DriveSmartBC – We’ll See You When You Turn 80!

BC Driver's LicenceSometimes I think that our system is designed to keep us in the driver’s seat. Even in an urban area, you need a vehicle to get around with convenience. Bend a few vehicles? Pay ICBC a (relatively) few dollars more and they take care of the big bills. Can’t or won’t follow the driving rules? Pay for a few penalty points and don’t worry, you have to get a lot of tickets before they take your licence away. Had your licence taken away? Probably not for very long, even if you killed someone.

Last week’s episode of Nova, Look Who’s Driving Now, was about autonomous vehicles. One of the experts interviewed expressed the opinion that driving a vehicle is probably the most demanding cognitive task that most people do on a daily basis. I’m sure that you won’t be surprised to find that there are many examples in the program where drivers disengaged their brain to do things other than drive while they were behind the wheel.

Our system of driver licensing pays fairly close attention to the first three years of a driver’s career. You spend a year as a Learner, pass a test, spend two years as a Novice, pass a test and you are now a fully privileged driver. The restrictions on speed, number of passengers, alcohol use, new driver signs and supervision are at an end.

After that, unless you prove to be incapable, you may pay a renewal fee every five years and not get looked at again until you turn 80.

I once checked a driver who had missed two renewals of his licence. He’d driven for more than 10 years with no licence at all! The only reason I found him was because I was conducting a road check and asking all drivers to show me their driver’s licence.

I’ve been driving for more than 40 years now and can say from experience that there have been many changes to driving in BC since I was 16. In all that time, no one has checked to see if I have been keeping my knowledge current.

There was one test that I had to take at my last renewal, could I still see well enough to drive without corrective lenses? I could, but I still prefer to drive with my glasses on. I like to see where I’m going in as sharp a focus as I can.

Aside from new laws and road improvements that complicate my interactions with others, if I buy a new vehicle I will find myself sitting in the driver’s seat with a host of driving assists. Some are mandated by Transport Canada and others I might choose on my own as options.

After finishing up with my purchase, I could decide to hop in and drive my shiny new computerized vehicle away without any instruction at all about how to maintain, use or misuse all these systems.

So, if I keep my head down, don’t bump into too many things or run afoul of traffic enforcement, I can keep driving until I turn 80 and no one will ever check to see if I should still be behind the wheel and have the requisite knowledge of the system to follow it effectively.

Even after I turn 80, the regular testing is aimed at making sure that I have the necessary cognitive ability to drive, not that I actually know how to.

Can you think of any other complex, changing system today that allows it’s users to carry on without training updates and testing? We’ll see you when I turn 80!

HUB International Names a Chief Sales Officer for Its Cannabis Insurance and Risk Services

Jay Virdi has been named Chief Sales Officer for HUB’s cannabis insurance and risk services in the U.S. and Canada.

PRESS RELEASE – HUB International (HUB) recently named Jay Virdi Chief Sales Officer for its cannabis insurance and risk services in the U.S. and Canada. Virdi most recently developed and managed the cannabis practice group for a North American specialty risks MGA. He has become a reputable leader in the advocacy for risk management and innovative insurance solutions in cannabis for clients, brokers and insurance providers.

As Chief Sales Officer, Virdi will focus on further developing and perpetuating deep expertise and resources across the U.S. and Canada, to provide medical and recreational cannabis producers, distributors and retailers proper protection and specialized solutions to reduce risks in all aspects of their operations.

Virdi has more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry providing support for sales activities and operations, including the execution of strategic initiatives. He has experience advising on commercial lines insurance solutions and underwriting complex risks and commercial programs. Additionally, Virdi was a global sales consultant where he advised insurance carriers using big data analytics. His insightful recommendations resulted in the creation of innovative new products, identifying areas of opportunity for revenue generation and establishing meaningful key stakeholder engagement.

Virdi is a Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) from the Insurance Institute of Canada. He holds an Honors Bachelors of Arts (Hon. BA) degree in Economics and Business Management from the University of Toronto and a Digital Certification in Communications, Culture and Information Technology (CCIT) from Sheridan College.

Cannabis exclusion in home insurance policies may not be effective when tenants’ grow-op causes loss

By
Source: Dentons

Despite the efforts of insurers to exclude coverage in habitational insurance policies for losses caused by cannabis cultivation or production, a recent Alberta case serves as a reminder that coverage may, nevertheless, apply where an insured’s tenant’s grow-op causes a loss.[1] This is due to the existence of so-called “innocent insured” provisions in the Insurance Acts of Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba.

Background

Home insurance policies have traditionally excluded coverage for losses caused by illegal activities. Many have also specifically excluded coverage for losses arising from illegal drug activity. With the Cannabis Act having come into force on October 17, 2018, Canadians may now legally cultivate up to four cannabis plants at a time in their dwelling-house.[2] As such, some insurers have amended their policies to exclude losses caused by growing cannabis, regardless of its legality.

However, insurers in Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba may still be at risk of cannabis-caused losses even with broad exclusions on the growing or production of cannabis in a dwelling.

The innocent insured provisions

The innocent insured provisions protect insureds who are not responsible for or complicit in intentional acts that cause damage. Specifically, exclusions barring coverage for losses caused by a criminal or intentional act or omission are of no effect vis- à-vis an insured person who does not:

  1. Cause the loss;
  2. Abet or collude in causing the loss; and
  3. Consent to the act or omission while knowing—or having ought to have known—that the act or omission would cause the loss.

The innocent insured provisions of the three provinces are all identical.[3] British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba brought their provisions into force in 2011, 2012 and 2014, respectively. Their enactment was a response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) decision in Scott v. Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. [Scott].[4] In Scott, the majority of the SCC held that, upon the insured plaintiff’s son intentionally setting fire to the plaintiff’s house, coverage was not available to the plaintiff, as the policy excluded coverage for loss caused by a criminal or wilful act of the insured.[5]

Recent cases

While the innocent insured provisions have received relatively little judicial consideration, the recent 2019 Alberta case of Lafferty v. Co-Operators General Insurance Co. [Lafferty] should serve as a reminder that an insurer in Alberta, British Columbia or Manitoba could be on the hook for damage caused by a tenant’s grow-up, notwithstanding a cannabis exclusion.[6]

In Lafferty, the insured plaintiffs owned a house in which their tenants were growing cannabis. The insureds had no knowledge of this. The grow-op caused damage to the house. After the insurer denied coverage based on an illegal drug operations exclusion, the insured sued for coverage. Ultimately, the Court held the innocent insured provision to be unavailable to these insureds, as the loss occurred in 2010, while the provision came into force in Alberta on July 1, 2012.[7]

Nevertheless, the Court in Lafferty commented that the innocent insured provision could have prevented the insurer from relying on the drug operations exclusion had the loss occurred after the provision came into force.[8]

One may contrast the Court’s comments in Lafferty with a recent decision out of Saskatchewan, a province that does not have an innocent insured provision in its provincial Insurance Act. In the 2018 case of Carteri v. Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance Co., the Court dismissed the insured plaintiffs’ claim for coverage after an explosion and fire severely damage their rental property.[9] The explosion and fire evidently resulted from the tenants’ attempt to produce cannabis resin.[10] The insurance policy contained an exclusion denying coverage for loss caused by the manufacturing of illicit drugs.[11] The exclusion functioned to bar coverage, even though the insured property owners were arguably “innocent of any wrongdoing.”[12]

Rental properties are at a much higher risk

The innocent insured provisions afford protection to property owners when a tenant’s act or omission causes a loss, provided the insured is a natural person (as opposed to a corporation), and does not consent to or collude in such activity. This may prove problematic for insurers writing habitational policies in Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba.

As rental properties already represent a higher risk exposure, insurers will want to underwrite such policies carefully, especially considering the increased likelihood of tenants seeking to grow marijuana plants in their dwellings legally, regardless of whether the property owner forbids it. Given that cannabis exclusions may not protect insurers in this situation, it is even more prudent that insurers require their insureds to conduct regular, periodic inspections of rental dwellings, in an effort to sniff out any cannabis production before it causes a loss.

For more information, please contact Robert Gilroy or another member of Dentons’ Insurance group.


[1] See Lafferty v Co-Operators General Insurance Co., 2019 ABQB 515, discussed below.

[2] Cannabis Act, SC 2018, c 16, s. 12(4)(b).

[3] See Insurance Act, RSA 2000, c I-3, s. 541; Insurance Act, SBC 2012, c 1, s. 35; The Insurance Act, CCSM c I40, s. 136.5(1).

[4] [1989] 1 SCR 1445.

[5] The SCC held the son to be an insured under the policy.

[6] 2019 ABQB 515.

[7] At para 20.

[8] At paras 19, 20.

[9] 2018 SKQB 150.

[10] At para 1.

[11] At para 2.

[12] At para 95.

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Decorating your yard before Halloween

Excerpted article was Written by Stephanie Fereiro | Economical

Halloween is just around the corner. Whether you’re going for a simple setup of cobwebs and cornstalks or building a haunted graveyard on your front lawn, taking a little extra care while you do it will not only help your decorations stay put, but it could also help you prevent a liability claim (which could come up if one of your visitors tripped on a topsy-turvy tombstone, for example). Consider these tips as you prepare your property for All Hallows’ Eve.

Decorating your yard before Halloween

  • Beware of tripping hazards. Keep in mind that many of your trick-or-treaters will likely be wearing masks, which could limit their visibility and make it tougher for them to make their way to your front door. Make sure your decorations and any electrical cords are placed away from your main walkways and stairs to prevent trips, and check that your steps and railings are in good repair.
  • Secure your skeletons. When hanging or placing decorations outside your home, secure them carefully so they don’t blow away or come loose and fall onto your walkways. This includes decorations that are placed on your lawn and your porch (like foam tombstones or scarecrows, for example).
  • Follow the directions. If any of your decorations came with instructions, be sure to read them carefully — and follow them. (E.g., string lights may say they’re intended for indoor use only. If that’s the case, only use them indoors, as using them outdoors may be dangerous.)
  • Go for fog. If you’re looking to create a spooky, foggy atmosphere, consider using a fog machine instead of dry ice, as dry ice can cause burns when touched. If you must use dry ice, be sure to keep it out of reach of visitors.

Last-minute to-dos for Halloween night

  • Light it up. If you’re planning on handing out treats, leave your outdoor lights on (and be sure to replace any burnt-out bulbs) so trick-or-treaters know you’re home and can see a clear path as they make their way to your door.
  • Don’t play with fire. Consider using no-flame battery operated candles to light up your jack-o’-lanterns. If you’d prefer to use real candles, place them in an area that will be out of reach for children and dogs, keep them away from wooden surfaces and flammable decorations, and don’t leave them unattended. If you’re using any string lights or decorations that require electricity, inspect the wires ahead of time to ensure they’re in good condition and don’t overload your circuits, as this could lead to a fire.
  • Keep your pets contained. Make sure your cats and dogs are in a secure area where they won’t be able to sneak out when you open the door for trick-or-treaters. Not only could your pet scare those little goblins, but he could also get spooked by all those costumes and run off — or into a busy street.

These are just a few ways to prepare for a safe and spook-tacular Halloween. Once you’ve decorated your yard, remember to design safe costumes for the kiddos and map out a route for your trick-or-treating trekif you’re planning on heading out for the night.

How to prepare your yard for a safe and spooky Halloween

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