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 …

Read more

Ontario’s Worst and Best Cities based on driving records revealed, new 2019 study

A graphic of two cars colliding.We grade the cities across Ontario based on tickets and collisions of its hometown drivers.

Your driving record and history has a direct impact on the auto insurance premiums you pay. With tickets and collisions on your record, you can expect to pay more for your auto insurance than if you didn’t. It’s a reality that most drivers know and expect.

You might also expect, however, that residents in large urban areas, like Toronto, would report having more tickets on their driving record, on average, as well as collisions. It’s a big city after all with more vehicles on the road and drivers, and thus a greater chance for something to happen.

Yet, according to InsuranceHotline.com this may be a myth. Based on the details provided by shoppers who obtained Ontario auto insurance quotes, you have to look beyond Toronto’s borders to find the cities whose drivers admit to having the most tickets, collisions, or a combination of the two, on their driving record. These are infractions and collisions that could have occurred in the driver’s hometown or anywhere their travels have taken them.

We measured all three categories, and then assigned each city a grade based on its variance from the Ontario average.

In Orangeville, for example, drivers were 1.9 times as likely to have a ticket, accident, or both, on their record than the Ontario average. In North York, a driver is 22 percent less likely to have a ticket, crash or both on their record than the average, and Toronto drivers are 21 percent less likely to have a black mark on their driving record.

The Top 10 Worst Cities in Ontario for Driving

City/Town Grade
Orangeville D
Bradford D
Woodstock D
Sault Ste. Marie D
Brantford D
Orillia D
Thunder Bay C
St. Thomas C
Caledon C
Barrie C

The Top 10 Best Cities in Ontario for Driving

City/Town Grade
North York A
Toronto A
East York A
Etobicoke A
Mississauga A
Brampton A
Scarborough A
York A
Thornhill A
Oakville A

Breaking it Down

The Lowdown on Tickets

On average, 6.9 percent of drivers in the province admit to having at least one ticket on their driving record while getting quotes. However, drivers in some cities and towns exceed this average considerably.

City/Town % of Drivers with a Ticket (No collision)
Caledon 15.0%
Orangeville 13.2%
Bradford 12.2%
Peterborough 12.0%
St. Thomas 11.2%
Sudbury 11.0%
Thunder Bay 10.9%
Bolton 10.8%
Stoney Creek 10.6%

Accidentally Speaking

From a collision standpoint, overall 8.9 percent of Ontario drivers admit to having been involved in a collision in the last 10 years. Yet, there are areas in the province where the average is two full percentage points higher.

City/Town % of Drivers with a Collision (No tickets)
Woodstock 13.6%
Orleans 12.8%
Sault Ste. Marie 12.4%
Kanata 12.3%
Gloucester 12.2%
Whitby 11.5%
Pickering 11.5%
Brantford 11.3%
Orillia 11.2%
Burlington 10.9%

Double Trouble

Having both a ticket and collision on your driving record is detrimental to your auto insurance premiums and approximately 3.5 percent of Ontario drivers admit to having at least one of each in their relatively recent past. In 13 communities across the province, however, the average is 5.5 percent or higher.

City/Town % of Drivers with both a Ticket and Collision
Orangeville 9.4%
Bradford 8.4%
Sault Ste. Marie 8.4%
Woodstock 7.4%
Brantford 6.9%
Orillia 6.6%
Cambridge 6.3%
Thunder Bay 6.3%
St. Thomas 5.9%
Barrie 5.9%
Welland 5.8%
Oshawa 5.6%
Pickering 5.5%

What’s It All Mean to Your Ontario Car Insurance?

Your driving record matters. Your driving record is an influential factor in determining your Ontario auto insurance rate. Sure, there are others like where you live, your insurance history, and the type of car you drive; but your driving record and history is indicative of how you are when behind the wheel. Every at-fault (or partially at-fault) accident or traffic ticket conviction will likely increase the cost of your premiums.

What’s more, traffic ticket convictions affect your insurance rates for no less than three years and accidents stay on your record for at least six! With a less than perfect driving record, you can find yourself paying a lot of extra premium over the years.

Whatever your driving record, compare quotes each year to ensure you are getting the best car insurance rates going. Each insurance company calculates their rates differently and if your driving record changes, for any reason, the insurer who last offered you the best insurance rate, may no longer be your best choice.

Compare car insurance quotes at InsuranceHotline.com from 30+ providers in a single search. Start saving money today on the premiums you pay.

Who should bear the financial risk of flooding?

OTTAWA — Federal, provincial and municipal governments can do a better job of protecting homeowners from the escalating financial risks of flooding, says a new report released Tuesday by the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The report, the product of work by a national working group co-chaired by the bureau and the federal Public Safety Department, says the worsening threat means the country has to change how it covers the resulting cost of such disasters.

“Taxpayers cannot continue bailing out people who live on floodplains,” said Craig Stewart, a vice president at IBC and co-chair of the working group.

“We need an alternative, and this report presents three viable options drawing upon international experience.”

About one-fifth of homes in Canada are at risk of overland flooding, while insurance payouts have surged to about $1 billion per year over the past six years, the report estimates. Federal government transfer payments for all forms of flood damage, meanwhile, have quadrupled over the last four decades, reaching about $3.7 billion during the first four years of this decade, compared with just $300 million during the 1970s.

The three options laid out in the report include a pure market approach where risk is borne by homeowners; one in which government is more involved, and finally the creation of a high-risk pool of funds to help manage the financial risk.

All three options are viable, the report says, though its analysis suggests the high-risk scheme fares better than others at meeting certain core principles like affordability, efficiency and financial sustainability. But the report stops short of making a firm recommendation on any of the options.

The advantage of the high-risk scheme is that it allows insurers to pass on some risks to a larger pool of available money. Homeowners would pay premiums for flood insurance, which insurers would then feed into the pool. If a homeowner makes a claim, the insurance company would pay out to the customer and then claim their own reimbursement from the pool.

Homeowners might not even know they’re in the high-risk pool, Stewart said, but it allows insurance companies to avoid some of the risk involved with insuring people whose homes may be flooded.

The cost of the premiums feeding into the pool should be based on the risk of flooding, Stewart said, and if subsidies are capped, the pool will need a source of money to make up the loss.

As for the source of money to get the pool off the ground and keep it sustainable, “It could be anything,” he said, including property taxes or insurance premium levies.

Ideally, Steward said, the scheme would help lower the risk enough so the high-risk pool wouldn’t be necessary. A similar model was implemented in 2016 in the United Kingdom, and has a projected lifespan of 25 years.

“For that to happen,” Stewart cautioned, “you need to have significant government investment in mitigation over those 25 years.”

While the federal government has promised $2 billion for disaster preparedness, the report notes “ongoing funding” is needed.

Stewart said the IBC is currently working with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to figure out how much money it will cost to make Canada resilient to flooding, as well as other natural disasters.

More money from government is one of several key factors that the report says are needed to address flood risk in addition to an insurance system.

Another is making sure individuals have an incentive to take action on their own, Stewart said. That means increasing public awareness of risks so homeowners will make their properties more resilient and react to the price of insurance premiums.

Meanwhile, improving the quality of data, like mapping flood risk zones, is “the single greatest thing the federal government can do in the near term,” Stewart said.

Moving people away from high-risk flood zones should be a part of the government’s response as well, he added. Paying people to relocate might be the best way to do that, the report suggests.

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