Insurance

Its getting hotter….

Spring

Dare we say it? Is spring finally here to stay?

For many people spring is a time for working in the garden planting flowers, vegetables, and manicuring lawns. But did you know that those pretty flower baskets and pots you purchased from the garden center could actually increase the likelihood of an insurance claim occurring?

Many potted plants that are purchased from stores or garden centers contain little to no actual dirt, and contain other flammable materials such as peat moss, shredded wood or bark. Some potting soil mixtures may also contain fertilizers which can accelerate fires.

Over the last decade in Alberta, peat moss has contributed to a number of major residential fires. The careless disposal of smoker’s material in planters containing peat moss has totaled more than $26,000,000 in damages.

Here are some of the larger losses in recent history:

  • Calgary (March 2010) – Fire caused by cigarette left smoldering in a flower pot resulted in one of the largest condo fires in Calgary history. We insured this condo building and the damage to the structure was over $14 million. Approximately 250 were people displaced.
  • Edmonton (July 2014) – Fire caused by cigarette left in a flower pot. Over 400 people displaced.
  • Edmonton (May 2015) – Fire caused by carelessly disposing of cigarette in flower pot left 155 people displaced.
  • Calgary (July 2007) – Planter containing peat moss ignited spontaneously on the balcony of a third floor apartment. The resulting fire caused over $11 million in damage and displaced 100 people.

The majority of these devastating fire losses were started by cigarettes being put out in planters containing peat moss. That, combined with other factors such as proximity to dry plant matter, propane barbeques and wood siding or decking was a recipe for disaster. So what is it about peat moss that makes it so flammable?

Peat has a high carbon content and can burn under low moisture conditions. Once ignited by the presence of a heat source it smolders rather than bursting into flame and can burn down to the base of a container with no more evidence than a thin smoke plume and pungent odor. These smoldering fires burn undetected for very long periods of time.

So how do we prevent these fires?

  • Water potted plants regularly. Keeping the soil around your potted plants moist will greatly reduce the risk. Remember the soil in pots dries out quicker than garden beds so plan to water these more frequently
  • Consider using clay pots. If a fire does occur, a clay pot will contain the fire better than other pots.
  • Smokers should have a safe place to discard smoking material. Sounds pretty obvious but as the statistics above indicate, not everyone takes the time to think about where they are butting out.
  • Gardeners should keep planters well watered to reduce flammability, and remove dead plants to lessen the potential for a fire. Planters should not rest on or against flammable surfaces such as wooden decks or siding.
  • Stored peat moss should be protected from contact with heat sources.

Sources:

Simco Management / BFL https://www.simcomanagement.ca/condo-documents/insurance/services/download/14_2bc35211f6eb57410af54a4919d6ff92

CBC http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/peat-moss-sparking-flowerpot-fires-in-alberta-1.674941

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Insurance

Happy Trails….

Bicycle Insurance

Warmer weather is finally here…. well for today at least. This is YYC after all.  For many of us it’s finally time to pull our bicycle out of storage and hit the trails and pathways.  Calgary is one of the best cities in Canada for “bikeability” according to CBC http://www.cbc.ca/keepingcanadasafe/blog/bike-friendly-places-canada

For a lot of people this means that they don’t have to drive their car, wait for a bus, or stand in a packed c-train to get to work. Pedaling to work is becoming more popular each year in Calgary.  The freedom of being out in nature, getting fresh air, and enjoying the peaceful pathways sounds very attractive. Whether you’re thinking about starting to ride to work, or have already taken that step, one of the first things you need to think about is protecting your bike while it’s parked at work.

It’s not uncommon for people to spend $3,000 or more on a bicycle. So investing in a quality bike lock is usually the first thing people think of.  Our friends at MEC wrote a great post on choosing the right bike lock.  https://www.mec.ca/en/explore/locking-your-bike?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=fall&utm_term=cycling&utm_content=en_bikelock  The important thing to remember here is that a bike lock is a good deterrent, but if a thief really wants your bike, they will probably find a way to get it.

So what if your bike gets stolen… you have insurance, so you’ll be fine right? Maybe, what many people don’t know is that there may be limitations on their home policy for bicycle coverage.  Most home policies will give you coverage for at least $1,000 towards bicycles & their equipment. If you have a $3,000+ bike that’s a problem. You’ll need to check your policy wordings, or contact your broker, to see if your policy has limitation.

If you have a limitation on your policy, and you own a bicycle that’s valued above the limit of coverage, it’s time to contact your broker and talk about adding a bicycle floater to your policy. A bicycle floater will specifically list the bicycle (year, make, model, serial number) on the policy and what its value is.  The floater cost will vary depending on the insurance company but plan to spend around $5 for every $100 of bicycle value.   So a $3,000 bicycle would cost you around $150 a year to insure, which is a lot less than having to replace your bike yourself.

In addition, a bicycle floater will also either reduce or eliminate the deductible on the bike that’s listed. Most home policies have a $1,000 deductible.  A bicycle floater will reduce that deductible.  Again, this will vary depending on the insurer but a deductible ranging from $25 to $100 would be a reasonable expectation.

Happy trails!

Insurance

Going round in circles….

Traffic
There has been a great deal of discussion in the media lately regarding dangerous traffic intersections in YYC. There are a number of reasons why some intersections are more problematic than others. Increased traffic demands exceeding designed capacity, aging infrastructure, confined space preventing larger intersections, topography, poor drainage, glare from sunlight, etc to name a few.

Traffic circles, or “roundabouts” as our friends across the pond like to call them, are becoming increasingly more common here in Calgary. For a lot of us when we think of traffic circles we think of Clark W Griswold stuck driving around the Lambeth Bridge roundabout in London for hours… “ Look kids!  Big Ben, Parliament!”

While traffic circles may seem daunting to some, the truth is traffic circles are a safer, and more efficient way of moving traffic. A recent study showed that traffic circles provide the following benefits:

  • A 37% reduction in overall collisions
  • A 75% reduction in injury collisions
  • A 90% reduction in fatality collisions
  • A 40% reduction in pedestrian collisions

There are some key reasons for these results.

  • Lower travel speeds. Drivers must slow down and yield to traffic before entering the traffic circle. Speeds in the circle are typically 15-30km/h so when a collision does occur it’s typically minor and causes fewer injuries due to lower speeds.
  • No light to beat. Traffic circles are designed to promote a continuous flow of traffic. Because of this flow it eliminates drivers racing to catch the green, or panic braking on yellows and reds.
  • One way travel – roads entering the circle are gently curved to direct drivers into the intersection and help them travel around the circle. The curved roads eliminate the possibility of T-bone and head on collisions.
  • Traffic circles are more effective during power outages as there is no dependence on traffic lights.

From an insurance perspective traffic circles are a great alternative to signal and sign controlled intersections. There are fewer accidents, and those that do occur have a much lower likelihood of injury.  Reducing the frequency and severity of auto insurance claims helps to keep insurance premiums low ensuring everyone can access the coverage they need.

Let’s just hope we don’t wind up with traffic circles like England’s 7 circle magic roundabout in Swindon.

Happy travels!

Insurance

Before you travel….

Travel

Anyone else had enough winter? Now seems like a pretty good time to hop on a plane headed somewhere warm.  There’s some pretty good last minute deals out there too if you’re flexible on the dates.

Before you trade in your toque & mitts for sandals and sunscreen remember to take a minute to obtain travel medical insurance for you and your family. You may be thinking that nothing is going to happen to you. After all you just plan on sitting on the beach with a book and a cold drink.  The reality is that medical emergencies can happen to all types of travelers, at any age, in any location, at any time – even if you’re not planning any big adventures while you’re away.

In the midst of a medical emergency, you certainly shouldn’t be thinking about the costs, the bills, or saving money. With adequate travel medical insurance, you can instead focus on recovering and getting back home as quickly and safely as possible.

It seems like every other week there’s an article on the news about a Canadian injured abroad who didn’t have insurance and can’t afford the mounting hospital bills. Go fund me pages are a good way to raise a few bucks but often amount to just a drop in the bucket.  But what if there was a way you could avoid all of this in the first place…

Good news, there is, and it’s ridiculously easy too! Obtaining travel insurance is as easy as making a quick phone call.  In just a few minutes you’ll have your new travel policy in place and confirmation of coverage delivered to you by email right to your smartphone so you can take it with you on your trip.  You can even buy an annual package which offers you the freedom to jump on a last minute trip without worry.

So grab your phone and call our friends at Allianz Global Assistance by calling 1-800-995-1662.  They’ll ask you for an agency code which is 1098.  That code tells them you’re a Young & Haggis client.  In just a few minutes you’ll be protected so you can really truly relax on your vacation.

Enjoy your trip, and don’t forget to send us a post card!

accident, adjuster, all perils, auto, automobile, car, claim, collision, comprehensive, coverage, crash, deductible, home, Insurance, payment, protection, vehicle

Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value

RC vs ACVYou’ve probably heard the terms “replacement cost” and “actual cash value” at some point when discussing your insurance with your agent. Chances are you probably heard a bunch of terms while reviewing your coverage and wondered what does it all mean?   For today we are going to focus on these terms and how they relate to your coverage.

Actual Cash Value or “ACV” as it’s known in the industry is exactly what it sounds like… what the item is worth right now.  Insurers look at the initial cost of the item and then subtract depreciation for the number of years you had the item.  The depreciation applied can vary depending on the quality of the item, its current condition, age,  and what the life expectancy of the item is.

Replacement Cost means the amount of money it would take to replace damaged item with a new one of comparable material and quality used for the same purpose.  When shopping for insurance this is the coverage you ideally want to look for.  This coverage will get you closest to the living situation you had prior to the covered loss occurring.

When you suffer a claim the adjuster is going to request that you provide them with a full list of details including:

  • Description of the item(s) with make and model where applicable
  • Purchase date
  • Purchase price
  • Current replacement value
  • Receipt if available
  • Photos if available

Realistically you probably don’t keep the receipt for every item you have in your home. Even if you do there is a chance those receipts may have been lost in the claim.   So what can you do?  Well, keeping a photo log of the rooms in your home is a good start.  It will help the adjuster understand what items were in your home, and it also will help jog your memory as well.  Mike from our office has been through a fire and he can vouch for how hard it is to remember everything you had after a total loss.   Our smartphone app offers our clients the ability to store these photos in our office as part of their file.  That way the photos won’t also be lost in the claim and will help to expedite the claims process.

If your settlement is on Replacement Cost basis you can expect to receive two cheques from the insurance company.   The first cheque will be for the Actual Cash Value of the items that were damaged.  After you provide your adjuster with receipts for the replacement items you will be issued a second cheque for the difference between the Actual Cash Value and Replacement Cost.  This ensures you get Replacement Cost value for the items you do replace and the Actual Cash Value for the items you choose not to replace.

Some items just can’t be replaced. If the item is deemed obsolete or by inherent nature cannot be replaced, you may only be offered an Actual Cash Value settlement.   If you own items that are unique, or one of a kind, we encourage you to reach out to your agent to discuss if there are any additional coverage options available to you for these items. Some of these items may be insurable on a special floater where the items value is agreed on in advance of a loss occurring.

Actual Cash Value and Replacement Cost coverage are also used on  auto insurance policies. Here is an example of how it works on an automobile policy:

12 months after purchasing a brand new car for $40,000 you get in an accident. The damage is beyond repair and the vehicle is written off.

With Replacement Cost Coverage: Some insurers offer optional replacement cost coverage or a waiver of depreciation on brand new cars. With one of these endorsements on your policy you’d be able to replace your vehicle with a new version of the same model (or comparable one) or you could receive a cheque for the amount you originally paid for it.

With Actual Cash Value Coverage: Without one of these endorsements the settlement would be based on actual cash value. The insurer would look at what the market value of a vehicle of like kind and quality, in the same condition as yours was immediately prior to the loss occurring.   In a case like this, your settlement would likely be around $30,000 instead of your original purchase price of $40,000.

So there you have it. If you still have questions, or are concerned about your own policy coverages, please contact us.

 

accident, auto, automobile, car, claim, collision, comprehensive, coverage, crash, deductible, Insurance, payment, protection, vehicle

Popular Insurance Misconceptions

let us knowMisconceptionsAfter nearly 55 years of service we’ve heard just about everything. What we’ve learned is that there are a lot of misconceptions about the insurance industry.   Here’s just a few of them:

Home policies cover EVERTHING!

  • WRONG!   Well to be fair the industry may have done this one to itself by naming the most common home policy the “comprehensive / all risk” policy.  The truth is even a comprehensive / all risk policy has exclusions. In fact, that’s kind of how it works. Rather than list all the things under the sun that the policy does cover, a comprehensive / all risk policy lists the items that are not covered by the policy.

A landlords policy covers his tenant

  • WRONG! One of the basic principles of insurance is that you can’t insure what you don’t own. The landlord can’t insure your possessions and you can’t insure their property either.   If you’re renting you need a tenants policy. These provide you with coverage for your personal property and personal liability. The good news is these policies are really affordable. Starting at around $15 per month depending on your needs.

A condo owners policy isn’t required if the condo corporation has insurance

  • WRONG! This is perhaps one of the most common assumptions made by condo owners. The reality is that the condo corporation is only required to buy insurance on the condo building / structure, common areas and liability coverage.   It’s up to you, the unit owner, to insure your personal contents, your personal liability, and your improvements and betterments that were made to your unit by either you or a prior owner.

Vehicles stored in your garage are covered by your home policy

  • WRONG! Remember how we talked about list of exclusions on a home policy? Yep, you guessed it, vehicles are on that list. Cars, Motorcycles, ATV’s, Snomobiles,  are excluded because they are better insured elsewhere….. on an automobile policy.

Red cars cost more to insure

  • WRONG! 46% of people think this is true (52% women & 48% men)
  • The color of your car has no direct impact on insurance rates. However there may be an indirect link.   According to a recent study red colored cars came in second for most tickets issued.   What color got first? White.

New cars always cost more to insure

  • WRONG! New cars are loaded with features that greatly reduce the likelihood of an accident occurring. Stability control, traction control, crash avoidance braking systems, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, driver attention detection and anti lock brakes to name a few.   If an accident does occur these vehicles are also equipped with additional features that reduce the severity of injuries from the accident, curtain airbags, thorax airbags with head protection, knee airbags, seatbelt pretensioner…. The list goes on.   Long story short, newer cars are safer and as a result insurers will often give better premiums for these vehicles.

Small cars cost less to insure

  • WRONG! 40% of people think this is true (42% women, 58% men)
  • Rates are based on insurance company’s loss history for that type of vehicle. Smaller cars are typically purchased by younger, inexperienced drivers, who submit more claims. Smaller vehicles also have a higher frequency of injury claims due to their lighter weight and smaller size.

Insurance will pay for the maintenance of my car

  • WRONG! Insurance is for sudden and accidental events only. Maintenance and service costs can certainly be unexpected and expensive but they aren’t what the policy was designed for.

I won’t be held responsible if my friend wrecks my car

  • WRONG! 25% of people think this is true (48% women & 50% men)
  • The truth is, as the vehicle owner, you’re responsible.   If they cause damage, the claim goes on your auto insurance policy and can affect your rates. If the claim is bad enough you could be named in a lawsuit.   Moral of the story is think carefully before tossing your keys to just anyone.

The insurance company keeps changing the rules on what’s covered and what isn’t covered.

  • WRONG! The car insurance industry is highly regulated by provincial governments who set minimum coverage levels. If insurance companies want to make coverage or premium changes they have to get approval from the government.

That’s just a sample of some of the questions we’ve been asked over the years.  If you have a question about your coverage let us know.

Sources

 http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2014/10/27/here-are-the-top-10-myths-in-insurance?t=personal-lines&slreturn=1516816279&page=3

http://www.ibc.ca/ns/insurance-101/insurance-basics/insurance-myths

http://blog.cjponyparts.com/2014/07/most-and-least-ticketed-types-makes-and-colors-cars/

Insurance

So how big of a deal is distracted driving?

DDDistracted driving continues to be one of the biggest issues facing both drivers and law enforcement today. In fact distracted driving now claims more lives each year than impaired driving.   By August of 2016 Ontario had already seen double the number of distracted driving fatalities as those caused by impaired driving.   British Columbia saw 78 fatalities from distracted driving versus 66 from impaired driving.

Most people will tell you that they are concerned about distracted drivers. They don’t want to be the victim in an accident because someone was looking at their phone.  Yet nearly 75% of Canadians admit to engaging in distracted behaviors while driving.   If 75% of people said they drove while impaired would you still drive?

According to a study done by the Insurance Bureau of Canada a distracted driver may fail to see up to 50% of the available information in the driving environment. You may look but not actually “see” what is happening.  The end result is you’re 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision if you text while driving and 4 times more likely if you talk on a cell phone while driving.  The study showed that nearly 80% of collisions and 65% of near-collisions involved some form of driver inattention up to three seconds prior to the event.

In Alberta the fine for distracted driving currently starts at $287 and 3 demerit points. On top of this you may face insurance premium increases for the conviction.  If an accident results from the distracted driving your conviction could be upgraded to careless driving, which is a criminal code conviction.  You could then face further possible car insurance premium increases for the conviction and accident.  Depending on the severity of the accident you could be sued, possibly for millions.  You could find yourself in a situation where the lawsuit is higher than the limit of liability coverage on your auto policy.

So what can you do?

Well, if you find yourself driving home tonight and your phone rings or you get a text that just can’t wait find a safe place to pull over. Deal with the message or call, put your phone away, and then go back to giving your full attention to the road.  It’s not just your life you endanger when using your phone while driving.

Some smartphones, like Apple’s iPhone, now offer a do not disturb while driving mode. As soon as the phone connects to your car’s Bluetooth, it disables text notification and sends an automatic response back to the sender advising you’re driving at the moment and will get back to them when you stop driving.

Sources:

https://www.insurance-canada.ca/2017/09/07/icbc-distracted-driving-deaths/

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/distracted-driving-resulting-in-nearly-twice-as-many-deaths-as-impaired-opp-1.3050230

http://www.ibc.ca/qc/auto/risk-management/distracted-driving

https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT208090