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Fall Safety Tips

yh-leaf

The days are getting shorter, the air is getting cooler, and the leaves are beginning to drop from the trees. Fall is officially here.  With proper safety precautions in mind your family can enjoy the crisp autumn weather while avoiding some of the dangers that come with the season.

When the weather turns cold most people start to spend more time indoors using fireplaces, furnaces and heaters to keep warm. There is nothing quite a cozy as a fire but it does present some safety hazards.  Be sure to keep these tips in mind to keep your family warm and safe.

  • Service Your Furnace – Before the cold autumn and winter weather sets in, be sure to call your local heating company to have your furnace serviced and inspected.
  • Use Fireplaces Safely – Keep that fire where it belongs by using a fireplace screen to keep sparks from flying out.  Never leave a burning fire unattended, and make sure its completely extinguished before going to bed.
  • Use Space Heaters Carefully – Space heaters are a great way to warm up a chilly room, but make sure you read the instructions on the heater before you use it. Make sure you maintain proper clearances around the unit to prevent fires.
  • Exercise Candle Caution – Candles are a great way to give a room a cozy warm feel, but they also cause fires. According to the National Candle Association there are almost 10,000 home fires each year in the US that started from improper candle use.  Never leave a candle unattended and always keep them away from pets and children.

There is nothing more beautiful than a drive out to Alberta’s Rocky Mountains in the fall, but this season brings with it some unique hazards for drivers. Being aware of potential dangers can keep you and your family safe.

  • Poor Visibility – Falling leaves, while beautiful, can obscure your vision. Shorter days are part of the season, meaning the sun rises later, sets earlier, and doesn’t get as high in the sky.   Make sure you have a good pair of sunglasses in your vehicle to wear when the sign is bright.
  • Children – The shorter days make it more difficult to see children playing, walking to school, and riding bicycles. Be aware of your limitations in visibility and slow down if you can’t see well.
  • Slow Down on Wet Roads – Rain, and wet snow is common during fall in Alberta. Make sure you keep a safe distance from the car in front of you.  Wet roads make it more difficult to stop quickly.  When wet leaves are on the road they make the road even more slippery and it can be hard to get good traction.

 

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Selfie

Would you ever consider sending a “selfie” to your life insurance company?

Insurers across Britain are rushing to purchase computer programs that can analyze a photograph to determine if that person is a smoker, ill or has been ill, or is likely to have a shorter than normal life expectancy.

Facial analytics is a growing scientific field which is picking up steam in the UK and USA. It’s reasonable then to assume it’s only a matter of time until it comes to Canada.  It’s based on the theory that the faster someone ages physically, the shorter their expected lifespan will be.

Usually when someone buys life insurance, they are asked about their health. In some cases the insurer may not check if the answers given are true.  In other cases they may ask for permission to check medical records or run a blood test.

In the future when you buy coverage you may be asked to submit a “selfie” using the insurance company’s application on a smartphone before being accepted for coverage. The insurer’s software would then analyze the photo to determine if the customers face matches the declared level of health.  For example. A smoker may have small creases around the lips, hollow cheeks could indicate hidden drug use, and a bulbous nose may be a sign of heavy drinking.

The system could then also be used to catch people who pick up bad habits later in life by comparing photos taken several years apart and analyzing the changes.

Part of the science behind this is based on a Danish study of twins. The study was conducted using 1,826 twins in Denmark aged 70 or older.  Independent assessors were asked to estimate the age of the subjects by looking at photos of their faces in 2001, then seeing which of the twins had died by the time a follow up was done in 2008.  The study found that if one of the twins had died it was more likely to be the one that looked older.

So back to the original question, would you consider sending a “selfie” to your life insurer if you thought it would result in reduced premiums?   What about if they asked you for your Fitbit data?

eggs object on a white background

Growing up we were all told “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”   This phrase is commonly (and some might say, incorrectly) attributed to Miguel Cervantes (in Don Quixote), but some sources have reported its usage as early as the 1600’s.  A similar proverb dating back to 1617 reads “he is a fool which will adventure all his goods in one ship”

Is it a Coincidence that expressions like this date back to the beginning of what is considered the modern insurance era?  Probably not.

Business owners were concerned with loss of their goods that were loaded on ships to be transported to customers.  The risk of losing everything in the event of a ship sinking or captured was too great.   One solution was to use extra ships and spread the load out. That way if a ship was lost you wouldn’t lose everything.   It was a costly solution that still carried a fair amount of risk.

In the late 1680’s Edward Lloyd opened a Coffee house on Tower Street in London.  It soon became a popular spot for ship owners, merchants and captains and thereby a reliable source of shipping news.   This was the birth of Lloyds of London and the first marine insurance market.

Generally putting all your eggs in one basket would be risky decision.  You won’t invest all your money into one stock would you?  But with insurance, it actually makes sense to put all your policies in one broker’s office.

Advantages of placing all your coverage in one brokerage:

  • You’ll develop a strong relationship with your agent. They will get to know you, what you need to protect and help identify risks that you may be exposed to.
  • You’ll benefit from a broker who access to a wide variety of insurance markets to ensure that you are getting the right coverage for your needs rather than just another cookie cutter policy.
  • You could benefit from decreased deductibles in the event you suffer a claim that involves more than one of your policies. For example a hail storm that damages both your home and automobiles.
  • You’ll benefit from increased discounts from having multiple policies insured together
  • You’ll have a trained licensed insurance expert working for you to aid you through the process of setting up new coverage, reviewing current coverage, or going through the claims process.
  • You’ll be treated as more than just another policy number. We understand that without our clients we wouldn’t be where we are today.
  • Reductions in the number of companies that have access to your personal information.

So call, click, or visit.  We will take good care of your eggs.

Canada is getting wetter…

Rain

Canada is getting wetter.  Remember the floods of 2013 in Southern Alberta and Toronto?  We sure do!

The average yearly rainfall in Canada has increased by 12% in the past 60 years.  We get 20 more days of rain per year than we did back in the 1950’s.  Catastrophes like overland flooding are on the increase.   According to Environment Canada, severe weather events that used to happen every 40 years can now be expected to happen every six years!

As an insurance broker we’ve been asked time and time again “can I get flood coverage for my house?”  Unfortunately it’s just not a product that’s ever been offered by the insurance companies operating here in Canada.  Well the good news is, starting in May Aviva Insurance of Canada will be introducing overland water protection for residential property owners and tenants in Alberta & Ontario.

The coverage will be available to homeowners and tenants that have their personal property insured with Aviva Insurance.  The coverage can be added as an endorsement on policies that have sewer back up protection in place.

The coverage is designed to protect individuals from fresh water flood damage.  The endorsement responds to losses that result from the accumulation or run off of surface waters, including torrential rainfall when water enters the property.

Pricing, terms, and conditions are not yet available.  We expect these will vary on a case by case basis.  More information will follow from Aviva as the launch date approaches.

Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about this product as it becomes available.

Do you have a classic, antique, or collector car at home?  You’ve probably got it insured right?  Did you know that there are insurance companies that specialize in insuring these types of vehicles?  You’d be wise to talk to a professional insurance broker about insuring your prized car.  Different insurance companies handle these vehicles differently.  Some require appraisals, some don’t. Some will guarantee a value, some won’t. You don’t want to find out you’ve got the wrong type of coverage when its too late.

Insurance for a classic, antique, or collector car is typically pretty affordable. Most owners are quite protective of their cars and only take them out occasionally for short drives, or to car shows, on days when the weather is perfect.  The rates are low to reflect the fact that these cars are typically very well looked after and the risk is relatively low.

At Young & Haggis we insure these vehicles with Hagerty Insurance.   When it comes to classics, antiques, and collectibles these guys know their stuff.

Hagerty Insurance is based out of Traverse City Michigan and employ about 700 people in the USA, Canada and the UK.  Not only do they insure these amazing historic vehicles, they also have a collection of their very own.  Some of these cars have been in the Hagerty family since the 1960’s.

One special car in the collection is their 1969 ChevroletOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Camaro SS 396.  The Camaro was totalled in a crash but instead of scrapping it the company decided to restore it.  In fact, it was painstakingly restored by Hagerty employees.  The company has a special program that allows any employee to get their hands dirty in the garage.  The Camaro took 2 years to complete.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another special car is their 1967 Porsche 911 S which was  rebuilt by the  company CEO McKeel Hagerty.

 “The company was built by a family of car enthusiasts, not  by a  family of insurance enthusiasts” – Johnathan Klinger,  Public Relations  Manager.

If you’re ready to look at the coverage on your special car  contact us

 

Resolutions

New-Years-Resolution-Body-Buster-Fitness-2

We all make New Year’s resolutions… but how many of us actually keep them?  Well here’s some incentive for you…. stick to your resolutions, it could save you money.

New Year’s resolutions typically revolve around giving up bad habits or forming better habits.   For example:  giving up smoking and losing weight.    Making the resolutions is easy; fulfilling them however isn’t always as easy.   If you can stick with it you’ll be rewarded with a happier healthier you.  After 12 months of healthy living you might be eligible for lower life insurance premiums too.

Life insurance rates are based on your individual health.  The healthier you are, the less you pay.   The main factors in determining your level of health are blood pressure, cholesterol level, and body build.  If you are a smoker, heavy drinker or an alcoholic, your health is impacted greatly.

Smoking– A non-smoker in the eyes of the insurance companies is someone who has not used any form of tobacco (cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, nicotine gum, patches, etc) in the previous 12 months.  The same rules apply for marijuana or hashish use.  Plus think of all the money you could save from not buying cigarettes!

Alcohol– Just like with smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol has both short and long term effects on health.   Over time it can lead to increased blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, and even cancer.  If an insurance company feels its warranted they may require blood tests or criminal checks to ensure you haven’t been convicted of alcohol related offences over the past 5 years to ensure you are on the right side of the line.

WeightInsurance companies look at your body build (height to weight ratio).  If you weigh considerably more than your ideal weight, you may fall into a higher risk group due to weight related health risks. These risks can includes type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer,  and kidney disease.

Get out there and take that first step.  Who knows you might even grow to love it.  Mike from our office started running last year, and at first he said it felt like a chore.   After a few months he was loving it and was on well on his way towards running a half marathon which he hopes to complete in 2015!

Its that time of year again.  This year it really does feel like we might actually have a white Christmas in Calgary.  Here then is the Young & Haggis essential gift giving guide to help your loved ones get through the long cold winter ahead.

  1. A rocket powered sled is a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors.   Best part is you can’t get lost, your family & friends can just follow the scorched streak of earth you left behind.    Might even give Clark W Griswold’s greased up saucer a run for its money. Rocket Sled
  2. Maybe not as much fun as playing with rockets s, this idea is both useful and affordable by comparison.  The reversible cleat winter boot.   No more slip and falls for you my friend. 500x_reversible_cleat_boots
  3. The cold war. Remember the pain you used to feel after making a few dozen snowballs?   No more numb, wet, frozen fingers with this bad boy.  It sculpts the balls for you three at a time.  Then you can use the internal sling shot to fire them… up to 50 feet!
    Snowball gun
  4. Sausages & Beans… hot… from a can…. any time…. need I say more? Essential_Ridiculous_Winter_Gadgets_09
  5. Movember may be over, but that doesn’t mean you or your loved ones can’t look awesome all winter long.    Do it!beardheada__89801
  6. Slegoon Sled. This thing is like the grown up version of the GT Snow racer from my childhood. The roll cage protects the rider and doubles as extra runners should the death trap sled flip over mid-run.
  7. original
  8. Gas powered snowboard.  Perfect for those of you who live in the prairies.  This snowboard is gas powered.   Top speed 30km/h.  gas-powered-snowboard-2300
  9. NEST thermostat.  This thing is awesome.  it learns your habits, knows when you get home and when you leave and adjusts the head accordingly.  Syncs with a smartphone so you can control it from anywhere.
  10. nest
  11. The Chumbuddy shark sleeping bag.   Warm, cozy and safe… afterall,  whos going to mess with a shark… nobody, thats who. 
    shark-sleeping-bag1
  12. S’mores maker.  Thats right, s’mores indoors.  No fire required.   Just load it and pop it in the microwave and they’re ready in no time. o-MICROWAVE-SMORES-MAKER-facebook

Happy Holidays!

Brrrrrrrrr…..

Winter

That’s right people… like it or not, winters almost here.

With it comes less daylight, longer commutes, back pains from shoveling, runny noses, frozen fingers and toes, eyelash icicles, and chapped lips.  Yes it truly is a magical time of year.

Though few of us actually love winter there are things you can do to make is slightly more tolerable.

In the home:

  • Have your furnace inspected to make sure its healthy,  There’s nothing worse than a furnace that isn’t up to the task on those long winter nights.
  • Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected.  Chances are you’ll be using it more over winter. Its important to make sure its working properly and doesn’t pose a health or fire risk.
  • If you don’t already have a carbon monoxide detector make sure you purchase one.  Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that’s deadly to humans and animals.  A detector is cheap insurance!
  • If you’re going away shut off the water and drain the lines.  That way if your furnace dies your pipes wont freeze and burst.   Also make sure you’ve made arrangements to have someone check on the house daily.
  • Buy a snuggie.  You know those blankets with sleeves that you’ve seen on late night TV.

In your car:

  • Have your car inspected.  A trained mechanic will inspect your vehicle to ensure its in good condition for the winter ahead.  Making sure the belts, and hoses are in good shape, antifreeze is correctly mixed, etc.
  • Invest in a good road side emergency kit.  Make sure it has blankets, candles, food, flashlights, batteries, radio, etc.
  • Consider purchasing a small shovel to keep in the car in case you get stuck.
  • If you’re traveling make sure someone knows where you’re going and what route you plan to take.
  • Invest in a good quality extension cord for your block heater. I like the ones with a light built in to them so you can actually tell there is power flowing.
  • Install a remote starter.  There are many kinds out there, do your homework and find the one that’s right for you.  Some have longer ranger than others. Some can be programmed to run on a schedule if you aren’t able to plug on your car in… for example run for 10 minutes every 2 hours etc.
  • If you have an attached garage, don’t let your car warm up in the garage.  Exhaust fumes can enter the home.
  • Keep spare gloves and a hat in the car… just in case.   When you’re in a hurry you might be glad you did this.

Winter can be long and hard, but if you take a few of these steps in advance it can make is a little more bearable.   Good luck out there and stay warm!

 

Seeding the clouds

cloud

Yesterday some of the staff at Young & Haggis were given the opportunity to visit with the men & women who work for the Alberta Severe Weather Management Society (ASWMS).  These are the individuals responsible for modifying the weather in Alberta in an effort to reduce the size and severity of hail stones. 
The program runs from June 1 to September 15 each year and is paid for entirely by insurance companies who operate in Alberta.  In fact, its the largest privately funded cloud seeding program in the world.
The program costs about $3 million to run each summer.  Sounds like a lot of money right?  Well compared to how much insurers would be paying out on hail claims if this program didn’t exist, it’s a small price to pay.   The program benefits the consumers too, less hail = less insurance claims = less premiums.

You’re probably thinking…” what a waste of money, look at all the hail we’ve had the past 3 years”    You’re right… sort of.   Yes, we have had a lot of hail, but the purpose of the cloud seeding isn’t to stop hail, that’s impossible.  The purpose is to reduce the size and severity of the hail.  One thousand little hail stones is better than one hundred tennis ball sized hail stones. 
Hail suppression works by seeding thunderstorms with billions of silver iodide smoke particles.  These particles act as artificial ice crystals to freeze up the supercooled water drops in the storms updraft.  The billions of ice crystals, formed from seeding, freeze the supercooled water causing the storm to produce smaller hailstones. 

Seeding does not present any environmental or health hazards. Silver iodide salt is a non toxic material.  Silver occurs naturally in soils and many foods. It is also found in our water supplied in very low concentrations.  The amount of silver iodide used when seeding clouds is very small relative to the large quantities of water in the storm.  The aver seeding rates are about 10grams per minute.  That’s equivalent to putting a spoonful of material over Niagara Falls per minute.   In fact rain fall samples were found to contain lower levels of silver than a cup of water stirred with a silver spoon!

ASWMS has been responsible for seeding clouds since 1996.  They use a fleet of 5 aircraft and operate in central & southern Alberta from Rocky Mountain House south to High River.  ASWMS also has a perfect safety record having never had an accident.  This is pretty incredible considering these are small aircraft battling massive storm cells!

YYC Flood 2013

Calgary as seen from space during the 2013 flood.

Calgary as seen from space during the 2013 flood.

The recent flooding in Calgary, Canmore, High River, and other parts of Southern Alberta was like nothing any of us had ever seen before.   The staff at Young & Haggis were fortunate, our homes remained dry and our families were safe.  However we all have friends and family who were impacted by the flood.

Just two weeks after our June 6th blog post about preparing for disaster I found myself glued to Facebook, Twitter, & the TV soaking up every bit of information I could.  It just didn’t feel real at the time.  It wasn’t until I ventured out to the grocery store later that day that I realized how real the situation was.
I watched people literally climb over one another to grab food and drinks off the shelves and get them into their carts.  The line ups at the checkouts stretched to the back of the store.   It all felt like a Hollywood movie.

Fortunately the rivers peaked and slowly the water began to recede. For those of us in unaffected areas life returned to normal.  For many though the hard times were just beginning.  Some came home to flooded basements, some came home to homes that are no longer safe for occupancy, and other came home to find their home had been washed away.

The emergency has since been lifted and the real work begins.   The disaster has already brought people closer together.  Between insurance, the disaster recovery program, and an army of volunteers things will return to normal.  Its just going to take time.

How this all changes insurance and insurance premiums remains to be seen… perhaps a topic for a future post.

Downtown Calgary before & after the 2013 flood

Downtown Calgary before & after the 2013 flood

Downtown Calgary before & after the 2013 Flood

Downtown Calgary before & after the 2013 flood

Downtown Calgary before & after 2013 flood

Downtown Calgary before & after the 2013 flood