All John Hancock life insurance policies to include fitness incentives

Thomson Reuters

John Hancock, one of the oldest and largest North American life insurers, will stop underwriting traditional life insurance and instead sell only interactive policies that include optional fitness tracking through tools including wearable devices and smartphones, the company said on Wednesday.

The move by the 156-year-old insurer, owned by Canada’s Manulife Financial Corp, marks a major shift for the company. It is now applying the model across all of its life coverage.

Interactive life insurance, pioneered by John Hancock’s partner the Vitality Group, is already well-established in South Africa and Britain and is becoming more widespread in the United States.

Policyholders score premium discounts for hitting exercise targets tracked on wearable devices such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch and get gift cards for retail stores and other perks by logging their workouts and healthy food purchases in an app.

In theory, everybody wins, as policyholders are given an incentive to adopt healthy habits, and insurance companies collect more premiums and pay less in claims if customers live longer.

Privacy concerns

Privacy and consumer advocates have raised questions about whether insurers may eventually use data to select the most profitable customers, while hiking rates for those who do not participate. The insurance industry has said that it is heavily regulated and must justify, in actuarial terms, its reasons for any rate increases or policy changes.

Customers do not have to log their activities to get coverage even though their policies are packaged with the Vitality program, but can receive discounts or other perks if they do. The insurer will begin converting existing life insurance policies to Vitality in 2019, it said.

It is too early for John Hancock to determine if it is paying fewer claims because of its Vitality program, said Brooks Tingle, head of John Hancock’s insurance unit. But data it has collected so far about customers’ activities suggest that it will, Tingle said, as Vitality policyholders worldwide live 13 to 21 years longer than the rest of the insured population.

John Hancock’s U.S. life insurance customers can choose from a basic Vitality program in which customers log their activity in an app or website and can receive gift cards for major retailers after reaching their milestones, or an expanded program that offers wearable devices and discounts of up to 15 per cent on premiums, among other benefits, the company said.

A spokesperson for Manulife said there is no update about a similar policy for Canadian insurance customers.


SSQ Insurance to go ahead with reimbursement of medical cannabis expenses

In light of clinical advances demonstrating the efficacy of cannabis in the treatment or relief of certain medical conditions, SSQ Insurance will be offering a new option as of January 1, 2019, to cover medical cannabis expenses.

“This coverage, in compliance with federal law on medical marijuana use, is for those for whom traditional prescription drugs have been deemed ineffective,” said Éric Trudel, Senior Vice-President, Strategies and Product Management at SSQ Insurance.

In an effort to control group insurance costs, eligibility for the expenses incurred for the purchase of medical cannabis will be subject to certain conditions determined by SSQ Insurance. Therefore, prior authorization from SSQ Insurance will be required given that medical cannabis will be covered only when used to treat or relieve one of the following medical conditions when standard pharmacological treatments have not worked:

  • Chronic neuropathic pain
  • Cancer related pain
  • Spasticity secondary to multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury
  • Nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy

In addition, medical cannabis must be prescribed by an authorized physician or nurse and purchased solely from a licensed vendor duly authorized by Health Canada.

SSQ Insurance will monitor legislative changes and clinical advances in the field and make the necessary adjustments to the eligibility conditions listed above.

About SSQ Insurance
Founded in 1944, SSQ Insurance is a mutualist company that puts community at the heart of insurance. With assets under management of $12 billion, SSQ Insurance is one of the largest companies in the industry. Working for a community of over three million customers, SSQ Insurance employs over 2,000 people. Leader in group insurance, the company also sets itself apart through its expertise in individual life and health insurance, general insurance and the investment sector. For more information, please visit

SOURCE SSQ Insurance

Insurance change bounces out recreational trampoline use at gymnastics clubs

CBC News

Fall programs are rolling out at gymnastics clubs across the city but kids and their parents will notice a difference this season because of an insurance issue.

Recreational trampoline use will no longer be an option, according to the Alberta Gymnastics Federation, which sent a memo to its member clubs in July.

Scott Hayes, president and CEO of the AGF, says the new policy is due to a change in the federation’s insurance coverage.

Underwriters recently informed the AGF that trampoline use was no longer going to be insured at the recreational and drop-in levels.

“We just basically had to revamp a lot of the programming just because birthday parties and drop-ins are such a huge component of their business,” he said.

“So they had to look at some internal restructuring and Alberta Gymnastics had to look at creating some alternate programming and ensuring that the safety coaching expectations and certification were revamped in order to match the changes.”

Jeremy Mosier of Pegasus Gymnastics says losing the recreational business hurts the bottom line.

“We just don’t offer classes. We offer drop-ins and we offer birthdays, which has been substantially hit. You know, a lot of people call and just want birthday parties on trampolines, and unfortunately we can no longer offer that anymore.”

Mosier’s gym and others still do drop-ins and parties but without trampolines.

The new regulations only apply to recreational trampoline use. Competitive athletes and those enrolled in tumbling classes are exempt. But insurance rates for competitive users have quadrupled to about $60 a year.

Source: CBC News

Intact Financial Corporation’s President of Canadian Operations Louis Gagnon to speak at the CIBC 17th Annual Eastern Institutional Investor Conference

Louis Gagnon, President, Canadian Operations, Intact Financial Corporation (TSX: IFC), will speak at CIBC’s 17th Annual Eastern Institutional Investor Conference in Montreal, QC on Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. ET.

To listen to the event via live audio webcast, please visit:

The webcast will be archived for three months on Intact Financial Corporation’s website following the event.

About Intact Financial Corporation

Intact Financial Corporation (TSX: IFC) is the largest provider of property and casualty (P&C) insurance in Canada and a leading provider of specialty insurance in North America, with approximately $10 billion in total annual premiums. The Company has over 13,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than five million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada and the U.S. In Canada, Intact distributes insurance under the Intact Insurance brand through a wide network of brokers, including its wholly-owned subsidiary BrokerLink, and directly to consumers through belairdirect. In the U.S., OneBeacon Insurance Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary, provides specialty insurance products through independent agencies, brokers, wholesalers and managing general agencies.

SOURCE Intact Financial Corporation

Urgent action needed to curb possible debilitating loss of natural infrastructure assets in Canada

A new Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) report urges communities to consider natural (or “green”) infrastructure to limit their flood risk. IBC collaborated with the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation (Intact Centre) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in this latest insurance industry initiative to help communities address their economic risk associated with climate change.

“Nature conservation and climate resilience go hand in hand,” said Craig Stewart, Vice-President, Federal Affairs, IBC. “This report emphasizes that coastal and inland flood risk can be reduced by conserving and restoring natural infrastructure, such as wetlands and coastal marshes, and that the return on investment of natural infrastructure can at times exceed that of built infrastructure, such as dams and dikes. Nature can be our best friend in lowering the risk of exposed communities.”

In 2016, in response to consumer needs, the property and casualty insurance industry began offering homeowners products that cover overland flooding. However, we are facing a decade-long transition as governments shift the financial risk of floods from taxpayers to homeowners and private insurers. Currently, for every dollar of losses borne by insurers in Canada, three to four dollars are absorbed by governments and home and business owners.

“Property and casualty insurance payouts from extreme weather have more than doubled every five to 10 years since the 1980s,” said Stewart. “Coastal and inland flood risk is rising across the country as a result of extreme weather events driven by climate change. Insurance companies are on the frontlines of helping Canadians cope with the impacts of the changing climate, paying out over $1.5 billion in the last 12 months alone.”

Key Findings of the Report

As a general rule, in order of preference, the most cost-effective means to mitigate flooding using natural infrastructure are to:

(1)   retain what you have
(2)   restore what you’ve lost and
(3)   build what you must.

The natural infrastructure implementation framework profiled in the report provides an improved due-diligence process for the assessment and implementation of natural infrastructure projects. It consists of the following key components:

Watershed and climate risk assessment: It is critical to assess the broad range of climate change and land use impacts on watersheds to understand key risks facing communities today and in the future (e.g., floods, drought, water quality issues and habitat loss).

Materiality assessment: Materiality assessments involving key community stakeholders are required to prioritize the most pertinent watershed challenges and to direct the focus of potential natural and engineered infrastructure solutions towards those that can generate “multiple wins.”

Feasibility assessment: A feasibility analysis, which consists of assessing the technical, legal and regulatory, organizational, social and economic factors for implementing projects, can confirm which natural and/or built infrastructure projects best address the priority issues.

Economic costs and benefits assessment:

  • A comprehensive assessment of the financial, environmental and social costs and benefits – a Total Economic Value (TEV) assessment – is required to compare and contrast natural infrastructure investments against traditional, engineered alternatives. TEV assessments help illuminate otherwise uncaptured benefits of natural infrastructure, which go over and beyond traditional, engineered solutions (e.g., habitat creation, biodiversity improvements and community aesthetics).
  • Grey infrastructure projects are typically the baseline for the cost-benefit assessment, and the economic, environmental and social impacts of the implementation of natural versus grey infrastructure projects should be evaluated, using TEV, side by side.

Design, construction and maintenance: To ensure that natural and built infrastructure projects are implemented on time and on budget, multiple considerations warrant attention, including the complexity of infrastructure design, construction length and extraneous impacts (e.g., weather-related project disruptions). Longer-term success of both natural and built infrastructure relies on regular operation and maintenance.

Monitoring and reporting: The use of natural infrastructure for climate adaptation is still a novel approach. Accordingly, the documentation, monitoring and reporting of the actual benefits versus the actual costs incurred from the time of project implementation is critical for further driving the “value for money” business case for natural infrastructure investments.

Intact Centre quote

“Natural infrastructure, such as an inland or coastal wetland, is not mere decoration – it limits flood risk and the downstream discharge of pollutants, while at the same time supporting biodiversity. In response, every attempt should be made to retain and restore natural infrastructure today, if we are to avoid unconscionable economic, social and environmental losses tomorrow.”

Dr. Blair Feltmate, Head, Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation

IISD quote

“Natural infrastructure can be more cost efficient than built infrastructure. This is critical because with climate change, more frequent and intense weather events are becoming the new normal and leading to escalating costs. Natural infrastructure can offset millions in spending and offer multiple environmental and social benefits compared to traditional grey infrastructure systems.”

Anne Hammill, Director of the Resilience Program at IISD

Additional Resources

To view the report online: Click here

To view an Infographic: Click here

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 126,000 Canadians, pays $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $54.7 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at Follow IBC on Twitter @InsuranceBureau and like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

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

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

Cal LeGrow Insurance and Financial Group, Expands Into Nova Scotia

ST. JOHN’SSept. 19th, 2018 /CNW/ Cal LeGrow Insurance and Financial Group, the largest independent commercial insurance broker in Newfoundland and Labrador, unveiled plans today to open an office in Nova Scotia this fall, working to expand their presence across the Maritimes.

“Expansion into the Maritimes is a logical next step in our story to take the strength of the Cal LeGrow brand and value proposition and plant it proudly into the Maritimes,” said Jeff LeGrow, Cal LeGrow CEO and Chairman. “Today we service about 1 in 4 businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador, and as our clients are growing and expanding into the Maritimes, now so must we. We are committed to bringing the same service excellence to clients across the Atlantic Provinces.”

In addition to expansion plans, Cal LeGrow also announced organizational changes. To support the expansion into Nova Scotia, Cal LeGrow has recruited 20-year sales and marketing veteran, Keith Vokey, to lead the operations and development of the Maritime operations as Senior Vice President, Maritimes. He will be based out of Halifax.

“Keith is no stranger to Cal LeGrow. He worked here at the beginning of his career of twenty plus years,”continued Jeff LeGrow“He has spent his career in senior sales and key account positions, building a deep roster of client relationships and experiences that he will bring to our business. He’s come full circle and we are excited to have Keith’s fresh perspective at our management table.”

Cal LeGrow also announced today that Kevin Casey has been named its newest partner and shareholder.

“Kevin has been fully invested in our business since he joined our team over two years ago, and today, Rod Vatcher and I are thrilled to welcome him to the ownership team,” said Jeff LeGrow“Through Kevin’s leadership, our sales team has been reenergized, experiencing significant growth year over year, and now we plan to build on that momentum, expanding our business into the Maritimes.”

Kevin Casey joined Cal LeGrow as the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing in April 2016 after almost 15 years as Co-founder at Idea Factory, a full-service advertising agency in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

“We worked closely with Kevin for many years in his role at Idea Factory and about three years ago we started discussions with him about our long-term vision and where we wanted to take the business. We knew Kevin’s fresh thinking would enhance our sales culture and brand in many different and positive ways. Kevin connected with our vision immediately,” explains Rod Vatcher, President of Cal LeGrow, “and things have worked very well ever since.”

“Like so many mature industries, the future of business insurance is changing rapidly and we are positioning ourselves to meet those demands head-on,” said Kevin Casey, newly appointed Executive Vice President and Partner. “We will continue to invest in talent and we are always exploring acquisition opportunities in the insurance and wealth management space,” continued Casey. “Our plans for growth are bold and I am excited to do my part, along with our exceptional team, to drive the business vision forward.”

Currently, Cal LeGrow manages risk for over 4000 businesses across Newfoundland and Labrador. These announcements come as the next in a series of steps Cal LeGrow has taken to further strengthen their position in commercial insurance and financial planning solutions in Newfoundland and Labrador, and now the Atlantic provinces.

About Cal LeGrow

Cal LeGrow Insurance and Financial Group is one of Atlantic Canada’s largest independent commercial insurance and financial solutions brokerages. In 2016, Cal LeGrow was invited to be a member of the Canadian Broker Network (CBN) as the only Atlantic Canadian representative. CBN is a consortium of leading independent brokerages representing more than $1 Billion in property casualty premiums as well as employee benefits and life and financial services. Together, CBN has over 50 offices across Canada and 1500 employees.

SOURCE Cal LeGrow Insurance & Financial Group

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