about that,” Hillier said. “I’d like to proceed on the basis of public interest.”

A spokesman for Ontario’s attorney general, Caroline Mulroney, did not respond to a request for comment.

Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life launch SimpleProtect

Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life today announced the launch of SimpleProtect™ – a new and intuitive digital application for advisors to help Canadians get term life insurance coverage.

SimpleProtect simplifies the term application process, providing customers with insurance protection faster. In addition, with SimpleProtect:

  • Underwriting questions are reduced from more than 50 to 16-20; and
  • Applications can be completed in as little as 10 minutes (with average completion time of 20 minutes).

“SimpleProtect was built by advisors, for advisors,” said Katrina Lee-Kwen, Senior Vice-President, Product and Customer Experience, Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life. “Having been developed in our digital labs, advisors have been engaged from the beginning and will continue to play a vital role in steering the evolution of the application.”

Currently, SimpleProtect supports applications for our term 10 and 20 products.

About Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life
Great-West Life, together with London Life and Canada Life, are leading Canadian insurers focused on improving the financial, physical and mental well-being of Canadians. Our customers across Canada have trusted us to provide for their financial security needs and deliver on the promises we have made. Together, we serve the financial security needs of 13 million people across Canada and are leading providers of a wide range of insurance and wealth management products and services for individuals, families and business owners, from coast to coast.

SOURCE The Great-West Life Assurance Company

‘Exploratory’ research says devices could cut insurance costs

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Study shows Canadians still confused over travel insurance

A recent study shows there’s still some confusion among Canadians when it comes to travel health insurance.

The study by the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA) shows 13 per cent of Canadians aren’t sure if they have travel insurance before they go on vacation, and of those who have bought insurance, 17 per cent don’t know what their policy covers.

THIA president Brad Dance said the confusion people have is because they don’t know what kind of coverage they have.

But he emphasized travel insurance is important for your health and wallet.

“A broken leg down in California could cost anywhere between US$35,000 to $50,000 in a hospital in California. Your provincial medical plan may contribute somewhere around five per cent of that amount.”

He said travel insurance would pick up the rest of the tab.

Dance said most importantly Canadians need to find out what kind of coverage they have.

He said some employers may cover travel insurance and even credit card companies can provide it, but travellers need to make sure they know what they have before leaving their province.

And if someone does need to buy standalone insurance, they can range in costs.

“Length of trip is obviously one aspect, your age is an aspect, your health is an aspect, where you may be travelling in the world is an aspect. What activities you might be undertaking while on your trip, that all goes into the rating of a travel insurance policy,” Dance said.

He said there are four golden rules consumers should take into consideration when purchasing travel insurance, one of which is knowing your trip.

“How long are you going to be gone, you need to make sure you’ve got the correct number of days. Are you going to be travelling many times throughout the year? If you are it probably makes more sense to buy a multi-trip policy than a single trip policy.”

Dance said what activities you plan on doing can also affect what kind of policy you should get.

“Do you plan to do things like parasailing, paragliding, scuba diving, those types of things. There are exclusions for travel insurance policies.”

Consumers should also understand their insurance policy, know their health and be aware of their rights and responsibilities within a travel insurance policy.

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