ICBC encourages drivers to be prepared for changing road conditions over the Thanksgiving long weekend

ICBC encourages drivers to be prepared for changing road conditions over the Thanksgiving long weekend

As British Columbians get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, ICBC is advising drivers that they may encounter challenging road conditions as they travel throughout the province.

The Thanksgiving long weekend has historically been one of the more dangerous long weekends on B.C. roads with an average of 2,200 crashes, nearly 700 people injured and four killed.*

It’s only a few weeks into fall and snow has already blanketed parts of B.C. As of October 1st, winter tires or chains are mandatory on many B.C. highways, including Highway 99 from Horseshoe Bay to Pemberton, the Malahat portion of Highway 1 on Vancouver Island, and most highways throughout the southern interior and northern B.C.

Keep in mind the following tips to stay safe:

  • Plan your route ahead of time. Check weather and road conditions on drivebc.ca before you get behind the wheel. Take long weekend traffic into account and allow extra time to get to your destination.

  • Check your tires. Winter tires or chains are now required on many B.C. highways. Winter tires are labelled with either the mountain/snowflake symbol or the mud and snow (M&S designation). Also, make sure your tires have adequate tread and are properly inflated.

  • Slow down on wet roads. Allow yourself at least twice the normal braking distance on wet, slippery roads or on roads covered in leaves. Keep in mind that posted speed limits are intended for ideal conditions.

  • Put your phone away. Focus on the road, minimize distractions and pay attention to your surroundings.

  • Watch for pedestrians and cyclists. Daylight steadily decreases with each passing day in October and it can be difficult to see pedestrians and cyclists, especially around intersections.

Regional statistics:

  • About 520 people are injured in 1,400 crashes in the Lower Mainland over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

  • About 84 people are injured in 290 crashes on Vancouver Island over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

  • About 58 people are injured in 300 crashes in the Southern Interior over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

  • About 19 people are injured in 140 crashes in North Central B.C. over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

*Thanksgiving weekend crashes are calculated from 18:00 the Friday prior to the holiday to midnight Monday. Crash and injury data is ICBC data (5-year average, 2014 – 2018). Fatality data is provided by police (5-year average, 2013-2017).

Named Insured And Additional Insured: Same Policy, Different Coverage

In the recent decision, Sky Solar (Canada) Ltd. v. Economical Mutual Insurance Company, 2019 ONSC 4165, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice undertook a comprehensive overview of three fundamental concepts of insurance law, namely, the scope of coverage, forfeiture and the duty of good faith.

This decision is of interest to insurers, as it clarifies the coverage language contained in Additional Insured Endorsements in the context of commercial general liability insurance. Furthermore, it provides clear demarcation between reasonable and improper conduct by insurers when assessing coverage.

Facts

Sky Solar (Canada) Ltd. (Sky Solar) is a developer of solar energy projects. In April 2012, Sky Solar and Marnoch Electrical Services Inc. (Marnoch) entered into two contracts for the construction of solar energy projects in Brampton and Bolton, Ontario. Pursuant to these contracts, Marnoch agreed to provide specified insurance coverages to Sky Solar.

Firstbrook, Cassie & Anderson Limited (FCA), Marnoch’s insurance broker, issued certificates of insurance confirming that Economical Mutual Insurance Company (Economical) had issued a commercial general liability policy (Policy) in connection with the projects. The certificates of insurance issued to Marnoch named Sky Solar as an Additional Insured under the Policy. Marnoch provided these to Sky Solar concurrently.

The Policy included an Additional Insured Endorsement, which stated:

“[the insurance] applies to those stated as ‘Additional Insureds’, but only with respect to liability arising out of the operations of the Named Insured.”

A defective transformer caught fire at one of the solar project locations. Sky Solar investigated the fire and, in spite of its conclusions, continued to use the same transformer from the same manufacturer at both project locations.

In November and December 2012, Sky Solar sold the solar energy projects to Firelight Solar Limited Partnership (Firelight). However, months later, another transformer ignited. This second fire caused total shutdowns at both solar energy project locations. Firelight claimed remediation costs and loss of income against Sky Solar based on contractual warranties.

Sky Solar settled the warranty claims with Firelight. In exchange, Firelight reassigned the benefit of Marnoch’s contractual warranties to Sky Solar. In September 2013, Sky Solar commenced arbitration proceedings against Marnoch for all of its losses resulting from the fires. An arbitral award dismissed Sky Solar’s claim, and the Superior Court of Justice dismissed the appeal that followed.

Desperate to minimize its losses, Sky Solar commenced an action against Economical and FCA. For the purposes of this blog post, we draw particular attention to three issues involving Economical. First, whether Sky Solar’s liability to Firelight is liability arising out of the operations of Marnoch. Second, whether Sky Solar forfeited coverage by failing to comply with conditions set out in the Policy. And third, whether Economical breached a duty of good faith owed to Sky Solar.

Decision

Scope of coverage: The loss did not “arise out of the operations of” Marnoch

The Court stated that “there [was] insufficient proximity between the decision taken by Sky Solar to continue to use the transformer and the failure of the transformer […], on the one hand, and Marnoch’s operational actions to order and install the transformer, on the other hand” to conclude that Sky Solar’s liability to Firelight arose out of Marnoch’s operations.

Sky Solar argued that “arising out of the operations of the Named Insured” must be given a broad meaning. The Court accepted this assertion and further explained, with reference to case law, that the words “arising out of” have been interpreted to include such meanings as “originating from”, “growing out of”, “flowing from”, “incident to”, or “having connection with” (Waterloo (City) v. Economical Mutual Insurance Co, 2006 CarswellOnt 8451, at paras 30-31).

In addition, the Court noted the phrase “arising out of” in the Additional Insured Endorsement should be construed as requiring “an unbroken chain of causation” and a connection that is more than merely incidental or fortuitous (Vernon Vipers Hockey Club v. Canadian Recreation Excellence (Vernon) Corporation, 2012 BCCA 291, at paras 28-52).

This conclusion drew upon the following findings in the arbitral award:

  • Marnoch’s scope of work was limited to the installation of solar equipment;
  • Sky Solar designed the photovoltaic system, the wiring and the type of equipment to be installed;
  • Sky Solar turned to Marnoch for help in locating an appropriate replacement transformer after the first fire;
  • Sky Solar was left to decide exclusively whether or not to accept the replacement transformer;
  • Marnoch was not asked for its views on the suitability of the replacement transformer, nor did it have expertise or technical knowledge to assess the relative advantages of different transformers; and
  • Sky Solar confirmed its approval of the replacement transformer.

In the Court’s view, the decision respecting the transformers to be installed at the solar project location rested entirely on Sky Solar. In other words, Marnoch located an appropriate replacement transformer, but ultimately Sky Solar approved the replacement. This “broke” the chain of causation required by the Additional Insured Endorsement.

Forfeiture: Sky Solar forfeited coverage by failing to comply with the conditions of the Policy

While the Court concluded that the Additional Insured Endorsement did not cover Sky Solar, it agreed to comment on Economical’s forfeiture submissions. Put briefly, the Court held that Sky Solar did not comply with the conditions of the Policy.

Economical argued that regardless of whether Sky Solar had coverage under the Additional Insured Endorsement, Sky Solar did not comply with the Policy when it “admitted liability to Firelight, settled Firelight’s claim, and voluntarily paid Firelight amounts for remediation costs and loss of revenue without [Economical’s] consent”. Stated differently, Economical relied on the insured’s post-loss duties to communicate and cooperate with the insurer.

Sky Solar addressed this with four submissions. First, Sky Solar maintained that Economical could not rely on the conditions of the Policy because it was not set out in the certificates of insurance in Sky Solar’s possession. The Court rejected this interpretation of the law by stating that the certificate “is nothing more than evidence of coverage, but cannot and does not create a separate and different policy or impose new duties on the insurer”.

Second, Sky Solar denied that it failed to comply with the conditions because the Policy used the words “you” and “your” to refer to the “Named Insured”, being Marnoch, which had provided a notice of loss to Economical via FCA. The Court, again, rejected that interpretation. An Additional Insured is not relieved from its obligation to comply with the Policy. In any event, the notice requirement was only one of several conditions. Another hurdle remained; Sky Solar had settled a claim without Economical’s consent.

Third, Economical lost the right to rely on the conditions when it advised Sky Solar of its denial to defend and indemnify under the Additional Insured Endorsement. The Court flatly countered this submission because Sky Solar paid a settlement amount to Firelight before asking Economical to defend the claim. The insurer may lose certain rights under a policy when it refuses “to defend an insured in circumstances where the policy stipulates that a defence is required.” However, that was not the case here.

Fourth, Sky Solar argued that it was entitled to relief from forfeiture because the evidence demonstrated that Economical would deny coverage regardless of compliance with the conditions of the Policy. Furthermore, Sky Solar argued that it mitigated its damages by settling with Firelight, and thus Economical was in no way prejudiced. Unsatisfied with the evidence adduced by Sky Solar regarding the absence of prejudice, the Court ultimately reasoned that there was “non-compliance,” as opposed to “imperfect compliance” with the Policy; therefore, if there had been coverage under the Policy, Sky Solar would have forfeited such coverage.

Duty of good faith: Economical did not act in bad faith

Although Economical initially denied that Sky Solar was an Additional Insured, Economical quickly acknowledged Sky Solar’s status as an Additional Insured less than two weeks later. The Court found that this conduct did not amount to bad faith.

Additionally, the Court noted that denying coverage without appointing an adjuster or conducting an investigation into the second fire did not breach the duty of good faith owed to the insured. Economical had denied coverage on an objectively reasonable basis, specifically, on the basis that Sky Solar had approved the transformers—not Marnoch.

Lastly, Sky Solar maintained that Economical improperly attributed different coverage to Marnoch and itself despite their identical status as insureds under the Policy. While this may make sense theoretically, the Court disagreed because coverage would have been tailored to each customer’s individual risk exposure. The Additional Insured Endorsement had clear language to that effect.

Takeaway

This decision highlights the importance of reviewing insurance policies prior to their issuance when the obligation to obtain insurance for a construction project falls squarely on another party. Indeed, an organization should consider whether an Additional Insured Endorsement is satisfactory in light of its risk exposure. If not, the construction contract should explicitly require that the organization be a Named Insured instead of an Additional Insured.

About Dentons

Dentons is the world’s first polycentric global law firm. A top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, the Firm is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent and uncompromising quality and value in new and inventive ways. Driven to provide clients a competitive edge, and connected to the communities where its clients want to do business, Dentons knows that understanding local cultures is crucial to successfully completing a deal, resolving a dispute or solving a business challenge. Now the world’s largest law firm, Dentons’ global team builds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local, national and global needs of private and public clients of any size in more than 125 locations serving 50-plus countries. www.dentons.com

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. Specific Questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author.

Source: Mondaq

Mississauga man owes $800K in medical bills after travel insurance claim denied

Pat Foran, Consumer Reporter, CTV News Toronto

A Mississauga man who took a trip to Las Vegas now owes a U.S. hospital more than $800,000 in Canadian funds after his travel medical insurance claim was denied.

Clifford MacAuley says that when he took his trip in July, he thought he had the proper travel insurance.

When he went to Las Vegas with his brother, MacAuley was recovering from a heart operation that took place two months earlier. Four days into the trip he had a heart attack.

“They took me to the Las Vegas hospital where they pronounced me dead and then they brought me back to life.”

To save his life, doctors had to give MacAuley a pacemaker. They checked to see if he had travel medical insurance before proceeding with the operation—and he did. But while MacAuley was recovering, the hospital told him his medical coverage had been denied.

They gave him a bill for $662,476 U.S., which is equal to $877,207 Canadian.

MacAuley is 68 years old and on a pension. He says he can’t afford to pay the bill.

“I’m not going to freak out because I don’t have it. I have three fender guitars and about 1000 videos. They can take them if they want I don’t care.”

MacAuley paid $116 for the travel insurance policy with RBC. A spokesperson told CTV News Toronto it was a sad situation but that “Mr. MacAuley had pre-existing medical conditions and was on home oxygen prior to travel. This classified him as “not medically stable” in the six months before travel. For these reasons, Mr. MacAuley’s claim was denied.”

A spokesperson for The Valley Health System in Las Vegas said for privacy reasons it could not discuss MacAuley’s case, but did say patients need to contact the billing department to discuss payment options.

RBC said it had to pay $50,000 to fly MacAuley home in an air ambulance. The RBC spokesperson said people need to understand the type of coverage they’re purchasing and that 98 per cent of its travel claims are paid out to clients.

MacAuley says there is no way he can pay the hospital the money.

“Even if I was to live to 150 years old, I just can’t pay it back.”

IBC sees spike in high-loss weather events across Canada

KENTVILLE, N.S. 

The nights are cooling down, and the floodwaters are rising.

As hurricane season hits its stride, it begs the question: are things getting worse?

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has an answer to that question – yes.

Insurers from coast to coast in Canada are seeing increases in severity and frequency of severe weather events, said Erin Norwood, manager of government relations with the IBC’s Atlantic office, Sept. 4.

“Last year, we noticed right across the country that insured damage from severe weather events reached over $2 billion, which is the highest amount of losses on record,” said Norwood, speaking on behalf of the national association representing the country’s private home, auto and business insurers. “That was from a high amount of high-loss events across the country.”

This is a pattern that has persisted over the course of a decade, from events like the historic flooding in New Brunswick in 2018, resulting in $6 million in insured losses, to the 2016 flooding in the Cape Breton area, which caused about $100 million worth of damage.

Overland flood insurance, Norwood said, is a relatively new option for consumers seeking additional protection.

“That’s something I think is really important for people to consider when they’re preparing for severe weather events,” she said. “It’s really important for people to check with insurance reps to see what optional coverages are available to them, and that includes overland flood insurance.”

Norwood recommends that property owners concerned about severe weather events reach out to their insurance representatives directly to go over their policies and learn more about what coverage is appropriate.

“It’s really important when people are preparing for severe weather events to have that conversation with their insurance representative about those types of products,” she said.

She stressed that it’s crucial homeowners understand severe weather is inevitable, and plan accordingly.

Flood preparation steps include keeping a current, detailed home inventory, installing sump pumps, ensuring downspouts drain away from the foundation of a home, and having an emergency preparedness plan.

“It’s important that everyone has as much information as possible as we’re heading into hurricane season here in Nova Scotia,” Norwood said.

Source: Hats Journal 

ICBC asking drivers & parents to keep kids safe as school returns

ICBC asking drivers & parents to keep kids safe as school returns

Next week, children and adults return to school and work which creates congestion on our roads. ICBC is asking drivers to leave extra travel time, stay focused on the road and watch for children especially around school zones.

Every year, 380 children are injured in crashes while walking or cycling and five are killed throughout the province.*

Police and Speed Watch volunteers will be closely monitoring drivers’ speeds in school zones to help children get a safe start to the school year.

Parents are encouraged to review ICBC’s tip sheet with their children and go over their daily route to and from school with them.

ICBC’s tips for drivers:

  • If you drop off your child in a school zone, allow them to exit the car on the side closest to the sidewalk. Never allow a child to cross mid-block.

  • If a vehicle’s stopped in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding to a pedestrian, so proceed with caution and be prepared to stop.

  • Watch for school buses and when their lights are flashing, vehicles approaching from both directions must stop.

  • Before getting into your vehicle, walk around it to make sure no small children are hidden from your view. Always look for pedestrians when you’re backing up.

  • In residential areas, a hockey net or ball can mean that kids are playing nearby. Watch for children as they could dash into the street at any moment.

  • Remember that every school day, unless otherwise posted, a 30 km/h speed limit is in effect in school zones from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In playground zones, a 30 km/h speed limit is in effect every day from dawn to dusk.

ICBC provides free road safety educational materials to B.C. schools to help students from kindergarten to grade 10 learn about road safety topics unique to their grade level using fun and interactive activities.

Editor’s note: Local road safety coordinators across the province are available for interviews. Please contact Lindsay Wilkins.

Statistics:

  • In the Lower Mainland, 300 children walking or cycling are involved in crashes every year.
  • In Vancouver, 61 children walking or cycling are involved in crashes every year.
  • On Vancouver Island, 65 children walking or cycling are involved in crashes every year.
  • In Victoria, 12 children walking or cycling are involved in crashes every year.
  • In the Southern Interior, 49 children walking or cycling are involved in crashes every year.
  • In Kelowna, 17 children walking or cycling are involved in crashes every year.
  • In North Central B.C., 16 children walking or cycling are involved in crashes every year.

Notes about the data:

Children defined as age five to 18. Pedestrian includes a person in or on a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy. This includes rollerblades, a skateboard, scooter, unicycle or similar wheeled device.

*Crash and injury averages based on 2014 to 2018 data reported by ICBC. Fatal averages based on 2013 to 2017 police-reported data.

In collaboration with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), the Kennebecasis Regional Police Force (KRPF) today launched …

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