Economical appoints Alice Keung as chief information officer

"Our new look is very distinct and will help to further differentiate our brand in the marketplace," said Economical's President and CEO Karen Gavan

WATERLOO, ON – Karen Gavan, president and chief executive officer of Economical Insurance, today announced the appointment of Alice Keung as senior vice-president and chief information officer (CIO). Ms. Keung joined Economical on November 17, 2015 as interim CIO and has been instrumental in leading the company’s IT organization since that time.

Twice named to the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, Ms. Keung has more than 25 years of experience directing large-scale project implementations and negotiating with external business partners.

“I am delighted to have Alice on our senior executive team,” said Gavan. “She is highly skilled at leading major business technology transformations and building high performance teams. I value her leadership as we implement our new policy administration system, leverage leading-edge technology and drive innovation in our business model.”

About Economical Insurance
Founded in 1871, Economical Insurance is one of Canada’s leading property and casualty insurers, with approximately $2.0 billion in annualized premium volume and $5.3 billion in assets as at September 30, 2015. Based in Waterloo, this Canadian-owned and operated company services the insurance needs of more than one million customers across the country. Economical Insurance conducts business under the following brands: Economical Insurance, Economical, Western General, Economical Select, Perth Insurance, Family Insurance Solutions, Federation Insurance and Economical Financial.

SOURCE Economical Insurance

For further information, contact:
Doug Maybee
Economical Insurance
(T)519.570.8249
(C)519.404.0989
doug.maybee@economical.com

Ottawa should take out economic insurance – by running a bigger deficit

One year ago, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz decided, as he put it, “to take out some insurance.” He surprised markets by cutting the bank’s benchmark interest rate. That move, followed by another quarter-point cut a few months later, turned out to be the right one: Lower rates, and the lower Canadian dollar they encouraged, helped to cushion the blow of falling oil prices.

But the Canadian economy remains fragile, with a further plunge in oil prices over the past few weeks raising new worries. It’s why the betting is that on Wednesday, Mr. Poloz will cut rates by another quarter point. It’s also why there are growing calls for the government to roll out some extra spending this year, and post a shortfall larger than the $10-billion deficit promised during the election campaign. The loudest appeals for deficit stimulus are coming from Bay Street economists, and Mr. Poloz has dropped his own supportive hints.

All things considered, it’s not a bad idea. It makes sense for the federal government to take out some insurance of its own, by running a bigger-than-expected deficit in 2016-17.

But before we start prescribing the medicine of deficit spending, we have to identify Canada’s economic illness. In its nature and severity, the current ailment is unlike what the country was suffering from the last time the feds opened the spending taps.

In 2009, the global economy was threatened with cardiac arrest. One of Ottawa’s responses was a multiyear stimulus plan, led by a 2009-2010 deficit weighing in at more than $55-billion. Faced with a worldwide financial crisis and recession, it was the right call.

So far, that is not what 2016 looks like. Our main trading partner, the United States, has recently been enjoying modest but real growth, and while there may be another big global downturn in our future, there isn’t one in the present.

But Canada is having a recession – or at least part of the country is. Because of the collapse in oil prices, and the impact on investment and jobs, the economy of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador has been contracting, even while the rest of the country’s economy has continued to grow, albeit slowly.

However, just as the global financial crisis proved to be more devastating than anticipated, Canada’s oil-price shock risks causing a lot more pain beyond the oil provinces. Unless prices bounce back, it’s difficult to tell a story that ends with anything other than less business investment and more layoffs, with knock-on effects beyond the oil patch.

Critics of the run-a-bigger-deficit school point out that Canada is experiencing a supply shock – there is too much oil in the world, which has driven prices down. The way to respond is through a floating currency, with a lower loonie stimulating other sectors, such as exporters in Quebec and Ontario. They’re largely right, and it’s largely what is happening.

But the transition to an economy with less petro-employment is painful, as a rapid downturn in the oil sector is not being perfectly matched by a pickup everywhere else. The Bank of Canada’s latest Business Outlook Survey showed business hiring and investment intentions at their lowest level since 2009, and that was before oil’s most recent plunge.

At the same time, interest rates have never been lower. The government of Canada can borrow for 10 years at less than 1.2 per cent. And Ottawa’s debt-to-GDP ratio, at 31 per cent, is also relatively low, and it would take a recession or a deficit topping $20-billion to nudge it higher. The cost of a fiscal stimulus insurance premium has never been lower, even as the need for it, though far less than in 2009, is higher than any time since.

In other words, Ottawa could easily rerun 2009’s giant deficit if it had to, many times over. Luckily, there is currently no need for that. These are not desperate times and desperate measures are not called for. But they aren’t exactly sunny economic days, either. Ottawa should make some prudent, targeted moves, delivering real benefits to those hurt by a painful economic transition. For example, the feds could front-load more of the decade-long, $125-billion infrastructure program into 2016, or temporarily offer greater unemployment and retraining benefits to jobless Canadians, as was done in 2009.

So long as the new, stimulative spending is time-limited, and doesn’t involve permanent program expansions, it’s difficult to see the downside of a spring budget with a deficit well above the Liberal platform’s $10-billion target. Economic insurance isn’t free, but it has never come cheaper.

Economical appoints Elaine Lajeunesse as chief risk officer

Karen Gavan, president and chief executive officer of Economical Insurance, is pleased to announce the appointment of Elaine Lajeunesse as senior vice-president and chief risk officer (CRO) effective January 25, 2016. Ms. Lajeunesse has more than 25 years of experience as a risk management professional and actuary in the Canadian insurance industry.

As CRO, Ms. Lajeunesse will report directly to Economical’s president and chief executive officer and serve on the executive committee. She will chair the management risk committee and provide day-to-day leadership to the enterprise risk management function, assuming accountability for developing and directing comprehensive processes for identifying, monitoring, and reducing risks that could impede the achievement of Economical’s objectives and goals.

Ms. Lajeunesse brings to her new role a deep understanding of insurance operations. Prior to joining Economical, Elaine was vice-president and chief risk officer, insurance, at BMO Financial Group. She also held executive leadership roles in actuarial services at Markel Insurance Company of Canada and at XL Reinsurance.

She earned a bachelor of actuarial science from Laval University, and holds a Certified Financial Analyst designation. She is also a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society.

About Economical Insurance

Founded in 1871, Economical Insurance is one of Canada’s leading property and casualty insurers, with approximately $2.0 billion in annualized premium volume and $5.3 billion in assets as at September 30, 2015. Based in Waterloo, this Canadian-owned and operated company services the insurance needs of more than one million customers across the country. Economical Insurance conducts business under the following brands: Economical Insurance, Economical, Western General, Economical Select, Perth Insurance, Family Insurance Solutions, Federation Insurance and Economical Financial.

SOURCE Economical Insurance

On Jan.1 the province introduced a snow tire insurance discount. Some insurers are playing by the letter of law, not the spirit.

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Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario Elects New President

The Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) is proud to announce that Mr. Michael Brattman has been elected as IBAO’s 72nd President. Michael was officially inducted at the recent IBAO Convention held at the Ottawa Convention Centre in Ottawa, ON, and formally assumed his role as President on January 1, 2015.

Michael is a partner and Vice President of Personal Insurance at Erb and Erb Insurance Brokers Ltd. in Kitchener-Waterloo and has over 25 years of experience in the insurance industry on both the company and brokerage side.

In addition to IBAO, Michael is also involved with a number of other industry associations and committees including the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC) and the Facility Association. He has both his RIBO and life licences as well as a Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designation – obtaining the second highest marks in Canada when he completed this designation. He holds his Honours BA from Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario.

“It is a privilege to serve as President of this Provincial association,” says Michael Brattman. “IBAO is working hard to address important issues like insurance fraud, auto benefits, telematics and severe weather. More than ever, clients should work with a professional broker who will help them understand how these issues impact them. I am proud to represent our 12,000+ members and their clients, when collaborating with the Provincial and Federal Government as well as insurance companies, in finding solutions to industry issues.”

As President of IBAO, Michael’s duties will include implementing strategies for the national insurance broker brand and working with politicians, particularly on the subjects of insurance fraud and how to meet the future challenges of the insurance industry.

“It is an honour to welcome Michael as our new President,” said IBAO Chairman Chris Floyd. “His wealth of knowledge of the industry is remarkable and his thoughtful insight has brought immeasurable value and perspective to the Board of Directors. Michael is focused, dedicated and inquisitive. We look forward to the exciting year ahead with Michael at the helm of our association.”

Tips/advice for homeowners and families as Winter Storm heads to Atlantic Canada

Tips/advice for homeowners and families as Winter Storm heads to Atlantic Canada

The incoming storm is expected to bring strong winds, heavy snowfalls and possibly freezing rain toAtlantic Canada. Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is providing tips and advice to those who will be digging out and cleaning up in the aftermath of the incoming storm.

“Atlantic Canadians continue to show their resilience to stormy weather, year after year,” said Amanda Dean, Vice-President, Atlantic, IBC. “We know the toll that these storms can have on families. Dealing with the damages, closures and delays that a storm can cause can be a daunting process.

“We want to make the recovery process as straightforward as possible,” continues Dean. “If you have a question about your insurance policy, contact your insurance representative or IBC’s Consumer Information Centre. We are here to help.”

IBC offers the following advice to those who will be digging out and cleaning up in the aftermath of the storm.

Tips for outside your home

  • Keep the sidewalk and front stairs of your house clear of snow and ice to prevent falls and injuries.
  • Clear the snow and ice from gas or propane meters, exhaust vents and basement windows.
  • To prevent exposed pipes from freezing, fit them with insulation sleeves or wrapping. Frozen pipes can break at their weakest point.
  • If safe to do so, clear snow from your roof and deck to avoid a potential collapse. In the case of heavy snow/ice build-up hire professionals.
  • If you need to drive, clear all the snow and ice from your vehicle before you start out, and make sure to watch for downed power lines.

How to start a claim

  • Call your insurance representative. Be as detailed as possible when providing information.
  • List all damaged or destroyed items. If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. Take photos of the damage, and keep damaged items unless they pose a health hazard.
  • Keep all receipts related to the cleanup and additional living expenses if you’ve been displaced. Ask your insurance representative what expenses you may be entitled to and for what period of time.
  • Review your policy to ensure you are familiar with specified deductibles, coverage limits and exclusions. Speak with your insurance representative if anything is unclear.

What insurance may cover?

  • Damage to homes caused by snow, hail or wind is typically covered by home insurance. This includes damage caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees, or damage to your home and its contents when water or snow enters through openings suddenly caused by high winds or flying debris.
  • Damage to mobile homes from wind may be covered. Policy wordings vary, so it’s best to check with your insurance representative.
  • Damage to vehicles from ice, wind or water is usually covered if you have comprehensive or all perils auto insurance. This coverage is not mandatory. Check your policy.
  • Coverage for overland flooding is not widely offered in Canada. Water damage caused by sewer backup may be covered if you purchased add-on coverage.
  • Water damage caused by an accumulation of ice or snow on a roof is covered only if specific coverage has been purchased.
  • Sudden and accidental bursting of plumbing pipes is covered by most residential policies. However, damage may not be covered when the escape of water is caused by freezing. Check with your insurance representative for the requirements and conditions in your policy.
  • Food spoilage resulting from power interruptions may be covered. Check your policy to see if you’re covered and whether a deductible applies.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 118,000 Canadians, pays $6.7 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $48 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca.

If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

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