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

Advertisements
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!

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

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 Kanetix.ca 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:  Katetix.ca,   Huffington Post,   Telus

Insurance

Vehicle Theft

Car Theft

We are only a few weeks away from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) releasing their figures for the top ten most stolen vehicles of 2017. We promise to share that info with you just as soon as it’s available. The 2017 list is available here.

Unfortunately statistics in Canada show a vehicle is stolen every 7 minutes. That’s nearly 75,000 vehicles stolen every year!   Those costs add up pretty quickly.  According to IBC it adds up to nearly $1 billion each year ($542 million for insurers to fix or replace the vehicle, $250 million in police, healthcare and court system costs, and millions more in correctional services).

75,000 is a lot of stolen cars. So where do they all go? What happens to them?  Typically these vehicles are stolen for one of these reasons:

  • To sell abroad. Once stolen these vehicles may be loaded into shipping containers and sent abroad where they are sold for many times their original market value. Inspectors at the port of Montreal have seized roughly $8 million worth of stolen vehicles from the port each year since 2009.
  • To sell to unsuspecting consumers. Vehicles may be given a false VIN and sold to unsuspecting shoppers. Many buyers are unaware that thieves can replace a VIN from a stolen vehicle with one that belongs to a legally registered vehicle. This is a process called “VIN cloning” or “retagging”. This process is used by thieves in an attempt to hide the vehicles true history.
  • To sell the vehicle in parts. Sometimes a vehicle is worth more in pieces than it is as a whole. Thieves take the vehicle to a “chop shop” and disassemble the vehicle and sell the parts for profit. The engine, transmission and frame are often scrapped as they are all marked with the vehicles VIN. The remaining parts typically do not have the VIN and are sold to unsuspecting or dishonest salvage yards or mechanics.
  • To commit another crime. These vehicles are typically recovered within 48 hours of their theft as they have been abandoned after the thieves are done with them. These vehicles usually are damaged and may not be repairable.

Generally car thefts are lower among newer model vehicles. Advancements in vehicle security and ignition systems have helped to reduce the number of thefts.  In addition to that many automakers are now including, or offering the option, to have the VIN etched into the body panels and glass before the vehicle is delivered to the consumer.

When shopping for a used vehicle, make sure you do your research on the vehicle before signing the bill of sale and handing over your hard earned cash. Buying your vehicle from a trustworthy dealership is a good start.  Services like a Carfax report can indicate a potential VIN clone and confirm vehicle mileage.

There are also additional steps you can take to protect the vehicle you already own from theft:

  • Keep your vehicle locked at all times, even while driving.
  • Never leave your keys in or on the vehicle when it’s parked. If you have one of those little magnetic spare key holders get rid of it.
  • Never leave your car running and unattended. I know that one’s hard to do in our cold climate, but honestly your car will warm up quicker if you just get in and go. Expert mechanics also say that warming up the car in the cold before you drive actually does more harm to the engine longevity than just driving right away.
  • Don’t leave valuables inside your vehicle .
  • Avoid high crime areas. Know where you are going and plan your route accordingly.
  • Install an anti theft system.
  • Park your vehicle in well lit areas. Thieves prefer to work in the dark.
  • Make sure you have theft coverage on your automobile insurance policy.

Ultimately if a thief really wants a vehicle they will find a way. Vehicles are just metal and they are in no way worth more than your life.  Don’t ever put yourself in harm’s way for your vehicle.  Cars can be replaced, you can’t.

Sources : Insurance Bureau of Canada, Global News, Carfax, Popular Mechanics, Geico