New apps and the concern for accidents

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SGI and law enforcement turn attention to school zones in September

With classes back in session, school zone safety is the traffic safety spotlight for the month of September.

#SlowDown Saskatchewan

Police will be watching for traffic violations in and around school zones, including motorists speeding, driving distracted, failing to obey stop signs or yield signs, failing to yield for pedestrians, failing to obey crossing guards or failing to obey school bus cross arms and flashing lights.

“Children are among the most vulnerable road users and as a motorist it’s your duty to look out for them,” said Earl Cameron, Executive Vice-President of the Auto Fund. “It’s critical to slow down and give the road your full attention in school zones. Not only does the small size of a child make them difficult to see, they can also be unpredictable as they may not yet understand rules of the road.”

SGI Quick Facts School zone safety

During drop-off times school zones can become extremely congested with traffic and children, making it even more difficult to identify hazards. In 2014, there were 40 collisions in school zones in the province, resulting in 15 injuries.

When it comes to children and vehicles, there is little margin for error. SGI recommends motorists keep the following tips in mind when travelling in or near school zones and playgrounds:

  • Reduce speed to the posted limit and be prepared to stop.
  • Familiarize yourself with school zone locations and hours of operation. Unless you need to be in a school zone, plan a different route.
  • Avoid distractions and give the road your full attention.
  • Expect the unexpected and drive carefully, even if you have the right of way.
  • Use caution when approaching or manoeuvring around school buses.
  • Obey the direction of any signage, traffic control devices or crossing guards.

Throughout the 2016 school year, some school buses across the province will begin to use exterior overhead amber flashing light systems when preparing to stop, in addition to overhead red flashing lights that are used when a bus is stopped to pick up or drop off students. The amber lights provide an advanced warning to motorists, allowing them more time to slow down and safely react. Bylaws dictating the use of warning lights (and school bus traffic control devices, such as a stop arm) are dependant on the municipality. It’s important to familiarize yourself with bylaws in your area.

View more information about school zones or pedestrian safety.

About SGI

Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is the province’s self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan with a head office in Regina. SGI also works with a network of nearly 400 motor licence issuers across the province. Customers can now do some transactions online. Look for the MySGI link underOnline Services on your motor licence issuer’s website or SGI’s website.

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Ontario: Train derailed in northern Ontario after cracked rail gave way

GATINEAU, Que. _ The Transportation Safety Board says a freight train derailment in northern Ontario was caused by the complete failure of a previously cracked rail.

The incident took place on Jan. 13 as the Canadian Pacific train was travelling about 34 kilometres east of Nipigon.

The TSB says the 31-car train included seven dangerous goods tank cars loaded with propane.

The board’s investigation found that a cracked rail gave way completely as the train drove over it, causing 21 cars including the propane tanks to derail.

They say the crack in the rail went undetected despite regular inspections because it was located behind joint bars, making it difficult to spot at a time when the track base was covered in snow.

The TSB says CP’s safety procedures were lacking in the incident. One crew member sustained minor injuries after inhaling propane that leaked from the train.

“Despite the conductor’s repeated exposure to the propane, medical assistance was not specifically requested until two hours later,” the board wrote in its report.

“The investigation found that CP training, procedures, and guidelines were insufficient to protect the conductor from the hazards associated with the derailment and release of a large volume of propane while conducting the site assessment. ”

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Board investigations do not assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

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Alberta municipality fears massive hack of people’s personal information

WABASCA, Alta. _ There are fears personal information for thousands could have been compromised in a computer hack at a municipality in northern Alberta.

Officials with the Municipal District of Opportunity Number 17 are concerned someone may have gained access to sensitive information such as social insurance numbers, credit card numbers and bank account information.

It’s estimated about 3,400 people live in the seven hamlets that make up the municipality, which is now completely unplugged.

RCMP and the Privacy Commissioner are investigating.

According to a news release issued by the municipality, it’s believed that “sensitive personal and financial information” of employees, utility account holders and ratepayers may have been accessed.

The municipality apologized for the situation and “any inconvenience that this may have caused.”

“Our payroll system is our biggest worry because all our employees personal information,” said Deborah Juch, manager of the municipality’s legislative services.

“Of all our ratepayers, anyone who owns a utility account, everybody. We buy things and sell things, too, so our vendors potentially.”

(CTV Edmonton)

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Jay Fishman, Who Built Travelers After Citigroup, Dies at 63

Jay Fishman, Who Built Travelers After Citigroup, Dies at 63

Jay Fishman, the chairman and former chief executive officer of Travelers Cos. who steered the insurer through the financial crisis and into the Dow Jones Industrial Average, has died. He was 63.

He died Friday at his home in New Jersey, Patrick Linehan, a spokesman for the company, said by telephone. Fishman had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and was replaced in 2015 as CEO by Alan Schnitzer. Travelers said in a statement that John Dasburg was named chairman of the board.

“Though he would be too humble to admit it, Jay was an icon among corporate leaders,” Schnitzer said in the statement. “I’ll miss my dear and close friend, and on behalf of all of us at Travelers, our hearts go out to his wife of nearly 40 years and childhood sweetheart Randy Fishman, Jay and Randy’s children and their beloved grandchildren.”

For the better part of two decades, Fishman was the steady hand guiding Travelers through natural disasters, market cycles and the Great Recession. But his path to running one of the biggest U.S. insurers was circuitous.

Leaves Citigroup

He first oversaw the business in the late 1990s, when it was part of Sanford “Sandy” Weill’s Citigroup Inc. In 2001, he got the urge to run his own company and left to take the top job at a competitor, St. Paul Cos.

Two years later, he bumped into his former colleague, Robert Lipp, at the New York City Ballet. By that time, Citigroup had spun off Travelers, and Lipp was running it.

“We just started chatting, and we thought it would be useful to get to together and talk about the possibilities of perhaps putting the two companies together,” Fishman recalled at the time.

They dubbed the idea, “Project Charlie,” after Lipp’s daughter’s 70-pound (32-kilogram) English bulldog. It was a fitting name for a blockbuster deal. Their $17.9 billion transaction installed Fishman as CEO of the combined company, which eventually took the Travelers name.

Evaluating Risks

Above all else, Fishman knew he was in the business of risk. He just wasn’t going to be pushed into writing insurance or buying securities that didn’t properly compensate the insurer for the chance of losses.

He used the word “thoughtful” on almost every conference call for years, occasionally several times at an event. He spoke of “underwriting thoughtfulness,” “thoughtful data-driven strategies,” “thoughtful pricing” and “being very thoughtful on the management of capital.”

When central bank stimulus policies drove bond yields to record lows, Fishman wasn’t one to buy riskier securities to pick up extra income. Instead, he focused on making sure Travelers was profitable as an underwriter, and boosted shareholder returns through an aggressive stock buyback program.

“People say, ‘Where are you going for yield?’ And the answer is, ‘Nowhere,’” he said at a conference in September 2012. “We continue to be invested in the same asset classes that we have been before and accept the premise of lower returns.”

Resisted Temptation

That same posture had already served Travelers well. In the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, Fishman resisted the temptation to buy mortgage-linked bonds that would have boosted short-term profit at his company. Several of its competitors didn’t and were hurt in the crash.

“Jay was not fooled by the housing bubble,” Weill said in a 2015 interview. “They sacrificed earnings to protect their capital.”

As a result, Travelers emerged from the crisis as one of the strongest U.S. financial firms. In 2009, it was added to the 30-company Dow Jones Industrial Average along with Cisco Systems Inc., replacing General Motors and Citigroup, both of which required government bailouts.

Just before the crisis, Travelers had bought back its iconic red umbrella logo from Citigroup. To mark the occasion, Weill sent his former deputy a collection of cuff links and ties emblazoned with the image. Some of them were made by Hermes.

Logo Pride

“I was very proud of the logo,” Weill said. “And I had pride that at least somebody who was doing a good job was using that logo again.”

Among the executives Fishman worked with was Jamie Dimon, now the leader of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

“From the time I hired Jay into what ultimately became Citi, he was from start to end a great professional and, more importantly, a treasured friend,” Dimon said in an e-mailed statement.

Jay Steven Fishman was born Nov. 4, 1952, in New York to Edward Fishman and the former Shirley Cantor. He grew up in the Bronx, and his father ran a small printing business, scraping together enough money for rent and his kids’ education.

After graduating from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Fishman worked at American Can Co. and Shearson Lehman before joining Weill at the company that would eventually become Citigroup. In 2000, he was also named the bank’s chief operating officer in charge of finance and risk.

Serious Reservations

Even though Weill saw him as a top candidate to take over his job one day, Fishman had his doubts.

“I wouldn’t have been an effective CEO” at Citigroup, he told Forbes for a 2011 article. “I had next to no experience in sales and trading, limited experience in investment banking and no experience in commercial banking.”

What he knew was insurance. With his focus on cutting costs, buying back shares and seeking rate increases from the least profitable customers, he oversaw years of gains for investors. From 2005, Travelers’ stock climbed every year except in 2008.

His standing in the corporate world helped him land positions on the boards of Exxon Mobil Corp., where he was the presiding director, and Carlyle Group LP, a private-equity firm. He also was a supporter of education and the arts, serving as a trustee for the University of Pennsylvania. In 2012, he was named chairman of the New York City Ballet.

In 2015, Fishman helped raise $20 million for scientists to develop therapies to treat ALS. That year, in an interview with Charlie Rose, he reflected on how fortunate he’d been and how he moved past the emotions of knowing his life would be cut short.

“I quickly said I wasn’t going to let the end of my life change the definition, or change my perspective on how I looked at the rest of it,” he said in the interview. “We’re all going to face this — maybe not this disease — but no one gets out alive.”

Fishman and his wife had two children.

A comeback for mutual insurance? Swiss Re sigma report investigates

A comeback for mutual insurance? Swiss Re sigma report investigates

Press Release:

  • Mutual insurers’ share of global premiums has risen in recent years, reversing the decline of earlier decades
  • New risk-based capital requirements and tighter corporate governance standards pose challenges for some mutual insurers
  • Novel capital-raising instruments, greater access to customised reinsurance and alternative risk transfer solutions will give mutuals increased financial flexibility
  • Mutuals must upgrade their underwriting and distribution practices if they are to thrive in the digital age
  • Digital technology can help mutual insurers better serve their members’ long-term interests, and keep some risks insurable

The mutual insurance sector has undergone a modest recovery in recent years, says Swiss Re’s latestsigma report “Mutual insurance in the 21st century: back to the future?” Mutual insurers’ share of the overall insurance market increased from 24% of direct premiums written in 2007 to just over 26% in 2014, reversing some of the declines of previous decades. However, the segment faces challenges, including adapting to new risk-based capital requirements and more stringent corporate governance arrangements, which could put some mutuals at a competitive disadvantage. Further, mutual insurers must embrace technological disruption. Exploiting digital technology such as smart analytics and social media should allow mutuals to better serve the interests of their member-owners, while their ownership structure should enable mutuals to keep insurance affordable for some individuals and risks.

The primary purpose of mutual insurers is to provide risk protection coverage for its owner-members, rather than to make profits or provide returns to external shareholders as in the case for stock-based insurers. Over the past few years, cumulative premiums written by mutual insurers have outpaced those of the wider insurance market, with much of the outperformance concentrated during the height of the financial crisis in 2008-09.

“That mutuals’ relative premium performance did not reverse once economic growth resumed after the financial crisis, suggests a degree of permanence to the segment’s recovery,” says Kurt Karl, Chief Economist at Swiss Re. “Some mutual groups have expanded internationally in recent years, and new mutuals have been established in a number of markets, another indication of the segment’s renewed popularity.”

However, while mutuals’ share of the global insurance market has increased modestly since 2007, it remains well below previous highs. For example, in the life sector, the share of global premiums of life mutuals was 23% in 2014, well below levels of around 66% in the late 1980s and early 1990s before a wave of demutualisations in a number of countries.

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