Going round in circles….

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!




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.


Holiday Shopping

Holiday ShoppingThe holidays are finally here and some of you, like myself, may still be searching for the right gifts for the loved ones on your list. Here are a few ideas for the tech lovers in your life that also might help in the event they ever have to make an insurance claim.

Dash cam – Insurers in Canada don’t yet offer a dash camera discount. According a recent survey by 10% of Canadian drivers already drive with a vehicle equipped with a dash cam.  More than 25% said that while they don’t currently have a dash cam in their car, they think it’s a good idea.  The best part is they aren’t even all that expensive.

No matter how much you choose to spend on one, they’re well worth the investment. The footage they capture can make all the difference in the event of an accident where the drivers are providing different statements to the police and insurance adjusters.    With the camera footage it becomes a lot easier to identify and prove exactly what really happened.

Connected car – If you’re giving your child their first car for Christmas chances are you did your homework and tried to find them a safe, reliable and affordable automobile.  When it comes to pre-owned cars though you never really know what problems you may face down the road.  Some telecommunication companies, Telus for example, are now offering connected car plans that can be added to your phone plan.  It’s a small device that plugs into the diagnostic port on the vehicle and can alert to potential issues with the cars systems.  It can push alerts to your smartphone alerting to any diagnostic trouble codes, if your battery is low, or if you left your lights on.  Pricing starts at around $15 a month

Smart Thermostat – These are becoming more and more popular.  Not only are they more energy efficient but they can also provide a huge advantage over traditional thermostats from an insurance perspective.  These thermostats can send a push notification to any device running the companion application (smartphone or tablet) alerting you if the temperature dips below a pre determined value.  This is extremely valuable feature during our harsh Canadian winters as theres nothing worse than coming home from a hard day at work to find a pipe froze and burst in your home.

Smart plugs and lights – Remember those days of setting up light timers before going on vacation.  What about coming home alone late at night to a dark house?  Wouldn’t it be great if your lights turned on automatically everyday without having to think about it?  Or if they turned on when you pulled your car into the driveway?  Well the good news is this is all doable.  And it doesn’t have to be expensive if you don’t want it to be.  Smart plugs are super affordable now.  You can pick these up for a about $40.  They can run on a preset scheduled &/or use your phones location to determine when to turn on an off.   If you’re really adventurous a lot of them can be paired with IFTTT service so you can have a light turn on and off according to the weather, or sunset / sunrise.   Whatever set up you decide is right for you it provides added security for you and your family.  It might just be enough to deter a burglar if they think someone is home.

Wifi Water sensor – Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the new technology that’s offered to homeowners.  One example of this is a wifi water sensor.  For less than $70 you can set up a smart wifi water sensor in your home.  Typically you would want to set this up in your utility room near your hot water tank and floor drain.  If it comes in contact with any water it sounds an audible alarm in the home and sends a push notification to any smart devices running the companion application (smartphone or tablet for example).  Being notified early on gives you a better chance of minimizing the damage caused.   If cost is no object you can also get systems that not only sound an alarm and push a notification but also physically shut the main water line off as well in the event it detects a leak.

Wifi camera system – Much like vehicle dash cams, insurers don’t yet offer discounts for wifi camera systems.  However that doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable.  These systems can send push notifications to any smart device running the companion application (smartphone or tablet) alerting you to motion within the home or surrounding property.  They are also great for pet owners allowing them to check in on their fur babies and some systems even allow for two way communication allowing you to talk to your pets. Prices start at about $75 and go up depending on how many cameras you want and what features you’re looking for.

There is a lot of really great tech products out there these days and they are all pretty affordable. They can make life easier and provide peace of mind.  And in some cases provide valuable data to the insurance company in the event of a loss.

Happy shopping…..


Sources:,   Huffington Post,   Telus


Cyber & Privacy Insurance


In today’s data driven world where sensitive information is stored and transferred electronically, organizations like yours, which handle, receive, collect and store all kinds of information are vulnerable to costly and damaging liabilities from data security breaches.

Whether your customer’s data is compromised by a hacker, virus, cyber thief, or simply because of lost or stolen computers, laptops, flash drives or smart phones, data security breaches can have serious ramifications. There are substantial financial costs involved in finding and remedying a breach, including the cost of notifying customers –now legally mandated in Alberta. It is estimated that 1/3 of all Canadian businesses have been subject to some sort of Cyber attack or at least a probe attack. The risk to you is that sensitive client data can be stolen. By law, you are required to take action by notifying all of your clients of a breach of their information. This can be a costly process. In the event of a data breach you may also be exposed to litigation by your clients if sensitive data is stolen. You can also suffer financial damage due to the interruption of your business operations as well as damage to your reputation as a safe place to do business.

Cyber criminals don’t kick down your front door –they get your employees to open it for them by sending them infected emails. Educating your people about these things is the most cost effective way to protect your business from Cyber attack. We also recommend that you employ third party consultants to assess your IT security. We can’t help you with your computer system’s security measures against these types of attacks, you need to have a detailed discussion with your IT service department / provider to ensure you have done everything possible to thwart cyber attacks with the most up to date fire walls, security software and antivirus software.

In addition to risk mitigation steps that can be taken, we can now provide you with a Cyber and Privacy Insurance policy. It can provide coverage for:

  • Legal claims against you arising from unauthorized access to data containing identity information and the failure to provide notification of data breach where required by law.
  • Legal fees associated with defending legal action against you as well as liability coverage in the event of a legal settlement against you.
  • Security breach remediation and notification expenses
  • Expenses incurred to restore data lost from damage to computer systems due to computer virus or unauthorized access
  • Money paid due to E Commerce extortion
  • Loss of income, and the extra expense incurred to restore operations as a result of a computer system disruption caused by a virus or other unauthorized computer attack.
  • Loss of monies due to fraudulent transfer instructions to a financial institution can also be provided.

Cyber and Privacy Insurance should be considered if you handle or store any sensitive customer, employee or business information on your computers as you are at risk of Privacy Breach and/or Cyber attack. If you store information electronically or deal with credit cards, social insurance numbers, addresses, bank account information you are of interest to cyber attackers. If the risk of a cyber attack has struck a nerve with you, we encourage you to call us to look at how we can help you protect your business. If your business was exposed to a ransom ware attack and you are asked to cough up $30,000.00 the true cost would be much more than $30,000.00. There are costs for a forensic investigation, payment to lawyers to go through the notification process, public relations costs to mitigate reputational harm, etc. In a serious incident total costs could easily reach $100,000.00.

Claims Examples


Example #1:

An online mortgage company reported a breach after several former employees gave mortgage lenders access to confidential customer records. Over a two year period, lenders obtained access to private client information, such as social insurance numbers, income and employment data, and used it to market their own mortgages. The mortgage company incurred the cost of notifying their clients, and the cost to protect the privacy and identity of the firm’s clients, restore their identity to pre-theft status if required and report any security breach to credit agencies. Total remediation costs were in excess of $75,000.

Example #2:

A mid-size accounting firm was broken into and laptop computers were stolen. Some of the information contained in these laptops was personal, including the social insurance numbers and bank account information of the firm’s clients. Overall, a total of nearly 10,000 of the firm’s clients were affected by this theft. Although the police investigating the case suspected that the theft was a simple “smash and grab,” the firm had not encrypted the information found in these laptops, making it easily accessible. There was a one month lapse between the time of the theft and the time the firm notified their clients.

The firm had to incur significant remediation costs, both to notify the clients and to retain a company to protect the privacy and identity of the firm’s clients, and restore their identity to pre-theft status as required and report any security breach to credit agencies. Total remediation costs were $150,000.

Although this example involves an accounting firm, it could apply to professional practices of all kinds, including medical clinics, medical professionals, business consultants, brokerages or any other type of professional dealing with sensitive and confidential information.

Example #3:

A medical clinic employee accidentally emailed a file with client names, medical records and provincial health card numbers to an unauthorized individual. The medical clinic notified its clients of the breach immediately. Two months after the breach, one of the clinic’s clients was a victim of identity theft and sued the clinic for damages. The final settlement was $50,000 and the cost to defend the clinic was $25,000.

Call us now so we can send you a Cyber Solution Insurance Application and we will put together a quote for you.


Seeding the clouds


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!


Twisted Times

tornado (2)

By now we’ve all read the stories of natural disasters the world over.  Everything from the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, 2010 Haitian earthquake, and the 2011 Japan earthquake & tsunami, more recently the tornado that hit Moore Oklahoma & Australian brush fires.  It seems that these disastrous events always happen in a far off land.  But that doesn’t mean we are immune…

In Canada natural disasters average $1 billion annually, and that’s just the portion that’s covered by insurance.  Guess who’s leading the country in catastrophic losses….yep you guessed it, Alberta. 

Between 1983 & 2008 Alberta averaged $100 million a year in catastrophic losses.  In the past four years however, Alberta has suffered and average of $673 million per year in insured losses from natural disasters.

The July 12, 2010 hailstorm pounded Calgary with hail stones almost two inches across.  The storm actually broke the national record for insured hailstone damages with claims totaling $500 million. 

Ironically the two most common disasters in Alberta are polar opposites, the most common being drought. There have been 35 droughts in Alberta between 1990 & 2005.   The second most common being flooding. The Southern Alberta floods of 2005 resulted in $300 million in insurance payouts.  That doesn’t even take into account the millions in losses that were not covered by insurance.

The moral of the story is that disasters can strike anywhere at any time, often with little or no warning at all. It’s up to you to make sure you are prepared for a disaster.  Have an emergency kit ready, food, water and supplies on hand, etc.  Oh and start by calling us, It’s our job to make sure your insurance is doing is job properly for you should the unthinkable happen.