Canada’s Changing Climate Report Confirms Increase in Extreme Rainfall

OTTAWAApril 2, 2019 /CNW/ – Today, the Government of Canada released Canada’s Changing Climate Report. This first report, part of the government’s Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action, provides a firm scientific foundation for future analyses and is a valuable tool for governments who are looking for ways to adapt and make their communities more resilient.

The report concludes that Canada is seeing the effects of widespread warming and projects that they will intensify in the future. Annual precipitation is projected to increase in all regions of Canada[1] and a warmer climate is expected to intensify some weather extremes. Projected increases in extreme precipitation are expected to increase the potential for future urban flooding.

The report says Canadians can expect extreme hot temperatures to become more frequent and more intense. This will increase the severity of heatwaves and contribute to increased drought and wildfire risks. While inland flooding results from multiple factors, more intense rainfalls will increase urban flood risks. Under the high emission scenario explored in this report, a current 1-in-20-year extreme rainfall event will become a 1-in-10-year event by mid-century (a two-fold increase in frequency).

The report clearly points to the need to adapt now to make our communities more resilient.

“The property and casualty insurance industry continues to see the devastating effects of this new era of an unpredictable, changing climate,” said Don Forgeron, President and CEO, IBC.

“Last year, insured damage from severe weather across Canada reached $2 billion, the fourth-highest amount of losses on record,” continued Forgeron. “However, unlike the 1998 Quebec ice storm, the 2013 Calgary floods or the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, no single event caused the high amount paid out for losses in 2018. Instead, Canadians and their insurers experienced significant losses from a host of smaller severe weather events from coast to coast.”

IBC has encouraged all levels of government to increase their investments in mitigating the impact of extreme weather and building resiliency to its damaging effects. In addition to advocating for upgraded infrastructure to protect communities from floods, IBC is also advocating for improved building codes, better land-use planning, and incentives to shift the development of homes and businesses away from areas that are at highest risk of flooding.

The storm that hit Ontario on February 24 and 25, 2019, with damaging wind gusts, freezing rain and blizzard conditions caused over $48 million in insured damage. This is just the first severe weather storm to hit Ontario in 2019. In 2018, insured losses from severe weather reached $1.3 billion in that province.

It is not only insurers that foot the bill for severe weather damage. For every dollar that insurers pay out for home and business insurance claims, IBC estimates that governments pays out $3 to recover the public infrastructure that is damaged by severe weather.

Follow us 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.

Protect Your Insured From Being Added To Litigation

Article by Ian S. Epstein

When an opposing party brings a motion to add an insured to existing litigation, the courts usually allows the party to be added, unless there are clear reasons not to do so, such as an expired limitation period. Consent is usually provided, as the threshold to add a party is low. Yet, recent developments show that a court may look deeper and assess the strength of the claim and evidence in support, to determine whether the addition of a party is improper, from the outset.

In Tacoma Engineers Inc. ats TNS Landco Inc. 2019 ONSC 1296, we successfully opposed a motion for Tacoma, a structural engineer, to be added as a Third Party on the basis that there was no merit to the claim against it, and that the claim was statute-barred.

The matter arose out of a failed septic system on a commercial property, which failed partly due to improper coordination of consultants. Without their knowledge or consent, Tacoma was listed as the consultant responsible for coordination, on a contract between the Claimant owner and the Design-Builder. In fact, as the structural engineer on the project, Tacoma was never responsible for coordinating others.

Instead of simply adding Tacoma, and requiring it to subsequently bring a summary judgment motion to strike the action against it, the court considered the evidence to ascertain Tacoma’s involvement. Justice Fowler Byrne dismissed the motion on the basis of the missed limitation period, and the fact that there was no basis to the claim.

The court noted that Tacoma’s invoices all dealt with structural issues, and not coordination. She also found that at no time did the Claimant notify Tacoma about a septic issue, nor ask for their assistance to fix things. The court also drew an adverse inference from the fact that the Claimant did not even mention Tacoma when they retained an expert to opine on the cause of the septic issues.

The key take-away is that while the threshold may be low to add a party, there is a threshold. The court can assess the evidence to determine whether a party is improper or a limitation period is expired, and make a determination to not add them at a very early stage. 

The case has important implications for insurers. Before simply consenting to a motion to add an insured to litigation, take a look at the facts. Is there clear evidence that the insured is an improper party? Is there clear evidence that the limitation period has expired? If so, it may be worth opposing the motion. If successful, it will prevent the insured from being added to the litigation, saving significant costs. If it is not successful, it may help to set up the evidentiary record needed to bring a summary judgment motion at a later stage.

Insurers should give careful consideration as to whether to consent or oppose a motion for an insured to be added as a party to existing litigation. Doing so may help reduce legal costs, and assist in potentially getting an insured out of litigation at an early stage. 

Ian Epstein has a general insurance practice covering a wide array of insurance issues including E&O, general liability and product liability claims as well as coverage assessments. He has been recognized by Lexpert® Canadian Legal Directory as a leading practitioner consistently recommended in Professional Liability matters and ranked by Best Lawyers® in Canada for his expertise as a practitioner in insurance law.

Lauren Rakowski’s insurance practice focuses on professional liability, tort, and commercial litigation. She has experience representing lawyers, engineers, individuals, corporations and financial advisors.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be ought about your specific circumstances.

Lawyers file court challenge over ICBC’s new limits on auto insurance payouts

By Justine Hunter | The Globe and Mail

A group representing B.C.’s trial lawyers is asking the courts to overturn new limits on automobile insurance payouts that they say discriminate against people with disabilities.

Effective Monday, the provincial government imposed new rules to curb skyrocketing payments for minor-injury claims by capping settlements for pain and suffering at $5,500 and limiting when accident victims can sue.

The province is the last in Canada to abandon a system in which victims could sue for any type of injury − known as a full tort system.

But the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia filed a constitutional challenge on Monday. They say the challenge is to protect the Charter rights of British Columbians because the right to sue is a basic human right.

Rather than waiting for an individual complainant to challenge the law, the case is filed on behalf of “Jane Doe,” an individual whose identity is not yet known who suffers a “minor injury” as a result of an accident and has to follow the new rules.

Attorney-General David Eby said he is confident the amendments will stand up in court. “We believe the amendments we have made are not just constitutional, but good public policy,” he said in an interview.

Basic auto insurance in the province is only available through the Crown-owned Insurance Corp. of B.C., which is on track to post its second $1-billion deficit in a row. Without the caps, he said, insurance rates would have had to climb significantly this year.

Mr. Eby said the changes are expected to restore ICBC’s fiscal health, even after the province has boosted support for those needing medical services after an accident.

“We need to stop the bleeding at ICBC and this is a $1-billion reform that will actually increase benefits for British Columbians,” he said.

The diagnosis of injuries are made by a doctor and ICBC will then assess whether the injury falls under new definitions for a minor injury.

British Columbians with motor-vehicle-accident claims totalling $50,000 or less will have to resolve them through an online dispute resolution tribunal, without the opportunity to go to court.

Shelley Howard, executive director of the non-profit Campbell River Head Injury Support Society, said she is concerned that some accident victims may be caught under the new cap before they realize the extent of their injuries.

“The medical world doesn’t always recognize brain injuries right off the bat. It’s a complex injury,” she said. “I don’t know how the system will be able to go back and rectify the situation.”

The advocacy group wants assurances that people who suffer head injuries won’t fall through the cracks if their injuries are not promptly diagnosed.

Under ICBC’s rules, individuals have two years to settle their claims. Injuries can be switched from the minor classification to the non-minor category if new symptoms emerge in that time and if the file is still open. However, once an individual settles their claim, there is no opportunity to reopen their case.

“People who have a concussion will likely receive legal advice to not settle until that time period is over and it is clear the extent of the injury,” Mr. Eby said.

The trial lawyers association consulted with former NDP premier and attorney-general Ujjal Dosanjh on the case.

In an interview, Mr. Dosanjh said the government is violating the intent of the ICBC system when it was created in the 1970s.

“What you have now is the NDP government of British Columbia saying, ‘we will continue public auto insurance but we will increase rates and diminish your rights,’” he said.

“Taking away tort isn’t modernization, it’s going to medieval times without the right to go to court.”

Woman cuts off own hand with circular saw in brutal insurance scam

A 21-year-old Slovenian woman deliberately cut off her own hand with a circular saw in an effort to cash in on an insurance claim, authorities say.

According to police, the unidentified woman’s family claimed she lost her hand as a result of an accident on their property, saying it happened when the woman was attempting to saw off tree branches. The family said the woman slipped while using the saw, severing her left hand.

Authorities told ABC News the woman had taken out five different insurance policies months before suffering the injury in January and had only made a few payments on each of the contracts. The woman would have allegedly stood to gain 400,000 euros (about CAD$602,000).

The woman was unemployed at the time and had no other source of income, ABC reported. A 29-year-old relative was also detained in the investigation.

“With one of her accomplices, she intentionally amputated her left hand, hoping to stage it as an accident,” Ljubljana police spokesman Valter Zrinski told ABC News.

Family members left the severed hand behind rather than bring it to the hospital to ensure the disability was permanent. However, the hand was recovered and doctors were able to sew it back on.

“Her hand is recovering well,” Zrinski said.

The woman faces up to eight years in prison.

–with a file from the Associated Press

Source: Global News

 

 

Judge refuses to order insurance company to pay victims of negligent lawyer

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

TORONTO — It is up to the provincial legislature or the law profession’s regulatory body to decide whether victims should receive compensation when harmed by lawyers who end up without insurance coverage, an Ontario court has decided.

The Superior Court decision means the family of a couple badly hurt in a car crash cannot force payment from the insurance all lawyers in the province must carry in the public interest.

“I…am bound by the law and the facts of this case,” Justice Jamie Trimble said in his decision this week. “If there is a remedy for the Caputos, that remedy lies with the Law Society or the legislature.”

The case arose in 2004 when Francesco Caputo was in a car crash that cost him his life and left his passenger wife Carolina Caputo, who has now died, badly and permanently injured. However, their now-disbarred lawyer, Wayne Novak, failed to file an auto insurance claim. In 2014, a judge ordered Novak to pay the Caputos $321,500.

Because he had no money, the Caputos looked to his insurer, the Lawyers Professional Indemnity Company, known as LawPro, for the money.

LawPro refused to cover the award on the grounds that Novak had refused to co-operate with its investigation. The Caputos, using a novel legal approach, asked the courts to force LawPro to pay up for Novak.

The Law Society of Ontario, which governs the province’s 50,000 lawyers, set up LawPro more than two decades ago to defend and cover claims against its members. Lawyers must carry the insurance to practise. However, if a lawyer fails to report a claim or won’t co-operate with LawPro’s investigation, the insurance company — with about $743 million or 83 per cent of the law society’s total assets — denies coverage.

An investigation by The Canadian Press last year turned up several cases in which victims of negligent lawyers went uncompensated after LawPro would not pay. In response, the law society updated its website to refer to a little known policy which it said offers coverage in those cases.

On Tuesday, the society said it would consider claims denied because a lawyer fails to report a claim or to co-operate with the insurer “provided that the lawyer intended to prejudice the claimant’s efforts to obtain compensation.”

In his decision, Trimble found LawPro, had solid grounds to refuse to cover Novak given his serious failure to co-operate with its investigation.

“My conclusion that LawPro’s denial of coverage to Mr. Novak is appropriate acts as a bar to the Caputos’ notice of garnishment,” Trimble wrote. “LawPro owes no debt to Mr. Novak and therefore, there is nothing exigible under the policy for the Caputos to garnishee.”

In essence, Trimble concluded, the Caputos were asking him to create public policy by declaring that LawPro provide no-fault coverage, which it doesn’t.

“What the Caputos are really asking is that the court engage in judicial legislation (but) it is not the court’s job to legislate,” Trimble said. “The question of whether there should be no-fault coverage for lawyers in Ontario is a question for the (law society) within its statutory mandate, or the legislature.”

Ava Hillier, who represented the Caputos at no charge, expressed disappointment at the decision and noted the family was now potentially on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in LawPro’s legal costs. Hillier said the family was also considering an appeal, which also carries the risk of further costs.

“Our clients deserve to be compensated; there’s no question about that,” Hillier said. “I’d like to proceed on the basis of public interest.”

A spokesman for Ontario’s attorney general, Caroline Mulroney, did not respond to a request for comment.

‘Exploratory’ research says devices could cut insurance costs

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