The Ups and Downs of Backyard Trampolines

By Cynthia P. Carels, K. Hollick Chipman

Every year when our family’s perennial garden starts blooming with the colours of spring, the perennial crop of backyard trampolines predictably pops up in our local big box and hardware stores. After long Canadian winters, parents are understandably anxious to get their kids outside again, and what better lure than a new piece of recreational equipment that is sure to attract all the neighbourhood friends?

Unfortunately, the attractiveness of recreational equipment such as trampolines and swimming pools can create insurance coverage problems for homeowners who choose to bring them onto their property. Homeowners’ “How can homeowners with trampolines try to protect themselves?” for this sort of equipment because of the liability hazards they present.

Despite the known health benefits of trampolining (in particular, cardiovascular fitness), The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Canadian Pediatric Society, the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine, and Alberta Health Services have all gone so far as to recommend that trampolines NOT be available for use at homes, schools or playgrounds. Regardless of these position statements, however, the sales of backyard trampolines have continued to soar, as has the popularity of indoor trampoline parks.

How can homeowners with trampolines try to protect themselves? First, make absolutely sure to advise your insurance company of the trampoline, and ensure your policy includes coverage for this particular risk.Secondly, the Canada Safety Council has provided a safety-tip sheet for backyard trampolines that is worth reviewing, and making a household commitment of strict adherence.

This may not be enough however, because of the incredibly strong lure this kind of equipment poses to young children. Even if a child does not have permission to use a homeowner’s trampoline (or has been expressly told they are NOT allowed to use it), the simple fact that one is accessible on a property can expose an owner to liability. Section 13 of Alberta’s Occupiers’ Liability Act, RSA 2000, c. O-4, for example, has a special provision that prescribes a high duty of care owed to child trespassers.

READ MORE HERE: Backyard Trampolines

Economical commits $109,500 to the fight against cancer

WATERLOO, ON, June 2, 2015 /CNW/ – Today, more than 60 per cent of Canadians diagnosed with cancer will survive compared with only 25 per cent in the 1940s when the Canadian Cancer Society first began funding research. Tremendous progress has been made against the disease but overall cancer cases are increasing because ofCanada’s growing and aging population. Much more work needs to be done.

To fund this work, the Canadian Cancer Society hosts Relay For Life events across the country. People can participate in these events at any age or fitness level. Every step taken at Relay For Life helps fund promising cancer research, community support services and other important work so that fewer Canadians are touched by the disease.

Economical Insurance is proud to once again support the Canadian Cancer Society in 2015 with of $109,500 in title sponsorship of 10 Relay For Life events in Ontario — three in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, three in Ottawa, and two in Toronto — in addition to an event at Quartier DIX30 in Brossard, Quebec.

“Corporate sponsorships are essential to the success of our Relay For Life events,” says Lesley Ring, vice-president, development and marketing for the Canadian Cancer Society in Ontario. “We deeply thank Economical Insurance and its employees for generously supporting us for the past 10 years.”

“Relay For Life is our largest fundraising initiative of the year,” says Suzanne Dubois, executive director of the Canadian Cancer Society in Quebec. “Every dollar raised from these events helps the Canadian Cancer Society have more impact against more cancers in more communities across Canada. Our donors are helping researchers discover life-saving treatments and providing support programs to those living with cancer.”

Relay For Life is the Canadian Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser. These events are six- or 12-hours long and challenge teams to fundraise and take turns walking or running around a track for 5 km, 10 km or more. Teams go the distance to show support for people who have experienced cancer. Since 1999, Relay For Life has raised more than$496.5 million in Canada for cancer research and support programs.

“At Economical, we have proudly sponsored Relay For Life events since 2006,” said Karen Gavan, Economical’s president and chief executive officer. “This year, we have raised our sponsorship commitment toward the fight for life and against cancer. Relay For Life helps to fund life-saving cancer research and promote healthy lifestyles which can help stop cancer before it starts. It’s also good to know that the Canadian Cancer Society offers compassionate services and support to those living with cancer and their families and friends.”

Join Economical Insurance and its employees by registering for a Relay For Life event. Learn more at relayforlife.ca

About Economical Insurance
Founded in 1871, Economical Insurance is one of Canada’s leading property and casualty insurers, with $2.0 billion in annual premium volume and $5.2 billion in assets as at March 31, 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: Doug Maybee, Economical Insurance, (T) 519.570.8249, (C) 519.404.0989,doug.maybee@economical.com

Sharp Mobile eases insurance brokers’ daily demands

Sharp Mobile eases insurance brokers’ daily demands

Small insurance brokerages can struggle to keep up with day-to-day business processes such as sending confirmation of coverage, policy details and pink cards and reviewing payments. When a broker’s day is made up of these transactional calls, it leaves little room for acquiring new business. On the other hand, consumers want immediate service. They no longer have the time to go in and talk to their broker or wait on the phone.

Sharp Mobile provides small brokerages with a web portal and mobile app that enables their customers to do everything online and on their smartphones — from accessing digital pink cards to making payments, viewing policy details, understanding coverage details, submitting claims and requesting changes.

Here’s more from our conversation with Sharp Mobile founder and president Sherif Gemayel:

How did you come up with the idea for your startup? Was there an “ah ha” moment?

The inception of Sharp Mobile was due to my insurance company’s rapid growth and need for tools to help alleviate the stress placed on brokers. After one year of testing, we witnessed a significant decrease in calls and were able to focus on qualitative service all while continuing to grow the business. We realized that this would be an effective tool to help other small brokerages compete with multi-million dollar direct insurance writers.

What has been the biggest challenge so far? What have you done to solve it?

Our biggest ongoing challenge that we have yet to overcome is the government’s acceptance of digital pink cards. Even with the growing demand for more online resources, the insurance industry remains behind the times by still using outdated paper methods for insurance proof. Paper insurance cards are easier to forge and open doors for insurance fraud, which will ultimately result in higher insurance premiums for everyone. Trying to convince the government to accept digital pink cards is our major focus right now.

What would like to share with others just starting out?

Our success has been our innovation. We observed a need in the market and developed the technology for it. The best advice we can give to new entrepreneurs is to continually evolve. Whatever your ideas are and whatever you want to do, keep developing it and evolving it. Most importantly just start. Take that first step and the momentum will carry you the rest of the way.

The most valuable resource for any startup is people. Whether it’s your best friend who is a successful entrepreneur, or an associate who has achieved the level of success you wish to emulate, ask questions, pick their brains, and let them mentor you and your startup.

Research is another key aspect. Know your market and know your competitors. What can you offer that others are not?

What made you choose to go down the path of entrepreneurship?

I have gone into business for myself once before. It was risky and it unfortunately failed. I went back to working in oil and gas making a fairly good wage until one day I saw a problem that I wanted to solve. My best friend at the time was working in sales for an insurance broker, making connections and acquiring new business from networking and word of mouth. I couldn’t believe how antiquated the insurance brokerage industry was at the time, and in many ways, continues to be that way. I saw that as a great opportunity to get back into the game.

What are your thoughts on our startup ecosystem?

Our province is very entrepreneurial and has many resources you can go to when starting up your own business. However, we need to diversify away from oil and gas and look at putting resources into the technology sector that has the potential of bringing in a lot of capital to our economy.

What do you and your startup need help with?

The most important breakthrough we want to accomplish is to finally have digital pink cards accepted officially by the Alberta government. This alone will save so many people so much time and money. It just makes natural sense to head in this direction. For more information, visit sharpmobile.ca.

Minding The Gap: A Cautionary Tale For Insurance Brokers

By Barry S. Stork | gowlings.com

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently allowed a motion for summary judgment against an insurance brokerage and the individual broker for failing to meet their duty of care to arrange adequate insurance coverage.1

The insured was involved in a motor vehicle accident while operating his leased vehicle. The vehicle carried $1 million in primary limits under a policy issued to the lessor. The insured alleged that he had also provided a clear mandate to his broker to ensure that there was umbrella coverage on the vehicle. Although the broker had arranged umbrella coverage with limits of $15 million, the policy language contained an exclusion for long-term leased vehicles. The umbrella insurer had advised the broker about this exclusion but the broker had failed to advise the insured. After the motor vehicle accident, the umbrella insurer relied on this exclusion to deny coverage.

As a matter of contractual interpretation, the court held that the exclusion applied and that coverage was not available. The court then turned to a broker’s duty of care and confirmed that they are obligated to advise an insured as to any gaps in coverage and to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that the insured was properly protected. The court rejected the assertion that the breach of duty had not caused the insured any damage, finding it inconceivable that the insured would not have taken alternative steps to ensure the vehicle was properly protected had it known of the gap in coverage.

Critical to the court’s analysis was an admission in the statement of defence, which indicated that the brokerage had always intended that there would be umbrella coverage. The court found that this admission was inconsistent with the position taken regarding the duty of care issue.

Insurance brokers who take an active approach in discussing any known or potential insurance gaps with their insured will minimize the likelihood of liability should their insured suffer any uninsured loss. In addition, this decision illustrates the importance of having a cohesive plan in defending insurance coverage claims. Insurance brokers (and their lawyers) should develop a cohesive and consistent defence at an early stage in an action.


1 Dustbane Products Ltd. v. Gifford Associates Insurance Brokers Inc., 2015 ONSC 1036, [2015] O.J. No. 854 (S.C.J.).

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. Gowlings professionals will be pleased to discuss resolutions to specific legal concerns you may have.

SGI and police focusing on new drivers in June

 

SGI_logo_colour-header

Police will be watching for new drivers not following restrictions outlined in the Graduated Driver’s Licensing (GDL) and Motorcycle Graduated Driver’s Licensing (MGDL) programs throughout the month of June.

New and supervising drivers should know and follow the restrictions to stay safe. All new drivers, regardless of age, must successfully complete the applicable GDL program, before they graduate to an experienced licence.

The GDL programs help gradually move new drivers into higher risk driving situations with certain driving restrictions. Each program has three stages: Learner, Novice 1 and Novice 2.

New drivers must comply with the following restrictions in each stage of the GDL program:

  • no cellphone use while driving, not even hands-free;
  • the number of passengers is limited to the number of seatbelts;
  • cannot be a supervising driver for another driver in the GDL program; and
  • unable to obtain a commercial driver’s licence.

GDL drivers also have different passenger restrictions in each stage since distractions increase as the number of passengers increase. The GDL programs don’t focus on age, they focus on experience.

“Practice is essential,” says Ken Claffey, Driver Education Manager, Saskatoon Public Schools. “The nine-month learner stage is not just to prepare the new driver to pass a road test – it’s to prepare them to be a safe driver and stay alive on the road.”

New last summer, the following restrictions were added to the MGDL program. All new motorcycle riders:

  • must wear protective gear;
  • must display a red learner ‘L’ or green novice ‘N’ placard; and
  • may be restricted to engine size.

There is zero drug and alcohol tolerance for new drivers, regardless of their age, in both the GDL and MGDL programs. Additional restrictions specific to each stage of the GDL and MGDLprograms are outlined as well.

Claffey recommends parents start instilling road safety habits at a very early age. “If they’re taught the rules of the road as young pedestrians and cyclists, those road safety habits can help them become a safer and more aware driver when they’re older.”

Do you have a new driver in the family? A lot has changed!

If you received your licence before 2005, you wouldn’t have gone through the GDL program. If you have a new driver in the family, you can help them move through the stages safely by putting them in the driver’s seat as much as possible.

“As a supervising driver, your number one job is to pay attention to what’s happening and to coach and correct the new driver,” said Claffey. “They need to be prepared to handle any situation for when they no longer have you by their side. Are they ready to drive without you? Are you ready for that?

“Give your new driver as much seat time as possible when you are with them. The more they drive, the better they get. And remember, new drivers are impressionable and will pick up the supervising driver’s habits – whether they’re good or bad. So hang up, buckle up and follow the rules of the road.”

View more information about the GDL program, MGDL program or the Road Safety Challengeand how #wecandrivebetter.

About SGI

Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is the province’s self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan with a head office in Regina. SGI also works with a network of over 400 motor licence issuers across the province. Customers can now do some transactions online. Look for the MySGI link under Online Services on your motor licence issuer’s website or SGI’s website.

• • •

Albertans who live in floodplains can now get overland flood insurance

By Matt McClure, Calgary Herald

Homeowners in Alberta who live in floodplains can now insure their losses from overland waters with one of the province’s largest property insurers.

Using new software that maps the risk of inundation down to the individual property level, the Co-operators said this week it is now able to price a comprehensive water damage product for those who live near a river as well as homeowners on a hill.

The additional coverage will add about another $100 a year to the annual premium for a policy that covers a two-storey structure with a finished basement and a replacement cost of about $400,000 and contents in the lowest risk areas.

For clients at extreme risk in a floodplain where the probability of flooding is greater than 5 per cent in any given year, an additional annual premium of $5,000 will buy them combined contents and building coverage of up to $150,000 in the event of high waters.

“This is about providing a product to people who need and want to buy protection, but it’s also about pricing the risk of living next to a river,” said Rob Wessling, company vice-president for product development.

“About 99 per cent of homeowners will be eligible to purchase this coverage.”

In the wake of the 2013 floods in southern Alberta, there was widespread confusion and anger amongst many homeowners when they realized the water endorsements on their policies covered them for damage from sewer backup but not overland flooding.

In the four days since the product has become available, Wessling said about 80 existing or new clients have purchased coverage.

Co-operators is not the first, nor it is likely to be the last insurer to begin offering protection from flooding to residential policyholders.

Aviva Canada also began offering an overland water endorsement this month that covers losses from the accumulation or runoff of surface waters to customers in Alberta and Ontario who already have sewer backup coverage.

Company spokeswoman Alison Steele said in a statement that flood mapping technology allows brokers to place homeowners in one of 15 zones and price their coverage based on how likely they are to be inundated.

“We do not offer coverage to customers in the very high risk zones between 13 and 15, which generally means they live in an area that is highly prone to flooding,” Steele said.

RSA Canada said in a statement Friday that it will also launch a similar product soon.

“We are developing a more comprehensive water damage solution for home insurance customers than the current market offerings,” said Kellee Irwin, the company’s western regional vice president.

“We have been closely analyzing the costs, exposures of such an offering and the related customer need for an affordable, more easily understood product.”

Canada is the only G8 nation where flood insurance is not available to homeowners. Instead, federal and provincial taxpayers have covered much of the mounting bill from weather events in recent decades through disaster assistance payments.

“There are limitations because it’s not a replacement cost program,” said Chris Ross, Alberta region vice-president with Co-operators.

“It’s meant to put you back on your feet, not make you whole.”

A 2010 study by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction identified the need for flood insurance in Canada, but said inadequate and outdated mapping plus inconsistent rules on development in vulnerable areas of some provinces were an obstacle.

“Flood insurance has many advantages over government relief programs,” the study said.

“Risk-based premiums and deductibles can provide incentives to encourage actions to reduce flood risk.”

While Alberta has passed new legislation to restrict development in flood-prone areas, the government has yet to finalize regulations.

The law also exempts communities like Drumheller and Fort McMurray where maps show much of the downtown would become part of a flowing river in a flood with a one per cent probability.

In the wake of the 2013 floods, Alberta restricted affected homeowners in floodplains from making disaster assistance claims in future disasters.

But the province balked at putting that information on land titles so purchasers of properties would be aware they would not be eligible for another government bailout if they were inundated again.

 

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