Former ICBC executive Nick Geer, killed in Calif. crash, remembered as family man

Excerpted article was written by Jeff Bell / Times Colonist

Nick Geer, a former Insurance Corp. of B.C. chief executive, is being remembered as a dedicated family man after his death in a motor-vehicle accident.

Geer, 75, was killed Monday in the crash near Sacramento, California. His wife of 49 years, Penny, was hospitalized at the Enloe Medical Centre in Chico. She has since been moved to the intensive-care unit at Vancouver General Hospital.

The couple had been on their way to Loreto Bay, which family members said was their favourite place.

Friends and supporters have sent numerous messages of love and support via Facebook and CaringBridge.org. “We will continue to pray for your mother’s full recovery,” said one note. “And we will always cherish the many good times we had with your dad.”

The family has been “truly moved” by the caring response, daughter Sam said in a note on CaringBridge.org.

Sam and her siblings, Jilly and Noel, issued a statement about their father. They said that he believed “the easiest way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”

“This was his philosophy,” they said. “He approached a problem not as a problem but as an opportunity.”

The children said he strove to create a legacy “through his work in the community and love for his country, family and friends.”

His community involvement earned him a Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003.

The family will carry special memories, the children said.

“Dad will always be remembered as a kind grandpa, a loving father, a caring partner and a true friend to so many,” they said. “The world won’t be the same without him.

“Your memory will always guide us and be our north star, and we love you forever, dad.”

Geer was born in London, England, and made his way to Vancouver in 1967. He worked at a number of accounting firms around Vancouver, then served as vice-chairman of the Pattison Group from 1980 to 1999 before working at ICBC from 2001 to 2004.

He was chairman and a co-founder of Collingwood School, an independent grade school in West Vancouver, and more recently was chairman of the board for NAV Canada, which owns and runs the country’s civil air navigation system.

On the occasion of Collingwood’s 2011 annual general meeting, headmaster Rodger Wright noted it was the last one for “the legendary Nick Geer, who has stood carefully and continuously by the school since before we were a school.”

Among Geer’s efforts at ICBC was cost-cutting, which he outlined in 2003 to a group of B.C. Liberal backbenchers.

He told them he arrived at the corporation to find “a fleet of vehicles that would choke a horse.”

He said there were more than 900 company vehicles at one point, a number that was pared down to 87. Both pool vehicles and executive cars were affected.

The number of employees also dropped, and 270,000 square feet of corporation space was eliminated. For management, individual performance plans meant “if the company does well and the individual does well, their pay will go up,” Geer said.

When the Probus Club of North Shore Vancouver welcomed Geer as a guest speaker, it noted that he had changed ICBC’s bottom line from a $250-million loss in 2001 to a $389-million profit by 2004.

Alaska quake shows complexity of tsunami warnings

By John Antczak

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOS ANGELES _ The powerful earthquake that struck beneath the Gulf of Alaska early Tuesday generated a tsunami, but before gauges could show that it was very small, warnings went out to a vast swath of the state and British Columbia, while a lower-level alert targeted the rest of the West Coast.

The magnitude-7.9 earthquake set in motion complex analysis that eventually downgraded and called off all alerts in less than four hours, but the protocol for the initial warnings only considered magnitude and location, said David Hale, a lead decision maker at the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska.

“We don’t have the luxury of time to be able to gather the data necessary to determine whether there is or is not a wave,” Hale said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

In deep water, a tsunami can travel at speeds in excess of 500 mph (805 kph), meaning residents of nearby coasts need to move immediately toward high ground or tall buildings.

The quake struck at 12:32 a.m. and was centred about 175 miles (280 kilometres) southeast of the city of Kodiak. It was given a preliminary magnitude of 8.0, upgraded briefly to 8.2 and then lowered to 7.9.

In the meantime, protocol tied to the initial magnitude and its location relatively near the coast required a  ‘local” tsunami warning, encompassing the vast span from Attu Island in the westernmost Aleutian Islands to the border between British Columbia and Washington state.

The rest of the U.S. West Coast south to the California-Mexico border was put on a watch, indicating  “something has occurred in the area that could have impacts at some point” and the need to pay attention to announcements, Hale said.

An earthquake generates a tsunami by forcing ocean water upward as one side of a fault rupture goes up and the other side goes down. But how the quake happens makes a difference. An undersea quake on a so-called thrust fault lifts a great deal of land and therefore more water. Another kind of fault, called a strike-slip, moves horizontally to the sea floor and pushes up less water.

After the initial alerts went out, the National Tsunami Warning Center turned to using models and looking at tide gauges in the area, Hale said.

Within 20 or 30 minutes, it was almost certain the quake occurred on a strike-slip fault that moves less water. After about 40 minutes, gauges showed that a tsunami had been generated, and officials compared data about the extent of the wave with the models.

Three tsunami-detection buoys in the area also detected the wave and showed it was small.

“At that point, we began whittling down the areas that are actually placed in alerts,” Hale said.

At 3:12 a.m., the centre issued its fifth message, confirming a tsunami, cancelling warnings and watches but leaving south Alaska and the Alaska peninsula under a low-level advisory to expect some effects.

The centrecancelled that advisory an hour later and reported the maximum tsunami height was 0.7 of a foot (0.21 of a meter) at Old Harbor, Alaska.

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

By Bob Weber

THE CANADIAN PRESS

If it seems as if the weather’s getting weirder, you’re not wrong.

An index of extreme weather in Canada compiled by the insurance industry backs that up.

“Yes, we see definite trends that can’t be explained by normal variability,” said Caterina Lindman of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

The institute compiles what it calls the Actuaries Climate Index, a joint effort by insurance organizations across North America. It recently released its latest quarterly update up to spring 2017.

The index begins with a 30-year average taken from 1961 to 1990 of everyday weather conditions such as temperature, precipitation, wind speed and sea level. Thresholds are set for each of those based on the top 10 per cent of readings.

For an average month, for example, about three days would be in that 10 per cent.

Using data provided by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration one of the top American government science organizations the index then counts how many days actually exceed that threshold. The index plots the results for every three-month period since 2016.

The method reveals a slow, gradual increase in extreme weather.

The overall Canadian index indicates that during the entire three decades between 1961 and 1990, extreme weather fell outside the range of normal variability only five times. In the last 10 years, however, that happened 12 times.

Temperatures have been climbing.

Across Canada, hot days have exceeded the normal number every quarter since the winter of 2015. The number of cold days hasn’t exceeded normal for nine years.

It’s getting wetter, too. Across Canada, the average number of days with heavy rain or snow has been outside the norm since spring 2013. In Ontario and Quebec, it’s been since winter 2008.

It’s harder to draw conclusions about wind for Canada as a whole. Likewise for sea level unless you live in the Maritimes, where sea level has been higher than the normal range for the last 12 years.

The findings correspond with data from Environment Canada, which suggests average summer temperatures have climbed one degree since 1970 and precipitation has increased about five per cent.

Actuaries use the information in their calculation of risk as they insure lives and property, said Lindman. But they also do it to contribute to public debate.

“There’s a lot of political angst around the issue of global warming and we’re trying to be neutral sources,” she said. “We’re just adding our voice.

“We’re in it for the long haul, so we are concerned for the sustainability of our planet.”

Significant flooding hits Atlantic Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is encouraging residents affected by flooding in Atlantic Canada to call their insurance representatives immediately if they have damage to report.

“We have seen the devastating effects that flooding can have on communities across our region,” said Tom O’Handley, Manager, Government Relations, Atlantic, IBC. “Warming temperatures and melting snow are adding to the already-dangerous conditions in some parts of Atlantic Canada.  There is a need for everyone to be on alert and to be safe. That’s why we want to help make sure that Atlantic Canadians are prepared and ready to deal with the damage when floods strike.”

Overland flood insurance has become more available across Atlantic Canada in recent years. When severe weather occurs, it is important for consumers to understand their insurance policies and to know what is covered. If damage occurs, consumers should contact their insurance representatives. IBC is also here to help policyholders if they have any insurance-related questions.

“IBC’s Consumer Information Centre is also available to answer any insurance-related questions that affected individuals might have. Contact us at 1-844-2ASK-IBC. We’re here to help,” added O’Handley.

If you have a claim, this is how to start the claims process:

  • When safe to do so, assess and document damage.
  • Call your insurance representative and/or company to report damage or losses.
  • Be as detailed as possible when providing information.
  • Water damage to vehicles is usually covered under comprehensive or all-perils policies. Contact your insurance representative for more details.
  • If you need help getting in touch with your insurer, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ASK-IBC (1-844-227-5422).

When flooding is imminent, help protect your home from water damage:

  • Store valuable items in upper floors of your home, away from the basement.
  • Have large appliances, furnaces, hot water heaters and electrical panels raised up on wood or cement blocks. If you’re unable to do so, consider anchoring these items and protecting them with a floodwall or shield.
  • Anchor fuel tanks to the floor. A fuel tank can tip over or float in a flood, causing fuel to spill or catch fire. Make sure vents and fill-line openings are above flood levels. For propane tanks, contact the propane company on best storage methods.
  • If flooding is imminent, shut off electricity to areas of the home that may be affected. Use sand bags or install flood shields or built-up barriers for basement windows and doors.
  • Create an emergency preparedness plan with your family.
  • Assemble an emergency supply kit.
  • Prepare a detailed home inventory.
  • Pay attention to local authorities and monitor weather developments regularly.
  • Avoid roads covered by water

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 120,000 Canadians, pays $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $52 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow IBC 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.

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

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

Small businesses in B.C. in line for $18,500 relief for losses in wildfires

The British Columbia government is offering eligible small businesses increased relief funds up to a maximum of $18,500 for losses following this summer’s wildfire season.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said Wednesday, November 29, 2017 the province is partnering with the Canadian Red Cross to provide the money to small businesses as partial compensation for uninsured losses, insurance deductibles, minor repairs and clean ups.

Donaldson said funding is also available to not-for-profit organizations and Indigenous communities.

Finance Minister Carole James pegged the most recent government estimate of last summer’s wildfire damage costs at almost $660 million.

Donaldson said small businesses and others can apply for the new relief funds through the Red Cross, who will review each funding request on a case-by-case basis.

Injuries sustained at mass shootings covered by travel insurance

NICK EAGLAND | Vancouver Sun

Canadian travellers injured in mass-casualty events such as Sunday’s shooting in Las Vegas could face financial devastation without travel insurance.

Six Canadians were among more than 500 people who were injured in the deadly attack Sunday night, including 21-year-old Sheldon Mack of Victoria. Mack was in intensive care Monday after he was shot twice and suffered a ruptured colon and broken forearm.

Also injured were Jan Lambourne of Teulon, Man., Jody Ansell of Stonewall, Man., Steve Arruda of Calgary, Alta., Carrie-Lynn Denis of Leoville, Sask. and Ryan Sarrazin of Camrose, Alta.

Will McAleer, president of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, said a typical travel insurance policy, which can cost a few dollars per day, will “absolutely” cover emergency treatment for significant trauma such as gunshot wounds, which can require intensive surgery, rehabilitation and air evacuation, otherwise costing upwards of US$300,000.

McAleer said travel insurance is also important because it provides assistance services that help people navigate health care systems abroad, where they may need someone advocating for them and acting as a point of contact for family members at home.

He recommends travellers carry copies of their policies with them at all times or use their smartphones to photograph their policy number and insurer’s emergency contact information.

McAleer said it’s vital to plan ahead and protect yourself with insurance when travelling, no matter the destination.

“The sad part, that I think we’re facing, is that this is sort of becoming the new normal,” McAleer said.

“We think, ‘Be careful before you travel to a risky place,’ maybe the Middle East, et cetera. But now, whether it’s Orlando, London, New York City — whether it’s Edmonton — these things are happening with increased frequency.”

Global Affairs Canada advised anyone in Las Vegas who needs emergency consular assistance to call the Consulate General of Canada in Los Angeles at 1-844-880-6519 or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa directly at 1-613-996-8885.

— Nick Eagland with files from Canadian Press

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