Retired insurance agent wants standard homeowner policy in wake of flood

Philip Drost · CBC News

Retired insurance agent Mac Burns says its time for all insurance companies to use standard wording in their policies, and the provincial government needs to make sure it happens.

“I have a standard wording on my auto policy. We would like to see the same come true for the homeowners policies,” said Burns.

Burns held a meeting on Sunday at the Jemseg Lions Club to help people trying to get insurance money after having their cottages and homes damaged by the flood.

Mac Burns is trying to help people struggling with their insurance companies in the wake of this year’s flood. (Philip Drost/CBC News)

He leads a group called “But For Wind”, which is trying to get insurance companies to recognize that wind also caused damage during the flood.

“If there’s 60 companies that insure homeowners policies in New Brunswick, there could be 60 different policy wordings for what they’re covered for,” said Burns.

Insurance confusion

Dawn Burke doesn’t know when she will get to live in her house again. (Philip Drost/CBC)

More than 50 people went to the meeting, including Dawn Burke. She has a home in Mill Cove, which was hit hard by the flood. She still can’t live in it, and doesn’t know when she will be able to move back in.

“We need as much help as we can. Education is so important for us. We don’t know what we don’t know,” said Burke.

Burke said her insurance company has been difficult to work with, and confusing. She would like things to be a lot clearer.

“For myself, and for many others, we get lost in the wording of a policy, and so then we have to take at face value what our insurance agents and adjusters are telling us, and we don’t really know if that’s the truth or not,” said Burke.

“People talked to me during the flood about how I was able to handle it, and I would say I struggle more now than when the event was actually happening, because of the unknown.”

PC MLA Ross Wetmore said he would support a standard homeowners policy for New Brunswick. (Philip Drost/CBC News)

Progressive Conservative MLA for Gagetown to Petitcodiac Ross Wetmore was at the meeting. He said he supports the idea of a standard homeowners policy across the province.

“I think that’s a great idea, I think it should be a standard policy,” said Wetmore.

Burns said the group’s first priority is to make sure insurance companies recognize people’s claims who had wind cause damage to their property. Then it will move on to pushing for the standardization of policy wording.

Insurance bureau has advice for residents who blame wind for flood damage

Industry group says adjusters evaluate ‘circumstances of the entire event’

Jordan Gill · CBC News

Private insurance companies in New Brunswick are urging people who suffered property damage during spring flooding to contact their agents directly to discuss their individual policies and whether wind damage is covered.

This comes after retired insurance agent Mac Burns launched a campaign to help people who have had their claims turned down because they don’t have flood coverage, even though in many cases the damage didn’t happen until powerful winds came up the first weekend in May.

Burns said that since the “But For The Wind” campaign began, he has been contacted by 23 people whose claims have been denied by insurance companies.

Erin Norwood, the Atlantic manager of government relations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said people may not have “correct information.”

“When a claim is presented for loss or damage … the circumstances of the entire event are analyzed against the coverage terms and conditions,” she said.

Insurance ombudsman can help

Richard and Judy Ingram say their insurance adjuster attributes the damage in their cottage to the flood, although wind was the prime culprit. (CBC)

Richard and Judy Ingram said their insurance adjuster told them the damage to their cottage likely wouldn’t be covered because they didn’t have flood insurance.

But the Ingrams say the damage was actually caused by the wind, which their policy does cover.

Norwood said all factors that contributed to the damage will be taken into consideration by insurance companies.

Some retired insurance agents have banded together to form a task force to help get information to people who suffered wind damage on May 5 during the spring flood. The Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Erin Norwood is the Atlantic Manager of Government Relations, she says every policy is different and people need to check with their broker to get the correct information. 11:46

“Loss or damage from a single occurrence with multiple causes, such as this case, are adjusted and settled as one event. A policyholder doesn’t need to submit a water claim and then a distinct wind claim for the same occurrence.”

Norwood said if cottage owners have a complaint about an insurance adjuster’s findings, each company has an in-house ombudsman who can help.

“It is available, it’s there to be used, and if you do have concerns that’s where you should be sending them,” she said.

Urged to call insurance agents

Norwood said the best people to answer questions about a cottage owner’s insurance policy are at the company that provided the insurance since there’s no standard in the industry as to what’s covered.

“Every policy is worded differently, ” she said.

“The insurance industry is a very competitive market, so products offered by companies differ to meet different consumer … needs.”

Norwood said the Insurance Bureau of Canada also has staff who can answer questions.

Just as cottage owners have been denied help under their insurance policies, they have received only limited assistance from the province.

Cottage owners can apply for flood recovery assistance up to $6,100, but only for cleaning up debris outside their cottages, not for cleaning anything touched by floodwaters inside their cottages.

Getting rid of location-based auto insurance rates won’t reduce premiums: Insurers

Bryan Passifiume | Toronto Sun

After Thursday, your address may no longer impact your car insurance bill.

All three major parties have expressed varying degrees of interest in eliminating location-based insurance rates that use your postal code to determine premiums.

Data from insurance aggregator Kanetix says north Brampton boasts Ontario’s highest rates, with an average premiums topping $2,398 annually.

That’s a bit less than Toronto’s most expensive rates, $2,384 a year in north Scarborough.

Kanetix.ca insurance expert Anne Marie Thomas attributed the high rates to previous claim histories in the area.

“It’s how often do they happen, and how big they are when they do happen,” she said.

In some cases, motorists could pay hundreds more than those living across the street.

Homeowners living at Lawrence Ave. and Scarlett Rd. pays $600 less annually than those a block east at Weston Rd.

In Brampton, living north or south of Mayfield Rd. translates to a $1,234 difference in your policy.

Twenty kilometres northwest of Brampton in Erin, that gap increases to $1,380.

The NDP and Liberals have incorporated a pledge to eliminate location-based ratings, while the Progressive Conseratives talked about it last year. A PC spokesman could not be reached for comment.

“It’s not right that someone living in Brampton should have to pay much, much more than someone living in neighbouring Caledon for the exact same insurance,” the Ontario NDP said in a statement to theToronto Sun.

“The NDP plan reduces auto insurance rates by 15%, and ends neighbourhood discrimination.”

Pete Karageorgos, of the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), said companies don’t arbitrarily set rates — they’re regulated by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO.)

Thomas said eliminating location-based rates would mean relief for some, but pain for others.

“It means that Brampton rates would go down, but Ajax would go up,” she said.

Reducing fraud is a better way to reduce rates, she said — a $1.6 billion-per-year problem according to the IBC, adding $246 annually per auto insurance policy.

Cottage owners fight for insurance companies to recognize wind damage in flood

Elizabeth Fraser · CBC News 

At the beginning of May, blustery winds lifted Richard and Judy Ingram’s cottage right off its substructure — slamming the building into the waters of Masquapit Lake.

The incident damaged everything inside the building, which has been in the family for three generations.

“We couldn’t get into the door, the water was still too deep around it,” said Judy Ingram.

Within a week, the couple filed an insurance claim, in which they said wind was the main cause of the damage.

But an insurance adjuster told them their claim probably wouldn’t be covered because they didn’t have flood insurance.

“He was talking water, I was talking wind … I know I don’t have any flood insurance,” said Richard Ingram.

“My issue was not flood, my issue was strictly wind.”

It’s been several weeks and they still haven’t heard back from their insurance company.

“We certainly can’t afford to repair everything,” said Judy Ingram.

“We’re both pensioners and we have what we have. There’s no chance we’re going to get a big bonus at the end of the year to cover these costs.”

The couple said repairs inside the cottage could cost them at least $40,000. The estimate includes rebuilding walls, putting in new doors and flooring — but not lifting the cottage back onto its substructure.

He said most of the damage happened in PC ridings, and figured many of the people living in those areas would contact their MLAs.

“In order for us to get the message out, we want to talk to Blaine Higgs and say, ‘Can you help us get in touch with these people?'” he said.

“We don’t have a big following, we have no following right now. If I posted something on Facebook that said ‘But For the Wind task force,’ nobody would know.”

Wind claims denied

Over the past few weeks, he’s seen 23 wind claims that have been denied by different insurance companies.

“Some people have cottages with mortgages on them and their cottages are completely destroyed, so they’re looking for help,” Burns said.

“They don’t know where to turn to and that’s why we’re trying to help, to give them some guidance.”

The group wants to bring these claims back to insurance companies so they can have another look.

Mac Burns is a retired insurance agent who has gathered a group of retired insurance professionals to help people like the Ingrams. (CBC)

“We do think there’s strength in numbers that the more vocal we are, the more support we have, that the insurance companies will look more favourably on it,” Burns said.

“We want to go to head office and say, ‘Here’s your policy holders, here’s their situation let’s look at it again.'”

A public meeting will take place Friday at 7 p.m. at Douglas Harbor Community Centre and in Jemseg on Sunday at 2 p.m. for cottage and homeowners interested in getting a second opinion.

Burns said he has faced some pushback from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which  represents insurance companies.

He said the organization has concerns about what his group is doing in reaching out to help the public.

But he’s not willing to give up.

“If we didn’t think we had an opportunity to get claims paid, we wouldn’t be volunteering our time,” he said.

“Getting it jacked up is going to be the biggest cost and if they can do that without destroying the roof maybe we can move ahead but if it cracks in two we’ll just have to have a bonfire,” said Judy.

Although they haven’t heard back from their insurance company, they may get some help combing through their policy from a group of retired insurance professionals calling themselves “But for the Wind.”

Laurentian Bank looks to leave mortgage loan review woes behind

MONTREAL _ Laurentian Bank Financial Group expects to put troubles related to a mortgage loan review behind it this year, chief executive Francois Desjardins said Friday as the bank raised its dividend and reported a better-than-expect profit in its second quarter.

“I am pleased with the progress we have made, and although not yet complete, management is confident that we have a clear path to resolution,” Desjardins said on a conference call with financial analysts.

“Managing this file has been a learning experience that will help us better manage our business, implementing enhanced quality control and origination processes throughout the group, strengthening our compliance and risk management practices.”

The bank said earlier this week that it has successfully resolved issues related to mortgage loans sold to an unnamed lender that was first disclosed last year.

However, Laurentian also said Tuesday a CMHC audit during the bank’s most recent quarter found mortgages that were inadvertently portfolio insured while they did not meet CMHC portfolioinsurance eligibility criteria.

As a result, the bank said it will repurchase those other mortgage loans that were inadvertently portfolio insured and sold to the CMHC securitization program. Based on the results of CMHC’s audit, the bank estimates the total amount to be repurchased at between $125 and $150 million.

Laurentian shares closed up $1.29 or 2.85 per cent at $46.49 on the Toronto Stock Exchange Friday after the bank announced it will now pay a quarterly dividend of 64 cents per share, up a penny from its previous rate. It also reported it earned $55.9 million attributable to common shareholders or $1.34 per share in its second quarter ended April 30.

That compared with a profit of $40.3 million attributable to common shareholders or $1.19 per share a year earlier when the bank had fewer shares outstanding.

On an adjusted basis, Laurentian said it earned $1.47 per share for the quarter, up from an adjusted profit of $1.39 per share a year ago.

The adjusted result topped the $1.38 per share that analysts on average had expected for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

$85,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Pain With Guarded Prognosis

Today’s guest post comes from B.C. injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic injuries sustained from two vehicle collisions.

In today’s case (Harry v. Powar) the Plaintiff was a pedestrian struck by a vehicle in a crosswalk in 2012.  She was involved in a rear end collision the following year.  The collisions resulted in ” headaches, chronic myofascial pain syndrome, cervical facet joint syndrome and lumbar facet joint syndrome” with a guarded prognosis for full recovery.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $85,000 Madam Justice Winteringham provided the following reasons:

[79]         I have found that Ms. Harry’s most significant injuries are the headaches, chronic myofascial pain syndrome, cervical facet joint syndrome and lumbar facet joint syndrome. ..

[84]         Ms. Harry was in her early thirties at the time of the Accidents. Sadly, the symptoms connected to her injuries are ongoing and I accept that her prognosis for a full recovery is guarded although she may experience some improvement with further treatments.

[85]         The evidence demonstrates that Ms. Harry has tried to manage her pain in a way that enables her to carry on with her life.  That is not to say her pain is insignificant.  Rather, I have found that Ms. Harry has done almost all that she can to pursue her career despite the defendants’ negligence.  It is also clear from the evidence that the energy exerted on pursuing her professional endeavours has taken a toll on the other aspects of her life.  She does not have the energy or the physical well being to regularly conduct day-to-day household tasks, engage in social events or participate in physical activity – all of which formed an integral part of her life before the accidents. ..

[90]         In all of the circumstances and taking into account the authorities I have been referred to, I am satisfied that an award of $85,000 will appropriately compensate Ms. Harry for her pain and suffering and loss of past and future enjoyment of life for which the defendants are responsible.    

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