Clash brewing over genetic privacy as insurance industry tries to get as much data as possible to assess risk

Ian MacLeod, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — A clash over genetic privacy and the insurance industry’s need for personal medical data to calculate risk marked the opening day of parliamentary hearings on a Senate bill banning genetic discrimination.

No other generation in human history has had the power to so profoundly investigate and tinker with the essence of life and some believe there should be limits on what people and companies can do with the discoveries, products and knowledge flowing from the rapid commercialization of genetic science.

The Senate human rights committee Wednesday heard how the technology capable of tremendous healing and hope also can be used to discriminate against those found to carry genes that predispose them to potentially developing certain diseases.

“Fear of genetic discrimination is stopping many Canadians from having genetic testing that their doctors believe would benefit them,” said Sen. James Cowan, who is making his third attempt at sponsoring Bill S-201 into law. “In Canada, unlike most other western countries, there is no protection for this.”

The bill would outlaw life and health insurers and others from requiring that individuals undergo genetic testing as a condition of doing business. It would ban requiring a person to disclose previous genetic test results or penalizing those who refuse to undergo the test. And it would add genetic discrimination to the prohibitions in Canada Labour Code and federal human rights and privacy acts.

Life insurance, disability insurance, mortgages and employment would be prime areas of concern.

Bev Heim-Myers of the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness told the committee a key problem is that the insurance industry places too much emphasis in the results of genetic tests, which often indicate a person’s genetic predisposition to developing a disease or condition, but not whether they will actually go on to get the disease.

“If a person has a genetic test and it (reveals) a perceived future disability, who knows if it’s going to happen. Perhaps it won’t,” she said. “But the insurance industry or employers are looking at it and saying this (disease) is going to happen. (That’s) not equal.”

She said people who suspect they’re prone to a disease, “will choose not to be tested because of the risk of being uninsurable,” and won’t know to seek medical therapy or make lifestyle or other changes to try to offset their genetic predisposition to a particular disease.

Although Cowan’s bill does not mention the insurance industry, a battery of insurance executives and actuarial experts lined up before the committee to complain the proposed legislation would unfairly blind insurers to the degree of risk they are underwriting.

They argued insurers and prospective policy holders have an obligation to disclose any relevant health information so the contract is entered into on an “equal information” basis. The same, they said, as people now do when disclosing family histories, cholesterol, hypertension, coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other conditions with a genetic component.

“An essential element for insurance to work properly is an equal access to information by both parties,” said Jacques Y. Boudreau, chair of committee on genetic testing for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. “That is why offers to purchase a house are often subject to inspection, or why the seller of a car must disclose any significant collisions.”

An essential element for insurance to work properly is an equal access to information by both parties

But the proposed law creates a material imbalance of information, he said. “Receiving a bad result from a genetic test would be a strong motivator to acquire more insurance. Under the bill, one would be able to acquire insurance at the same price as the general public and well below its true costs, providing a strong incentive to purchase as much as possible.”

He said the industry is “deeply concerned” that a “vast majority” of the public will have to pay more for insurance as a result.

If the bill makes it through the Senate, then House of Commons and into law, the executives hinted at a constitutional legal challenge over federal incursion into an area primarily regulated by the provinces, which have no such legislation.

Cowan first introduced the bill in early 2013, but it died when Parliament was prorogued. He retabled the bill, but it was gutted last spring by the Senate’s Conservative-dominated human rights committee.

Source: National Post

IBC applauds Government of BC’s investment in emergency preparedness

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) welcomed the BC government’s announcement that it will invest tens of millions of dollars to protect communities from the impact of severe weather, namely earthquakes, floods and wildfires.

Bill Adams, Vice-President, Western & Pacific, IBC, said, “We are very pleased with the emergency preparedness investments contained in today’s B.C. budget, particularly in flood mitigation, earthquake preparedness and wildfire prevention. We look forward to continuing to work with the government on these files in the coming year. We also applaud government’s significant investment in infrastructure and seismic upgrades on school, hospitals and transportation networks.”

The government announced investments in:

  • Emergency Management BC for increased planning and outreach related to potential natural disasters, such as earthquake
  • Emergency preparedness and prevention initiatives, including dike upgrades and flood protection
  • The creation of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, with a mandate of wildfire protection and mitigation

IBC looks forward to supporting the BC government’s efforts to educate consumers on how to protect themselves and their property in the event of a severe weather event.

For more information, consumers can contact their insurance representative or phone IBC’s
Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC or visit

About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, car and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 120,000 Canadians, pays $8.2 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $49 billion.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance that takes risk out of reps and warranties gains favour in weak economy

Drew Hasselback | Financial Post

Wherever there’s risk, there’s usually someone willing to insure it for the right price.

Early last year, we introduced you to a novel product popping up in M&A circles called “representation and warranty insurance” or RWI. Lawyers say the product is starting to become a common feature of private deals, particularly those in which a private equity fund is the purchaser.

Bryan Haynes, a lawyer in the Calgary office of Bennett Jones LLP who specializes in private and cross-border transactions, says 2015 was a “banner year” for the use of RWI.

“Three years ago, people didn’t know what it was and they looked at it with a little bit of suspicion and caution. But I think there’s a general acceptance now,” Haynes says. “There’s been a history now of policies being underwritten, of claims being made, and claims being paid. With that, there’s a general comfort level.”

RWI kicks in if a seller is asked to refund some of the purchase price because of a post-closing event that arguably runs contrary to the representations and warranties that were made during the deal talks.

It’s possible to negotiate a deal in which the seller would directly indemnify a buyer if need be. But this can be a hot topic in M&A negotiations. RWI was invented about 20 years ago to bridge indemnity valuation gaps that would otherwise sink deals.

Kurt Sarno, co-head of the private equity group at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, says the weakening economy will likely broaden the cavern between vendors and buyers in negotiating such indemnification agreements. That makes RWI even more relevant today, he says.

“It can get deals across the finish line where, in times like this, the seller wouldn’t want to take the risks that a buyer wants it to hold in respect of indemnification obligations.”


In this day and age, it’s hard to conceive of any company either using or condoning the use of slavery and child labour. Yet the problem persists, at least on a global basis. According to the International Labour Organization, almost 21 million men, women and children work in some form of modern slavery.

Opposing this seems like a motherhood issue, but there’s a hard legal edge to this. Businesses who turn a blind eye to the issue run the risk of having slave labour pop up in their supply chains.

The Canadian Bar Association meets in Ottawa this weekend to consider several policy proposals. One matter on the agenda is a package of “model business principles” a company could adopt to ensure it avoids the use of forced labour, trafficked labour or illegal or harmful child labour in either its own operations or its supply chain.

Putting together the model code wasn’t as easy as you might think. For example, calling for a complete ban on child labour overlooks that there are many situations in which children might work in a family owned business, such as a farm, convenience store or restaurant.

Stephen Pike, a Toronto-based partner with Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP,  approached a wing of the CBA that represents in-house and corporate lawyers, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, with the idea of putting the guideline together. The Canadian model business principles are based on guidelines issued by the United Nations and resemble principles recently adopted by the American Bar Association.

The proposed Canadian principles would be voluntary, and they’re designed so that companies can adopt them to suit their businesses. “They are more of a recommendation than a prescription,” Pike says.

It’s worth noting that some jurisdictions have legislated strict roles. California, for example, requires larges businesses operating there to disclose their efforts to eradicate human trafficking and slavery from their supply chains. The U.K. will mandate the publication of an annual statement on slavery and human trafficking, starting with corporate years that end after March 31 of this year.


Save the date: We can now tell you the 2016 Canadian General Counsel Awards gala will take place June 1 at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto.

Nominations for the 12th annual CGCAs can be submitted via email ( until March 24. The honours, founded by the National Post and ZSA Legal Recruitment, are the only national awards designed exclusively to recognize excellence in Canada’s in-house counsel community.

The award website ( has a sample nomination form plus detailed information on the eight award categories. Dan Malamet of ZSA ( can also answer questions.

Insurers can now access 7.5 million U.S. thunderstorm scenarios from Aon


CHICAGO (15 February 2016) – Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team, has launched its U.S. severe thunderstorm (STS) scenario model to help insurers more accurately estimate annual losses based on historical data. Aon Benfield is the global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor of Aon plc (NYSE:AON).

Severe thunderstorms can produce damaging winds in excess of 57 mph, hail 1.00 inch in diameter or greater, and occasionally tornadoes. The costliest U.S. thunderstorm outbreak on record occurred in late April 2011 across the Lower Mississippi Valley and cost insurers USD7.7bn in today’s dollars.  Over the last 10 years (2006-2015), severe thunderstorms have overtaken tropical cyclone as the costliest peril for U.S. insurers on an average annual basis.

When aggregated, these losses from severe thunderstorms can significantly impact the profitability of an insurer’s treaty program. However, these may not be accurately assessed in probabilistic models which seek to identify the most probable maximum loss from a single event. The new model – STS RePlay – bridges this gap by incorporating the last 12 years of historical severe thunderstorm data from the Storm Prediction Center and replaying it to create nearly 7.5 million scenarios that are used to calculate average annual losses.

The results from Impact Forecasting’s STS RePlay benefit insurers by:

  •  offering a complementary view to a probabilistic model by drilling  down to the annual average loss in addition to the probable    maximum loss
  •  assessing historical severe thunderstorm events in 48 U.S. states to quantify current loss expectations
  •  enabling them to make more informed reinsurance purchasing and underwriting decisions
  •  supporting insurers’ expansion into new U.S. regions by identifying a credible loss experience to be expected

Steve Drews, Director at Impact Forecasting, explained: “Stochastic models have historically underreported aggregate losses due to a lack of hail and convective wind historical data. STS RePlay leverages existing data and approaches it in a new way to better understand the actual extent of current loss behavior, allowing for more informed decisions for policy and rate makers.”

Stephen Hofmann, Executive Managing Director at Aon Benfield, added: “Over the last decade, severe thunderstorms have contributed towards an increasingly large portion of the insurance industry’s global catastrophe losses.  The roll out of Impact Forecasting’s new STS model now means that insurers and reinsurers can effectively manage their risk and use the model’s transparency to explain the details of their loss numbers and create their own view of risk from this peril.”

About Aon

Aon plc (NYSE:AON) is a leading global provider of risk management, insurance brokerage and
reinsurance brokerage, and human resources solutions and outsourcing services. Through its more
than 72,000 colleagues worldwide, Aon unites to empower results for clients in over 120 countries via
innovative risk and people solutions. For further information on our capabilities and to learn how we
empower results for clients, please visit:

Media Contact: Alexandra Lewis +44 207 882 0541, David Bogg or Andrew Wragg

Allied World Launches Suite of Trade Credit & Political Risk Insurance Products in Canada

ZUG, Switzerland–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, AG (NYSE:AWH) announced today that its suite of Trade Credit & Political Risk insurance products are available in Canada, as part of the Global Crisis Management Division. This coverage helps clients mitigate the risk of non-payment due to customer insolvency, protracted default and/or international political risk.

This product helps provide certainty around a company’s balance sheet by protecting accounts receivable against customer default with competitive and customizable policy features.

Todd Germano, Executive Vice President, Head of the Global Crisis Management Division, commented, “We’re pleased to bring this important coverage to the Canadian market. Our specialized approach allows us to craft solutions on a structured or short-term basis, tailoring coverage to meet client needs.”

Kent Paisley, Senior Vice President, Global Crisis Management Division, commented, “As global economies become more complex and interconnected, it’s prudent for companies to protect their balance sheets from the risk of non-payment and other critical financial risks.”

Mr. Paisley, an industry veteran with over 25 years of trade credit insurance experience, leads this product group and will serve Canada from Allied World’s Toronto offices.

For more information on Allied World’s trade credit offerings for Canada, please contact Kent Paisley at

About Allied World

Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, AG, through its subsidiaries and brand known as Allied World, is a global provider of innovative property, casualty and specialty insurance and reinsurance solutions. Allied World offers superior client service through a global network of offices and branches. All of Allied World’s rated insurance and reinsurance subsidiaries are rated A by A.M. Best Company, A by Standard & Poor’s, and A2 by Moody’s, and our Lloyd’s Syndicate 2232 is rated A+ by Standard & Poor’s and AA- by Fitch.

Please visit the following for further information on Allied World: Web:

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

Any forward-looking statements made in this press release reflect our current views with respect to future events and financial performance and are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements involve risks and uncertainties, which may cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in these statements. For example, our forward-looking statements could be affected by pricing and policy term trends; increased competition; the adequacy of our loss reserves; negative rating agency actions; greater frequency or severity of unpredictable catastrophic events; the impact of acts of terrorism and acts of war; the company or its subsidiaries becoming subject to significant income taxes in the United States or elsewhere; changes in regulations or tax laws; changes in the availability, cost or quality of reinsurance or retrocessional coverage; adverse general economic conditions; and judicial, legislative, political and other governmental developments, as well as management’s response to these factors, and other factors identified in our filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made. We are under no obligation (and expressly disclaim any such obligation) to update or revise any forward-looking statement that may be made from time to time, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.

Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, AG
Lauren Post, +1-646-794-0544
Vice President, Global Public & Media Relations
Faye Cook, +1-441-278-5406
Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Sarah Doran, +1-646-794-0590
Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Treasurer

IBC Top 10: Tips to avoid slips, trips and falls

Despite mild winter in some parts of Ontario, Ontarians need to remember that a quick change in temperature leading to freezing conditions or a heavy snowfall can be hazardous for pedestrians, creating slippery sidewalks, driveways and walkways. Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is reminding pedestrians to be careful and encouraging homeowners to take steps to help ensure their properties are safe.

“Each winter, slip-and-fall accidents cause serious injuries. Many of these incidents occur in places that people mistakenly assume are safe, such as right outside their front door or in their driveway while getting into the car,” said Kim Donaldson, Vice-President, Ontario, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). “We all have a role to play in keeping our property safe, to say nothing of ensuring the safety of our friends and family.”

IBC’s Top 10 tips for avoiding slips, trips and falls while walking on snow or ice are:

  1. Wear sturdy footwear with good grip.
    • You can always change into other shoes when you reach your destination.
  2. Walk slowly and take short, deliberate steps.
    • Allow yourself extra time to get from point A to B so you don’t need to make a last-minute dash.
  3. Avoid walking with your hands in your pockets.
    • Keeping your hands free helps with balance.
  4. Avoid areas with poor lighting.
    • Remember that black ice can look like wet pavement.
  5. Use the handrails on stairs so you can catch yourself if you slip.
  6. Take extra care when entering or exiting vehicles.
  7. Keep walkways clear of debris, water, ice and other slippery materials.
  8. Push the snow rather than lift it when shovelling.
    • If you must throw snow, take only as much as you can easily lift, and bend with your knees, not your back.
  9. Try to shovel your driveway and sidewalk immediately after a snowfall, before it gets packed down.
    • Many municipalities have bylaws that require homeowners to clear city-owned sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours after a snowfall.
  10. Salt or sand your front steps, driveway and sidewalk.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, car and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 118,000 Canadians, pays $6.7 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $48 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at If you have a question about home, car or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

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