IBC Launches Commercial Task Force

TORONTOFeb. 10, 2020 /CNW/ – Media headlines about increased commercial insurance premiums have grabbed the attention of many Canadians over the past few months. Commercial insurance is becoming challenging on a global level following years of significant losses. Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is launching the National Commercial Insurance Task Force to examine how this is impacting Canadian companies and consumers.

National Commercial Task Force

The task force will bring together insurers, insurance brokers, local chambers of commerce, small businesses, trucking stakeholders, and risk experts to examine the impacts of the hardening global market and develop recommendations to help keep insurance affordable and available across the country. The task force will examine ways to help consumers mitigate risk and manage costs.

“We’ve heard from concerned parties across the country about challenges with finding affordable insurance and we want to know what can be done to overcome the problems,” said Don Forgeron, President and CEO, IBC. “We strongly believe that if all stakeholders work together, we can find solutions to control costs and, ultimately, improve insurance availability.”

The task force includes representatives from Canadian Condominium Institute, Canadian Trucking Alliance, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Insurance Brokers Association of Canada, Risk and Insurance Management Society, IBC, the insurance industry and other stakeholders.

The task force will hold its inaugural meeting in Edmonton in February, followed by meetings in VancouverHalifaxToronto and Montreal in the coming months. Its report providing recommendations is due this fall.

Condominium Action Plan

In Alberta, to further assist affected condominium corporations, IBC is developing a Condominium Action Plan that includes:

  • Engaging a risk manager to assist condominium corporations find reasonable insurance
  • Providing education and information on insurance and the importance of risk management and loss prevention strategies for condominiums
  • Providing the government with best practices used in other jurisdictions
  • Engaging insurers, stakeholders and government to directly assist condominium corporations facing issues in the marketplace

“The industry wants to work with all stakeholders to help condominium corporations find adequate and affordable insurance,” stated Forgeron. “The Condominium Action Plan is a multi-faceted approach that will help consumers directly, ensure everyone has the best up-to-date information available and promote the critical importance of risk mitigation and loss prevention in condominiums in Alberta and across the country.”

Consumers who have questions or want to learn more about commercial insurance, risk management or factors that impact premiums can call 1-844-2ASK-IBC or visit ibc.ca.

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 128,000 Canadians, pays $9.4 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $59.6 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow us on Twitter @InsuranceBureau or 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.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

For further information: Media Contact: Vanessa Barrasa – Manager, Media Relations – 416-550-9062, vbarrasa@ibc.ca

Related Links

www.ibc.ca

Ins and outs of travel insurance amid novel coronavirus outbreak

VANCOUVER _ Travellers nervous about globe-trotting during the novel coronavirus outbreak may be eligible to receive a refund for cancelling their travels, say insurance experts, but it depends on the destination, their insurance policy and other factors.

“I think in any case of sort of an epidemic like this, it’s really an evolving situation and every day is different, something new happens,” said Joan Weir, director of health and disability policy for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. CLHIA represents 99 per cent of the country’s life and health insurance companies, according to its website.

Travel insurers watch the unfolding situation very carefully, she said, and the association is frequently checking in with all its members about what they’re experiencing.

There are now more than 31,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, according to the World Health Organization.

The bulk of these are in China, where there have also been 637 deaths. Across 24 other countries, there are 270 confirmed cases and one death. There are five confirmed cases in Canada.

The WHO declared the outbreak a global health emergency in late January.

The Canadian government issued a Level 3 advisory for China, asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel. There is only one higher level, which advises travellers to avoid all travel.

The government recommends people avoid travelling to Hubei Province, where Wuhan city is located. The province has recorded 22,112 of China’s 31,211 coronavirus cases, according to the WHO.

As soon as the Canadian government declares a Level 3 or 4 travel advisory, a person may cancel their upcoming trip and their insurance should cover any lost expenses, said Weir.

“You’d have to submit receipts,” she said, but travellers should receive refunds for flights, hotels and other costs.

Trips booked before the government issues these advisories are often covered by travel insurance, said an emailed statement from the insurance company RSA Canada.

“Trips booked after this point are not eligible for medical coverage or trip cancellation/interruption coverage.”

Allianz Global Assistance Canada, which declined to comment due to  “how quickly the current coronavirus is evolving and the changing advisories” from Canada’s government and others, posted a notice on its website to customers about the outbreak indicating booking timing mattered for coverage eligibility.

People travelling to China whose trip cancellation benefits kick in if the government issues a Level 3 advisory would be eligible to submit a claim if they purchased insurance before Jan. 29, when the government issued its advisory, according to the statement.

For those who do qualify, it doesn’t matter whether their trip is next week or in six months, said Weir.

However, the destination matters. While 24 countries have confirmed coronavirus cases, Canada’s travel advisory applies only to China. That means a person who feels uncomfortable travelling to any of the other countries won’t be able to get a refund for cancelling their trip, she said.

That is, unless they purchased what’s known as
cancel-for-any-reason insurance, she said, which does exactly what
the name implies.

Those who haven’t purchased any travel insurance may still be able to secure a refund, Weir noted, as many major credit cards offer some kind of coverage.

“But it depends on which credit card you have and what the benefits are,” she said.  “So it’s good to know what your credit card covers for trip cancellation, for trip health, all that.”

Chinese military members face charges in Equifax breach impacting

By Tara Deschamps

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Four members of the Chinese military are facing charges for allegedly breaking into Equifax Inc. systems in 2017 and stealing data connected with Canadians, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed Monday.

An indictment filed by the department says the breach of the Atlanta-based credit monitoring company’s system compromised a “colossal repository of sensitive personally identifiable information.”

The breach affected the accounts of at least 19,000 Canadians, hundreds of thousands of Britons and 145 million Americans. The hacked information included names, addresses, social insurance and credit card numbers, usernames, passwords and secret question and answer data.

The four Beijing residents that the indictment alleges were involved in the hacking Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke and Liu Lei are facing charges of computer fraud, economic espionage and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The indictment says that over several weeks the group used a software vulnerability and encrypted communication channels to carry out the breach. They allegedly made use of 34 servers located in nearly 20 countries and wiped log files on a daily basis to reduce the likelihood that they would be caught.

“To further disguise their infrastructure, the conspirators obtained access to the servers located outside of China from reseller hosting services, who pursue remote computing services from other providers and then lease those remote compute services to others,” the indictment alleges.

“The conspirators attempted to disguise their unauthorized access to Equifax’s online dispute portal by using existing encrypted communication channels within Equifax’s network to send queries and commands, which allowed them to blend in with normal network activity.”

Equifax, the documents said, did not notice the hackers’ activity for more than six weeks.

The document also accuses the men of stealing trade secrets from the company.

Equifax reached a US$700 million settlement last year with the U.S. government over the data breach, earmarking most of the funds for consumers impacted by the incident.

Meanwhile, the Canadian privacy commissioner’s office released an investigation last year that found Equifax had poor security safeguards, was retaining information too long, had a lack of accountability for Canadians’ information and offered limited protection measures offered to affected individuals after the breach.

Asked by The Canadian Press on Monday about potential moves the federal government’s public safety ministry and privacy commissioner will make given the new developments, neither outlined any action.

They instead discussed investments in cybersecurity and previous investigations into the incident.

The RCMP said it is maintaining “situational awareness of this investigation and (is) prepared to assist upon request” with an ongoing investigation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the U.S. or other international law enforcement partners.

Charles Finlay, the executive director of the Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst organization at Ryerson University in Toronto, called the U.S.’s handling of the situation  “aggressive,” but said he didn’t expect the Canadian government to follow suit.

“My suspicion is that the Canadian government will likely wait to se how the U.S. proceedings go,” he said.  “The Equifax breach was much much larger in the U.S. than it was in Canada.”

The case is particularly important, he said, because the hackers gained a great deal of information about potential targets and can access more information by leveraging that stolen data. The situation is even more serious because it can involve a state trying to advance their national security interest, he added.

Finlay doesn’t think those whose information was exposed can be “made whole again,” so he said action like the U.S. is taking is warranted.

“And I think we can expect to see more of this,” he said. “It’s not a game. People’s lives are at a stake and we are now beginning to see governments operate in that way.”

A look at how workplaces can prepare for possible coronavirus outbreak

By Cassandra Szklarski

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Companies wary of what an infectious outbreak could do to their workforce and bottom line are revisiting contingency plans as the new coronavirus continues to spread.

Marie-Helene Primeau of the Montreal-based risk management company Premier Continuum says she’s spent recent days fielding questions from several firms seeking guidance on what to do if the rapidly spreading illness that originated in China threatens the health of employees and customers.

“Everyone’s looking at their state of readiness,” says Primeau, whose company provides training and advice to a range of firms including banks, insurance companies, government agencies and those in manufacturing.

“They’re actively revisiting the plans, but they’re not necessarily stockpiling masks.”

Health officials in Canada have repeatedly stressed that the risk to public health remains low. Seven cases have been identified in Canada, while worldwide, the illness known as 2019-nCoV has sickened more than 37,000 people and killed more than 800, nearly all in China.

Nevertheless, Canadians are being urged to remain vigilant against infection, with medical experts reminding the public we’re still in the throes of flu season and that good hygiene is advised wash hands frequently, cough and sneeze into tissue or your upper sleeve, and don’t touch your face.

Disaster management expert Amin Mawani says workers and managers alike should take this time to combat misinformation, repeat hygiene tips, be clear on sick leave policies and prepare for the possibility of mass absenteeism.

If an outbreak hits, employers should encourage unwell workers to stay home, Mawani says, but a key step to mitigating an outbreak’s impact is to keep people from getting sick in the first place.

“You can’t buy traditional insurance in a sense, but you can prepare for it by spending some money planning for it and stockpiling certain things _ masks and whatever else you might need,” says Mawani, academic director of the health industry management program at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto.

A possible outbreak has critics refocused on provincial sick day allowances in Ontario, where the Progressive Conservative government offers most workers three days of unpaid leave each year and allows bosses to demand a doctor’s note.

Health-care workers say that can make it hard for some to stay home when necessary, and if sick people work in high-risk settings _ such as food services, long-term care facilities or childcare spaces _ the impact can be significant.

“A lack of paid sick days results in children and adults transmitting infections at school and work, exacerbating contagion throughout the province,” the group Decent Work and Health Network warn in an open letter to Premier Doug Ford.

Mawani agreed employers should consider whether they’re prepared to ease sick day restrictions if the virus strikes staff, noting hardline policies also threaten morale and loyalty.

Workers should also consider coming up with their own protective measures, he adds.

“In some ways employees can take the initiative, they can say: ‘Look, I can easily do this at home,’ or ‘I can do this on the weekend. Why do I need to come in tomorrow?”’ he says.

“And employers should be willing to listen during this phase so even if (workers) don’t start working from home now (the company) can have plans ready.”

John Yamniuk of the Toronto-based consulting firm DRI Canada says there are ways to limit person-to-person infection at the office, even those with open layouts, communal spaces, and shoulder-to-shoulder computer stations: Is there room to leave a vacant spot between workers? Is there an unused meeting room that can be transformed into an alternate work space?

“If you’re in a call centre environment, (think about) providing extra cleaning services, providing individual headsets for folks so they’re not sharing keyboards or things like that,” adds Yamniuk, based in Calgary.

Primeau’s advice includes making sure contact information for staff and partners are up-to-date.

She also encourages managers to run through “a tabletop exercise” _ in which each person discusses their role during an emergency and all agree on how best to respond to various scenarios.

And don’t assume you can just rely on a temp agency if a lot of people call in sick, she adds, because you can’t guarantee availability or loyalty.

“Temporary backup was something that was brought up when we were talking about the (H1N1) pandemic 10 years ago but the thing is that those individuals will also be sick as well,” she says.

“It’s more (about) focusing on what’s key. What’s urgent to perform? What are the critical activities, rather than calling upon a temp.”

Warning of collapse in B.C. condo market

The excerpted article was written by Ross McLaughlin, CTV News Vancouver

VANCOUVER — There are dire warnings that the condo real estate market in B.C. could collapse unless the province steps in to stop it.

It all has to do with skyrocketing insurance rates. And some condo buildings are unable to get insurance at all, putting owners at risk of losing their financing and being unable to sell their properties.

Zafar Khan had an offer on a Cloverdale condo he was selling, and the deal was to close Feb. 3. But at the last minute it all fell apart, as the buyer pulled out of the sale.

“I found out the strata ran out of insurance,” said Khan.

He said he had no idea, and only learned about it later from the buyer’s real estate agent, Sevin Atilla.

“We found out the strata’s insurance came up for renewal and they were not able to renew it,” said Atilla, who works at Oakwynn Realty.

“I don’t blame the buyer at all,” Khan said.

Banks won’t finance uninsured buildings and that’s what happened with the loan the buyer had secured.

“As soon as they found out there was no insurance in place, they retracted the mortgage approval,” explained Atilla.

CTV News reached out to the property manager, Crossroads Management Ltd. The company said it tried five different insurance brokers, all of which were unable to find an insurance company to insure the complex.

Crossroads said it’s still looking.

Owners are now at risk if disaster strikes; their banks could pull their financing and they will be unable to sell their properties.

“This affected our deal and we will see more of these deals collapsing in the future,” said Atilla.

“This is something no one had foreseen,” said Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium and Homeowners Association of B.C.

Gioventu knew skyrocketing insurance rates and high deductibles were coming as insurance companies pulled out of B.C.’s high real estate market and struggled to keep up with claims from global disasters, but buildings unable to get insurance at all is something that no one expected.

“This will collapse our real estate industry because no one will be able to get mortgages and there will be no buyers and no sellers,” Gioventu said.

Gioventu knows of a handful of buildlings currently unable to get insurance, and said there could be more out there.

And massive insurance premiums are adding to the pressure.

The strata president of one Burnaby condo told CTV News their annual insurance premium has quadrupled, from $200,000 a year to $810,000, and they can no longer afford to pay it.

High premiums coupled with extremely high deductibles are also resulting in massive increases in maintenance fees or special assessments.

“This is not a small number of buildings now. We’re now looking at several hundred buildings throughout the Lower Mainland that are seeing such dramatic increases,” said Gioventu.

Doug Whicker, a strata president of a New Westminster condo complex facing a 40 per cent insurance premium increase, has sent a letter to Premier John Horgan asking for intervention. He says it’s reached a crisis and suggests that B.C. set up a non-profit strata insurance corporation similar to ICBC.

“Immediately. We can’t wait,” said Whicker.

“Government intervention is necessary and it’s imperative,” added Khan.

CTV News reached out to B.C. Finance Minister Carole James, who has acknowledged the problem.

“We think there are good opportunities to be able to talk with the industry, to talk with condos, to talk with insurance companies, and look at how we can address this issue,” she said.

Robert de Pruis with the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s western office told CTV News the IBC has been in contact with insurance brokers, underwriters and condo groups and is planning to hold regional meetings across the country to address the condo insurance issues — including one in B.C. in March — to try to find creative solutions to address the problem.

If you’re a condo owner reading this and are worried about how to protect your investment, there’s little you can do except to try to find insurance to cover high deductibles. But without a master condominium insurance policy, you’re out of luck.

The buildings that are being hardest hit are those that are the most expensive: buildings with a high number of recent claims and strata corporations that have failed to keep up with maintenance and repairs.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says it’s a complex issue that won’t be solved quickly.

However, for Khan and others in his situation without insurance it’s an emergency.

“If my lender finds out they’ll pull the mortgage,” he said.

Westhill Hires Daniel Loosemore to Lead Expansion Into Canada

ATLANTA–(Business Wire)–Westhill is building a marketplace for property & casualty restoration and mitigation insurance claims. After making great strides in the US market, Westhill is now expanding their team in pursuit of growth into the Canadian market. The ecosystem that Westhill is building enables insurance companies to successfully alleviate friction in the claims process, by using cutting-edge technology to enhance the claim experience. Creators of the cloud-based platform are pleased to announce the appointment of Daniel Loosemore as their President of Canadian Operations.

“I’m excited to infuse the Canadian market with collaboration and transparency that no one else can offer in the insurance market today.”

“Dan brings a wealth of knowledge and market intelligence that is invaluable to us. He has an incredible network and proven ability to solve problems for insurance carriers,” said George Jones, CEO of Westhill. “He is the perfect candidate to lead Westhill’s growth in Canada and continue building our robust network of carriers and contractors. Our team is delighted to have him join us.”

Loosemore has always been connected to construction and insurance, bringing 20+ years of experience in property restoration. In his last role at Crawford Contractor Connection, Dan was responsible for taking an established managed repair network model in the US and scaling into Canada. During his transition from District Manager to Vice President of National Sales and Operations, Loosemore effectively grew and scaled his team from one (1) employee to fifty three (53) nationally, to service the customer base in both official languages (English and French). He then took this valuable experience into consulting and has been working with businesses to execute on strategic imperatives like growth, margin efficiencies, performance management and brand experience.

In addition to his achievements in the managed repair space, Loosemore exited Woodhouse Contracting, and stayed on throughout the earn-out to help the business continue to scale, rebrand and become one of the largest contractor brands in the country. Dan is a proven strategist who leads with passion in all his endeavors. Often touted as a leader who is highly inclusive and collaborative, his professionalism and values align well with the core values of Westhill.

“Westhill brings a progressive technology approach to a market which has historically been well behind the customer needs and consumer expectations,” expressed Dan. “I’m excited to infuse the Canadian market with collaboration and transparency that no one else can offer in the insurance market today.”

Westhill has been recognized in the US as an industry thought leader in Insurtech. Building upon the local successes in 2019, Westhill is now focused on embedding local talent and regional expertise in Canada to better serve their partners.

About Westhill

Westhill Inc. provides digital solutions for the property & casualty (P&C) insurance industry, focused on delivering an exceptional claim experience. Westhill leverages smart technology to connect insurance carriers, contractors and policyholders, providing customer choice and removing inefficiencies from the claims process. Advocates in the power of connection, Westhill believes all successful experiences need a foundation grounded in transparency and shared value, principles that are woven throughout each facet of Westhill’s business model.

Website: www.westhillglobal.com

View the experience: Westhill Video

Source: Business Wire

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