POLL: Calls to fight insurance fraud grow louder among Canadians

A recent survey commissioned by Aviva Canada and conducted by Pollara Strategic Insight finds that Canadians overwhelmingly support strong action to fight insurance fraud and clearly correlate fraud with increased premiums.  The survey showed that combating fraud is becoming more of a priority for Canadians, growing from 77% in 2017 to 87% in 2019, with overwhelming support in all regions of the country.

“With March being Fraud Prevention Month, we wanted to release this survey data, highlighting Canadian’s attitude towards fraud,” said Ashish Bhargava, Vice President, Aviva VerifyAviva Canada. “At Aviva, we are committed to raising awareness and educating our consumers, many of whom are unknowingly victims of fraud. We’ve long been a leader in the Canadian insurance industry and continue to advocate and fight for reform to reduce the levels of fraud, and to establish stricter consequences for those found guilty of committing it.”

The survey revealed that:

  • 90% of Canadians are aware there is a direct relationship between what an insurance company pays in claims and their annual premiums – an 18% increase in awareness compared to the results from a similar survey from 2017, which was also conducted by Pollara using the same methodology.
  • 87% of Canadians want more time and money spent on policing and prosecuting fraudulent insurance claims.
  • In fact, 72% of Canadians agree that increased prosecution of fraud could result in lower auto insurance premiums.
  • Half of Canadians feel one in four claims involve some element of fraud; a further 20% feel it may be closer to half of all claims.
  • 15% of Canadians report knowing of someone that has inflated the value of their personal belongings stolen from a vehicle.

The survey also pointed to the need for more consumer education, including:

  • Insurance companies can do a better job of helping consumers understand their rights at the accident scene; including that tow truck drivers are required to supply them with a detailed cost list, written notice of where they will be towing a vehicle and whether or not there are costs associated with the repair shop being recommended.
  • A little under half of Canadians indicated they are knowledgeable when it comes to their rental coverage, meaning some may overpay as a result.
  • Very few Canadians feel they are very prepared to navigate the claims process, with half of all Canadians admitting they aren’t prepared at all.
  • Almost 60% of Canadians believe they are not required to record police information or remove their personal items from their vehicle at the accident scene.
  • Two thirds of Canadians are unlikely to use a repair facility recommended to them by their insurer. Data from Aviva Canada shows that claims are resolved, on average, 30 days faster when using a recommended repair shop.

We urge consumers to be alert of any suspicious activity that may lead them to become a victim of fraud. Aviva Canada customers who suspect they may be a victim of fraud can contact our 24/7 fraud hotline 1-855-332-5255 or email us at fraud.canada@aviva.com.

Notes to editors

  • The survey was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insight through online interviews with 1,500 Canadians, 18 years of age and older, with a current auto insurance policy. The interviews were carried out from between October 14 to 21, 2019.  The results are considered accurate within plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.  For a full copy of the survey results contact Aviva.

About Aviva Canada
Aviva Canada is one of the leading property and casualty insurance groups in the country, providing home, automobile, 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 their customers and our communities. Aviva Canada invests in safer Canadian communities through Aviva Take Back Our Roads. Launched in 2019, Aviva Canada is investing in data driven solutions and strategic collaborations to make safer roads a reality for all.

For more information, visit aviva.ca

SOURCE Aviva Canada Inc.

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Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

By Camille Bains

THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER _ A legal challenge by the owner of a private clinic providing scheduled surgery for  “affluent” patients should be denied because it is based on a flawed constitutional argument, a lawyer for the B.C. government says.

Jonathan Penner said Tuesday that Dr. Brian Day’s bid to have the province strike down provisions of the Medicare Protection Act prohibiting double-billing amounts to an  “unlawful business model.”

Penner told B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Steeves that Day’s legal team has called the province’s position shocking, adding that’s based on a disregard for patients who can’t afford private care at clinics, such as the Cambie Surgery Centre, opened by Day in 1996.

“In my submission what truly is shocking is this complete and utter disregard for the situation of anyone who is not in a position to come up with the funds to pay them to provide rapid surgical services,” he said.

“They seek the privileged, those few privileged British Columbians who require scheduled surgery and have the resources to pay for private care,” Penner said, adding  “ordinary” people would have less access to care under a two-tier system Day has proposed.

The frail and elderly, patients with complex conditions, and those with severe mental illness and/or substance-use issues would be particularly disadvantaged because regulating a public-private system that could invite American-style insurers would come at a high cost and take money away from public health care, he said.

Waitlists for patients requiring palliative care as well as emergency and urgent services would also increase under such a system because doctors, anesthesiologists and nurses would be lured to clinics allowing them to earn money in both the public and private systems, he said.

Penner suggested physicians should no longer be enrolled in the Medical Services Plan if they choose to work in for-profit clinics.

Day, an orthopedic surgeon, has hinged his decade-long legal battle on arguments around patients having a right to pay for services if wait times in the public system are too long.

He has maintained that four plaintiff patients have been deprived of life, liberty and security under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms after suffering harms from waiting for surgery in the public system before they sought care at his clinic.

Penner called that argument “political theatre” and said Day’s legal team has failed to identify whether any harms the patients may have endured were related to wait times in the public system.

Hanna Davis, a lawyer for the federal government, said Day’s assertion that private health insurance could enable patients to access care at clinics like his would not apply to people who can’t afford premiums, especially if they have pre-existing conditions.

The same applies for employer-based insurance, which also would not be available to those who are retired, unemployed or not provided with such options at their workplace, she said.

Regardless, the underlying principle of the Canada Health Act is based on access to care based on need, not ability to pay, Davis said.

A two-tier scheme would weaken the public system, which would be left to deal with more complicated health-care cases while private clinics would take on easier surgeries as part of what is referred to as  “cream skimming,” she said.

The Canada Health Act does not explicitly require provinces to prohibit duplicative private insurance as a condition of federal health funding, she said.

“However, all Canadian provinces have either voluntarily prohibited or effectively restricted private health duplicative insurance as one of the main safeguards to protect the integrity of the public health-care system.”

Requiring people to have their own insurance would amount to discrimination against those who wouldn’t be eligible for it, Davis said.

When Day opened his clinic, he said surgeons who worked in hospitals were not getting enough operating-room time and profit was not his motive.

However, the facility has been operating since 2003 in violation of unproclaimed provisions of the provincial Medicare Protection Act.

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000 for a first offence if they charged patients for publicly available services and that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach that allowed private-clinic surgeries and diagnostic tests to continue would no longer be permitted.

Day won an injunction at the B.C. Supreme Court that ordered the government not to enforce that section of the act until his constitutional challenge is dealt with.

Foxquilt, Canadian Insurtech Company, Launches Service in Alberta & B.C. in 2020

Foxquilt, a leading insurance technology company that empowers groups, businesses and B2B networks to band together and save on business and home insurance, announced today it is launching its services in Alberta and B.C. this month. The company’s insurance platform is also complemented by a unique data and machine learning underwriting infrastructure. After establishing a robust client base in Ontario, Foxquilt will expand into these western provinces, allowing more Canadians to access Foxquilt’s group savings and better buying power on Business and Home Insurance.

“After a strong start in Ontario this past year, our team is looking to bring Foxquilt’s simple and tailored insurance solutions to Western Canada, beginning in Alberta and B.C.” says Mark Morissette, co-founder of Foxquilt. “Our goal is to offer our innovative insurance products to more Canadian small business owners and consumers – all while bringing value through our group sharing model and our customized solutions.”

Foxquilt brings a unique and modern twist to insurance. When a client signs up for Foxquilt, they band together with others in a group, based on their profession, hobby or lifestyle passion. For example, if the client has a side-business, they can join Foxquilt’s “Side Hustlers” community and immediately access group savings on their insurance with other side-business owners. The insurance technology company uses its own AI and behavioral science platform to help customers find the best coverage at the lowest price.

This expansion into Western Canada is a strategic next step in Foxquilt’s overall growth after planting initial roots in Ontario. In late 2018, the company raised $1.2M Canadian in a seed round of investment and from this success, have built up their team, platform and products.

For more information on Foxquilt, please visit www.foxquilt.com

About Foxquilt: Foxquilt is a Canadian financial technology company that creates new value opportunities for customers by bringing people and communities together online with a smart and modern approach to insurance. Leveraging innovative technology and creating unique products, Foxquilt makes it easy for customers to buy insurance online from leading carriers and access group purchasing power. Foxquilt customers achieve savings upfront on premiums, reduced deductibles and are rewarded with further savings at renewal. For more information, please visit www.foxquilt.com

SOURCE Foxquilt

Briza, an insurance-as-a-service startup based in Toronto, has raised $3 million CAD

By BetaKit

The round was led by a group of angel investors including board chair Mike McDerment, CEO and co-founder of Freshbooks, and Briza CEO Ben Munro. Angel investors included Sid Sankaran, CFO of Oscar Health, Alon Neches, former treasurer of AIG, Sharon Ludlow, former CEO of Swiss Re Canada, and Louis Beryl, founder and former CEO of Earnest. The round also saw participation from Leaders Fund.

“They say the commercial insurance industry walks slowly, but this can’t continue in the era of APIs.”

Briza, which is currently participating in Batch 26 of 500 Startups’ seed accelerator, also received capital from 500 Startups for the seed round. The accelerator typically provides $150,000 USD to startups accepted to its program in exchange for six percent equity.
Briza was founded in 2016 by Munro, who has 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, including at global insurance company AIG. The team is also led by Rishi Sharma (CTO) the former director of engineering at Freshbooks and Dom Bortolussi (COO), the founder of Toronto-based development agency TWG.

The startup has developed what it calls an insurance-as-a-service API that enables instant quoting, binding, and issuance of commercial insurance policies for businesses. Briza’s platform connects insurance underwriter systems to insurance companies allowing consumers to get quotes, pay online, and receive those insurance policies instantly.

“They say the commercial insurance industry walks slowly, but this can’t continue in the era of APIs,” said Munro. “Briza is creating the infrastructure that underwriting systems will use to talk to insurance agencies, consumer apps, and anybody who wants to instantly sell insurance with just a few lines of code.”

Briza claims its is revolutionizing commercial insurance by offering a solution to the process for writing insurance policies that the startup says can normally take up to five hours for a small business. The company noted that it currently has partnerships with four insurance carriers, Fairfax company Crum & Forster, Hiscox, Markel, and Coalition. It also claims to have more than 100 insurance companies in the United States signed up for a closed beta version of its product.

According to Briza, this seed funding round brings its total funding to date to $3.9 million CAD ($3 million USD).

Briza is one of five Canadian companies participating in 500 Startups’ latest seed accelerator cohort. An overall 29 companies are currently going through the program, which is slated to have its demo day on March 19.

PolicyAdvisor wants to help bring life insurance into the digital age

The excerpted article was written by Isabella Kirkwood

In its 2019 Insurance Industry Outlook, Deloitte claimed Insurtech is fundamentally changing the rules of the game, driving a new innovation ecosystem with both threats and opportunities for industry leaders.

Despite the exponential surge of connectivity and digitization, some insurance providers still hold on to outdated notions about the industry’s ability to ward off disruption.

“We are using the best of technology tools to significantly complement human expertise.”

“We are living in an age of disruption. How we engage with our customers is evolving and consumer expectations are changing,” said Don Forgeron, president and CEO of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, for a survey the group released last year. “As insurers, we need to have the ability to adapt to the rapid changes that are impacting our business.”

While these circumstances have left the industry more archaic and less agile in comparison to other financial services sectors, it has made room for Insurtech startups to target the around 30 percent of Canadians currently lacking any life insurance coverage. Enter: PolicyAdvisor, an Insurtech startup based in Toronto, which is looking to build a new kind of insurance experience. The company combines modern technology and human expertise in an effort to simplify the insurance-buying process for consumers. Most notably, the company claims it’s outperforming the traditional insurance broker.

Jiten_2

Jiten Puri, CEO of PolicyAdvisor

PolicyAdvisor harnesses data from multiple sources, using algorithms that scan hundreds of complex insurance documents to identify the right policy match for a customer. PolicyAdvisors’ approach is markedly different from other movers and shakers in Canadian Insurtech, which generally target the business and enterprise segment.

ProNavigator, is an example, having built a natural language processing AI platform that provids insurance companies with 24/7 virtual assistants. Montreal-based Breathe Life provides life and health insurers, distribution organizations, and advisors with white-label solutions to quickly and cost-effectively onboard new clients. Finaeo, another notable Canadian Insurtech company, has created workflow platforms for insurance advisors that help with repetitive tasks.

PolicyAdvisor not only works with consumers but is also an independent insurance advisor that directly provides policies to those consumers. BetaKit spoke with PolicyAdvisor founder and CEO Jiten Puri about how he’s looking to address gaps in life insurance, and what’s on the horizon for the company.

Puri, previously worked as a banker with Morgan Stanley out of New York, looking after mergers and acquisitions in the FinTech space. He called life insurance the last vestige of financial services that has yet to see the evolution other segments have embarked on. Canadian companies like Wealthsimple, Koho, Borrowell, and formerly Planswell, have all gone after a particular consumer segment with their own technology offerings. Borrowell, for example, deals with lending, while Wealthsimple takes on investing, and Koho deals with saving and spending. Puri saw an opportunity to bring together his understanding of, and connectivity in, the financial space to innovate insurance in Canada.

READ MORE HERE: 

Students, newcomers advised to think safety when entering the workforce

By David Paddon

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Canada may still be in the depths of winter, but for high school, college and university students across the country, now is the time to prepare for summer jobs and post-graduation employment.

Amid the typical criteria of job seekers such as location, compensation and opportunity, an often overlooked aspect of the job search is workplace safety, as the injury rate for new workers _ regardless of age _ is three to four times higher in the first month on a job than the normal rate.

Enzo Garritano, who heads one of several Ontario health and safety associations designated under provincial law, says  “one of the main things is for workers to understand their rights”  including the right to refuse unsafe work.

Garritano, who is president and chief executive of the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, says job hunters should also research prospective employers before applying.

“There are a lot of tools to help you understand if a company performs well, if it’s dedicated to health and safety, has a culture of health and safety,” he says.

A report by the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada says the young worker group, aged 15-24, accounted for 27 workplace fatalities nationally in 2018, the most recent year available.

Of the deaths for young workers, the largest number was in construction (six) followed by agriculture (four).

Time lost due to injury was more evenly distributed across more than a dozen industries. Construction accounted for 4,473 lost hours, surpassed by accommodation, food and beverage (5,036) and retail (5,835).

In Ontario, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board runs an internet portal that can search and display company health and safety performance over several years.

WSIB’s Safety Check portal not only provides an analysis by injury type, it can download the information for further analysis and comparisons.

In addition, there’s a voluntary program called Certificate of Recognition which evaluates a participating employer’s health and safety management system through audits every three years.

Garritano advises new hires to watch for proper orientation and training soon after starting work.

“If they don’t have that strong orientation program when they get there, (employees) need to make a choice to get out of there.”

He says new and young workers are at higher risk in the first month of getting injured.  “Therefore that orientation with the company they go to is paramount in the first few days of work. Paramount.”

Jan Chappel, senior technical specialist at the federal government’s Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, agrees it’s important for both employers and employees to start on the right foot.

“People learn very quickly on the job. So the key for employers is to provide health and safety information and education and training very early when they start working,” Chappel says.

She also advises job hunters to take proactive steps while at the interview stage.

“Look around. See if the employer has the right warning signs and other workers are wearing protective equipment.

“You can (also) ask the employer during the interview what precautions they take for health and safety.”

Trudi Rondou, a senior manager at WorkSafeBC, says her agency has different messages for each stakeholder.

“You’ve got the youths themselves. You’ve got the employers. You’ve got parents and teachers,” she says.  “So we have different messages, depending on who we’re trying to impact.”

For employers, a key message is to provide workplace orientation as well as health and safety programs that are appropriate for the industry or business.

Rondou says B.C. regulations require employers to provide specific training for new and young employees, and there are periodic inspections by provincial officers with enforcement powers.

“We don’t typically move to penalties as the first step. We try to educate and consult with the employer. . .. . .But if there’s willful defiance, if you like, then that penalty is certainly an option.”

Rondou also notes that _ at least in B.C., where health and safety is part of the high school curriculum young workers have a stronger awareness of the issues than they would have been a decade ago.

Rondou stresses that new employees should trust their instincts and speak up when things seem dangerous or wrong.

“Often they’re worried about their first job and wanting to make a good impression and not knowing how to speak up sometimes.”

But the best approach could be simply to begin by expressing uncertainty about how a job is done and asking for a demonstration or explanation of how to do it safely _ making it unnecessary to refuse a task or escalate a complaint.

“So we’re really emphasizing that they should listen to their gut and ask questions.”

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