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Extreme weather takes $70 million toll in Ontario, says Insurance …

By Jessy Bains | Yahoo Finance Canada

Ontario’s cold, hot, and cold again weather caused over $70 million in insurance damage, says the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

February’s deep freeze was followed by warm weather, which led to snowmelt, ice jams, and flooding. Heavy rain and snow in some areas in early March brought more of the same.

Feb. 4 was a record-breaking day, as the temperature jumped to as high as 15 C in parts of the province. Northern Ontario was blanketed by up to 40 centimetres of snow. There was freezing rain and drizzle from Sault. Ste Marie to Ottawa. Meanwhile, southern Ontario was soaked with rain.

“There were widespread reports of water-related damage from this event including basement leakage, sewer backups, and burst pipes,” IBC said.

“A burst water main in downtown Toronto created two sinkholes. Roads flooded in Ottawa and Cornwall due to clogged catch basins.”

IBC says the damage from this weather event alone was over $33 million.

March 9 brought strong winds, warm temperatures, followed by rain and even freezing rain in some areas.

“Throughout portions of southern Ontario there were reports of flooding and water-related damage due to heavy rain and snowmelt,” IBC said.

“Much of the damage was in Toronto and surrounding areas, caused by the melting of an unusually large snowpack. Damage included roof and basement leaks.”

The damage was close to $37 million.

IBC is calling on all levels of government to spend more on mitigating the impact of extreme weather events. It wants to see improved building codes, better land-use planning, incentives to shift the development of homes and businesses away from areas at high risk of flooding, and upgraded infrastructure to protect communities from floods.

For every dollar insurers pay out for claims, IBC estimates government pays $3 to repair the damaged public infrastructure.

Homeowners can also be proactive when it comes to these types of situations.

“It is important that property owners take precautions and protect their properties to minimize potential damage,” said Kim Donaldson, Vice-President, Ontario of IBC, in a news release.

“They should also understand their insurance policies and know whether they have overland flood coverage.”

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Acquires Keyser Benefits Corp.

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. today announced the acquisition of Calgary, Alberta-based Keyser Benefits Corp. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

With roots dating back more than 45 years, Keyser is a full-service benefits brokerage offering life, disability, health and dental, critical illness, retirement and other services to small to mid-sized businesses and individuals across Western CanadaShane Keyser and his associates will be relocating to Gallagher’s existing benefits office in Calgary under the direction of Melanie Jeannotte, National President of Gallagher’s Canadian employee benefits consulting and brokerage operations.

“Like Gallagher, Keyser Benefits is a client-focused, family-oriented business with a strong commitment to ethics,” said J. Patrick Gallagher, Jr., Chairman, President and CEO. “I am excited to welcome Shane and his associates to our growing global team.”

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NYSE:AJG), a global insurance brokerage, risk management and consulting services firm, is headquartered in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. The company has operations in 35 countries and offers client service capabilities in more than 150 countries around the world through a network of correspondent brokers and consultants.

SOURCE Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

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Insurance costs soar at tornado-battered condo

CBC News

An Ottawa condo development’s insurance rate has soared by nearly 730 per cent after a tornado and two fires, and the condo board’s president says some residents won’t be able to handle the extra cost.

“Some people are suicidal,” said condo board president Marie Weerasooriya-Epps. “Some people are headed for nervous breakdowns.”

Last year, the condo corporation behind Woodvale Green, a development of 110 townhouses off Craig Henry Drive, paid $26,858 for coverage.

But claims for a residential kitchen fire in January, damage caused by a September tornado and an electrical fire in November led Carlton Condominium Corp. No. 188’s insurer to drop them.

The next insurer willing to take on the risk for the lowest price was Lloyd’s of London. The 300-plus-year-old boutique underwriter of ocean cargo and fine art pegged the condo development’s new premium at $222,634.

The added cost is being passed onto residents — working out to an extra $1,800 per year for each townhouse.

The condo corporation’s deductible also went up from $2,500 to $100,000.

Lloyd’s of London did not respond to a request for comment as of deadline.

Families on tight budgets

Weerasooriya-Epps said some residents live on tight budgets. She estimated that 40 per cent of them won’t be able to afford the new insurance rate, and that it could force some to default on their mortgages.

“There’s not a lot of people who make a lot of money,” Weerasooriya-Epps said.

David Campbell’s condo was so badly hit by the tornado that the city evicted him.


Export Development Canada reviewing insurance policy


A federal agency that supports Canadian exporters through loans and insurance has retained legal counsel to review an insurance policy covering political risk it underwrote on SNC-Lavalin’s behalf in 2011.

On Wednesday, the CBC reported that an SNC-Lavalin employee who requested anonymity had alleged that portions of loans the engineering giant obtained from Export Development Canada were intended to pay bribes. The Crown corporation told The Globe on Wednesday that it hired the law firm Fasken to conduct the review on March 6 after learning the source alleged EDC had “turned a blind eye” to improper payments in connection with Angola’s Matala Dam.

“Our review is primarily focused on the steps EDC took during the transaction screening process for the Angola transaction to ensure that we did not do what the CBC’s unnamed source has alleged,” EDC spokeswoman Jessica Draker wrote in a response to questions.

It’s the latest twist in a commercial relationship stretching back decades. Between 2001 and the end of last year, SNC-Lavalin benefited from 18 EDC financings worth a combined value of between $2-billion and $4.3-billion. (EDC does not disclose precise values of the support it provides to companies.) Additionally, EDC has occasionally provided loan guarantees and political-risk insurance policies to the company’s benefit.

Data provided by EDC and analyzed by The Globe and Mail suggest SNC-Lavalin has been among the leading recipients of EDC financings over the past two decades.

Bribery allegations against SNC-Lavalin over its activities in Libya have been at the heart of recent political turmoil in Ottawa. Former attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould told a parliamentary committee she came under pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to defer the prosecution against the company in the Libya case.

The Matala Dam was one of several large hydroelectric dams damaged during Angola’s decades-long civil war. SNC-Lavalin won the contract to repair the dam and a bridge in 2010. The following year, EDC underwrote a political-risk insurance policy for Société Générale Canada worth an undisclosed value between $250-million and $500-million to support SNC-Lavalin’s “sale of engineering and procurement services” in connection with the dam’s rehabilitation. According to reports at the time, Société Générale provided an export loan of US$281-million to the Republic of Angola to finance the work; EDC’s insurance covered a portion of that loan.

That year, Angola ranked among the worst 20 of 183 countries on Transparency International’s ranking of perceived levels of public-sector corruption. Hydroelectric projects have long been regarded as particularly vulnerable to corruption. “Today, billions of development dollars are earmarked for large dams and associated project infrastructure in Africa,” noted a 2010 briefing by International Rivers, an NGO that focuses on large dam projects in developing countries. “Lucrative construction, power purchase and investment contracts can drive bribery and other corrupt business practices. The lack of transparency and limited legal enforcement to halt these practices allow shady deals to go forward.”

According to the CBC report, the anonymous source alleged EDC’s due diligence procedures should have detected problems with “technical fees” paid by SNC-Lavalin, some of which went to agents in foreign countries to win the contracts.

EDC said it would not knowingly participate in a transaction involving bribery. “We have a rigorous transaction screening/due diligence process” that meets or exceeds practices recommended by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the federal agency said, “but there are limits as to what it can reasonably detect.” EDC did not provide further details about the due diligence it had conducted on the transaction.

In 2011, news broke of an RCMP investigation into alleged corruption at SNC-Lavalin; the company faced numerous corruption-related allegations in the following years. EDC says it increased its monitoring of the company in 2012. Nevertheless, in 2013 and 2014, at a time when SNC-Lavalin had already been debarred by the World Bank for corruption-related infractions, EDC provided two financings that benefited SNC-Lavalin, each in an amount between $50-million and $100-million.

In late 2014, EDC suspended support to SNC-Lavalin. “We can appreciate that people will say that we didn’t act soon enough,” EDC said in a statement on Wednesday. “We don’t disagree with that view … we could have – and perhaps should have – suspended business earlier.”

EDC’s suspension remained in effect until spring of 2017, by which point the Crown corporation was satisfied with measures taken by SNC-Lavalin, including replacing the management team and board and introducing new compliance and ethics programs. Since then SNC-Lavalin has benefited from three additional EDC financings.

In response to questions from The Globe, Ms. Draker confirmed that SNC-Lavalin had not notified EDC of any improper payments in connection with the Matala insurance policy or any other EDC-financed projects.

“It’s important to note that this is not the first time that we have reviewed SNC-Lavalin and SNC-Lavalin-related files,” Ms. Draker wrote. “In fact, we have actively reviewed, as part of our due diligence processes, the company and various SNC transactions throughout our financing history.

“When allegations arose, we worked to understand them and take appropriate actions given the information available at the time.”

Daniela Pizzuto, spokeswoman for SNC-Lavalin, said the allegations about the way the company did business date to before 2012, when SNC-Lavalin was under different management. She declined to comment further.

Société Générale also declined comment. The company said it no longer participates in export finance in Canada.

The Co-operators acquires Credit Union Advantage Insurance Brokerage Ltd.

The Co-operators is pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement with Central 1 Credit Union (Central 1) to purchase Credit Union Advantage Insurance Brokerage Ltd. (CUAIB).  Concurrent with this, CUMIS, a fully owned subsidiary of The Co-operators, will become the insurer for coverages currently underwritten by CUPP Services Ltd (CUPP Services) upon expiry of the current policy terms.

This acquisition is part of an ongoing commitment by CUMIS to the credit union system and will provide a direct servicing relationship with British Columbia credit union partners for their corporate insurance needs.  The portfolio is a program of insurance protection, including coverage for property and casualty, financial coverage and professional liability.

“This is another step forward for CUMIS in strengthening and growing our relationship with credit unions in British Columbia” says Bob Hague, President Credit Union Distribution, CUMIS. “Our team is excited to work directly with the credit unions to ensure they have the risk management and insurance protection they require.  We’re committed to bringing the same exceptional service that the credit unions experienced with CUAIB.”

CUMIS has been the excess insurer for the insurance program for many years and is knowledgeable of the credit unions needs.

CUMIS will maintain a local office in BC to service the insurance program and will be working with the BC credit union system to create an insurance advisory committee.

About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian co-operative with more than $41.7 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies, it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt and Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada. For more information, visit

SOURCE The Co-operators

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