98 per cent: the number of claims accepted and paid to Aviva customers

New data from Aviva Canada completely dispels the widespread myth that insurance companies like to collect premium dollars from customers, but don’t pay customers’ insurance claims when they happen.

“People have the mistaken impression that we fight paying most claims, when the data shows the opposite is true,” said Bryant Vernon, Chief Claims Officer at Aviva Canada “The vast majority of claims we receive from our customers – 98 per cent in fact – are paid by Aviva Canada. We need to correct this misconception once and for all.”

98 percent – Aviva Canada’s claims pay out rate in 2017

The intention of the Aviva global claims data released today and available here is to build trust with customers by being completely transparent about how Aviva handles their claims. In 2017, Aviva’s data shows*:

  • Aviva Canada paid out 98 per cent of claims received in 2017;
  • The dollar value of claims paid to Aviva Canada customers in 2017 is $4 billion.

Public trust in insurance companies is very low

Insurers rank lower in net trust than Fintech startups, utility companies and both local and regional banks. In a 2017 consumer survey, only 15 per cent of Canadian respondents trust insurance companies to be ‘honest’ and ‘fair’.

Aviva Canada is the only general insurance company in Canada to release the percentage of claims it has paid out and the total dollar value of those claims, but Aviva is not stopping there.

“We’re not just reporting on our claims statistics, we’re also actively working to improve our consumer claims process to ensure that 100 per cent of legitimate claims are paid efficiently and promptly,” said Vernon.  “There’s a remaining 2 per cent of customers who had their claims rejected in 2017– some due to lack of coverage, misunderstanding their policy or cases where documents could not be provided to process the claim. We want to encourage customers to understand their coverage and what is needed to submit a claim.”

Click here for Aviva’s Global Claims data.

About Aviva Canada

Aviva Canada is one of the leading property and casualty insurance groups in the country, providing home, automobile, leisure/lifestyle and business insurance to 2.8 million customers. A subsidiary of UK-based Aviva plc, Aviva Canada has more than 4,000 employees focused on creating a bright and sustainable future for our customers and our communities.

Aviva Canada invests in positive change through the Aviva Community Fund, Canada’s longest running online community funding competition. Since its inception in 2009, the Aviva Community Fund has awarded $8.5 million to over 280 charities and community groups nationwide. Aviva Canada, bringing over 300 years of good thinking and insurance solutions to Canadians from coast-to-coast.

Private member’s bills aim to end auto insurance postal code ‘discrimination’

By Shawn Jeffords

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Two Ontario legislators from different parties introduced separate bills on Monday aimed at stopping auto insurance companies from charging drivers higher premiums based on where they live, saying it was time for the practice to end.

The politicians _ one from the ruling Progressive Conservatives and another from the Opposition NDP _ said they want the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, which regulates insurers, to stop the practice they call discriminatory.

Parm Gill, a Tory legislator from Milton, Ont., introduced a private member’s bill on the matter, saying drivers from the communities around Toronto pay higher auto insurance rates than those living in other areas of the province.

“Ontario’s auto insurance rates are amongst the highest in Canada despite having some of the lowest levels of accidents and fatalities,” he said.  “Our government is committed to ensuring fairness in rate setting and ending discriminatory practices.”

Gill said his bill would ensure drivers are evaluated based on their driving record and not where they live.

“This bill, if passed, will promote personal responsibility,” he said.  “A good driver in my riding of Milton should pay the same rates as a good driver anywhere else.”

NDP legislator Gurratan Singh introduced a similar bill on Monday and said his legislation, if passed, would require the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to refuse approval for risk classification systems that don’t consider the Greater Toronto Area as a single geographic region.

“Drivers in the Peel region and other parts of the GTA continue to arbitrarily pay significantly higher auto insurance rates than any where else in the province,” he said.

Singh said drivers in his riding in Brampton pay on average $1,000 a year more in auto insurance premiums each year than a driver in north Toronto. His bill would result in lower insurance rates for GTA drivers, he said.

“It will make sure that insurance companies are not allowed to gouge people simply based on the neighbourhood they live in or the municipality that they live in,” he said.

Singh wouldn’t say if he will work with Gill to meld their bills into one.

On Friday, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario announced insurance rate increases for the third quarter of 2018, approving a 2.06 per cent increase. In the second quarter of 2018 the commission approved a 1.11 per cent increase.

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli wouldn’t say if the government will support the Gill’s legislation, committing only to review it once it is tabled.

Fedeli’s spokesman said the government is looking at the regulatory environment surrounding the province’s auto insurance sector, with the potential of allowing more competition in the marketplace.

“Our government is committed to ensuring fairness in rate setting, ending discriminatory practices and working towards a system that puts drivers first,” Robert Gibson said in a statement.

Pete Karageorgos, director of Consumer and Industry Relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said insurers would welcome modernization of the sector regulations and acknowledged that some of them are “stale.”

He noted that the Financial Services Commission of Ontario sets out how insurance rates are set, including various rating factors used to set premiums.

“They are the ones that set those rules in place in terms of using things like a person’s driving record, the type of car they drive, even where they live,” he said. “Geography is something that’s used and it’s used not just here in Ontario but in every insurance market across the country.”

As tech changes the insurance industry, what should investors look for?

In the past few years, some big changes have been unveiled in one of the world’s most traditional industries.

John Hancock, one of the oldest and largest North American life insurers, recently announced it will stop underwriting traditional life insurance. Instead, the 156-year-old insurer, owned by Canada’s Manulife Financial, will sell only interactive policies that track fitness and health data through wearable devices and smartphones.

Prudential Financial said it will go straight to consumers with its insurance and investment products for the first time in its 143-year history, offering products through its website rather than selling exclusively through its large network of advisers and employer-sponsored programs.

And Manulife recently announced it will contribute $400,000 to the Artificial Intelligence Institute at the University of Waterloo for research in disability claim prediction as well as fraud detection and language comprehension in customer service.

These developments in the past month are only a few examples of the sea change in the insurance industry, showing how established companies are turning to technology to find new ways to expand business in light of online startups and rivals that are challenging the established order.

Consulting firm Accenture says about two-thirds of insurers have begun using artificial intelligence-based “virtual assistants.”

“Millennials and other younger people have large purchasing power,” John Barnidge, a Sandler O’Neill analyst, told Reuters, adding that they do not value insurance agent relationships as much as previous generations.

So, what does this shift toward a growing demand for online sales mean for the bottom lines of insurance companies – and what are the best ways for investors to play the trend?

“I’ve frequently described the insurance industry as being behind the technology curve, but we’re seeing significant advances,” says Meyer Shields, managing director at investment firm Keefe, Bruyette and Woods in Baltimore.

As one example, he points to the use of increasingly sophisticated data analysis to vary price rates in personal auto insurance. Other examples include artificial intelligence applications to augment underwriting decisions, and the use of drones to evaluate insured property damage.

As far as specific companies leading the way in using these techniques, Mr. Shields singles out auto insurer Progressive (PGR-NYSE) as a leader in data analysis, with cutting-edge capabilities in data-driven insurance pricing. He says commercial insurers Travelers (TRV-NYSE) and The Hartford (HIG-N) are both very strong at utilizing technologies to improve outcomes in lines of business such as worker compensation. He also points to global insurer Chubb (CB-NYSE) for its advanced use of artificial intelligence and technology-based distribution.

Mr. Shields says his firm’s overall investment thesis for the insurance sector is that commercial casualty rates are likely to rise, while personal and commercial auto rate increases will decelerate, and property insurance rate increases will probably reverse course. As a result, he favours the commercial insurers that should see underwriting margin expansion in coming quarters – AIG (AIG-N) and The Hartford are the firm’s top picks in that space.

Keefe Bruyette also likes insurance brokers such as Arthur J. Gallagher (AJG-NYSE)and AON PLC (PLC-NYSE) as they expect rising rates combined with economic growth driving faster revenue growth, margin expansion and improving cash flows.

Canadian insurers are also taking a lead in this technology revolution. Manulife’s (MFC-TSX) move in this direction has caught the attention of Meny Grauman, head of institutional equity research at Cormark Securities in Toronto. He’s impressed with their push toward a ‘vitality’-based business.

As well, both Manulife and Sun Life (SU-TSX) rely on their Asian units for a significant part of their growth. Mr. Grauman considers that region as being more advanced in its use of technology in the insurance industry. He notes that in China it is possible now to buy life insurance and process claims over the popular WeChat messaging app. “That kind of thing doesn’t exist yet in North America,” he says.

While he appreciates the technological edge of Manulife and Sun Life, Mr. Grauman’s top pick in the sector is Industrial Alliance (IAG-TSX). He likes the Quebec-based insurer’s strong track record of performance, and the development of its wealth advisor and distribution networks. He feels the company is set to rebound from concerns over a chief executive officer transition and a couple of “not so strong” quarters. “It’s underappreciated,” he says.

The tech revolution in insurance has also caught the eye of Gordon Reid, president and CEO of Goodreid Investment Counsel in Toronto. Here in Canada, he notes Manulife’s plan to spend $1.5-billion on technology, with 30 per cent directed toward “changing the client experience.” He is impressed as well with Sun Life’s use of “nudges’ – that is, the process of using technology to encourage plan members to enrol in money-saving options. He also notes Great-West Life’s (GWO-TSX) use of its MPower division to allow other operators to outsource record keeping and administration.

In the United States, Mr. Reid points to the innovative work in the Optum division of United Health (UNH-NYSE). Optum bills itself as a “health-care intelligence” firm, using data, analytics and expertise to deliver services in the most effective ways possible. His top pick in the sector is Indianapolis-based insurer Anthem Inc. (ANTM-NYSE). His firm initially recommended the company’s shares for its client portfolios on a valuation basis, due to its low stock-price-to earnings ratio. “Today the theme is scale, and the resulting action has been industry consolidation,” he says.

He notes Anthem’s purchase of the hospice operator Aspire, Cigna’s purchase of Express Scripts and drugstore chain CVS buying insurer Aetna. “All of this is intended to vertically integrate, allowing more touchpoints with the patient,” he says. And while that can come in many forms, including face-to-face contact, new technologies are increasingly playing a key role.

Majority of Canadians worry about drug-impaired driving

As Canada approaches marijuana legalization many stakeholders have been raising serious concerns with drug impaired driving. A new Desjardins survey supports these concerns as the majority of Canadians (86%) are worried about drug impaired driving. In fact, 75% are concerned with progress in crucial areas like legislation, testing and awareness.

Most respondents (71%) believe there will be an increase in impaired driving when marijuana becomes legal and more (77%) still worry that there has not been enough driver education on the topic. In a new report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), the percentage of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for marijuana rose to 20.9% in 2015 from 15.9% in 2000.

When it comes to which age group is most associated with marijuana-impaired driving, 90% of respondents stated 16-34-year-olds. According to TIRF, the two biggest age brackets for fatally injured drivers who tested positive for marijuana in 2015 were 16-19-year-old drivers (32.1%) and 20-34-year-old drivers (35.9%). Also, the percentage of 35 to 49-year-old drivers who tested positive is substantial at 16.9% and 14.9% among 50 to 64-year-old drivers.

According to Statistics Canada’s National Cannabis Survey, one out of every seven marijuana users with a valid driver’s licence is getting behind the wheel within two hours of consuming marijuana. This is especially alarming because Canadians are not confident that law enforcement has the means to deal with the challenge; 81% of respondents believe we lack the tools and resources necessary to identify marijuana-impaired drivers.

“As a leading insurer, committed to our communities, we have concerns regarding any form of impaired driving,” said Denis Dubois, President and Chief Operating Officer of Desjardins General Insurance Group. “Cannabis and drugs can impair your ability to stay focused and alert on the road. It endangers yourself and others and we firmly support laws against its consumption while behind the wheel.”

A collective effort
“Government, law enforcement and other stakeholders are all working hard to address this issue. This is a collective effort and Desjardins will continue to invest in awareness and education to mitigate injury and help save lives. We’ve always encouraged Canadians to drive responsibly and safely and we’ll continue to do so,” he added.

Marijuana isn’t the only drug-impaired driving Canadians are worried about. Three in four respondents are also concerned about those driving under the influence of prescription drugs:

  • One in six Canadians say they have driven under the influence of an over-the-counter drug (for example, medication that can cause drowsiness).
  • One Canadian driver out of five has driven at least once under the influence of a prescription drug.

Partners with a common goal
Desjardins works closely with national partners, like the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, to better inform Canadians about the risks of the road.

“Desjardins’ survey results are very much in line with other studies and illustrate the importance of education campaigns for the public and stakeholders alike,” says Dr. Ward Vanlaar, COO from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation. “That’s why we created the Drug-Impaired Driving Learning Centre, a web-based resource that summarizes the latest research about drug-impaired driving in several key areas.”

Desjardins is proud to share two additional resources that will help combat drug-impaired driving:

  • Drug-Impaired Driving Learning Centre is a web-based resource that was designed to share the latest research about the problem, increase awareness, and inform the development of effective strategies to tackle drug-impaired driving.
  • A new Traffic Injury Research Foundation report on Marijuana Use Among Drivers in Canada examines the role of marijuana in collisions involving fatally injured drivers between 2000 and 2015.

About the Survey
The online survey, conducted in March 2018, polled 3,020 respondents of driving age across Canada.

About Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and the fifth largest cooperative financial group in the world, with assets of $290.1 billion. It has been rated one of the Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt. To meet the diverse needs of its members and clients, Desjardins offers a full range of products and services to individuals and businesses through its extensive distribution network, online platforms and subsidiaries across Canada. Counted among the world’s strongest banks according to The Banker magazine, Desjardins has one of the highest capital ratios and credit ratings in the industry.

About the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF)
Established in 1964, TIRF’s mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit us online at www.tirf.ca.

SOURCE Desjardins Group

Before travelling abroad to participate in an event or race, check your insurance policy

Excerpted article by by  |

Ask Oli: Rider insurance

In May, I crashed during a race in North Carolina. It wasn’t terrible, but on account of my knee cap being exposed and me fainting, I was sent off in an ambulance and had some x-rays done.

Crashing is a reality of racing and since usually the rider assumes responsibility for any injury they receive while racing or training, it is expected that all riders will have travel insurance. Really you should also have travel insurance regardless of whether you are racing or not. Well, I certainly thought I had it, so despite asking people around me not to put me in an ambulance and not to take me to the hospital (just in case), I wasn’t actually that worried when I was tossed onto a stretcher.

Anyway, fast forward to the end of August. I return late one night from a five day hike and find a letter in the kitchen addressed to me, and it’s a collection notice from the ambulance and hospital back in North Carolina. The sudden jolt of reality and reminder of a sort of past life, after spending the better part of a week sleeping on beaches on a remote island and staring at campfires and the night sky instead of a screen; it was rude welcome home.

I was staring at a bill for several thousand dollars, and I had planned to register myself for some university courses the following morning.

After a few days my good friend, Jon Watkin, informed me that when purchasing a Cycling BC license, you’re also purchasing insurance. I had no idea and was definitely a bit skeptical. As it turns out, Jones Brown does in fact insure Cycling BC members for accidents that take place during sanctioned events if their existing medical plan won’t cover certain expenses.

This was amazing news. As of this morning, I no longer owe an American hospital thousands of dollars for some band-aids, a fancy ride, and some black and white photographs. In fact, I can go to school instead.

I’m not sure how I missed this and I don’t doubt that many of you already know about the insurance, but just in case, I suggest looking into your provincial cycling association to see what they have to offer. I now know that ManitobaSaskatchewan and Ontario are part of Cycling Canada’s National Insurance Program provided by Holman Insurance Brokers. I’m guessing that most provinces are. It appears to me that the insurance provided in this plan is more or less the same as what I received from Jones Brown.

Now that I’ve researched it a little bit, I realize that I was quite ignorant. I’m so happy to see this sort of support for cyclists. I was always under the impression that there wasn’t any support like this, and that’s my bad. I feel very fortunate to have received coverage and hope that everyone is aware of what we have access to.

Hub International Announces Findings Of First Benefits Barometer Canada Study

Hub International Limited (HUB), a leading global insurance brokerage, released the results of its first employee benefits Canada study, 2018 Benefits Barometer Canada, which highlights the top priorities and challenges facing today’s employee benefits decision-makers.

The study of nearly 200 benefits decision makers at Canadian companies with 20 to 999 employees, found that employers want to create and implement benefits programs that will attract, retain and compete for talent they need while managing costs. However, the lack of consensus from top management is holding back progress. Additionally, many HR professionals are moving toward a longer-term approach on strategic benefits planning to win senior management support for new benefits initiatives, including wellness and flexible benefits plans.

“Now with an increasingly young and diverse workforce, we are finding that most Canadian companies are looking at benefits as a strategic tool for attracting and retaining talent in a highly competitive market,” said Mike Barone, President of Employee Benefits at HUB International. “Benefits are becoming the most important differentiator for organizations. HR leaders need advisors to help tailor benefits to offer their employees choice and flexibility, and move their organizations toward greater success.”

Key insights from the study:

  • Survey respondents reported difficulty getting support from upper management to introduce flexible benefits (24 percent), wellness programs (21 percent), new cost management strategies (20 percent) and changes to retirement plans (20 percent).
  • Managing both sides of the benefits cost equation is worrisome to HR professionals, with 36 percent citing employee costs as a concern and 32 percent, employer costs. Still, 60 percent believe they have done all they reasonably can to control rising medical costs.
  • Health and wellness were cited by 38 percent of respondents as the top priority, implemented as a means to boost employee morale (29 percent) and productivity (23 percent) and reduce turnover (22 percent).
  • Flexible benefit plans are the most common strategy used to manage costs, with 19 percent of companies leveraging the tactic in 2017. However, only 12 percent who have implemented them have seen them measurably reduce benefits costs. This might be attributed to flawed design as some aspects of these plans can increase utilization, cost and administrative complexity if not designed optimally.
  • Nearly half (45 percent) of respondents are taking 18 months or more to plan their benefits, which suggests that many are taking a longer-term approach to their benefits planning.

Download HUB International’s 2018 Benefits Barometer Canada to learn more.

Earlier this year, HUB released the findings of its third annual U.S. Employee Benefits Barometer. The employee benefits Canada study is one of HUB’s tailored services as part of its recently announced Canadian employee benefits growth and services strategy.

About Hub International
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Hub International Limited (HUB) is a leading full-service global insurance broker providing property and casualty, life and health, employee benefits, investment and risk management products and services. From offices located throughout North America, HUB’s vast network of specialists provides peace of mind on what matters most by protecting clients through unrelenting advocacy and tailored insurance solutions. For more information, please visit hubinternational.com.

SOURCE Hub International Limited

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