Easy-to-install water sensors help protect Ontario homeowners against costly water damage

Water damage is the #1 reason home owners need to make an insurance claim – and many of these claims are preventable. To help customers protect their homes, Northbridge Insurance has launched a pilot project that offers customers annual savings of up to $150 on home insurance when they purchase an Alert Labs Home Solution package, consisting of a Flowie water sensor and a Floodie companion sensor. Alert Labs sensors can be installed by homeowners in less than two minutes on municipal water meters – no tools or technical expertise required. They’re now available at a special rate for Northbridge Insurance customers, just in time for spring weather.

Designed to detect potentially damaging incidents like leaks, power outages, temperature fluctuations, and floods, Alert Labs sensors send alerts to homeowners on their computer or mobile device in real-time when something goes wrong. Each sensor is equipped with a battery back-up and works using a cellular connection not Wi-Fi, so they’ll continue to work in a power outage – right when they’re needed the most.

“Our technology tracks and analyses water consumption, and customers are notified of incidents that could point to a leak, such as continuously running water,” explained Alert Labs CEO George Tsintzouras. “This makes us different from a lot of other solutions that focus on alerting customers after a flood has taken place. Our goal is to help homeowners avoid the expense and hassle of water damage in the first place with technology that’s easy to use.”

Alert Labs sensors also allow customers to capture and analyze water consumption, which can lead to important savings when it comes to costly utility bills. How significant are the savings Alert Labs customers stand to gain? “A single toilet leak can cost up to $600 per year in wasted water,” said Alert Labs CEO George Tsintzouras.

“While we’re here for our customers when they need us, we know that no one wants to come home and deal with a water damage claim,” said Ilda Dinis, VP of Customer Experience and Marketing for Northbridge Insurance. “We’re always looking for innovative ways to help our customers protect what matters to them, and partnering with Alert Labs is a great way for us to do that.”

“We’re excited about this opportunity to partner with Northbridge Insurance and their broker network,” added Tsintzouras. “In addition to saving money and avoiding damage, reducing wasted water saves valuable natural resources – which is a benefit to all of us.”

The pilot project is currently underway, and was launched in collaboration with Northbridge Insurance broker partners that focus on areas in Ontario where the risks of water damage are especially high. Ontario homeowners can visit www.nbins.com/alertlabs to learn how they can help protect their homes from water damage – and save on insurance.

About Alert Labs: Alert Labs is an IoT technology company based in Kitchener, Ontario. Alert Labs is building affordable and reliable sensor-networks for residential and commercial property owners. Alert Labs’ simple-to-deploy sensors can be placed on water meters, sump pumps, furnaces, near toilets and other appliances to detect water leaks, floods, power issues, and other events. Customers receive real-time alerts and insightful data analytics via SMS, email, and the Alert Labs app. Visit Alert Labs at www.alertlabs.com.

About Northbridge Insurance: Northbridge Insurance is one of Canada’s leading insurance companies. Working with our broker partners, we focus on understanding the needs of our customers and on creating solutions that help make their lives a little easier when it comes to protecting their homes, cars and businesses.

Northbridge Insurance Logo is a trademark of Northbridge Financial Corporation, licensed by Northbridge Personal Insurance Corporation (insurer of Northbridge Insurance policies).

SOURCE Northbridge Insurance

Valentine’s fraud: Canadians lose $17M to online love scams

Valentine’s fraud: Canadians lose $17M to online love scams

Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca

“Baby, I just need $1,000 to pay this fine, and then I can get out of this nightmare.”

“I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t find the $10,000 to cover the surgery.”

“They’re going to kick me out of my house if I can’t come up with $500 more every month. Sweetie, can you save me?”

“I think it’s finally time we meet, but I can’t afford a ticket. If you send me the money, I’ll pay you back?”

If any of these situations sound familiar, you or a loved one may be the victim of a romance scam.

Police are warning lonely hearts to be wary of online-only relationships this Valentine’s Day, after Canadians lost approximately $17 million in romance scams last year.

Nearly 750 Canadians lost money to love scams in 2016, with some losing as much as $400,000 and declaring bankruptcy in pursuit of relationships engineered to leave them penniless. In most cases, the fraudsters posed as foreigners or Canadians working abroad and used high-pressure scenarios to elicit large payments from the victims.

Scammers will typically connect with victims through social media or an online dating site, and use fake photos and stories to win their trust. Eventually, after the victim has fallen in love, the scammer will say they need financial help to get out of a difficult situation.

“They’re asking the victim to help them out,” RCMP Sgt. Guy Paul Larocque told CTVNews.ca. “That emotion invested… is what makes it successful for the scammers.”

The fraudster might claim they lost their luggage at the airport, and they’ll ask for some quick cash to help them get home. “They’ll show bank account statements to show they have the money to repay the victim, it’s just they don’t have access,” Larocque said.

In other cases, the fraudster might say they need money to pay for a necessary surgery, to care for a dependent child, or to pay a fine.

Larocque says most of the money stolen through romance scams is never recovered, because victims are duped into making several payments over a long period of time. By the time they realize what has happened, there’s no reversing the transfers they’ve made.

Larocque added that these scams are often executed by professionals based in other countries, who may also be working with organized crime. “They’re doing that purposely to make it more difficult for law enforcement to be able to get to them,” he said. “It is not somebody just playing behind the computer.”

How to recognize a love scam

Larocque says emotions can often leave victims blind to their situation, until it’s too late. However, there are certain signs that potential victims and their loved ones can watch for, to spot a scam before it does any damage.

For starters, Larocque says to be wary of any relationship that is based entirely online. “You don’t truly know who’s behind the computer until you meet that person,” he said.

One should also be suspicious of anyone who professes their love before an in-person meeting.

He says scammers often claim to live in another country, or that they live near the victim but are working abroad. And, while it’s certainly possible that a long-distance love might be legitimate, Larocque says to be particularly suspicious of those who claim to be engineers, security consultants or military officers stationed overseas.

Scammers have also been known to request that the victim cash a cheque for them, then send back a portion of the funds. In these cases, the cheque is counterfeit, and the unwitting victim winds up covering the fees from the bank.

Oftentimes it is a loved one who tips off police to a romance scam, because the victim is too emotionally invested to recognize the signs, Larocque said. Family members might become wise to the situation based on some change in the victim’s behaviour, especially if they start to struggle with money, or if they ask for a loan.

“It will create tension within the family because the victim sometimes doesn’t realize that there’s a scam going on,” he said.

He recommends listening for changes in the possible victim’s relationship, and alerting police as quickly as possible if something seems off.

“Sometimes if a (money) transfer is being flagged fast enough, then it can be wired back to the account of the victim,” he said.

Anyone who believes they or a loved one has been the victim of fraud should contact the RCMP’s Canadian Anti-fraud Centre online or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.

And of course, one should always be cautious about looking for love online – especially if money is involved.

“When an offer is too good to be true, it probably is,” he said.

Lack of Timely Notice Derails ICBC Unidentified Motorist Lawsuit

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

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dismissing a wrongful death allegation seeking damages from ICBC on behalf of an unidentified motorist.

In today’s case (Parmar Estate v. British Columbia) the Plaintiff estate sued numerous defendants alleging they were at fault for a fatal collision.  ICBC was named as a nominal defendant on the allegation that an unidentified motorist was responsible for the collision.  ICBC succeeded in having the claim against them dismissed for failure of the Plaintiff giving them notice of the allegation within 6 months of the collision.  In dismissing the claim against ICBC Madam Justice Gropper provided the following reasons:

[15]         I do not accept the plaintiffs’ interpretation of s. 24 of the Act. Their reliance on the Jamt decision is misplaced, particularly, as noted in that decision, ICBC was named as a nominal defendant at the commencement of this action.

[16]         Here, it is clear that ICBC did not receive notice of the allegations against an unknown driver within six months of the accident. The notice of civil claim can serve as notice to ICBC under s. 24(2). Even so, the notice of civil claim was not filed until two years after the accident and was not served until three years after the accident.

[17]         The plaintiffs provide no explanation for the lack of notice or for the failure to serve the notice of claim for a year following its filing. As noted in the chronology, the accident was not reported to ICBC until March or April 2014. There is no basis upon which I can conclude that the notice was given to ICBC “as soon as reasonably practicable”. The lack of notice is fatal to the plaintiffs’ claim.

[18]         I am satisfied that the action against ICBC raises no genuine triable issue and must be dismissed.

US: Drivers see higher premiums after not at fault crashes

By Jennifer C. Kerr

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON _ Most drivers don’t expect to be hit with a rate hike on their auto insurance after a car accident that wasn’t their fault. But a consumer group says it happens, and it’s a problem.

The Washington-based Consumer Federation of America says it found rate hikes on annual premiums as high as $400, in some cases.

In the report released Monday, the group analyzed premium quotes in 10 cities, including New York and Chicago, from five of the nation’s largest auto insurers. The researchers found that Progressive aggressively used a not-at-fault penalty, surcharging drivers in eight of the 10 selected cities. Rates in Oklahoma City and Los Angeles did not change. Oklahoma and California prohibit not-at-fault penalties.

The group said GEICO and Farmers raised rates in some states by 10 per cent or more. Allstate had occasional penalties. State Farm was the exception, with no increases on premiums for not-at-fault accidents.

“Most people know that if they cause an accident or get a ticket they could face a premium increase, but they don’t expect to be punished if a reckless driver careens into them,” said Bob Hunter, CFA’s director of insurance and the former insurance commissioner of Texas.

In response, the Insurance Information Institute said the underwriting of a new auto insurance policy requires the collection of much more information beyond what CFA gathered from the auto insurers’ websites.

Loretta Worters, vice-president of communications at the industry trade group, says it also is rarely clear-cut as to who the at-fault party is after a collision. But she said one reason rates may rise for the not-at-fault driver is subrogation when an insurer, after paying a loss, seeks to recover money from the at-fault driver’s insurer.

Neil Alldredge, a senior vice-president at the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, says the report “only underscores the fact that insurance rates can vary widely from company to company, based on how different companies may weigh the many different factors that are considered in determining rates.”

Among the cities tested, drivers in New York City and Baltimore paid out the most for doing nothing wrong, the consumer group said. In Baltimore, premiums increased more than $250 and in New York City, it was about $400. In Chicago and Kansas City, the average increase was about $100.

The federation’s report found that people with moderate incomes often saw bigger premium increases than upper-income people. That seemed to mirror average premiums in the report even for people with clean driving records and no accidents, with middle-income people generally seeing higher premium rates than those people with bigger incomes.

The consumer group called the five biggest auto insurers and asked for quotes for two 30-year-old female drivers, living at the same address in the different cities, licensed for 14 years and driving a 2006 Toyota Camry with 10,000 miles. One woman had a master’s degree and was a home owner. The other woman had a high school diploma and rented her home.

The report found drivers with higher incomes, on average, paid $78 more after a no-fault accident. Moderate-incomes drivers paid $208 more after an accident in which they were not to blame.

Why Tostitos “Breathalyzer” Chip Bag Will Likely Get Them Sued

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

The Super Bowl is right around the corner and like many other company’s Tostitos is hoping to cash in.

Their angle?  A chip bag that doubles as a breathalyzer.  As reported by Time,

The limited-edition “Party Safe” bag is meant to discourage drinking and driving, and will even provide those with a trace of alcohol on their breath with a $10 Uber code on the day of the big game. The company promises it comes equipped with an alcohol sensor that, when breathed into, will turn red if alcohol is detected and green if it’s not.

Let me break down, as simply as possible, as to why a lawsuit is all but assured

  • They have created a gimmick intended to sell product
  • the gimmick is targeted to those who have been drinking and are considering driving
  • The gimmick will give a literal ‘green light’ to drive
  • The chip bag technology, I assume, will not be foolproof
  • A drunk will drive relying on the bag
  • Some misfortune will, in all likelihood, arise

This is a terrible idea.  To quote the the Lawrence Police on Twitter

Ontario drivers pay too much for auto insurance,” states Irene Bianchi, Executive Vice President of Claims, Aviva Canada.

Read more

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