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!

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

 

 

Insurance

What you can’t see, can hurt you…

Carbon

The cold weather has finally returned to Calgary. This means that our furnaces will be running more to keep our homes warm. Make sure your family is safe this winter by having all your fuel burning appliances inspected and your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are all working properly.  Barry from our office recently had a carbon monoxide fright; here’s what he had to say about it:

“The other night I was woken up by the ear piercing sound of our carbon monoxide detector going off at around 2am. Needless to say, that is a sound you do not want to ever hear in your life, let alone in the middle of the night in winter.

It was the alarm right outside of the bedroom. I grabbed it out of the wall and did the exact opposite thing that a person in this situation should do, and assumed it was a false alarm. I pulled the battery out and it shut off. As soon as I put the battery back in, it started beeping again so I gathered my wife, our dog, and my in-laws (staying with us for the holidays) and moved everyone outside to fresh air. My wife called 911 and the fire department was dispatched to our house. They advised us not to go back in, and of course it was cold and we were all in pajamas, so my wife drove the whole gang a few blocks away to my parent’s house to stay warm while I waited for the fire department to show up.

Minutes later two Calgary City fire trucks showed up. I found out later that one was a Hazmat team. They were all business when they arrived and I directed them to where the alarm was plugged in and where it was now. They checked the entire house, starting in the basement (as that is where most carbon monoxide leaks originate) but had no sign of anything on their meters. Hazmat followed up and they couldn’t get a reading anywhere either so…. Good news!!! False alarm!

We had been doing some renovations and there was a lot of dust in the air for a few days which they said could have triggered the alarm… either that or it was just a faulty alarm. We have since replaced that one and still have 4 in the house, two in the basement and two on the main floor. It was quite an experience and I was relieved to hear that we did the right thing by finding fresh air and calling 911. It’s always better to be safe than sorry! “

Remember carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no color, smell or taste. If your detector goes off get your family outside and call 911 right away.

This brings me to the next point. When did you last replace your carbon monoxide detector and smoke detectors?  We are all told to make sure to replace the batteries every time we change the clocks in spring and fall, but that may not be enough.  Both smoke & carbon monoxide detectors have expiry dates.  The average lifespan of these detectors is only 7 years!   If you can’t remember the last time you replaced these units it’s probably time to do it now.   New detectors are not very expensive and you can get combo units that monitor both smoke and carbon monoxide. When you do replace them put a sticker on them with the date you installed them so you know how old they are in the future.

 

Insurance

Deductibles…

Why

What is a deductible?

Deductibles are one of the most misunderstood parts of a car insurance policy. Basically the deductible is the portion you agree to absorb financially in the event of an accident. For example if your deductible is $500 and the repairs to your car cost $8,500, you will be responsible for paying the first $500 and the insurance company will pay the remaining $8,000 to repair your  vehicle.

So how do I choose a deductible amount?

There are many deductible options available. Which one is right for you will depend on your own unique situation.  Typically the higher the deductible the lower your insurance premiums will be.  Here are a few examples of when a higher deductible may benefit you:

  • If you own a high value vehicle a higher deductible will help to keep premiums low.
  • If you recently added a newly licensed driver to your policy.
  • If you have traffic convictions. In some cases your policy may be surcharged depending on the number and type of traffic convictions.   A higher deductible can help to offset some of the surcharge.
  • If you have prior at fault claims. Your driving record may have been impacted by recent at fault losses on your policy. Moving up to a higher deductible can help offset some of the premium increase you may have experienced.

To help determine what deductible is right for you talk to one of our agents. We can walk you through the pros and cons of each deductible option and provide you with cost estimates on each to help you make the right choice for you and your family.

Why do I have to pay my deductible if the claim wasn’t my fault?

The important thing to remember here is that a deductible is always paid. Usually the deductible will be paid by the party responsible for causing the accident.  (If you caused the accident you will pay your deductible.  If the other driver caused the accident, their insurance will pay your deductible).  However, there are instances where you may be told you have to pay your deductible, even though the claim wasn’t your fault:

  • If the responsible driver fled the scene and we don’t know who to go after.
  • If the responsible driver has no insurance.
  • If the claim is a complex multi vehicle accident. Determining who is responsible for what can be a time consuming process. In these cases it may take the insurance claims adjusters months to properly determine fault.
  • If the drivers involved offer different accounts of events leading up to the accident.

Generally speaking the deductible will be reimbursed to you at a later date once fault has been finalized by the claims adjusters.

One of the best things you can do to help protect yourself from having to pay your own deductible in a claim that wasn’t your fault is to sell your car and take the bus to install a dash camera in your vehicle.  Dash cameras don’t lie.  They can provide valuable information about the accident and help prove which driver’s statement is correct.  They are inexpensive, easy to install, and can prove extremely valuable to both the insurance company and police in the event of a claim.

Remember, if you do ever suffer a claim, you have us on your side. We work for you, not the insurance company.  You can lean on us for advice and help in dealing with your claims process.