B.C. lawyer says pet insurance not worth the cost

Excerpted article was written By Anne Drewa | Global News

When it comes to buying pet insurance and dealing with unexpected medical costs, critics argue you are better off self-insuring.

“I don’t believe in pet insurance because I have seen so many clients who have been on the spectrum of the gamut of people who do not benefit from pet insurance,”  said Victoria Shroff, a lawyer who specializes in pet litigation and an adjunct law professor at UBC.

Shroff has been practising animal law for close to 20 years and has witnessed clients let down by their pet insurance policies.

“It’s there for you when the sun is shining, the umbrellas are handed to you, but when it rains the umbrellas are taken away,” she said.

“That’s the same situation with pet insurance. People think they’ve got coverage, they go in and they need something done urgently with their animal, particularly older animals, and they’ll find – sorry, preexisting condition. We can’t cover you.”

Instead, Schroff recommends setting aside money every month for a  pet emergency.

“Have a specific savings account that you set aside for your animals. Put down $50 to $80 away per month per pet.”

Still, the BC SPCA recommends pet insurance.

“It can help your animal get better care faster and with less stress for you,” Dr. Emilia Gordon of the BC SPCA said. “Typically exclusions fall under a couple of categories. Many times preexisting conditions are excluded. Sometimes breed-related issues are excluded and sometimes it’s for a certain period and sometimes it’s for life.”

When choosing a policy, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association recommends pet owners ask the following questions:

  • Does the policy cover genetic conditions?
  • What percentage of fees will be reimbursed?
  • Does the policy cover vaccines?
  • What is the deductible?
  • Do your premiums change as your pet ages?

Gordon said consumers should read the fine print of any policy and consult with a veterinarian to help sort through the details. Policies are diverse and monthly premiums and deductibles can vary.

Economical commits $110,500 to the fight against cancer

Today, more than 60 per cent of Canadians diagnosed with cancer will survive compared with only 25 per cent in the 1940s. While tremendous progress is being made against the disease, overall cancer cases are increasing because of Canada’s aging and growing population. Much more work needs to be done.

To fund this work, the Canadian Cancer Society hosts Relay For Life events across the country. At these six to 12-hour events, teams of friends, family and colleagues join together to celebrate survivors, honour those lost and commit to raising funds to fight all types of cancer.

People can participate in these events at any age or fitness level. Every step taken at Relay For Life helps fund promising cancer research, community support services and other important work so that fewer Canadians are touched by the disease.

Economical Insurance is proud to once again support the Canadian Cancer Society in 2017 with $110,500 in presenting event sponsorships of 10 Relay For Life events in OntarioWoodstock, two in Waterloo Region, three in the GTA, four in Ottawa in addition to an event at Quartier DIX30 in Brossard, Quebec.

“Corporate sponsorships are essential to the success of our Relay For Life events,” says Lesley Ring, Vice-President, Development and Marketing for the Canadian Cancer Society in Ontario. “We are very thankful to Economical Insurance and its employees for generously supporting us for the past 12 years.”

“Relay For Life is our largest fundraising initiative of the year,” says Suzanne Dubois, Executive Director of the Canadian Cancer Society in Quebec. “Every dollar raised from these events helps the Canadian Cancer Society have more impact against more cancers in more communities across Canada. Our donors are helping researchers discover life-saving treatments and providing support programs to those living with cancer.”

This year, more than 400 Relay For Life events are being held across Canada. Since 1999, Relay For Life has raised more than $500 million in Canada for cancer research and support programs.

“At Economical, we have proudly sponsored Relay For Life events since 2006,” said Rowan Saunders, President and Chief Executive Officer of Economical Insurance. “This year, we continue to invest our sponsorship commitment toward the cancer cause. It is exciting to have four university events on the list of those we sponsor, allowing us to connect with a new demographic. Funds raised at Relay For Life, enable the Canadian Cancer Society to take a comprehensive approach to fight all type of cancer through research, prevention and advocacy activities, and support services for patients and their families.”

Cancer changes everything. So can you. Join Economical Insurance and its employees by registering for a Relay For Life event. Learn more at relayforlife.ca

About Economical Insurance
Founded in 1871, Economical is one of Canada’s leading property and casualty insurers, with $2.0 billion in premiums during 2016 and $5.4 billion in assets as at December 31, 2016. Based in Waterloo, this Canadian-owned and operated company services the insurance needs of more than one million customers across the country. Economical conducts business under the following brands: Economical Insurance, Economical, Western General, Economical Select, Perth Insurance, Sonnet, Petsecure, Economical Financial, and Family Insurance Solutions.

SOURCE Economical Insurance

Get the lowdown on the specific types of insurance you need to protect your import/export business

Get the lowdown on the specific types of insurance you need to protect your import/export business

The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc.

Insuring your employees

Once you hire employees, you’ll need to think about caring for them. Workers’ compensation insurance laws vary among states; check with your insurance agent for details in your area. Workers’ comp covers you for any illness or injury your employees might incur on the job. If your employees work in your home office and get injured there, your homeowners’ insurance may refuse to pay on the grounds that it’s actually a workers’ comp case. Check with your insurance agent regarding what you need, then make an informed decision.

Export credit risk insurance

Thanks to the Export-Import Bank of the United States, you can purchase several types of export credit risk insurance designed specifically for the newbie exporter and small- to mid-sized enterprises. These policies protect you in the event that your foreign buyer decides not to pay you for either commercial or political reason. The Ex-Im Bank (and the United States) hope policies such as these will encourage both you and your financial institution to take on higher-risk foreign markets.

Your menu options at Ex-Im are the following:

Small-business policy. This multibuyer policy requires that you insure all your export credit sales with Ex-Im; it’s designed to free you from the “first-loss” deductible of most commercial policies. To take advantage, you must have an export credit sales volume of less than $5 million in the past three years before application, your company must qualify as a small business under the Small Business Administration’s definition of the term and you must have been in business at least one year with a positive net worth. How do you find out if you qualify? Call the SBA’s Office of Size Standards at (800) 827-5722, or check its website.

Umbrella policy. This policy boasts the same coverage and eligibility as the small-business policy above, but it allows you as an export management company or export trading company to act as an adminis­trator or intermediary between Ex-Im and your clients.

Short-term single-buyer policy. This one, which covers a single or repetitive sale, is for the exporter who doesn’t want to insure everything with Ex-Im. A special reduced premium is offered to small businesses.

Cargo insurance

When it comes to cargo insurance, to mangle a well-known advertising maxim, “Don’t let your merchandise leave home without it.” The cost of the insurance usually runs about 1 percent of the insured value, although this varies with the type of goods and method of shipping.
What do you get for your money? Peace of mind, for one thing, as with all insurance. And, in the event of a cargo misadventure, your insurance coverage should include enough to repay you for not only lost or damaged products but for your extra time and trouble and those lost profits. You’ll want to purchase all-risk insurance, which covers your cargo against everything except man’s inhumanity to man — war, strikes, riots and civil commotion — and inherent vice in the cargo. What is vice, you ask? It refers to any sort of plague or pestilence that might attack your cargo, such as boll weevils in those gorgeous cotton blankets or E. coli on your Texas steaks.

You might also want to consider general average insurance. This protects you in the event of someone else’s cargo loss. Say the ship carrying your containers runs afoul of stormy weather. The captain decides to jettison a portion of the cargo to save the rest, and they dump somebody else’s stuff into the briny deep. Fine, you say. Not quite. According to maritime law, even though your merchandise has made it to port safe and sound, you can’t take possession until you’ve paid for your share of the loss.

Let’s look at another scenario. Say the other party in your transaction has purchased insurance — for example, the exporter who’s shipping to you CIF (cost, insurance and freight) but you’ve got a funny feeling that their coverage isn’t too reliable. Not to worry. You can purchase a contingent policy, which is about half the price of regular insurance and will serve as backup insurance in the event of a catastrophe.

As a newbie trader, your best bet will be to purchase insurance through your freight forwarder, who has a blanket policy, or directly from the air carrier. As you grow, you may wish to purchase a blanket policy of your own, which will cover you for everything you ship over the course of a year.

Avoiding insurance claims
Out on the high seas, your cargo may be subjected to rough and stormy weather. On the docks, it can be equally buffeted about by tough longshoremen. What can you do to help ensure your cargo doesn’t become a marine insurance claim?

1. Pack with dock loading and unloading procedures in mind. Your cargo may be slung around (or skewered) by anything from a forklift to a sling or net, and then, if it survives that, left outdoors to rot. Often, cargo is “stored” on port decks or out on airplane cargo tarmacs, without any covering. If you’re unfamiliar with overseas port operations and don’t have the right packaging, you can lose cargo.

2. Pack to expect Mother Nature’s worst. Container loads can shift during heavy seas and storms. Someone else’s cargo can smash into yours — or vice versa. A sea voyage may be good for a human’s health, but it can be murder on merchandise. Think heat and humidity, salt air (which is incredibly corrosive), rain and sea spray. When any or all of this gets into your containers, you can end up with rust, blistering, mold, mildew and moisture damage.
3. Pack to expect human nature’s worst. Some people just can’t resist somebody else’s goods. Theft can be a problem, especially when containers are left on the docks for a long time.

With all these potential disasters in mind, pack smart. Use adequate packaging materials; make sure your merchandise is cushioned against blows. Waterproof everything possible. Have package exteriors shrink-wrapped. Use waterproof lining on interiors. Coat exposed metal parts on machinery, for example, with grease or some other rust arrester. Use heavy strapping and seals. Discourage theft by eliminating trademarks or content descriptions on container exteriors.

U.S. 2 big insurance breakups on Valentine’s Day

It was a rough day for the already-roiled U.S. health insurance market: One giant merger was abandoned, another is threatened by infighting, and a major insurer announced it will stop selling coverage on public exchanges in 11 states.

Both merger deals had already been rejected by federal regulators and judges, but the companies were considering appeals to those decisions. Now they both appear to be off.

Aetna said it was abandoning its planned $34 billion purchase of Medicare Advantage provider Humana early Tuesday. Then, later in the day, Cigna said it is suing Anthem to kill a $48 billion acquisition bid.

The deals were conceived as a way to help the insurers increase their enrollment and cut down on expenses in part so they could improve their performances on the Affordable Care Act’s public insurance exchanges. Big insurers have been hit with substantial losses from the exchanges, even though they represent a relatively small part of their overall business. Many have already cut back their offerings, and that has slashed customer choices in markets around the country.

The collapse of one deal and the uncertain future of the other could hurt shoppers on the exchanges next year by leaving them with even fewer options and potentially higher prices. Humana told investors late Tuesday that it was abandoning it exchanges in all 11 of its states as of the beginning of next year.

Humana, based in Louisville, Kentucky, was the only insurer on exchanges in 16 Tennessee counties, according to data compiled at the start of the 2017 open enrollment period by the Associated Press and health care consulting firm Avalere. That means customers in those counties may have no way to buy coverage with help from government tax credits next year unless another insurer decides to enter those markets.

Every exchange in the U.S. had at least one insurer selling coverage on it for 2017, according to Larry Levitt of the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care issues.

Morningstar insurance analyst Vishnu Lekraj said it’s possible all the four insurers involved in the deals could leave the exchanges.

Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini raised that possibility months ago. He said that if his company’s planned, was blocked, “we believe it is very likely that we would need to leave the public exchange business entirely,” according to court documents filed in that case.

Aetna, based in Hartford, Connecticut, says it lost $450 million last year on ACA-compliant coverage, while the company booked an overall profit of $2.27 billion. Its loss on ACA-compliant business was $100 million more than it expected.

Bertolini said recently that his company would announce by April 1 whether it will remain in any of its exchanges. “We’re looking at everything,” he said.

Government and industry officials have said President Donald Trump’s administration and congressional Republicans are weighing measures to stabilize the wobbly exchanges. Insurers have been pushing them to act soon.

“The clock is definitely ticking for the Trump administration to provide some clarity around what the rules will be,” Levitt said.

In suing to end its tie-up, Cigna, based in Bloomfield, Connecticut, said it wants more than $13 billion in damages from its onetime-companion Anthem, the Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer, which is based in Indianapolis.

Cigna says it is seeking a $1.85 billion termination fee from Anthem and billions more in damages for what it says were Anthem’s breaches of the merger agreement.

The insurer says the damages include the amount Cigna shareholders would have received if the merger had not failed. It noted that Anthem assumed full responsibility for litigation strategy and getting the necessary regulatory approvals, suggesting that it was Anthem’s responsibility to push the deal through.

“Cigna fulfilled all of its contractual obligations and fully cooperated with Anthem throughout the approval process,” the insurer said in a statement.

An Anthem spokeswoman says Cigna has no right to end the deal, and it remains committed to closing the transaction. The insurer had just filed on Monday paperwork to appeal the federal court ruling.

Anthem and Aetna put their acquisition bids together in 2015 and touted them as a way to grow enrollment and reap savings that they would then pass on to consumers.

Warmest year on record a notable contributor to elevated weather-related losses

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Replacement cost insurance no carte blanche for new building, court rules

By Colin Perkel


TORONTO _ An insurance company is under no obligation to pay for a replacement building that bears no resemblance to an insured property damaged by fire, Ontario’s top court ruled Tuesday.

The only obligation, the Court of Appeal found, was to pay the owners the actual value of the burned buildings.

The case arose in March 2011, court records show, when fire damaged an income property in Ottawa comprising one-, two- and three-storey buildings with 15 residential units and 13 commercial units. The owners, Helene Carter, Edmond Blais and Donald Givogue, opted to demolish the site and build an 8-1/2 storey condominium, with triple the total area and 129 residential units.

The trio then made a claim against their insurance company for $5.7 million plus another $511,000 the cost of the new building and building code upgrades under terms of their policy that provided for reimbursement for the repair, construction or reconstruction of a new property of “like kind and quality” as the damaged one.

Intact Insurance, however, refused to pay the replacement and associated costs on the grounds that the proposed condominium was nothing like the insured property. It did pay the owners the cash value of the damaged buildings $3.9 million.

The owners sued Intact for the difference, $2.3 million, but in July last year, Superior Court Justice Kevin Phillips sided with the insurance company. He found the new condo was far different from what it was replacing.

In turning to the Appeal Court, the owners argued Phillips was wrong in finding the condo was not a replacement that would allow them to make their insurance claim. They essentially maintained they had the right under their policy to replace the damaged property with a totally different building and still be entitled to replacement costs.

In rejecting their arguments, the higher court noted that replacement-cost clauses typically specify that a policy holder must actually repair or replace a destroyed property. The aim is to prevent someone from unfairly profiting from the destruction at the expense of the insurance company.

The court also found the policy to be clear and straightforward in terms of what was covered.

“I am satisfied that the definition of ‘replacement’ in the appellants’ policy is unambiguous (and) the replacement, no matter how it is effected, must be of like kind and quality,” Justice John Laskin wrote for the court. “To give effect to the appellants’ interpretation would either be illogical or would render the phrase ‘of like kind and quality’ meaningless.”

The Appeal Court also dismissed the owners’ claim for the cost of bylaw upgrades given its finding on replacement costs.

The court ordered the owners to pay Intact $15,000 for their failed appeal.


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