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Community organizations receive $120,000 from The Co-operators

The Co-operators announced eight donations totalling $120,000 to organizations across the country that are working to enhance the self-reliance and employability of marginalized youth and people with mental health challenges. The funding is being provided from The Co-operators Community Economic Development Funds.

“There are many young people in communities across Canada who could use a helping hand to overcome barriers and reach their full potential – and that’s exactly what these organizations are doing,” said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators. “The services and supports they provide make individuals more self-sufficient and communities more inclusive and equitable.”

The organizations receiving funding are:

Choices for Youth – St. John’s, N.L.$20,000
Choices for Youth’s Train the Trades program provides construction-based employment and skills training for at-risk and homeless youth to help them prepare for and secure long-term, sustainable employment in the skilled trades.

Open Sky Co-operative – Southeast Region, N.B. – $10,000
Open Sky provides residential support, vocational training and personal skills support to young adults who face barriers due to social or mental health challenges. The grant will support the “Roots of Resilience” project, which helps participants improve their employment skills and obtain experience through work placements.

Destination travail de Sud-Ouest de l’île de MontréalLaSalle, Que.$20,000
Destination travail operates L’école du milieu LaSalle, an alternative community class that provides marginalized youth with resources to develop employability skills and entrepreneurship.

Furniture Bank – Etobicoke, Ont.$20,000
Furniture Bank transfers gently-used household furniture from donors to various marginalized people and groups. Furniture Link, its social enterprise, is a furniture pick-up and delivery business that provides job and life skills training and/or employment opportunities to at-risk youth.  Participants receive on-the-job skills training and paid work placements of six months to a year.

FortWhyte Alive – Winnipeg, Man. – $10,000
FortWhyte Alive is a year-round facility that operates FortWhyte Farms, a social enterprise dedicated to using sustainable urban agriculture to build skills and increase job readiness for inner-city youth.  The four-stage program delivers basic skills programming in agriculture, husbandry and beekeeping, a summer internship employment program, a leadership and mentorship program, and a youth-led co-operative, Harmony Honey.

Ignite Adult Learning Corporation Foundation – Regina, Sask.$10,000
Ignite helps at-risk young adults, ages 19 to 30, to transform themselves into self-sufficient, productive citizens by gaining education, experience and skills. The FLAMES program (Fostering Learning and Marketable Employment Skills) includes 32 weeks of in-house work and 11 weeks of apprenticeship with a local employer.

Foothill Special Needs Association for Parents and Siblings – High River, Alta.$20,000
Foothill SNAP has a focus on marginalized youth with mental health issues. Its H.I.R.E. (Having Inclusive Rewarding Employment) work-readiness program is for people 18 and up who facing barriers to employment. The project’s focus is to create community/employer opportunities, as well as employer education and support.

Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation – Vancouver, B.C.$10,000
Take a Hike is a full-time alternative education program that engages at-risk youth through a unique combination of adventure-based learning, academics, therapy, and community involvement. It partners with community organizations for equipment, work placements and hands-on training.

The Co-operators Community Economic Development Fund were created in 1995 and support organizations that help marginalized young people and those with mental health challenges become self-reliant. Through the funds, more than $5.2 million has been disbursed to 128 organizations across Canada.

About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $40 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the Best Employers in Canada by Aon; Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean’s magazine. For more information visit www.cooperators.ca.

SOURCE The Co-operators

Insurance experts: NHL has idea how many players will develop dementia, Alzheimer’s

By Rick WestHead | TSN

The NHL has a good idea how many of its former players are likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other brain-crippling disorders, say insurance experts who specialize in the professional sports industry.

And lawyers for the 105 former players who are suing the NHL want access to the league’s insurance policies and related medical documents to see those projections for themselves.

Late Friday, a lawyer representing the former NHL players named Brian Penny filed with the court a motion requesting an order directing the NHL’s current insurer, Chubb Corp., to produce all of its NHL-related documents.

Penny served Chubb with a subpoena for those documents on Apr. 20, 2015, but Chubb, which has been the NHL’s insurer since at least 2001, has refused the request.

Penny declined to comment through a spokesperson. Neither Chubb lawyer David Newmann nor NHL spokesman Gary Meagher replied to an email requesting comment.

“The likelihood that the NHL does not already know the probability of players getting Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases is nil,” said Mark Wahlstrom, the president of Wahlstrom & Associates, a Phoenix company that advises former professional athletes on insurance claims.

“When an insurance company is pricing out a policy for the league, they look at all the risk factors for players, the same as they would with a policy for airline pilots. The insurance company uses that data and statistics to produce an underwriting report that would be given to the NHL.”

Chubb would have compiled actuarial valuations — a type of appraisal that requires making economic and demographic assumptions to predict future financial liabilities — to predict the probability of players suffering brain diseases before the company agreed to offer insurance coverage to the league, said Christopher Fusco, a New York lawyer who has worked on class-action insurance lawsuits filed by injured workers, but who is not working on the NHL case.

“Chubb would look at data from players who have made workers’ compensation claims, look at all the NHL’s internal data and medical records and Chubb would then give an underwriting report to the NHL to say, ‘this is why we are charging you what we are charging you’,” Fusco said.

A group of 105 former players are suing the NHL in U.S. federal court in Minneapolis, charging that the NHL didn’t do enough to warn its players about the long-term risks of suffering multiple concussions. The league, the players say, profited from and marketed violence.

The NHL, on the other hand, counters by saying that any player complaints should be dealt with in arbitration, not in court, because of the league’s collective labour agreement with the National Hockey League Players’ Association. The league also says players could have “put two and two” together about the risks of returning to the ice after brain injuries.

In a May 18, 2015, letter to Penny, Chubb lawyer Newmann wrote that producing the documents “would impose undue burden and expense” on the insurance company. Chubb also objected to the subpoena because it would require the company to “produce material containing or reflecting confidential, proprietary, or trade secret protected information…”

It’s unclear when the court will hear arguments on Penny’s request for an order.
Insurance experts say the concussion lawsuit in the NFL offers a window into the sort of data that has likely been compiled by Chubb and the NHL — the only mainstream sports league to permit and promote bare-knuckle fighting.

As part of a proposed $1-billion settlement in the NFL lawsuit — a U.S. appellate court is deciding whether to approve the settlement after some 175 players opposed it — the NFL was required to make public data about the long-term health of its players. That data shows NFL players are far more likely than the general public to develop Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and other cognitive disorders. If the statistics held by Chubb are anything like those disclosed in the NFL lawsuit, they would be troubling for the NHL.

“It wouldn’t be good news for the NHL,” said Dr. Matthew Lorincz, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan and a co-director of Michigan NeuroSport, the university’s sports neurology clinic.

But Lorincz said he suspects the statistics in hockey would not be as gloomy as those in football.

“There can be some big hits in hockey, but there’s not an offensive and defensive line that are teeing off on each other every play of every game,” he said.

The NFL admitted in court documents filed in September 2014 in U.S. federal court in Philadelphia that it expects nearly a third of retired players to develop long-term cognitive problems. The league admitted conditions are likely to emerge at “notably younger ages” than in the general population.

About 28 per cent of former NFL players — as many as 5,900 — will develop brain injuries that would merit compensation under the terms of the settlement, but only 60 per cent, or 3,600, of those players were expected to file medical claims, the NFL said in court filings.

According to assumptions produced by lawyers for the NFL’s actuaries and disclosed in September 2014, NFL players younger than 50 had a 0.8 per cent chance of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia, compared with less than 0.1 per cent for the general population.

For players aged 50 to 54, the rate was 1.4 per cent, compared with less than 0.1 per cent for the general population. That gap between the players and general population widens as the age of players increases.

The actuarial data presumes that 220 living NFL players have dementia now, and that about 1,500 will have the disease in the future.

The data was released publicly in response to petitions made by several media organizations and several of the 5,000 former NFL players suing the league.

Not everyone believes it’s a certainty that the NHL has data related to players and brain disease.

Robert Boland, who teaches sports law at New York University, said that even if Chubb has documents about players developing dementia, it’s possible that they were never shared with the NHL.

“If you’re the league, you don’t want to know this data,” Boland said. “If you become aware of it, you really do have to deal with it. If this data is out there, and the NHL knew about it, it really does become a smoking gun against the league.”

For insurance companies, understanding risk is critical.

There are more than five million people with Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S., where there is no socialized Medicare, and the average monthly bill for a private room in a skilled nursing facility in the U.S. costs $6,900 per month, according to the American Elder Care Research Organization.

Then there’s the cost of medication.

“When someone has these illnesses, there is not enough money in the world,” Wahlstrom said.

Wahlstrom said he’s currently working with a former NFL player who is hoping to receive $620,000, his potential payout as part of the NFL’s concussion lawsuit settlement.

“The average time from when someone begins exhibiting symptoms until when they need full attendant care is three-and-a-half years,” Wahlstrom said. “Maybe he’ll be able to squeeze two or three years out of his settlement.”

“Again, that’s why the insurance companies want to know what their risks are going to be. Medical care can produce a very big bill.”

Leading Reinsurers Line Up for Lemonade, the P2P Insurer

By Andrew G. Simpson

Lemonade, the startup peer-to-peer insurance carrier that has raised $13 million in initial funding, announced a line-up of  global reinsurance partners, including Berkshire Hathaway and leading Lloyd’s of London syndicates.

Lemonade set records with its initial funding by Sequoia and Aleph, followed by its announcement that four senior insurance executives from ACE and American International Group (AIG) had joined its ranks.

Daniel Schreiber, CEO and co-founder of the P2P insurer, said that with Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity and Lloyd’s of London backing Lemonade, the stage is now set for Lemonade’s consumer launch in the coming months.

“For insurance to provide true peace of mind you want to know your insurer is both willing and able to pay your claims,” said Schreiber. “Lemonade is the only insurer that doesn’t make money by denying claims – so no one is more willing than us.  With the backing of the world’s foremost reinsurance names, no one is more able either.”

In addition to Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity, the P2P insurer said its reinsurance line-up includes Everest, Hiscox, Munich, Transatlantic and XL Catlin.

Read more here:: Insurance Journal

The Co-operators donates $75,000 to Kids Help Phone

The Co-operators joined a passionate group of supporters for male mental health by making a donation of $75,000 to Kids Help Phone in support of its BroTalk service for young males.

BroTalk is a dedicated online support zone and referral service that provides teen guys aged 14 to 18 with information, referrals and professional counselling. It seeks to address the fact that the young men who reach out for counselling are 31 per cent less likely to discuss mental and emotional health issues than girls, and 36 per cent less likely to talk about suicide and suicide related issues.

BroTalk has been designed to address issues that prevent teen guys from reaching out — stigma, gender stereotypes and the term “mental health” —  and provide options for support including direct access to a Kids Help Phone counsellor through Live Chat, information and interactive tools.

“It can be difficult and uncomfortable for young men to reach out for support when they’re going through a tough time,” said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators. “BroTalk makes it a little easier, by providing an anonymous service guys can access through a live chat function, an app or by phone. We’re pleased to support this amazing new service.”

With the commitment of Principal Funder the Movember Foundation, BroTalk launched in October 2015 and will help make fundamental changes to the ways in which young men reach out and access the help they need. As a long-time supporter of Kids Help Phone, The Co-operators also donated funds to help launch BroTalk and is pleased to continue its support in 2016.

About The Co-operators
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $40 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt; Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean’s magazine. For more information visit www.cooperators.ca.

SOURCE The Co-operators

For further information: Leonard Sharman, The Co-operators, (519) 767-3937

Aviva CEO: Time to modernise how insurance is sold

Excerpted article by Rachael Boon

Having a large number of in-house agents or an exclusive deal with a bank is not always the best thing for insurance consumers, said Mr Mark Wilson, group chief executive of British insurer Aviva.

Mr Wilson told The Straits Times that a model based on those two distribution channels is not only outdated, but also expensive.

“The market here, for many years, has been dominated by two forms of distribution – tied agencies and banks. Both of those channels are expensive for consumers,” he said.

“They give less choice to consumers and we think the industry would go towards a more financial advisory model in Singapore, where they have a choice of more than one (insurance) provider.”

He added it was also unusual to have banks tied up with only one insurance firm, noting that the time is ripe for change in a market where Aviva is among the top five insurers.

Mr Wilson, who was in Singapore recently for the opening of his company’s new digital facility, said: “The market here is ready to be modernised. Being dominated by tied agencies and single-bank distribution is an outdated model.

“I think the Government and regulators recognise that, and we are a key part of that mix for getting a better deal for consumers.”

He added that Aviva is poised to be part of that modernisation as it is more focused on growing the financial advisory channel as it keeps its agency force small.

In terms of technology, the insurer is also helping smaller, independent financial advisory firms with infrastructure or compliance.

Aviva does not have any bancassurance tie-ups here after its 15-year distribution partnership with DBS Bank expired on Dec 31.

DBS will now get US$1.2 billion (S$1.7 billion) from Canadian insurer Manulife in a 15-year distribution deal that started on Jan 1.

Mr Wilson said: “We had DBS and the sort of money the deal went for was, in our view, uneconomic and, at the end of the day, you’ve got to charge the customer. DBS and Manulife are fine companies, but it was the most expensive insurance deal I’d ever seen in Asia.”

Aviva is committed to Singapore and the rest of Asia, said Mr Wilson, and its digital facility in Armenian Street is an example of this commitment. The facility, which opened last month, has a team of about 100 people and is supported by 200 Singapore- based technology specialists.

Aviva’s first digital set-up was established in London last year, and the global annual investment – including Singapore – is more than US$150 million.

Mr Wilson added that the firm is spending a lot on its digital offerings and technology, something the industry cannot shy away from.

Trends include more direct-to- consumer platforms or products, as the technologically wired generations take turns to reach the age where they require insurance.

Not one to mince his words, Mr Wilson said: “Insurance, when it comes to digital, is in the Stone Age globally, and I think we need to do what it takes to be up to where it should be.”

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