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What’s the most expensive province to own a car in?

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Anyone who has moved to a different province can tell you how much the cost of owning a vehicle varies from place to place. Insurance fees, fuel prices and invasive emissions tests and registration fees all drive up the cost of owning a car. These fees make owning a car very expensive and make owning multiple cars very tricky indeed. But what province is the most expensive one to own and drive a car in?

CE-Credit

These statistics were pulled from a variety of sources. The Insurance costs were compiled from Our Insurance Canada and represent the average provincial rates from 2013. The fuel costs are fromGasBuddy.com and represent today’s rates. The annual fuel costs were calculated using the average annual Canadian driving distance of 15,200 kilometres per person and the fact that the average car sold in North America in 2013 got 9.8 L/100 km.

Prince Edward Island

Mandatory emissions tests: None

Average fuel price: $1.39 per litre

Annual fuel cost: $2,083

Annual insurance average: $649

Annual cost of fuel and insurance: $2,732

There’s little remarkable about PEI’s gas prices but the province’s insurance premiums are the envy of the nation. PEI residents paid just $649 per year on average to insure their vehicle.

Newfoundland

Mandatory emissions tests: None

Average fuel price: $1.41 per litre

Annual fuel cost: $2,112

Annual insurance average: $749

Annual cost of fuel and insurance: $2,861

Again, the cheap premiums of Newfoundland make the rest of Canada jealous. This is the second cheapest province to insure and fuel a car in.

Read full story here: Driving.ca


US: Insurance agents are fielding more calls about quake coverage

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

ENID, Okla. Insurance agents are seeing increases in requests for earthquake coverage on homes, with recent seismic activity in the area.

“We are seeing an increase, definitely, of calls, with all the increased activity,” Farmers Insurance agent Nathan Crow, of Medford, said. “We’re recommending that everyone carries earthquake on their policy, if it’s available to them.”

A number of agencies sell added endorsements for existing homeowners policies, while other insurance agencies sell separate policies.

“We’ve contacted our current customers and let them know that (earthquake coverage) is available and that it does not come standard with the policy but it can be endorsed,” Crow said. “Any new business that we write, we of course recommend it. It’s very, very affordable. So, for the little amount of money that they typically do cost, it kind of seems like a no-brainer to me.”

Crow said 60 percent of his policyholders have either added or purchased earthquake insurance.

In the past few months, several earthquakes — 3.0 magnitude or stronger — have occurred near Medford.

Alfalfa County Farm Bureau agent Joe Woods, of Cherokee, said his agency writes standalone earthquake policies through one company.

“I haven’t seen a significant increase, it’s just been kind of steady, people inquiring,” he said. “Of course, it kind of comes in spurts from time to time.

“Years ago, we used to endorse it on homeowners policies, and, of course, it wasn’t an item that people requested or we added or quoted along with policies. Of course, (with) the increase in the number of earthquakes we’ve had … it has been just recently a requested item.”

Brad Mennem, owner of Mennem Insurance in Medford, said he has had an increase in homeowners purchasing earthquake coverage.

“More people are asking about it but, you know, there (are) a lot of companies that won’t do earthquake (coverage) here in Oklahoma,” he said. “Every company has a different reason. I have multiple companies, so there are companies that do it but there’s a lot of companies that don’t.”

Agents in Alva said there has been some interest in earthquake coverage.

“Not as much as you’d think,” Schuessler Insurance & Real Estate agent Mike Hood, of Alva, said. “I guess that wave that was … maybe six or eight months ago, we might have had maybe a dozen people call. And we’ve only had maybe two people actually purchase it.

“It’s not doing much up around here.”

Hood said the problem with the coverage is the deductibles are so high, most homeowners do not purchase coverage.

“(Deductibles) start out at either two percent of the value of the house, or $10,000,” he said.

Hood writes policies for about eight major companies, about half of which offer earthquake coverage as an endorsement.

“There is a company that offers it as a standalone product, but it’s, oh goodness, it’s about a 5 percent minimum deductible,” he said. “It’s a little bit pricey.”

Oklahoma Farm Bureau agent Kenneth Byrd, of Alva, has written some earthquake insurance policies, but not a significant number.

“I’ve had inquiries wanting to find out how much it was going to cost,” he said. “It’s probably more in the last six months than what we did in the previous two or three years. Yes, there has been more interest.”

Two Enid insurance agencies reported having a flood of interest in coverage.

“We’ve had a large influx of earthquake inquiries to our office,” said Megann Johnson, service manager at State Farm Insurance in Enid.

State Farm Insurance provides endorsements to homeowners policies.

“It’s based on what we have their house covered for, and it comes with a separate deductible,” she said.

Most customers who inquire about coverage are purchasing it because it is “pretty affordable,” according to Johnson.

“Most people are just doing it as a precautionary measure,” she said.

Jamie Christy, personal lines manager at Enid Insurance, said the agency has been seeing a “huge increase” in interest.

“It actually comes in spurts,” she said, adding that the agency gets more calls after 3.0 magnitude or stronger earthquakes.

While coverage is “fairly cheap,” Christy said the deductible on the coverage is anywhere from 2 to 10 percent of the amount of purchased coverage.

None of the agents reported having received a claim for earthquake damage.

Excerpted article written By Jessica Miller, Enid News & Eagle


Proving Fault After A Transit Bus Collision – The Reverse Onus

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Today’s guest post comes from B.C. injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken

If you are injured while a passenger in a transit bus British Columbia law requires the bus driver to prove they were not at fault. This is a ‘reverse onus’ from most personal injury claims where the Plaintiff must prove the Defendant was at fault. Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this.

In last week’s claim (Tchir v. South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority) the plaintiff was riding as a passenger in a bus “when an unidentified driver came to an abrupt stop in front of the bus“.  The bus driver was forced to brake hard to avoid collision and the Plaintiff was thrown from her seat and injured.

The Court found both motorists were to blame for the incident.  In discussing the reverse onus in proving fault, Mr. Justice Davies provided the following summary of the law:

[38] The standard of care owed by the Transit Defendants to Mrs. Tchir as a passenger is a high one. Also, once it is proven that a passenger is injured while riding on a public transit vehicle, a prima facie case of negligence is made out and the onus then shifts to the carrier to establish that the injuries suffered by the passenger occurred without fault on the carrier’s part.

[39] Those principles were summarized by McLachlin J. (as she then was) in Planidin v. Dykes, [1984] B.C.J. No. 907 (S.C.) [Planidin] at pages 3 and 4 as follows:

There is little dispute as to the legal principles applicable in this case. The standard of care imposed on a public character is a high one. This standard has been established in the Supreme Court of Canada decision Day v. Toronto Transportation Committee [1940] S.C.R. 433, 4 D.L.R. 485 . At page 439 of that report of that case Davis, J. said:

·        ” The duty of the respondent to the appellant, its passenger, was to carry her safely as far as reasonable care and forethought could attain that end.”

·        At page 441 Hudson, J. in an oft-quoted passage, stated:

·        ” Although the carrier of passenger is not an insurer, yet if an accident occurs and the passenger is injured, there is a heavy burden on the defendant carrier to establish that he had used all due, proper and reasonable care and skill to avoid or prevent injury to the passenger. The care required is of a very high degree.”

These, and other cases, establish that once an accident occurs and a passenger is injured, a prima facie case in negligence is raised and the onus shifts to the public carrier to establish that the passenger’s injuries were occasioned without negligence on the company’s part. The question then is: What suffices to discharge this onus?

[40] Concerning the last question posed, McLachlin J. went on to say:

This has been considered in at least two British Columbian cases and I refer to Lawrie v. B.C. Hydro and Power Authority (unreported, May 31st, 1876, B.C.S.C. Vancouver Registry No. 32708/74) and Fischer v. B.C. Hydro and Power Authority (unreported, February 19th, 1980, B.C.S.C. B781446). In the latter case, at page 8, Taylor, J., set out what the defendant must show to discharge the onus upon it in the following terms:

·        ” Thus there is in this case an onus on the defendants to show that the plaintiff came by her injury without negligence on their part or as a result of some cause for which they are not responsible. That is to say they must show that the vehicle was being driven carefully at the time of her fall, or that her fall resulted from some cause other than the manner in which the bus was being driven.”

[41]  Also instructive on the issue of the standard of care expected of the Transit Defendants in this case is the decision of Dardi J. in Prempeh v. Boisvert, 2012 BCSC 304 [Prempeh] at para. 15, in which she wrote:

… The standard of care owed to a plaintiff passenger by a defendant bus driver is the conduct or behaviour that would be expected of a reasonably prudent bus driver in the circumstances. This is an objective test that takes into consideration both the experience of the average bus driver and anything the defendant driver knew or should have known: Wang v. Horrod (1998), 48 B.C.L.R. (3d) 199 at para. 39 (C.A.); Patoma v. Clarke, 2009 BCSC 1069 at para. 6.


Wawanesa apologizes to Montreal foster family for cancelling home insurance

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

CBC News: Wawanesa Insurance has apologized to the Montreal foster family whose home policy was terminated for having more than two foster children, but has only offered a two-month extension to their policy while they seek other coverage.

‘We have to be respectful, and this letter fell short.’ Claude Auclair, Quebec Vice-President of Wawanesa

The apology comes one day after CBC News broke the story about a foster mother from LaSalle, whom we have agreed not to name in order to protect the identity of her five foster children.

Read More: Controversy over women denied home insurance because of foster children

The company does not provide home insurance to families with more than two foster children.

The foster family got a letter earlier this week from Wawanesa informing them that their home insurance policy would be terminated next month.

“Our priority is the well-being of our clients, and the letter did not meet our standards. It was not representative of what we do normally. We have to be respectful, and this letter fell short,” Claude Auclair, the company’s Quebec vice-president, told CBC News.

Auclair said the family’s case is rare, but the company takes the matter seriously.

“We are taking steps to resolve the issue to make sure their needs are met,” he said.

60 extra days

The Montreal foster mother said the company’s apology does not resolve the issue.

“It was an insult because it still doesn’t rectify what they’ve done.… They never even called us to advise us that they’re cancelling our policy — they just sent the letter in the mail. So it was a shock, and giving us a phone call today to apologize for what’s been happening — it’s a slap in the face.”

She said the company told her it will extend her home insurance policy by two months — giving the family an extra 60 days to find a new insurer.

“They said they will look into it — if there is anything they can do — but they still didn’t offer to keep us on as a client. They just offered to extend it because they cannot accommodate us with having foster children in our home,” she said.

The family says the Quebec Federation of Foster Families referred them to another insurance company and they are awaiting a quote.

Source: CBC News


An Employee Dies, and the Company Collects the Insurance

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Employees at The Orange County Register received an unsettling email from corporate headquarters this year. The owner of the newspaper, Freedom Communications, was writing to request workers’ consent to take out life insurance policies on them.

But the beneficiary of each policy would not be the survivors or estate of the insured employee, but the Freedom Communications pension plan. Reporters and editors resisted, uncomfortable with the notion that the company might profit from their deaths.

After an intensive lobbying campaign by Freedom Communications management, a modified plan was ultimately put in place. Yet Register employees were left shaken.

The episode at The Register reflects a common but little-known practice in corporate America: Companies are taking out life insurance policies on their employees, and collecting the benefits when they die.

Because so-called company-owned life insurance offers employers generous tax breaks, the market is enormous; hundreds of corporations have taken out policies on thousands of employees. Banks are especially fond of the practice. JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo hold billions of dollars of life insurance on their books, and count it as a measure of their ability to withstand financial shocks.

But critics say it is immoral for companies to profit from the death of employees, while employees themselves do not directly benefit. And despite a law enacted in 2006 that sought to curb the practice — companies now are restricted to insuring only the highest-paid 35 percent of employees, who must give their consent — it remains a growing, opaque and legal source of corporate profit.

“Companies are holding this humongous amount of coverage on the lives of human beings,” said Michael D. Myers, a lawyer in Houston who has brought class-action lawsuits against several companies with such policies.

Companies and banks say earnings from the insurance policies are used to cover long-term health care, deferred compensation and pension obligations.

“Life insurance is one of the ways of strengthening the long-term health of the pension plan and ensuring its ability to pay benefits,” Freedom Communications’ chief executive, Aaron Kushner, said in an interview.

And because such life insurance policies receive generous tax breaks — the company-paid premiums are tax-free, as are any investment returns on the policies and the death benefits eventually received — they are ideal investment vehicles for companies looking to set aside money to pay for pension plans. Companies argue that if they had to finance such obligations with investments taxed at a normal rate, they would incur losses and would not be able to offer the benefits to employees.

But in many cases, companies and banks can use the tax-free gains for whatever they choose. “If you want to take that money and go build a new bank branch, fine,” said Joseph E. Yesutis, a partner at the law firm Alston & Bird who specializes in banking regulation. “Companies don’t promise regulators they will use it for any specific purpose.”

Hundreds of billions of dollars of such policies are in place, providing companies with a steady stream of income as current and former employees die, even decades after they have retired or left the company.

Aon Hewitt estimates that in new policies worth at least $1 billion are being put in place annually, and that about one-third of the 1,000 largest companies in the country have such policies. Industry analysts estimate that as much as 20 percent of all new life insurance is taken out by companies on their employees.

But determining the exact size of the market for corporate- and bank-owned life insurance is impossible. With the exception of banks, companies do not have to report their insurance holdings.

“There is no reliable reporting of the use of who’s buying life insurance, of what they’re buying it for,” said Steven N. Weisbart, chief economist of the Insurance Information Institute.

Banks have to report their holdings because regulators want to know how much cash they could access if they had to redeem the policies in a pinch before the death of the insured employee.

That figure, known as the “cash surrender value” — or the amount they could withdraw immediately — provides a glimpse of just how big such policies can be.

Bank of America’s policies have a cash surrender value of at least $17.6 billion. If Wells Fargo had to redeem its policies tomorrow, it would reap at least $12.7 billion. JPMorgan Chase would collect at least $5 billion, according to filings with the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council.

Because banks could collect the cash from insurance companies quickly, if needed, life insurance holdings are considered Tier 1 Capital, a basic measure of a bank’s strength. Many banks have 10 to 25 percent of their Tier 1 Capital invested in life insurance policies, according to Goldstein Financial Group, a broker dealer.

Insurance industry experts say that most big banks have delayed new life insurance purchases, in part because of limits on how much insurance they can hold. Yet the value of existing policies continues to grow, with the gains from invested capital outpacing the benefits paid out as employees die.

Corporate- and bank-owned life insurance grew out of so-called key person insurance policies that protected companies against the economic consequences related to the death of top executives. The New York Times Company has taken out life insurance policies on some top employees.

But absent meaningful regulation around the practice, it grew unchecked, and soon companies were taking out policies on many poorly paid employees like janitors, then reaping millions in profit when they died.

A string of class-action lawsuits, some filed by Mr. Myers, went after companies abusing the practice. Several companies, including Walmart, settled the suits, paying millions to low-ranking employees who had been covered. The I.R.S. took companies including Winn-Dixie and Camelot Music to court for using policies as tax avoidance schemes.

Critics began calling the policies “dead peasant” insurance, an allusion to Nikolai Gogol’s novel “Dead Souls,” in which a con man buys up dead serfs to use them as collateral in a business deal.

Despite the criticism, companies and banks continued to use the policies to chase returns. In the years before the financial crisis, life insurers for banks including Wachovia and Fifth Third Bancorp invested their premiums in a hedge fund run by Citigroup.

As the value of the fund rose, the profits were recorded on the companies’ balance sheets, raising earnings. But when the hedge fund collapsed during the market panic, so did the value of the policies, leading the banks to take substantial write-downs.

Efforts have been made to better regulate the practice. The 2006 Pension Protection Act included a set of best practices for companies taking out life insurance on employees.

“The government has taken great strides to clean it up,” said J. Todd Chambley, who runs the executive benefits practice at Aon Hewitt.

Still, the notion of life insurance policies benefiting company balance sheets, rather than individuals, remains subject to criticism.

Responding to attacks on the Freedom Communications plan, Mr. Kushner defended himself in a letter to employees. “Life insurance is not ghoulish, nor are the people who sell it, nor are those who buy it,” he wrote. “Life insurance, by its very nature, was created to benefit the people we love and care about most.”

Excerpted article written By DAVID GELLES The New York Time


Case of Vanishing Insurance

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Motor vehicle insurance is compulsory in Ontario.

Driving without insurance can lead to fines, licence suspension and vehicle impoundment.

It’s also financially risky.

Uninsured drivers are personally responsible for any accidents they cause.

But what isn’t so obvious is that they also forfeit the right to sue other car owners or drivers.

The purpose of this law is simple.

We don’t just want to keep uninsured drivers off the road.

We also want to prevent those who haven’t paid into the pool of insurance premiums from suing or obtaining money from insurance companies and drivers who have paid into that pool.

This law makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense occurs when an insurance company tries to use the law to retroactively void an insurance policy, to take away an injured driver’s right to sue.

That’s what happened to Wayne Radwan Alof.

Alof obtained car insurance in Nova Scotia, where his car was registered.

He moved to Ontario and had his car registered in Ontario in February, 2010.

He had a discussion with his insurance company after moving to Ontario, advising it he didn’t know if the move was going to be permanent.

Alof had the misfortune of being in an accident in Mississauga in July, 2010.

He apparently suffered serious injuries and sued the other driver.

One month after reporting the accident his insurer, TD Insurance, notified Alof his insurance had been retroactively voided as of the previous February, due to a failure to advise the insurance company that his car had been registered in Ontario.

So, Alof had insurance as of the date of the accident, but his insurance company retroactively withdrew the insurance after the accident, leaving Alof in a precarious position.

Could this “now you see it, now you don’t” insurance policy result in a retroactive forfeiture of his right to sue to recover compensation for the injuries he suffered in the July accident?

That’s precisely what the other driver’s insurance company argued in a court motion to dismiss Alof’s lawsuit.

The motion was argued in January with a decision released in April.

Superior Court Justice Wendy Matheson ruled the lawsuit could proceed.

She applied some common sense, ruling that regardless of TD Insurance’s attempt to retroactively void Alof’s policy, the fact remained that at the time of the accident Alof did have insurance coverage, so he did have the right to sue.

I can’t help but think insurance companies and their lawyers stay up all night trying to dream up ways of defeating valid claims.

Fortunately, we have many good judges who stand ready to protect our rights.

But there are some lessons to be learned in this case.

Any move, from one province to another, to a different city or town, or even within the same city or town, can trigger a change in risk for your auto insurance.

Changes in the use of a vehicle and vehicle modifications, even some cosmetic ones, can also lead to a change in risk.

Changes in ownership and the addition of a new driver also trigger changes in risk.

It’s important that any potential changes in risk be reported to your insurance company.

Ask for an email address so you can send an email and obtain a record of your disclosure.

Your insurance company may decide to modify the premium — up or down — but you will have the peace of mind of knowing your coverage is intact, as is your ability to sue others for your losses.

Failure to report a change in risk can lead to the cancellation or voiding of your policy.

If you are in an accident your insurer may deny coverage.

Do the right thing. Even if in doubt, report all changes.


Lightning Safety Awareness

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Each year lightning kills approximately 10 Canadians and injures approximately 100 to 150 others. So, how do you keep yourself and your family safe when lightning strikes? Read the tips and information below and stay safe!

The first and most important thing to remember is that if you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. Take shelter immediately, preferably in a house or all-metal automobile (not convertible top). If caught outside far from a safe shelter, stay away from tall objects, such as trees, poles, wires and fences. Take shelter in a low lying area.

Once indoors, stay away from electrical appliances and equipment, doors, windows, fireplaces, and anything else that will conduct electricity, such as sinks, tubs and showers. Avoid using a telephone that is connected to a landline.

If you are in your car during lightning, do not park under tall objects that could topple, and do not get out if there are downed power lines nearby. If you are caught outside, don’t stand near tall objects or anything made of metal, and avoid open water.

If caught on the water in a small boat with no cabin during thunder and lightning, quickly get to shore. Boats with cabins offer a safer environment, but it’s still not ideal.

Remember, there is no safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm. Once in a safe location, remain there for 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder is heard before resuming your outdoor activities.

People who have been struck by lightning do not carry an electrical charge and can be safely handled, but victims may be suffering from burns or shock and should receive medical attention immediately. If you come across someone who has been struck, call for medical assistance immediately and, if breathing has stopped, administer mouth-to-mouth or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

If caught outdoors:
Avoid putting yourself above the surrounding landscape. Seek shelter in low-lying areas such as valleys, ditches and depressions but be aware of flooding.
Stay away from water. Don’t go boating or swimming if a storm threatens, and get to land as quickly as possible if you are already on the water. Lightning can strike the water and travel a substantial distance from its point of contact.
Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, such as tractors, golf carts, golf clubs, metal fences, motorcycles, lawnmowers and bicycles.
Avoid being the highest point in an open area.Swinging a golf club, or holding an umbrella or fishing rod can make you the tallest object and a target for lightning.
You are safe inside a car during lightning, but be aware of downed power lines which may be touching your car. You are safe inside the car, but you may receive a shock if you step outside.
In a forest, seek shelter in a low-lying area under a thick growth of small trees or bushes.
Keep alert for flash floods, sometimes caused by heavy rainfall, if seeking shelter in a ditch or low-lying area.
Indoor Precautions:
Before the storm hits, disconnect electrical appliances including radios and television sets. Do not touch them during the storm.
Don’t go outside unless absolutely necessary.
Keep as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
Don’t handle electrical equipment or telephones. The electrical current from the lightning strike will travel through wires and cords and if you are directly connected with them, you could be struck. Use battery operated appliances only. Cordless telephones are safe however you could receive a very loud noise on the phone which may seem like a shock. This would be consistent with the house or somewhere nearby being struck by lightning.
Remember: in a thunderstorm, no place outdoors is safe. When thunder roars, go indoors!For more information on lightning, visit Environment Canada’s Lightning in Canada website at: www.ec.gc.ca/foudre-lightning
Source: Environment Canada


RV Theft Prevention Tips

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

It seems there are no limits to what thieves will steal. As owners secure one piece of property, criminals simply move onto the next thing. Recreational vehicles and their parts have recently become popular targets. To secure your RV, do some of the following:

Park it inside a locked garage when you are at home. Alternatively, cement an anchor point into the ground, use thick chains and lock it to the draw bar. You can also install a camera or trip alarm to detect when someone approaches it.
To secure your RV, use good locks like kingpin or tongue locks. Many cheaper padlocks can be picked with some effort.
If you do not want to take off those huge tires when it is parked, secure the wheels instead. You can buy boot devices that cover the wheels and prevent them from turning. If you do not want to pay for a boot device, simply run a chain through the chassis and wheel and lock it with a good lock.
Buy a hitch lock so it cannot be towed.
Install a vehicle tracking system in your RV to enable police to trace it if it is stolen. It sends the GPS location of the RV, you lock onto a website and retrieve that location, and send it to police so they can recover the vehicle.
You can also install a vibration alarm that is triggered whenever the RV moves. If someone tries to tow it, you can receive a text message if you are not nearby.
If you leave the RV unattended away from your home, take the same actions as you should ideally take to prevent a burglary at home. Install an alarm that detects tampering with the door and windows. Place a radio and lights on an automatic switch that turns them on and off at specific times to create the impressions that someone is home.
Replace the standard door lock with a new one. Most older RVs can be unlocked with the same keys, which is a major security hazard.
Use an invisible ultra violet pen to write its vehicle identification number in a few hidden places. Use the same pen to mark the appliances inside it.
Remove its registration documents so thieves cannot sell it easily. Further, do not leave any documents inside it that can identify you.
If you have a boat or other type of battery-operated RV, remove the battery or buy a special battery lock.
An insurance policy is important, but will not return your RV to you in its current form. It does not matter whether your RV is cheap or expensive, it is valuable to your family. Spend a bit of extra money to protect it.

Source: Western Direct Insurance

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Travel Tips for a Safe Trip Abroad

Friday, June 20th, 2014

The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular), Friday June 20th a reminder to Canadians of the importance of careful preparation before leaving on their summer vacations.

Canadians love to travel. Each year, they make more than 61 million trips abroad, and while most vacations go off without a hitch, it is important for Canadians who are planning trips to get to know the road ahead of them.

“Our government has developed tools and services to help Canadians stay informed about safe and smart travel abroad,” said Minister Yelich. “We are committed to ensuring that Canadians get the advice and information they need, wherever they are in the world.”

Canadians travelling abroad are strongly urged to visit Canada’s revamped one-stop-shop for travel advice, travel.gc.ca, to read up on country-specific travel advice and advisories pages. These contain up-to-the-minute information on more than 220 countries worldwide—including information on security and safety, entry and exit requirements, laws and culture, health precautions, border wait times and so much more.

Canadians should also sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service so they can be contacted for assistance in the event of an emergency. In addition, Canadians are strongly encouraged to purchase adequate supplementary travel insurance before leaving Canada—even for a day trip to the United States.

“To prepare for the unexpected, Canadians are urged to always purchase travel and medical insurance before they leave Canada,” said Minister Yelich. “In almost all circumstances, the Government of Canada—and taxpayers—cannot help pay for a ticket back to Canada.”

Canadians who require consular services while abroad can call the nearest Canadian government office. For emergency consular assistance after regular business hours, the government created the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa, which can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 613-996-8885 (collect calls accepted) or by email at sos@international.gc.ca.

“Our government has made safe travel for Canadians a priority,” said Minister Yelich. “We encourage all Canadians to make full use of these resources so they can make informed decisions regarding their well-deserved vacations.”

Backgrounder – Travel Tips for a Safe Trip Abroad
A single accident requiring hospitalization or medical treatment outside Canada could result in years of debt for anyone who is not prepared. Purchasing travel insurance is the best way to avoid large expenses and protect yourself.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for travel insurance:

Do not rely on your provincial or territorial health plan to cover costs if you become ill or are injured while abroad. Even if you plan to go on a day trip to the United States, make sure you have travel insurance.
You should buy a travel insurance package that includes coverage for health, life and disability; driving and vehicle; flight cancellation and trip interruption; as well as lost luggage.
Make sure to check the country travel advice and advisories page when you are planning your trip and again shortly before you leave. If a travel advisory is issued for your destination, it may affect your travel health insurance or trip cancellation insurance.
When applying for travel health insurance, provide all information on your medical history or you could invalidate a subsequent claim.
Carry details of your travel insurance and tell your family or friends at home how to contact your insurer.
In 2013, there were almost 21 million Canadian passports in circulation; a valid passport is the only reliable and universally accepted identification document for Canadians travelling to another country and returning to Canada.

Here are useful tips to ensure your passport stays safe and sound:

Check the expiry date of your passport before planning your trip. Many countries require that your passport be valid for several months after the date you plan to leave the country. Each country sets its own rules, so consult the country travel advice and advisories pages for the countries you will be visiting.
If your passport is damaged, apply for a new one immediately or you could face delays or be denied entry at border crossings or boarding of flights.
Confirm your travel insurance has document replacement and trip interruption coverage. If you lose your passport and must extend your stay, your additional costs could be covered.
If you have dual citizenship and are travelling on the passport of your non-Canadian citizenship, you may also need your Canadian passport to re-enter Canada. Check re-entry requirements before you leave.
The best way to ensure your passport isn’t lost or stolen is to always keep it in a safe place. This can include a hotel safe, money belt, purse or an inside pocket. Don’t leave it unattended in your luggage, vehicle, hotel room or elsewhere.
Finally, here are other tips Canadian travellers can keep in mind to help avoid delays in replacing a lost or stolen passport:

Before leaving, ensure family or friends at home have photocopies of your travel documents, including your passport.
Carry a photocopy of your passport photo page (page 2) with you when you travel, separate from your passport.
Take two identical passport photos with you; this will speed up passport replacement.
Keep the contact information of the Canadian government office nearest your destination close at hand to facilitate the submission of your replacement passport application.
If your passport is lost or stolen while abroad, report it to the local police and to the nearest Canadian government office.
To access more travel information and services while abroad, stay connected to Canada through our Travel Smart mobile web app and travel email updates, as well as RSS feeds, and follow us on Twitter or find us on Facebook.

For more information, visit the Travel insurance page and read the sections on travel health insurance in the publications Bon Voyage, But… and Well on Your Way.


DriveSmartBC: Leaving Your Vehicle Unsecured

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Recent social media posts are rehashing a story from last summer in Nanaimo where a woman received a traffic ticket for leaving her parked vehicle unattended with the doors unlocked and the windows rolled down. While the law does require that you must lock your vehicle or make it secure in some manner to prevent its unauthorized use, locking the doors and rolling up the windows is not the only way to accomplish this. In most cases you can still leave the windows down to keep animals in the vehicle cool in warmer weather.

Most vehicles today are built with anti-theft devices built in. The most obvious one that comes to my mind is that when I remove my ignition key the steering and gear selector on my vehicle are automatically locked. Should I choose to leave my doors unlocked and the windows down a potential thief cannot steer the vehicle or get the transmission out of park in order to roll it away. While the contents of my vehicle may be open to theft, it is still secured against use by others that I have not given the key to.

If your vehicle is old enough that it does not have an anti-theft device or the anti-theft device that it does have is broken, then you must do something and rolling up the windows and locking the doors is probably the simplest solution. Placing a locking device on the steering wheel alone may not be enough as the vehicle may still be able to be moved, just not steered properly.

I checked with ICBC about theft insurance and was advised that leaving a vehicle unsecured would not affect my ICBC theft insurance coverage if the vehicle was stolen. The adjuster did point out that not securing the vehicle would serve as an invitation to thieves who appreciate an easy target. We all pay premiums based on losses, so preventing theft does affect our insurance costs.

Reference Links:

Leaving Parked Vehicle – Section 191 Motor Vehicle Act

Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.