Insurers are warning you many have to cover your own hospital costs if you ignore CDN travel advisories

Insurers are warning you many have to cover your own hospital costs if you ignore CDN travel advisories

Vancouver Sun | Randy Shore

If you are tempted to take advantage of a cheap flight to COVID-19 hot spots such as Italy or China, you could be paying your own hospital bills if you get sick.

Pacific Blue Cross is warning its clients that that will not be covered for medical expenses related to infectious disease if a travel advisory or health warning for your destination is issued by the Canadian government and publicized before your departure date.

The company advises members to check for government health advisories for their destination.

“If you have or want to purchase travel medical or trip protection insurance or if you are covered under a group travel medical plan, you should be aware of your coverage before you travel,” the company said in a statement.

Canada has issued Level 3 travel advisories for China, Iran and northern Italy to “avoid non-essential travel.” Travelling to a country under a Level 3 or 4 warning typically voids your coverage for medical expenses.

In practice, that means that your medical claims will be honoured as long as there is no Level 3 or 4 advisory for your destination on the effective date of your medical coverage, travel industry insiders say.

A Level 1 travel advisory means exercise normal security precautions, Level 2 advises a high degree of caution. Level 3 advises avoiding non-essential travel, while Level 4 advises Canadians to avoid all travel to the affected region.

Level 1 health notices have been issued for Singapore and Hong Kong, and Level 2 notices are in force for South Korea and Japan.

Confirm the exact terms of your health care and travel coverage with your insurer, as there is considerable variability among companies and policies are changing almost daily in response to the growing crisis.

Canada Life Financial “will continue to assess” claims related to COVID-19, including those that occur during travel to a country with a travel advisory warning.

The company has expedited disability claims related to COVID-19 and is also considering claims from people under quarantine at the direction of a physician, a company official said.

BCAA also will not provide trip cancellation or trip interruption coverage on claims related to COVID-19 on policies purchased after March 5. TuGo will not provide coverage for claims related to COVID-19 on policies purchased on or after March 4.

The Public Health Agency of Canada and Canada’s chief public health officer, Theresa Tam, have also recommended that people “avoid all cruise ship travel.”

Canadians who take a cruise against that advice may not be able to return home on a government-organized repatriation flight, or may have to pay the cost of returning should they become ensnared in a quarantine, the agency said.

If the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is detected on your ship, you could be subject to quarantine aboard the ship or in a foreign country under local rules. Your access to consular services may also be limited by local authorities.

Ports in India, Malaysia, Doha, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates have banned cruise ships outright, while many other countries have banned passengers from China, Iran, Italy and Korea from disembarking.

The cruise warning is not a Level 3 advisory, so there are no insurance implications, yet. It’s effect has been devastating, nonetheless.

“That advisory is the single biggest blow to the industry since this virus became headline news,” said travel agent Claire Newell. “I was surprised because there are hundreds and hundreds of ships in regions that haven’t been affected.”

The onslaught of holiday cancellations has triggered an overhaul of the insurance products being offered to travellers, many of them temporary offers.

“A lot of package tour operators are offering worry-free clauses in their cancellation policies,” she said.  “The industry has been hit very hard and they are trying to spur bookings because people are afraid.”

However, the cancellation windows vary from 30 days before departure to as little as 48 hours. Most allow you to rebook free, but do not offer refunds.

Discounts of up to 75 per cent are available for people willing to book a cruise.

“That’s what is going to get people over their fear, a hell of a good deal,” she said, adding that more than 90 per cent of people who are booking a holiday also buy cancel-for-any-reason insurance.

The COVID-19 epidemic is fuelling demand for “self-driving” holidays and Canadian destinations such as Niagara and the Gaspé, as well as destinations such as Iceland, Scotland and South America, where only a handful of cases are confirmed.

“There is a lot of interest in Peru, which is a great bucket list destination,” said Newell.

Federal government to announce supports for people, businesses hit by COVID-19

PM says Ottawa expecting ‘significant economic impacts’ from COVID-19

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will announce on Wednesday supports for people and businesses affected by COVID-19 — the first part of a federal package designed to help workers who are forced to stay home from their jobs as the virus spreads and disrupts the economy.

Trudeau will announce supports for those facing “immediate pressures,” with more aid for other sectors to be announced in the coming days.

Sources have told CBC News that the measures Trudeau will announce include waiving the one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance benefits for people who have to self-isolate because of the outbreak.

The package also will include a boost to research funding to combat the virus, over and above the $27 million announced in Montreal last week.

Ottawa is also leading a pan-Canadian effort to bulk-buy certain medical devices, and the federal government says it will be ready to support provinces needing further assistance to shore up their health care systems as the number of confirmed cases rises.

Trudeau met with top ministers this afternoon, including Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Health Minister Patty Hajdu, as part of the government’s response to a virus that has sickened dozens across Canada and killed one person in B.C.

“We recognize that there are going to be significant economic impacts for Canadians, for workers, for businesses, and that’s why we’re going to be talking very soon about measures that Canada is going to put forward to support people on the economic side,” Trudeau told reporters on his way into question period.

Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said Ottawa is considering stimulus spending in the upcoming federal budget.

Beyond Wednesday’s planned announcement, Duclos said the federal government will spend more to help people “go through the crisis” and help “workers, families and businesses thrive and sustain themselves.”

“We have the fiscal room and the fiscal power to intervene and provide the stimulus that the economy will demand,” Duclos said in an interview with CBC’s Power & Politics. “We have the will and the ability to make a difference. We will use our considerable fiscal room and power to invest.”

While the debt-to-GDP ratio has been falling in recent years, Ottawa is running a federal budget deficit of $26.6 billion for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

READ MORE HERE AT CBC NEWS

belairdirect busts a move with unexpected events in new advertising campaign

When the unexpected happens, belairdirect is there to ensure all is forgiven in its latest advertising campaign. In a continuation of its cinematic platform for showcasing unique products and customer offerings, belairdirect surprises the audience.

belairdirect busts a move with unexpected events in a new advertising campaign

 

In the latest campaign titled “The Gangs”, a scene unfolds with dancers in the street having what appears to be a dance-off. Out of nowhere, a car narrowly misses the group of dancers and unintentionally drives into a house. Capturing the attention of the neighbourhood, a brief back-and-forth occurs between the driver and homeowner, but the tension lifts when the crowd learns about belairdirect’s forgiveness products.

Building on the success of a storytelling-driven approach to ad campaigns, this new ad remains light-hearted, colourful and playful while focusing on belairdirect’s claim forgiveness products for home and auto policies. belairdirect understands that unexpected events can happen that are out of the customer’s control. With Home Claim Forgiveness and Accident Forgiveness your premium is protected.

“We had a lot of fun producing belairdirect’s latest campaign. With the success of our storytelling platform, our ad creates ‘ah-ha’ moments for the audience. Proving to resonate with customers, this campaign continues on with an amusing moment without being overly promotional,” said Humberto Valencia, Vice President Marketing & Digital Strategy at belairdirect. “Insurance provides peace of mind and this is why it is the focal point of our new campaign.”

This 360° campaign includes TV, online videos, radio, digital, billboards and social elements and will be predominately seen in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia starting March 9, 2020.

To view the full commercial, please visit:

https://youtu.be/KBGrU6X1YAM

CREDITS
Title:
The Gangs
Advertiser: 
belairdirect – Humberto Valencia, Evelyne Lepage, Marie-Claude Filion, Emilie Bélanger
Agency: 
Sid Lee Toronto
Production House: 
Ruffian
Director:
The Bobbsey Twins from Homicide
Post-production: 
Saints Editorial, Embassy vfx, Fort York vfx, Alter Ego
Sound: 
Vapor RMW, BLVD
Media:
PHD Montréal

About belairdirect

Founded in Quebec in 1955, belairdirect provides car and home insurance products directly to consumers. It currently employs more than 1,600 people. The company offers a simple but complete solution, allowing customers to communicate with an agent by phone, online or in person. belairdirect was the first property and casualty insurer in North America to sell car insurance products online (www.belairdirect.com), attesting to the company’s innovative character. belairdirect is a subsidiary of Intact Financial Corporation, the largest provider of property and casualty insurance in Canada and a leading provider of specialty insurance in North America (TSX : IFCwww.intactfc.com). belairdirect is a proud partner of Breakfast Club of Canada. For more information, please visit https://www.belairdirect.com or follow belairdirect on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

SOURCE belairdirect

Related Links

belairdirect.com

Cowan Insurance Group Awarded Platinum Status by Canada’s Best Managed Companies

Press Release:

Cambridge, ON – March 5, 2020 – Cowan Insurance Group, a leading Canadian insurance brokerage and consulting firm, was recognized for the eighth consecutive year by prestigious Canada’s Best Managed Companies program, earning Platinum Club status, for a second straight year.

Now in its 27th year, Canada’s Best Managed Companies is one of the country’s leading business awards programs recognizing Canadian-owned and managed companies for innovative, world-class business practices.

Cowan has proven itself as a market leader in commercial and personal insurance, group benefits, and wealth management through its client-centric approach to doing business and commitment to innovation and excellence.

“Best Managed Platinum Club winners are resilient. They have been consistent in successfully adapting to change throughout the years and overcoming economic challenges. These companies truly impact how Canada is viewed on the world stage when it comes to the success of private business,” said Kari Lockhart, Partner, Deloitte Private and Co-Leader, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program.

Applicants are evaluated by an independent judging panel comprised of representatives from program sponsors, in addition to special guest judges. 2020 Best Managed companies share commonalities that include a clear and concise strategy, and investment in resources and development with a strong emphasis on corporate social responsibility.

“Attaining Platinum status for a second consecutive year is a testament to our employees who continually go the extra mile and deliver excellence,” said Heather McLachlin, President of Cowan Insurance Group. “We care about what you care about is more than simply our tagline, it’s how we do business. Our clients are at the centre of all that we do.”

Winners will be recognized at the annual Canada’s Best Managed Companies gala in Toronto on April 1, 2020.

The Best Managed program is sponsored by Deloitte Private, CIBC, Canadian Business, Smith School of Business, and TMX Group.

Source: Cowan Insurance Group

Insurers warn federal government Canada can’t wait a decade to update flood maps

DYK: Most maps are, on average, 20 to 25 years out of date

CBC News 

Canada plans to focus its next budget on tackling climate change and its effects, but the insurance industry, amid skyrocketing costs, is concerned the government will move too slowly on the key first step of mapping flood risks.

Flood mapping is used to underwrite flood insurance, assess bank exposure across mortgage portfolios, inform home buyers, and plan new infrastructure. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged sweeping climate action during his re-election campaign last year, including $150 million  for flood mapping. The federal budget is expected at the end of March.

“Flooding is by far the single greatest peril facing Canadians as a result of climate change,” Craig Stewart, vice president of federal affairs for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, told Reuters.

Stewart said the natural resources ministry is proposing doing the mapping itself with the focus only on fluvial — river and lake — flooding, in a process that would take 10 years.

The natural resources and finance ministries both declined to say whether such a measure would be in the budget.

“We can’t take a decade to complete flood maps for this country, and we need to make sure we’re mapping urban and coastal flooding as well,” Stewart said. He estimates it could be done within three years if the government collaborates with the private sector.

Out of date

A government source said the approach it will take on mapping has yet to be decided.

Current mapping is on average 20 to 25 years out of date, said Blair Feltmate, head of the University of Waterloo’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation Faculty of Environment.

Insurers spent $1.9 billion annually, on average, between 2009 and 2019 on catastrophic flooding claims, compared with an average of $422 million per year in the 1983–2008 period, according to Insurance Bureau data. The four-fold increase was driven mostly by flood loss and the majority of claims were residential.

Last year, a government-commissioned panel on sustainable finance also recommended a public-private partnership for the mapping.

A member of the expert panel, Tiff Macklem, the dean of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and a former Bank of Canada senior deputy governor, said flood mapping is “an immediate priority.”

“The Expert Panel envisaged a model where the private sector would pay a membership fee,” Macklem said. “This type of model … would be both less expensive and provide higher-quality data.”

Source: CBC News

Hot topic! Should London’s fire department tap home insurance policy money?

Backers say Fire Marque program can offset costs, but one firefighter isn’t in favour

The excerpted article was written by Andrew Lupton · CBC News 

To its backers, Fire Marque’s business model helps municipal fire departments recover thousands in costs by tapping into a little-used area of coverage in many homeowner fire insurance policies.

But others say their work will lead to higher premiums for homeowners or worse, make them less likely to call for help in an emergency.

It’s a discussion underway in London after council’s community and protective services committee (CAPS) voted last month to take a look at the Fire Marque program for London. After hearing a pitch from the company at a recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference, Coun. Elizabeth Peloza wrote a letter to CAPS asking them to look into it and report back.

Peloza says Fire Marque could lead to “potential cost recoveries of opportunities” of between $291,461 to $485,769 a year.

But in a letter coming to Monday’s council meeting, London Fire district chief Kevin Dash says he’s “deeply concerned” about entering into any fee recovery agreement.

“When it comes to life safety, fees for service would have a profound negative effect on Londoners, some of whom may delay calling for help when seconds count,” he said.

So what is Fire Marque?

The company enters into agreements with municipalities that allow them to access clauses in home insurance policies that include reimbursement for fire departments that incur extra costs while battling a blaze. Fire Marque pockets 30 per cent of any claim paid to a fire department.

Fire Marque president Ted Woods said the claims can vary by policy, but said he’s seen fire departments collect anywhere from $1,000 per claim up to $250,000 for large commercial fires.

“It can really make sense,” said Woods. “If Londoners can receive a quarter of a million dollars or in that range every year, then every four years they could receive two fire trucks, if you want to look at it that way.”

The claims for this coverage can only be paid to the fire department, not the home owner or the municipality. Also, the money has to be spent in one of three areas: public education, capital expenses and training. The money can’t simply be absorbed into the fire department’s general budget.

“They’re for expenses that aren’t normal,” said Woods.

Woods said Fire Marque offers a potential benefit for cash-strapped municipalities without any risk to taxpayers. If a claim is successful, the fire department gets a cheque.

London city staff last looked at entering an agreement with Fire Marque in 2016, but opted against it.

Greg Hankkio is Thunder Bay’s acting fire chief.

His fire department became a Fire Marque client in 2017 and says they collected $100,000 in claims in 2018 and about the same amount in 2019.

“It’s been a revenue generator for us,” he said.

Hankkio said his department has put the money into a capital fund and used some of the cash to by a small boat for water rescues.

But won’t premiums rise?

Woods says he doesn’t think his company’s work will lead to a rise in home insurance premiums.

“The insurance companies have calculated the premiums based on the coverages,” he said. “A quarter of a million dollars in recoveries across all the companies and across the whole city is negligible.”

Not so fast says Pete Karageorgos of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

He says it’s naive to think that a rise in claims won’t also increase premiums.

“Any time claims costs increase, that will in the future be reflected in the premiums that homeowners pay,” he said. “Those taxpayers who are paying property taxes for the fire department are going to be paying a second time if they have claims pay outs for fire department charges.”

But what about Dash’s letter, where he worries homeowners may become reluctant to call 911 in an emergency, fearing their premiums will rise or they’ll be hit with extra costs?

Woods says it appears Dash doesn’t understand how Fire Marque’s program works.

“He’s misinformed,” said Woods.

In a note to CBC News, London’s Police Chief Lori Hamer said Dash’s letter to city council “reflects his own personal opinion on this matter.”

Hamer said her department is reviewing the Fire Marque program in response to the request from the CAPS committee.

“We will be reviewing this request and will bring information back to Council for their consideration by June, 2020,” she said.

Source: CBC News

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