Postal code change leaves couple facing insurance hike

Ryan Flanagan, Producer,

An Ontario couple saw their home and auto insurance premiums increase to the tune of hundreds of dollars per year because of a change in their address – even though they didn’t move.

Christine and David Pindar live in a rural part of Oshawa, Ont., east of Toronto.

They were notified by Canada Post last summer that the last three digits of their postal code would be changing. Once the change took effect, they passed on the new information to their insurance company, the Allstate Insurance Company of Canada.

“They said ‘Oh, well that means your premiums are going to have to go up,’” Christine Pindar told

Pindar said her house insurance premium rose by 37 per cent and the premiums for her and her husband’s three cars increased by about 10 per cent each. She pegged the overall increase at approximately $600 per year.

Taking a deeper dive into the numbers, she found that her insurance company now believed it would cost her more to replace her house in the event it was destroyed – not just because of inflation, but also because of the new postal code – while the actual assessed value of the home remained the same.

When she contacted Allstate, she said she was told that the new postal code put her into a higher-risk area.

Particularly strange, as Pindar sees it, is that the new postal code didn’t exist before last summer – making her wonder how exactly it can be deemed risky.

“It’s a brand-new postal code. How can that create an increase? It just blows my mind,” she said.

Pindar said she and her husband are looking into their options and if there is anything they can do to lower their premiums.

“For anybody, $600 is a slap in the face for no reason,” she said.

A spokesperson for Allstate Canada declined to address the Pindars’ situation specifically.


According to Canada Post, the Pindars’ home is one of approximately 500 in the Oshawa area which saw their postal codes reassigned as part of changes to postal routes. The changes “are necessary to accommodate increased growth in the area and to improve overall delivery efficiencies,” according to a spokesperson for the agency.

“Postal code changes do not happen often and we go to great lengths not to change them,” the spokesperson said.

Postal codes play a significant role in determining insurance premiums in Ontario. The Allstate spokesperson said the company includes postal code data as well as a home’s age and type when calculating home insurance policies. Auto insurance policies are based on factors including the vehicle’s safety rating and usage, as well as the driver’s experience and previous claims.

“All insurance companies operating in Ontario are mandated by the provincial regulator to consider postal codes when calculating premiums and we must adhere to that regulatory framework,” Jordan Kerbel, the company’s director of external relations, said in a statement.

According to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, people living in urban areas generally face higher rates because of higher traffic levels and increased likelihood of theft.

Pindar suspects this may be at play in her case, as her previous postal code covered an area spread further out from Highway 407 than the area of the new code.

Jasmine Daya, a Toronto-based lawyer, told CTV’s Your Morning Monday that Ontario’s so-called postal code discrimination tends to benefit drivers in downtown Toronto and outside the Greater Toronto Area, while drivers in suburban parts of the GTA typically have to pay higher auto insurance rates.

“People in Brampton, people in Scarborough, their rates are very high,” she said.

“People who are paying lower rates, being outside the GTA, are very happy to have postal code discrimination because they benefit.”

Two bills introduced at Queen’s Park last fall called for the Ontario government to ban the practiceof letting insurance companies set rates based on addresses or postal codes.

How does Canada mitigate the impact of flooding?

The director of the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance at Dalhousie University says provinces need to do more to mitigate the impact of flooding, by forcing residents to make tough decisions.

“We need to take a medium-term view, work with the communities and get people out of flood-prone areas,” says Dr. Kevin Quigley.

But how can provinces encourage people to get out of certain areas that are becoming more and more accustomed to devastating flooding?

New Brunswick is one of the provinces dealing with a massive deluge of water. Premier Blaine Higgs told a press conference Tuesday that there needs to be a deeper look into the issue.

“We’ve got to look seriously at the impacts that we’re seeing with changing weather conditions and how we evaluate building sites, and how we encourage people to actually relocate.”

François Legault, Quebec’s premier, announced an accumulative compensation plan capped at $100,000 for residents in that province, and then a form of buyout plan.

“It means if people ask for some money in the next three, five, ten years, there will be an accumulative amount of $100,000,” Legault told reporters Tuesday. “When the accumulative amount will be reached, then we’ll offer a maximum of $200,000 to move to another house.”

Quigley says a buyout incentive is a good idea, but it needs a lot of thought and community consultation.

“You could buy a lot of properties that are going to sit empty and going to be vulnerabilities and environmental problems and health and safety problems in other ways for the government, they own a bunch of properties,” he said.

Quigley added that better urban planning is needed along with “building robust infrastructure.”

While acknowledging many people have long-enjoyed living on the water, the risks are increasing with the impact of climate change, according to Quigley.

Last year the New Brunswick Liberal Party required some property owners to prove they took steps to help mitigate flood risks from impacting their homes.

Higgs said the idea of permits should be looked at, but nothing is finalized.

“We have to work with that with individuals because they’re going to have trouble getting insurance,” he said. “We have to plan a different profile going forward.”

Quigley says more and more data is becoming available about flooding impacts, meaning insurance policies can be better implemented but need to be regulated by the government.

“If we know it’s predictable enough, then we can ask people to pay for the real cost of the property that they’re occupying,” he says.

Don’t Delay –  Enter your Manitoba Continuing Education (CE) Credits today

Don’t Delay – Enter your Manitoba Continuing Education (CE) Credits today

Don’t leave the entry of your completed Manitoba Continuing Education credits until the last minute.

Enter credits upon completion and allow the Insurance Council of Manitoba’s on-line CE system to to
a)track how many CE credits you have completed,
b) remind/inform you of how many more credits are required to renew your license and
c) simplify your on-line renewal.

Register as a new applicant of Login with your existing ICM account with your User Id and Password and click on “Continuing Education” to view your CE Status and log the CE courses that you have successfully completed. Simplified instructions to enter your CE credits are outlined under “Report Courses”.

Continuing education credits must have been obtained from an accredited course provider, such as ILScorp or have received individual course approval by the ICM.

Manitoba General/Adjuster Accredited Courses

If you intend to apply a course or seminar that is not offered by an Accredited Course Provider, completion and submission of the Individual CE Approval Application is required. The application form must be submitted to the ICM at least 30 days in advance of the course to ensure sufficient time to make an informed determination as to whether the CE course qualifies for Manitoba CE credits. More information on what type of CE would fall into this category can be found on the ICM website under “Continuing Education Info”

Manitoba Life/A&S Accredited Courses

Entry of CE for the same course more than once may be permitted on an exception basis only. If an agent wishes to claim credit for a course more than once, the agent must contact the Insurance Council of Manitoba for prior approval and provide written reasons. This review is subject to the individual course review fee of $50.

For your reference, the Manitoba Continuing Education Credit requirements including the applicable definition for each class of license can be located on the ICM website, and are briefly outlined below:

Manitoba Continuing Education Credit Hour Requirements

Life and/or Accident & Sickness


Auto-Only Brokers


CE Information specific to Non-Residents of Manitoba

Non-residents residing in Canadian jurisdictions that have continuing education requirements will be deemed to have met the requirement in Manitoba. Agents/Brokers residing in a jurisdiction where continuing education is not mandatory are required to comply with Manitoba’s continuing education requirements.

Residents of the United States of America are required to comply with Manitoba continuing education requirements.

NOTE: Continuing Education Credits must be obtained from an Accredited Course Provider or a course that has been individually approved by the Insurance Council of Manitoba.

The insurance question: No heat or hot water for 6 days at North York condo building

CBC News Toronto

A North York condo building went six days without hot water or heat after a fire in the building’s hydro transformer over the weekend.

Hoseyn Khosravani, a tenant at 399 Spring Garden Ave., told CBC Toronto he had been layering blankets on his bed and heating up water on his stove in order to wash.

“It’s pretty bad,” he said in an interview a few hours before heat and hot water were restored late Thursday afternoon.

Khosravani’s neighbour, Reza Maleki, had also been struggling, describing the six days without heat or hot water as “hard.”

In a written statement to CBC Toronto, the building management company, Times Property Management Inc., said was “working around the clock,” along with Toronto Hydro and various contractors, to fix the problems.

Toronto Fire confirms that they were called to this North York address on Saturday, April 20 to deal with reports of smoke in the hydro vault near the building’s condo garage. (Garry Asselstine/CBC)

Two hours later, they followed up with tenants, writing that hot water, heat, and hallway ventilation had been restored to the building, though some communal rooms still lacked power.

The insurance question

Though heat and hot water have returned, Khosravani remains frustrated by the slow pace of repairs and lack of clear communication from condo management.

When he had asked about building insurance and options to be housed elsewhere, he said he was eventually told by the management team to find the certificate number for the insurance policy on his own unit.

Denise Lash, a lawyer who specializes in condo law, says that’s by the book.

Lash says condo corporations are obligated to take “reasonable steps” to repair damage to common elements like heat and electricity — but that repair processes can be complicated and lengthy, and that condo corps don’t need to pay for tenants to live elsewhere.

“That is something that a corporation does not have an obligation to do … That is where it’s important for unit owners to get their proper insurance,” she said.

Lash also said the situation can be quite different for tenants like Khosravani who are renting, as opposed to unit owners.

“An owner should get their own insurance. A landlord may have an obligation with respect to finding accommodation for their tenant,” she said.

Are spring floods the disturbing new normal?

The excerpted article was written by James Bagnall

Two years ago, homeowners in the Ottawa could comfort themselves that record floods were a freak anomaly. Rainfall in the Ottawa River basin that April — all 159 millimetres of it —was the highest it had been in 125 years according to the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board.

That, combined with a significant snow melt, produced enough river water to flood thousands of homes in Quebec and more than 500 residences in Ottawa.

Now, here we are again, with flood waters approaching and, in some areas exceeding, the levels of 2017.  And this, a scant seven months after a series of tornadoes ripped through the capital region.

Is extreme weather the new normal?

One way to try to answer this is to look at things through the eyes of insurers — the companies that must pay for part of the damage done.

There’s little question catastrophic events are on the rise around the world. SwissRe — a top insurer — estimates insurance firms paid out an average of $71 billion U.S. in claims each year over the past decade. These resulted from hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires and other natural and man-made disasters.  That’s nearly 40-per-cent higher in inflation adjusted terms from the previous decade.

In Canada, the escalation in claims has been even more dramatic. From 2009 to 2018, Canadian insurers paid out an average of $1.9 billion annually compared to just $429 million in the previous decade. These numbers, provided by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, have also been adjusted for inflation.

Nationally, claims in the most recent decade were torqued by a handful of catastrophes — including the 2016 fire at Fort McMurray, the 2013 floods in southern Alberta and a 2011 fire that devastated Slave Lake, Alberta.

The weather disaster that would have the biggest impact on insurance policies through the country was the southern Alberta flood — which saw more than 75,000 flee their homes in Calgary alone.

“That catastrophe changed the Canadian psyche,” said Peter Karageorgos, the IBC’s director of consumer & industry relations. “People realized that water damage can happen anywhere.”

Until 2013, insurance policies were actually a little unclear about whether damage caused by water moving over land was covered. Insurance firms decided they would make good the Alberta claims — some $1.7 billion worth — but would develop contract language making it clear exactly what insurers would pay for. There followed a multi-year exercise in mapping out the country’s flood plains in great detail.

The majority of the country’s dozens of insurance firms now offer over land flood insurance. Nevertheless, the uptake from homeowners has been modest — still just one in three policy holders have opted in.

The percentage covered was even lower two years ago when the Ottawa River crested, affecting 1,400 homes on the Gatineau side and 500 in Ottawa, mainly in West Carleton.

That’s likely why the amounts paid out to homeowners tended to be relatively modest.  For instance Aviva and Desjardins — two of the country’s largest private insurers — each paid out about $4 million to settle 413 and 255 claims respectively, related to floods in the national capital region in the spring of 2017. That represents an average of about $12,000 per claim.

This doesn’t include government assistance, damages not covered by insurance and, perhaps most of all, the staggering amount of volunteer effort aimed at blunting the impact of the waters.

While it may be too early to tell, homeowners and volunteers appear to have thwarted at least some of the flooding this year through prodigious effort.

Will this year’s water levels induce a fundamental shift in how people view the Ottawa River? Undoubtedly, yes. The amount of rainfall in April in each of the last three years has averaged 124 millimetres in Ottawa according to Environment Canada, and that’s without the amounts expected in the coming week. That’s double the average in April recorded in each of the previous five years — and it’s starting to feel like a permanent feature of the capital’s spring.

Will it be enough to prompt people to move off flood plains? Undoubtedly some will, but many others will stay put.

Those with a long history in the region may recall that twice before the Ottawa River very nearly reached the peak of 43 metres achieved in 2017 (and likely surpassed this year). That was in 1974 and 1976 — triggering two floods in a three-year period.

It would be many more years before a bad combination of rain, snow pack and temperatures transformed the river into a torrent. With any luck, it could take years more again.

However, in light of the increased intensity of storms generally over the past decade, homeowners would be smart not to count on it.

The Telegram

New standard recommended in response to high-wind damage to Canadian homes

A report from the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) recommends the development of a new national standard of Canada on wind resilience to mitigate residential and small building property damage resulting from natural disasters in Canada.

High winds contributed in part to most natural catastrophes recorded by the Insurance Bureau of Canada between 1983 and 2016. The May 2018 windstorm, for example, in southern Ontario and Quebec, followed by tornadoes in the National Capital Region in September 2018, caused close to $1 billion in insured losses, according to Catastrophe Indices and Quantifications Inc.

Specifically, the report proposes measures for four major categories: roofs; walls and upper and lower storey connections; anchoring of the building to the foundation; and additional construction details such as garage doors. These measures could form the basis of a new National Standard of Canada, which governments could incorporate into regulation, which could be integrated in the National Building Code or to which builders could adhere voluntarily thus raising the bar for construction in Canada.

“Protecting residential structures will be aided by measures that have the biggest impact on structural safety,” said Paul Kovacs, executive director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction.  “For example, roofs are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of high wind. Keeping roofs sound and well-connected to walls helps reduce structural failure and property damage, like that associated with intrusion of water.”

“Standardization is an important tool to protect Canadian communities from extreme weather,” said Chantal Guay, CEO of the Standards Council of Canada. “New guidance in this area is a much-needed enhancement to the infrastructure and building safety toolbox,” said Guay. “By collaborating with ICLR and SCC accredited standards development organizations, we are setting a foundation for a new national standard that will help protect Canadians and their homes during extreme weather events.”

Homeowners, builders, insurers and decision makers are well-advised to mitigate the risks of extreme weather events to property. The report is available for download on ICLR’s website – – and on SCC’s website –

About the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction

Established in 1997 by Canada’s property and casualty insurers, the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction is an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at Western University in London, Canada. The International Council for Science designated the Institute as an International Centre of Excellence in integrated research on disaster risk. The Institute is also a founding member of the Global Alliance of Disaster Research Institutes. The Institute’s research staff are internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a foundation for the Institute’s work to build communities more resilient to disasters.

About the Standards Council of Canada

SCC is a Crown corporation that leads Canada’s standardization network. SCC facilitates the development and use of national and international standards and accreditation services in order to enhance Canada’s competitiveness and well-being. SCC is part of the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada portfolio. To learn more about SCC, please visit

For the latest SCC news, subscribe to the SCC Monthly Newsletter or follow us on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.

SOURCE Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction

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