Calgary residents cope with financial costs of hail storm not covered by insurance

The excerpted article was written by CALGARY

The hail storm came up fast, with a sound like someone was throwing rocks at their walls and roof.

Then Mona Kadri saw a white pellet fall and bounce inside her house. A loud crash followed as the skylight gave way, shattered by the force of the hail, sending glass and ceiling pieces crashing down. She and her husband sheltered in the living room away from the golf ball-sized hail that pounded her spiral staircase, while the family cat, Brie, cowered in the basement.

“It was like a war zone,” said Ms. Kadri, 60, of the June 13 evening when an unusually powerful cloudburst hit Calgary’s northeast neighbourhoods.

The hail and rain storm flooded streets, shredded siding on thousands of houses, hammered cars, smashed windows, and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Even Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s house wasn’t spared.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in all of my years. It’s like the homes have been shot at, straight from the air,” said Tom Sampson, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency.

For Ms. Kadri and thousands of others affected by the storm, the burning question two weeks later is how to pay insurance deductibles, and for repairs and cleanup not covered by their policies. With the losses mounting, the provincial government’s announcement Thursday that it will be providing emergency disaster funding only for uninsurable property losses – mainly overland flooding – as well as municipal cleanup costs, is unlikely to quiet the calls for help paying for property damage that was mostly caused by hail.

The storm has exacerbated what was already a difficult situation for the diverse, working-class quadrant of Calgary. The city’s unemployment rate sits above 13 per cent. Many lost work or shut down their businesses when COVID-19 hit. Ms. Kadri’s one-woman catering business has seen bookings dry up as large gatherings are cancelled because of the pandemic. Others lost their jobs when oil prices crashed in April.

“COVID has come at probably the worst time ever in Alberta’s history,” said Khalil Karbani, a spokesman for community associations and religious groups in the area.

“And over and above all that, we have this hail storm,” he said.

“It’s survival mode right now.”

Southern and central Alberta, and northeast Calgary and nearby Airdrie in particular, are well-known for the ferocity of their summertime hail storms. Over the past decade, there have been more than two dozen hail storms in Alberta with damages totalling more than $4-billion in insured losses.

The rate of severe weather events in Alberta has increased in the past decade. But it appears the damage from June 13 is much more widespread, and could be the most expensive of a run of major summer hail storm events since 2010. The mayor says the damage could hit $1-billion – and could perhaps have damaged more homes than the 2013 flood – while the province pegs it at $250-million to $500-million. The storm hit Calgary, Airdrie and Rocky View. In communities such as Saddle Ridge and Taradale, block after block is marked by houses with damaged siding, shattered windows, and vehicles that appear as if they were battered with hammers.

Given the size and velocity of the hail that came down, “my estimate is that any car parked on the road north of 64th Avenue is probably a write-off,” said George Chahal, councillor for Ward 5, the epicentre for damage.

This hail was unusually concentrated on a populous and urban area, upping the amount of property damage, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Mr. Karbani argues some insurance companies are only willing to cover a portion of damages because of depreciation and are “hiding behind the fine print” of their policies. Some people, he noted, cancelled comprehensive auto insurance, which includes hail damage, while their vehicles were parked unused during the pandemic.

He said the province should set up a special disaster relief fund lest the damage to houses, cars and psyches be left unattended for months and years. “It has broken us in pieces already.”

Premier Jason Kenney agreed during a news conference Thursday that the timing of the storm could not be worse. But he said the government is not willing to pay above and beyond the Disaster Recovery Program, which doesn’t cover hail, sewer backup and insurance deductibles.

“If the government steps in and starts making payments for insurable private property, that would create a very serious moral hazard where people would – in the future – say they have no need to insure their property.”

The Premier added that such a move would effectively “bail out” insurance companies, as they wouldn’t face the impetus to make good on their policies if they knew the government was going to step in.

As of midday Thursday, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said more than 35,000 insurance claims related to the storm had been made. More claims are coming in every hour, said Rob de Pruis, a spokesman for the industry group.

People should have been aware of the limitations of their policies when they purchased them, he said, and some made the choice to purchase a less extensive policy to keep their premiums lower.

“An insurance policy is not a maintenance policy,” he added.

Mr. Kenney pledged his government will push insurance companies to honour policies, and “do so generously, erring on the side of the claimants.”

Source: The Globe and Mail

The “Data” Exclusion And The Duty To Defend

The “Data” Exclusion And The Duty To Defend

The excerpted article was written by  | Jun 16, 2020 | CoverageCyber and Privacy

In a recent decision an Ontario court found that an insurer has a duty to defend both the main action and a third party claim in a privacy class action stemming from the disclosure of an allegedly defamatory report authored by the Family and Children Services of Lanark (“FCS”). The report was stored in a secured portion of the FCS website prior to being exposed by a hacker and posted on various internet sites viewable by the general public. The individuals whose personal information was exposed in the report initiated a class action against, among other parties, FCS and Laridae Communications Inc. (“Laridae”).

Laridae, a third party in the class action, was retained by FCS to ““review and refresh” FCS’s website to ensure that the new website and its components are compliant with privacy and other legislative requirements”.

The insurer in question issued two policies to Laridae; a CGL policy and an E&O policy. The insurer admitted that the claims would be covered by the policies, but for the application of the “data” exclusions in each policy, which differed significantly.

The relevant exclusions provided as follows, according to the decision:

The “data exclusion” clause contained in the E&O Policy provides as follows:

Data Exclusion

There shall be no coverage under this policy in connection with any claim based on, attributable to or arising directly, or indirectly from the distribution or display of “data” by means of an Internet Website, the Internet, an Intranet, Extranet, or similar device or system designed or intended for electronic communication of “data”.

The“ data exclusion” clause contained in the CGL Policy (wherein Laridae is the primary insured and FCS is an additional insured) states:

Data

  1. Liability for:
  2. erasure, disruption, corruption, misappropriation, misinterpretation of “data”;
  3. erroneously creating, amending, entering, deleting or using “data”;

Including any loss of use therefrom;

  1. “Personal injury” arising out of the distribution or display of “data” by means of an Internet Website, the Internet, an intranet, extranet, or similar device or system designed or intended for electronic communication of “data”.

All parties agreed that these specific exclusions had not been interpreted by any court in a prior decision. Despite that, the insurer brought an application for a declaration that it did not have a duty to defend either Laridae or the FCS in the class action.

The Court started from the proposition that as long as there is a “possibility” that one or more of the claims being brought might be covered by the applicable policy, then the insurer would have a duty to defend. The Court noted that the claims being advanced were quite broad and went well beyond simple publication or distribution of data. Based on the broad spectrum of allegations and claims, the Court found that there were at least some claims in the statement of claim that were possibly covered, and as such found that the insurer owed a duty to defend.

The Court also found that given the lack of any jurisprudence on the application of the data exclusions, it was not prepared to accede to the insurer’s denial of a duty to defend at a preliminary stage, and stated that any such determination should be made with a more fulsome record. Considering this position, one wonders what might have been missing from the record before the court in the present applications.

Having found that the insurer owed the Defendants a duty to defend, the insurer was order to pay for counsel of the insured’s choice, and that counsel has no obligation to report to the insurer.

See:   Laridae v. Co-operators2020 ONSC 2198

Source: Mondaq

Insurance Policies, 1 Insured: Who Defends The Action, Who Pays The Costs Of The Defence, And Who Controls The Defence?

The excepted article was written by

McCague Borlack LLP

This was a dispute between AIG Insurance Company of Canada and Lloyd’s Underwriters in respect of the duty to defend a claim brought against the City of Markham.

The City rented a hockey rink to the Markham Waxers Hockey Club and associated entities. A young boy was injured while attending a game at the hockey rink. He sued the City, Hockey Canada and the Waxers for damages resulting from his injuries. The City was insured by Lloyd’s under a commercial general liability policy. It was also an additional insured to Hockey Canada’s and the Waxers’ insurance policy with AIG. The City and Hockey Canada each retained separate counsel through their respective insurers.

AIG acknowledged its obligation to defend the action on behalf of the City but claimed that Lloyd’s had a concurrent duty to defend and must pay an equitable share of the City’s defence costs. AIG also claimed it had a right to participate in the City’s defence, including the right to retain and instruct counsel, alongside Lloyd’s. The City and AIG brought competing applications to determine which insurers had a duty to defend the action. AIG appealed the application judge’s decision that it must defend the action on behalf of the City, pay the cost of defending the action on behalf of the City and collect any indemnification costs from Lloyd’s upon final conclusion of the action, and may not participate in the defence with separate counsel.

The issues on appeal were whether

  1. Lloyd’s owes the City a concurrent duty to defend,
  2. Lloyd’s must pay an equitable share of the City’s defence costs, and
  3. AIG has the right to participate in the defence, including the right to retain and instruct counsel.

As to the first issue, there was no dispute that AIG is a primary insurer. However, AIG argued that Lloyd’s is also a primary insurer and not an excess insurer, as was argued by the City. The Court of Appeal concluded that because the AIG policy contains no excess provision, AIG is the primary insurer for bodily injury or property damage claims arising from the operations of Hockey Canada and the Waxers up to its $5 million policy limit. Moreover, to the extent that the AIG and Lloyd’s policies cover the same claims, AIG must defend up to its policy limits, and Lloyd’s maybe an excess insurer. However, Lloyd’s must still defend the City against claims that fall outside the scope of the AIG policy and within the scope of its own policy.

As to the second issue, the Court of Appeal concluded that since there was no contract between the two insurers with respect to the defence, the most equitable allocation of the City’s defence costs would be to require AIG and Lloyd’s to each pay an equal share of the City’s defence costs and to adjust the costs as between them after final disposition of the action.

As to the third issue, both insurers’ policies provided that they have a duty and right to defend the action. However, due to the discrepancies in coverage between the two policies of insurance, each insurer alleged various conflicts of interest with respect to the other’s handling of the City’s defence. The Court of Appeal found that AIG has an interest in having liability determined on the basis of the City’s actions alone so that it is not responsible for any damages. The Court likewise found that Lloyd’s and the City have an interest in having liability determined on the basis of the operations of Hockey Canada or the Waxers and not from the actions of the City, so as to minimize their own damages exposure and guard against raising the City’s premiums.

The Court of Appeal, therefore, concluded that both AIG and Lloyd’s owe a duty to defend the City in the action, AIG and Lloyd’s must share the City’s defence costs equally, subject to a right to seek a reallocation of the defence costs at the conclusion of the action, and AIG has a right to participate in the defence, including the right to retain and instruct counsel.

The Court agreed with AIG’s suggestion that it implements a “split file” system to sequester personnel handling the defence of the City from those handling the defence of Hockey Canada and the Waxers. The Court concluded this would ensure that the potentially conflicting interests insured by the AIG policy are handled separately both internally and by separate counsel. However, the Court also instructed that

  1. the terms of this arrangement must be provided in writing to those involved in managing the defence,
  2. counsel appointed by AIG must fully and promptly inform the City and Lloyd’s of all steps taken in the defence of the litigation against the City such that each would be in a position to monitor the defence effectively and address any concerns,
  3. defence counsel must have no discussion about the case with either coverage counsel, and
  4. counsel for the City must provide identical and concurrent reports to the City and both insurers regarding the defence of the main action.

Read the full decision, or the other case study for May –“It’s 2020”: Bringing the Courts in Line with the Times During COVID-19, or go to MB’s index of articles regarding COVID-19.


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

Source: Mondaq News

Forced to adapt, businesses rethink how they make money

By Joyce M. Rosenberg

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK _ Many business owners are changing the way they make money as they attempt to recoup revenue lost to the coronavirus outbreak.

The changes can look subtle; for example, when owners of clothing stores decide to beef up their internet business. But often such adjustments involve an entire rethinking of the business model the blueprint that encompasses the key aspects of running a company with significant changes to staffing, technology and inventory.

For many companies, it’s a matter of survival, but for others, the changes have been a silver lining amidst the crisis.

When Big Bottom Market, a cafe and food shop in Guerneville, California, closed in mid-March, “I had to take stock of what we had and think about how we could evolve the business,” says co-owner Michael Volpatt.

Volpatt started a daily cooking show on Facebook in hopes of drawing customers to Big Bottom’s page on the online marketplace Etsy. He succeeded: Daily visits jumped 66% and customers stocked up on merchandise including biscuit mixes, coffee, preserves and T-shirts. That revenue from Etsy covered Big Bottom’s monthly rent, utilities and insurance.

The cafe, which gets business from visitors to California’s Sonoma wine region, reopened with social distancing steps May 8, selling meals and merchandise at the door. Business is down 80% from its usual pace the cafe can normally seat 40. During the week, the cafe’s business is mostly from people who live locally, but the weekends bring people from all over the Bay Area.

Volpatt doesn’t know when he’ll fully reopen the cafe but going forward he expects to get substantial business from the internet. He’s even hiring a staffer to help build Etsy sales.

Four months after launching the Velvet Window clothing store in Dallas, Amy Witt was forced to close its doors. She soon realized she’d need to adjust her approach to ensure customers came back when the store reopened.

“The forced closure gave me the opportunity to say, `what’s wrong with my business how do I fix it?”’ Witt says.

Before the outbreak, 85% of Witt’s business came from shoppers coming into the store. With the shutdown, she realized she needed to be more aggressive with social media to draw shoppers to her website; she needed revenue and to engage with her customers. She taught herself and her staff how to make Velvet Window more visible in internet searches. She picked up new customers, including some outside the Dallas area.

As she prepared to reopen May 1, Witt concluded she had to offer more services and accommodations in a retail environment reshaped by the outbreak. So she set up private shopping hours for some customers _ for example, those most at risk for complications if they contract the virus. She’s using video or messaging apps to show her fashions to others anxious about coming to the store. Curbside pickup or deliveries can also be part of the deal.

She sees all these steps as elements in a new business strategy: “It’s something we will continue to offer” even after the current crisis ends, Witt says.

Overhauling or refining a business model should be an ongoing part of running a company; even successful owners often think about making adjustments. But any crisis forces owners to reassess their business. After companies were forced to lay off staffers during the Great Recession, many turned to freelancers when they began hiring again. That saved money on salaries and benefits and gave owners more flexibility.

Business models are likely to undergo significant changes in the coming months given the damage to the economy from the outbreak. A lot of uncertainty remains about how much consumers will be willing to spend, travel, dine out and go to sports and entertainment events _ and when social distancing measures that limit business will be lifted.

Before the outbreak, D’Artagnan sold most of its high-end meats to restaurants where customers might pay $50 for filet mignon or dine on exotic varieties such as squab or quail. But with restaurants closed, half the company’s business is now from people buying meat to cook in their own kitchens or on the backyard barbecue. That means the Union, New Jersey-based company ships smaller cuts and packages of beef and chicken to consumers rather than the larger cuts and whole animals it delivers to restaurants.

“It’s a very different demand in the kind of animals people buy to cook at home instead of ordering in a restaurant,” owner Ariane Daguin says. The changes mean different procedures for butchering and packaging the company’s products.

D’Artagnan’s e-commerce business, which accounted for 10% of revenue before the outbreak, is up five-fold, says company president Andy Wertheim. The company won’t know until restaurants are operating again what their demand will be, or whether people will continue to do their cooking at home. But, Wertheim says, D’Artagnan is prepared to have a different business model going forward and increase its staff to get the work done.

The changes at some companies have come from serendipity rather than crisis. At law firms, shelter-in-place rules have forced attorneys to meet with clients over video rather than in a traditional office visit.

Attorney Katherine Miller’s work includes mediation in divorce and family law cases. She says the virus outbreak has chipped away at clients’ reluctance to hold meetings online. She plans to use that change in attitude to expand her practice.

With the use of video meetings, it will be easier to co-ordinate schedules when all the parties don’t have to travel to her office, and Miller will have less travel time when she attends meetings. And she won’t be limited to her current practice area, New York City and its northern suburbs.

“I used to think, this is going to be an uphill battle to convince people that it’s a good idea. But now because of the coronavirus, I don’t have to do that anymore,” she says.

RSA Canada announces relief measures for Canadians in response to the COVID-19 crisis

“In the last month, Canadians have changed where they work, how much they drive and what they need to protect themselves, their families and their businesses,” says Martin Thompson, President and CEO, RSA Canada. “As a national insurer, our promise is to be there for our customers when they need us most, so we are implementing new measures to provide meaningful assistance during these uncertain times.”

Providing relief for those facing financial hardship
RSA Canada is providing several relief measures to assist Canadians who are impacted financially by COVID-19. Every customer’s situation and insurance needs are unique, so options are designed to provide enhanced flexibility and assistance. RSA Canada will also be implementing additional auto and property insurance premium relief measures moving forward, to support customers during the crisis.

The following measures will be in place until June 30, 2020 and will continue to be reviewed as the situation develops:

  • Reduced premiums for customers who are driving or commuting less or who are no longer using their vehicles if circumstances have changed due to the pandemic. Customers should contact their broker or insurance representative to make changes to their auto coverage.

  • Flexible payment options, payment deferrals and support for customers who are facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Customers who have been impacted by the pandemic should contact their broker or insurance representative to discuss the available options.

  • Coverage for customers who are temporarily using their vehicle for delivery services – such as an employee of a pharmacy, restaurant, grocery store, or as part of an app-based food delivery service. This is available for all personal auto insurance policies and will not change the customer’s premium. Customers should contact their broker or insurance representative to confirm this coverage.

  •  NSF fees for personal and small commercial policies charged by RSA Canada occurring after April 1, 2020 will be waived. Some financial institutions may charge separate NSF fees and customers are encouraged to contact their local bank for more information.

  • As all Canadians are encouraged to ‘Stay at Home’, customers who are required by their employer to work from home due to the current situation with COVID-19 can rest assured that the coverage they already have in place will not be impacted.

To support its commercial insurance customers, RSA Canada is providing relief measures as well as guidance to help them mitigate any risks they face as a result of the pandemic. Commercial customers are encouraged to contact their broker to discuss options further.

  • For commercial insurance customers, RSA Canada is adjusting its rating approach to support business owners and the challenges many of them are facing.

  • For small and mid-sized businesses that have been directly impacted and are experiencing temporary closures and changes in operations, RSA Canada is working with its broker partners to be as flexible and accommodating as possible including allowing mid-term coverage adjustments, payment deferrals and premium adjustments.

  • For businesses that are making changes to their operations to support the current crisis, RSA Canada is providing flexible underwriting solutions.

  • RSA Canada is also providing guidance to help businesses that have shut down to protect their idle property and fleets.

Supporting the most vulnerable Canadians through Food Banks Canada
RSA Canada is donating $100,000 to Food Banks Canada to purchase food products for those who are living with food insecurities, especially during this challenging time. The company continues to match employee donations to community causes that they care about most, including local food banks, as part of its corporate responsibility program.

Currently, Canada’s supply chain is working in overdrive to keep up with the unprecedented demand for food and other goods due to the current pandemic. This has made it more difficult for food banks across the country to receive in-kind donations in the same quantity and frequency that they had before the pandemic.

Food Banks Canada is facing several challenges:

  • Drastic declines in the number of volunteers;
  • Significant surges in the number of clients accessing food through food banks;
  • Dwindling donations when compared to regular operations.

“Giving food to those in need can be difficult in the best of times and COVID-19 has made that task even harder,” says Chris Hatch, CEO, Food Banks Canada. “Food banks are experiencing high demand across the country as a growing number of Canadians suffer income loss. That’s why we’re grateful for the support of organizations, such as RSA Canada, which are helping provide nourishment to those who are most deeply affected by the pandemic.”

Canadians who are interested and in a position to support Food Banks Canada can make a donation at FoodBanksCanada.ca or contact their local food bank to determine which resources are needed most.

Customer-first commitment
As risk experts, RSA Canada’s employees have a role to play in helping customers manage the uncertainties and complexities of today’s world. RSA Canada continues to work with industry associations to identify and address common challenges and emerging issues that may impact customers, and to help them manage and get ahead of potential risks. All parts of the company are working hard to maintain strong service levels to ensure customers receive assistance when they need it most.

Customers are encouraged to leverage RSA Canada’s online claims submission tool which is available at RSAClaimsPoint.ca (not available in Quebec).

About RSA Canada
The RSA Canada group of companies includes Roins Financial Services Limited, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada, Quebec Assurance Company, Johnson Inc., Unifund Assurance Company, Western Assurance Company, Ascentus Insurance Ltd., Canadian Northern Shield Insurance Company and RSA Travel Insurance Inc. (collectively, “RSA Canada”) and is part of a group of companies headed by RSA Insurance Group plc. RSA Canada employs more than 2,800 people across Canada and is one of the oldest insurance companies in the country with roots dating back to 1833. For more information, visit RSAgroup.ca.

About Food Banks Canada
Food Banks Canada provides national leadership to relieve hunger today and prevent hunger tomorrow in collaboration with the food bank network from coast-to-coast-to-coast. For 40 years, food banks have been dedicated to helping Canadians living with food insecurity.  Over 3,000 food banks and community agencies come together to serve our most vulnerable neighbours who – last year – made 1.1 million visits to these organizations in one month alone, according to our HungerCount report.  Over the past 10 years, as a system we’ve sourced and shared over 1.4 billion pounds of food and Food Banks Canada shared nearly $70 million in funding to help maximize collective impact and strengthen local capacity – while advocating for reducing the need for food banks.  Our vision is clear: create a Canada where no one goes hungry. Visit www.foodbankscanada.ca to learn more.

SOURCE RSA Canada

Insurers warn on forced payouts for uncovered coronavirus losses

The excerpted article was written by Simon JessopAbhinav Ramnarayan

LONDON (Reuters) – World insurers told governments on Monday that making them pay out on losses suffered due to the coronavirus that were not covered by policies risked destabilising the insurance industry.

With the global economy hammered by measures to halt the spread of the virus, companies are struggling to survive on tumbling revenues, prompting many to examine insurance policies for potential claims on disruption to their businesses.

In Britain, lawmakers have pushed insurers to show flexibility and Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority has told insurance companies that the behaviour of customers will change due to lockdown restrictions.

The Global Federation of Insurance Associations (GFIA) said insurers were committed to paying out on policies but said they should not be asked to cover areas where no contract existed.

“Where coverage for pandemics and other causes of loss were not included in existing policies or reflected in premium payments, requiring insurers to cover those losses retroactively could seriously threaten the stability of the global insurance industry,” the GFIA said in a statement.

“Events such as fires, motor vehicle accidents and natural catastrophes covered by insurance do not stop, even during a pandemic.”

Some regulators and supervisors had asked for additional data and information as they seek to manage the fallout from the coronavirus, but the GFIA said more coordination was needed.

“Coordination between governmental authorities – and the allowance of some flexibility to account for existing administrative burdens – will be very important in allowing the industry to concentrate time and resources on serving policyholders and confronting the pandemic,” it said.

Reporting by Simon Jessop, Editing by Edmund Blair

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