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Rental-car insurance: The Basics

Friday, October 31st, 2014

BY NEIL VORANO | The Globe and Mail

It’s been a long flight and the kids are cranky as you exit the airport toward the car rental office. You can’t wait to get a car to get to that beach-side villa, the one you found a great deal on over the Internet. The car rental itself was dirt cheap, too, especially since you glossed over the added insurance on the website.

However, as you’re signing for the car, the clerk behind the counter asks: “Would you like the added insurance? Otherwise, you’ll be liable for the car.” You freeze, your tired mind wondering what that even means. “I’m insured on this,” you think. But are you? Do you get the added liability coverage or stick with your own insurance? There isn’t one simple answer.

“When you get to that desk, that’s the last place you want to make that decision,” says Steve Kee of the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Kee says that getting as much information about your own insurance before you go to the rental office is key to both protecting yourself and saving money, because the onus lies with the renter to ensure coverage for any claims. Whatever coverage you have is not necessarily the same as that of someone else.

“You want to check your limits and, again, some people’s insurance is fine,” says Kee. “Sometimes [with] a credit card, you need to check what the policy will include; does it include third-party liability? Not every card, not every situation will be the same.”

For example, say you have just basic car insurance on an older beater; that’s the coverage you’ll have on the rental if you decline the added agreement. If you have an at-fault accident in the rental, you’re on the hook for repairs to the vehicle or, in a worst-case scenario, the cost of the car at its present-day value. It’s a good bet that rental is newer and more expensive than your car is.

Insurance and liability coverage rates vary not just by company, but also by region. Rates for a car rented in Toronto, regardless of where you drive it, is different than say, in Chicago. That’s because repair costs are different from region to region. As well, some companies have added fees in the event of an accident; National Car Rental, Alamo Rent A Car and Enterprise Rent-A-Car (all owned by the same company) will charge a rental fee for a damaged car for every day it’s in a repair shop. Does your car insurance or credit card cover that? Those fees are waived if you purchase the rental company’s “collision damage waiver” – which is not so much insurance as it is an agreement between renter and the company that says, if the car is damaged or stolen, the renter won’t be liable.

Stephen Menon advocates getting the facts before renting, but his focus is on credit cards. He’s the associate vice-president for consumer card products at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

“Typically, car rental, collision, loss and damage insurance is available on our platinum or premium products, those with annual fees,” says Menon. “You can check online for the terms and conditions for your card … Or, simply give us a call from the number on the back of your card, or come into a branch, and we can walk you through your coverage.”

Calling is important because, again, there are stipulations on the coverage that you may not think about.

“There are certain countries that are bound to be excluded, for various reasons,” Menon says. “Also, exotic cars may not be covered, so it’s important to check the terms of your card to understand the coverage you have. But with the typical car rental, you should be covered.”

If you need to rent a large van or truck, chances are good your car insurance doesn’t cover larger commercial vehicles. U-Haul offers an agreement that not only covers the truck itself but also the contents. It won’t, however, cover a motorized vehicle you may be towing.

Generally, you won’t pay a deductible for rental company coverage, but that’s important to check. And having rental coverage isn’t a free pass to have an accident, either. A serious crash, one that has to be reported to the police, will affect your insurance rates, as it will be reflected on your driving record at renewal time – just as it would if you got a speeding ticket in a rental.

Ultimately, you are responsible for the car you rent, whether you use your own vehicle insurance, credit card or the rental company’s supplementary insurance.

“It’s important for people to make that first call to your insurance company, to find out if everything would be okay,” says Kee. “An extra 10-minute phone call can save you a heck of a lot of frustration.”

Your personal policy or credit card doesn’t automatically cover you for all situations, so find out in advance


Driving without insurance

Friday, October 31st, 2014

It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle that is not insured. The law requires that every motor vehicle be insured with at least third-party liability coverage. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure he or she is properly insured.

If you are stopped by the police, you must show them your insurance card if they ask for it. If you do not have your insurance card with you, as a courtesy the police will sometimes give you 48 hours to go to the police station and show them your card, but they have no legal obligation to do this.

The penalty for driving with no insurance in Canada ranges from $5,000 to as much as $25,000 in some provinces. Your licence could be suspended for up to one year and your car could be impounded for three to six months.

It is very difficult to defend yourself if you are charged with driving with no insurance. It is no defence that you thought you were insured or that you did not know you had to be insured, although that may help reduce the amount of fine imposed. Also, if you are involved in an accident you may have to personally pay for injuries and damages. If you do not have enough money to pay these costs, you may be forced to sell some of your property. If you do not have any money or any property that you could sell, then the people who were injured in the accident may not be able to get the medical attention they require.

It is very important that you make sure that your vehicle is insured.

For more information on the penalties of driving without insurance, visit your provincial or territorialMinistry of Transportation.

Source: Legal Line.ca


Unusual Insurance Coverages

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

A home, a car, a business: rarely do people own these without having insurance to protect them from the worst that can happen. But are you covered for what else can happen?

What if you’re sucked up from the chest by a beam of light in the middle of the night? Or what if you’re attacked by a ghost? Or what if you’re entrusted to carry and raise the next Son of God?

Hey, it could happen, and insurance companies are there to make sure you’re covered.


Haunted House

Haunted house attractions started popping up in the U.S. in the 1980s, as parents concerned over the safety of their children when trick-or-treating drove them to seek out alternative ways of celebrating Halloween. As with any themed event or attraction, it’s important for those who run a haunted house to have general liability coverage for third part visitors.


Alien Abduction

Do you believe in aliens? For those who do, there are insurance companies out there that offer coverage in the event that “the truth is out there.” A few companies offer alien abduction insurance, with typical policies costing around $150 per $1.5 million in coverage. Many companies, like Farmers, also offer coverage in the event of a UFO crash.


Immaculate Conception

British Insurance, known for handing out some wacky policies, was the scorn of the Catholic Church in 2006 when it was revealed that the company insured three sisters from Scotland against the possibility of a virgin birth in the event of the second coming of Jesus Christ. Though the company told BBC News that it had been donating the £100-per-year premiums to charity, it eventually withdrew the policy.


Werewolf/Vampire/Zombie Attack

While many people believe a zombie apocalypse is imminent, some people are still concerned over being attacked by classic creepy creatures like werewolves and vampires. Lloyd’s of London has reportedly sold policies to protect customers in the event of these types of attacks.

Paranormal Investigation

Ghost hunting has gained popularity in the past decade thanks to TV shows such as “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures.” Legitimate paranormal societies routinely perform paranormal investigations, and like any business, they need public liability and professional indemnity coverage.


Body Parts

Celebrities are notorious for doing things that are down-right weird. So, it’s no surprise that some of the biggest celebrities have allegedly taken out insurance policies on their own notable body parts, including Bette Davis’ waist, Bruce Springsteen’s voice, and Julia Roberts’ smile. Australian cricket player Merv Hughes (above) even went as far as to insure his mustache for $370,000.


Change of Heart

Wedding insurance covers a wide range of things that could go wrong on or leading up to a wedding day, including venue closings and injuries. Many of these policies also provide coverage in the event that the would-be bride or groom has a change of heart and no longer wants to get married.

Contest

What are the odds that a person can get a hole-in-one? Though rare, it is possible, and has become a popular contest promotion for many golf courses. With contests like these, promoters need to be prepared to give out prizes, even if it does seem unlikely that they will ever need to. Because life is unpredictable, contest insurance provides coverage for companies to pay any potential contest winners.

(AP Photo/Tom Hevezi)

Excerpted article written by Caterina Pontoriero, PropertyCasualty360


Biggest Insurance Myths Involve Houses, Red Cars, and Big Crashes

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Any confusion over what to buy or how to use a product can end up being costly, but when it comes to insurance, misunderstandings can end up costing thousands of dollars.

We set out to find the worst sources of confusion, based on 10 common insurance myths. Insure.com asked 2,000 adults whether 10 statements were true or false. All the statements were false. We also looked at who believes each myth more — women or men.

In all cases except one, men were more likely to be duped by an insurance myth.

Coming in as the top myth: Over half of people surveyed (52 percent) don’t know how to buy insurance for a house.

Coming in second is the long-held belief that red cars cost more to insure (46 percent believe this to be the case). This was the only case where women believed the myth more than men.

Here’s how the insurance myths rank, along with the correct information.

Myth 1: I should buy insurance coverage for my house based on its real estate market value.

  • 52% think it’s true (among those who said it’s true, 45% were women, 55% were men).
  • Tip: Buy coverage based on the costs to reconstruct the home. Imagine your home being leveled by fire or a tornado — this is a worst-case scenario that you want to insure for. In many areas of the country, rebuilding costs are quite different from real estate market value. In areas with a weak housing market, it might cost more to rebuild your house than what you could sell it for. And don’t include the value of the land in your coverage amount. An insurance agent can help calculate rebuilding costs.

Myth 2: Red cars cost more to insure because they get pulled over for speeding more.

  • 46% think it’s true (52% women, 48% men).
  • Tip: Car color doesn’t affect insurance rates and insurance companies don’t use it in their calculation of rates.

Myth 3: If I cause a crash with extensive damage to others, my auto insurance company can cancel me immediately.

  • 44% think it’s true (50% women, 50% men).
  • Tip: Most states have laws that prohibit insurers from canceling you mid-term due to a claim. If the insurer doesn’t want your business, they generally have to wait until your policy period is up and then they can send you a notice of nonrenewal. However, you can be canceled at any time for not paying your premiums.

Myth 4: Small cars are the cheapest to insure.

  • 40% think it’s true (42% women, 58% men).
  • Tip: Small and mid-size SUVs and minivans are the cheapest to insure. In the 2014 model year, the Jeep Wrangler Sport is the least expensive vehicle to insure, according to Insure.com’s study of rates. Small cars do not have the cheapest rates because they are often chosen by younger, inexperienced drivers who submit more claims. Also, injury claims are higher from small cars, which lack the weight and protection offered by larger vehicles.

Myth 5: The Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) allows health insurance companies to base rates on medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.

  • 36% think it’s true (42% women, 58% men).
  • Tip: The Affordable Care Act prohibits health insurance companies from basing rates on pre-existing conditions. Nor can health insurers charge different amounts for men and women.

Myth 6: Comprehensive auto insurance covers everything and anything.

  • 32% think it’s true (41% women, 59% men).
  • Tip: If we could go back in time, we should never name it “comprehensive coverage.” Even “non-accident specific-problem coverage” would be less confusing to car insurance buyers. Comprehensive  coverage pays for certain problems such as car theft, storm damage, animal collisions and vandalism.

Myth 7: Thieves prefer to steal new cars.

  • 29% think it’s true (42% women, 58% men).
  • Tip: Older cars are more valued among thieves because the market for their parts is bigger. If you want to cover car theft, buy comprehensive coverage.

Myth 8: If my friend borrows my car and crashes it, their insurance will pay for damage.

  • 25% think it’s true (48% women, 52% men).
  • Tip: Handing your car keys to a friend or relative is like handing them your insurance future. If they cause damage, the claim goes on your auto insurance policy and can affect your rates for years to come. And they probably won’t offer to chip in.

Myth 9: The Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) requires me to take the health insurance plan offered by my employer.

  • 19% think it’s true (41% women, 59% men).
  • Tip: The Affordable Care Act requires almost all Americans to buy a health plan but doesn’t say where you must get it. If you don’t have access to health insurance through work or a spouse’s employer, mark your calendar for the open enrollment period for 2015 individual health insurance, which starts on Nov. 15, 2014.

Myth 10: Out-of-state speeding tickets can’t follow you home.

  • 13% think it’s true (34% women, 66% men).
  • Tip: Those tickets can follow you, and can affect your car insurance rates. This myth had the biggest disparity between men and women among the survey questions, with far more men believing they could get away with speeding in another state.

This article originally appeared on Insure.com.


Aluminum electrical wire in homes linked to fires

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

If your house is forty to fifty years old, you might want to take a closer look at what’s coming out of your electrical panel.

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Winnipeg homeowner, Bev Masters, said she’s had five fixtures melt on her over the past few years. Simple tasks like flicking a switch or pulling out a plug make her cringe.

Masters believes the problem is the aluminum wiring running through her home, so she’s going to pay nearly $15,000 to switch it.

Masters’s home is one of thousands in Winnipeg built in the fifties and sixties, when electricians chose aluminum wiring over copper to save money.

Fire investigator Ken Swan said he sees about two to three fires a year that can readily be identified as aluminum wire fires.

Swan said the material of the wire isn’t the issue. Unmaintained points of connection and the use of unrated fixtures create what he calls cold flow.

“It tends to pull away from a tightened connection making a very loose, bad connection that is going to inherently arch and spark and create heat,” said Swan.

Electrician Chuck Lewis said he’s completely rewired four houses this year, some at the request of the insurance provider to eliminate risk.

“If that risk is aluminum wire, they take it away, now they’ve got a safe investment,” said Lewis.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada said they aren’t aware of any blanket concerns insurance providers have with this sort of wire.

“There’s like thousands and thousands of houses in Winnipeg built in the 1970s and they’re all still standing,” said Lewis.

To prevent having issues with home wiring Lewis said to check fixtures to make sure they’re rated for use with aluminum and retighten all electrical joints every few years.

For Bev Masters prevention isn’t enough.

“To me that is just like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg,” said Masters. “Just fix the thing so I don’t have to worry about it.”

Masters’s wiring is getting replaced January. Until then, she’s asked her insurance broker to review her policy and she may switch providers.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada said the market in Manitoba is still competitive for home owners with aluminum wire. The group encourages shopping around to get the right policy for your needs.

By Michelle Gerwing, CTV Winnipeg


Insurance tips for small businesses

Friday, October 24th, 2014

It is Small Business Week in Canada and Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is offering its top 10 insurance tips for small businesses. According to the Government of Canada, there are over 1 million small and medium-sized businesses in Canada, making up 99.8% of all companies in the country.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are the economic drivers of Canada, and IBC wants to ensure they have the necessary information to find insurance coverage that meets their unique needs,” said Bill Adams, Vice-President, Western and Pacific Region, IBC.

IBC’s top 10 insurance tips for small businesses include:

  1. Speak to an insurance professional about the specific insurance needs of your business.
  2. Shop around to find the right policy to fit your unique needs.
  3. Review your policy at least once a year.
  4. Understand your policy.
    • Know what your policy covers and your policy’s limits and deductibles.
    • If you have questions, contact your insurance representative.
  5. Make sure your policy’s limits are appropriate.
    • Check to see if you have the right amount of coverage for what you own and operate.
  6. Look into purchasing liability insurance.
    • If someone were to slip and fall on your premises, you’d want to be sure you had adequate liability coverage.
  7. Ensure that you have appropriate auto insurance coverage.
    • A personal car insurance policy will not cover commercial use of a vehicle.
  8. Look for ways to lower your premiums.
    • Some insurers offer discounts if you take actions to reduce risk. Ask an insurance representative about what you can do to lower your premiums.
  9. Consider errors and omissions coverage.
    • If you are offering advice to clients, you will want to make sure you are covered if something goes awry.
  10. Contact IBC if you have further questions.

For more information about insurance for businesses, please click here or visit ibc.ca.


5 Life Insurance Mistakes That Can Haunt You

Friday, October 24th, 2014

With Halloween just around the corner, children’s thoughts turn to candy and costumes. Their parents and grandparents should be focusing on more macabre matters — like the life insurance policies they bought (or are thinking of buying) to secure the financial future of these little ghosts and goblins if a key provider dies.

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Though life insurance can serve various purposes, for most people, it is a tool for income replacement — to pay the mortgage or foot the bill for college if the unthinkable happens. Often a term-life policy, which provides a preset death benefit when the insured person dies, is all they need. Premiums for these policies, typically offered for 10- or 15-year terms, have fallen sharply in recent years.

But unfortunately it’s not enough to stuff the policy in a drawer and forget about it. Here are some potentially costly life insurance pitfalls that could escape your notice.

1. Rate increases. With a level premium, term-life policy, you’re guaranteed that the cost of the plan will not go up during the initial coverage period – for example, 10 or 15 years. But after that, watch out. When the stated period is up, you’re likely to get an invoice for the latest premium that’s many multiples of what you had been paying previously. Somewhere in the policy fine print there’s probably wording that says the policy is renewed automatically if the premium (meaning whatever you’ve been billed) is paid.

Insurance companies take the position that they have no obligation to flag the rate increase for you. It’s up to you to mark your calendar and if you don’t pay bills yourself, to alert the person who does it for you.

When that invoice arrives for the higher premium, you have a few options. You can ask the company to offer you a lower rate, based on your submitting an updated medical history. You can cancel the policy right away. Or you can simply let it lapse, in which case a grace period (for example, 30 days) will probably apply.

2. Affinity groups. Various professional associations offer life insurance to their members at group rates. They save you the trouble of shopping, but the price won’t necessarily be less than what you could find on the open market or through a reputable insurance broker. There is a hidden cost of buying insurance this way, too: In order to maintain the policy, you generally must keep your membership in the group current by paying the organization’s yearly dues. You may find yourself locked into the membership purely to maintain the insurance policy, even if professionally you’re not getting much out of the affiliation.

Another issue is that even if you still like the group, the price of membership may have gone up. Some professional associations (for example, lawyers’ groups) have a graduated dues schedule that correlates with how long you have been out of school. They assume that your salary has gone up to reflect your work experience, though in today’s job market that may not necessarily be the case. So while your insurance premium may remain the same over time, the cost associated with the policy — membership in the affinity group — goes up.

3. Beneficiary designations. This is a document given to an insurance company or financial institution indicating who should inherit certain assets that do not pass under a will or trust — such as retirement accounts and the proceeds of a life insurance policy. You fill out the form when you buy the policy, but can later amend it.

It’s crucial that you keep these forms up-to-date. To change a beneficiary – for example, if you get married or divorced or your spouse dies – make sure to file an amended form. In a case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, a widow and an ex-wife battled for five years over which of them was entitled to a life insurance policy worth $124,558.03. The ex-wife won, no doubt after great expense and heartache for both women. And all that because the insured did not change the beneficiary designation on his life insurance policy, either when he got divorced in 1998, or after his subsequent marriage in 2002, or after being diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia from which he ultimately died.

4. Estate tax. If you are both the insured and the policy owner, the proceeds will be considered part of your taxable estate. In that case, those funds are added to everything else you leave behind. If the total is more than the tax-free (“exclusion”) amount and you’ve left it to anyone except your spouse or to a charity, it will be subject to estate tax.The federal rules in a nutshell: For deaths in 2014, the tax-free amount is $5.34 million per person; widows and widowers can add any unused exemption of the spouse who died most recently to their own–it’s called “portability.” State estate tax or inheritance tax (or both) complicates the picture in 19 states plus the District of Columbia.

One way to avoid estate tax on life insurance proceeds is to designate the family member who will receive the proceeds of the policy — say, an adult child — as the owner of the policy. (Note: Minors can’t own the policy directly.) You can give this person the money to pay the premiums by using your yearly $14,000 gift tax exclusion– the amount, in cash or other assets, that you can give every year to each of as many individuals as you want, without incurring gift tax of up to 40%.

If you don’t want beneficiaries to receive the insurance proceeds outright or your heirs are minors, you can set up an irrevocable life insurance trust. Typically the ILIT buys the policy and, when you die, holds the proceeds for whomever you’ve named as beneficiaries.

What if you already own a policy? You can transfer it to the trust. But if you die within three years of making this gift, the proceeds would generally count as part of your estate. A way around that rule is to sell the policy to the trust instead. First you would need to put enough money into the trust to cover the purchase. For a term policy, it would be nominal sum, since the value of the policy is just the cost of that year’s remaining premium.

5. Crummey letters. If you plan to fund an ILIT with annual exclusion gifts, the trust must give the beneficiaries what are called Crummey powers, and the beneficiaries must receive an annual Crummey notice, sent by you or by the trustee at the time you add the gift to the trust. This gives them the right for a limited time (usually 30 or 60 days) to withdraw from the trust the yearly gift attributable to them. Without providing the beneficiaries Crummey powers, your gift to the trust would be considered a future interest (something beneficiaries can’t use right away) rather than a present one and would not qualify for the annual exclusion.

In an estate tax audit, the IRS often asks for these annual Crummey letters. If your heirs can’t produce them, contributions that might have qualified as tax-free gifts could be subject to tax.

Deborah L. Jacobs Forbes Staff


CASE LAW – Motor Vehicle or Motorized Bicycle?

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Gasoline Motor Powered Bicycle

This one is a bit different as the case law comes out of Ontario, although the same principles would apply equally well here in BC. Ricky Pizzacalla was riding a motorized bicycle while impaired. He was charged criminally and convicted. The case went all the way to the Ontario Court of Appeal where leave to hear the appeal was denied.

The court held that because the pedals were not attached to Pizzacalla’s ride, it was clearly a motor vehicle and not a bicycle. This is one more thing to consider before you remove the pedals and run afoul of the law. In my experience, this is commonly done these days. While most riders don’t do so while impaired, they cannot licence and insure what has become a motor vehicle so they risk expensive tickets for the violations.

Link:

CanLii Connects – R v Pizzacalla

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.


IBC: Uber at your own risk

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

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IBC: Uber at your own risk. – ILSTV.com

By Jeremy Klaszus, For Metro

That’s the message Alberta’s insurance industry gave last week regarding a popular U.S.-based ride-sharing app that makes it easier for urbanites to forgo cars — and, by extension, monthly insurance payments.

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Uber wants to add Calgary to the list of 200-plus cities worldwide where it operates, linking people who need rides with people who can offer them.

But the Insurance Bureau of Canada has warned that carrying passengers for payment could void Alberta drivers’ policies if they don’t have commercial coverage. (Uber says its drivers are covered by liability insurance of $5 million, in addition to personal coverage).

I have trouble seeing the insurers’ warning regarding Uber as altruistic. The taxi industry opposes Uber for obvious reasons: It creates competition. But insurance companies also have cause to worry about the growth of ride-sharing services like Uber, as does the broader auto industry.

Car ownership is already on the decline in both Canada and the U.S. Alternatives such as ride-sharing and car-sharing systems have proliferated worldwide, making car ownership less necessary for many people in cities.

Against this backdrop, it’s easier to see having a car as a financial black hole. Purchase price, repair bills, insurance payments — you can avoid them all, and more people are doing just that.

Uber makes it even more appealing to go this route. The system’s simple. Car owners sign up to be Uber drivers and undergo background checks, and then people who need rides use the GPS-driven app to connect with drivers.

The passengers get where they need to go and the drivers make money. And there’s no fussing with payment cards. As with the car-sharing system car2go, it all happens through the app.

On the surface, it’s brilliant. Ridesharing systems like Uber match supply with demand, which inevitably fluctuates in a city like Calgary (Stampede, Christmas and so on). The big flaw in the current taxi system, which is regulated by the city, is its rigidity: It doesn’t accommodate these fluctuations well, as there are a limited number of licenses. As a result, peak periods are a nightmare for users.

That said, there’s reason for Calgary to proceed with care. Rideshare apps can effectively “offer an unregulated taxi market, without requirements regarding safety and accessibility,” as a recent city report put it (though Uber has its own safety regulations).

Mayor Naheed Nenshi has said that Uber would have to comply with city regulations to operate here.

One feels for cab drivers caught up in this tension. It’s hard, though, to feel for cab companies, many of them painfully slow to adapt. It took until 2013 for Associated and Checker, two of the city’s largest cab brokerages, to launch apps for their customers. And Mayfair Taxi remains app-less, forcing customers to go through its phone-in dispatch office (how 1987!). No wonder Calgarians are impatient and hungry for alternatives.


Passenger 35% To Blame For Riding With Impaired Driver

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing contributory negligence for a passenger who rides with an impaired motorist involved in a collision.

In today’s case (Telford v. Hogan) the Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle operated by the Defendant.  Both were drinking throughout the day.  As the vehicle was travelling at excessive speed on a highway the driver lost control resulting in a serious single vehicle collision.  The Plaintiff apparently interfered somehow with the steering wheel moments before the loss of control and the Court found the driver 75% at fault with the passenger shouldering 25% of the blame for this interference.  In addition to this the Court apportioned the Plaintiff’s contributory negligence at 35% for riding with an impaired motorist.  In reaching this conclusion Madam Justice Fitzpatrick provided the following reasons:

[103] Despite the efforts of Ms. Telford’s counsel to distinguish the above cases, all of them bear some resemblance to this case in that the passenger and the driver embarked on a drinking exercise or “hazardous enterprise” where both knew or should have known that the intoxication of the driver was inevitable. I would repeat that Ms. Telford was well aware that Ms. Hogan was drinking over the course of the day and she had particular knowledge of the quantity of what Ms. Hogan consumed as the majority of it came from her own drink container. Although she may not have been aware of exactly what Ms. Hogan consumed from Ms. Ettinger’s cup, she would also have been aware that Ms. Ettinger’s beverage was alcoholic and that Ms. Hogan was sharing that too.

[104] It does not follow that since Ms. Hogan was not exhibiting overt signs of impairment, one need not consider Ms. Telford’s lack of judgment in both offering her drink to Ms. Hogan and then getting in the vehicle being driven by Ms. Hogan for the trip home. To the extent that later in the day, Ms. Telford drank alcohol to the point of being severely intoxicated herself confirms that she failed to take reasonable steps to ensure her ongoing ability to assess her safety over the course of the trip home.

[105] The cases cited by ICBC support the suggested range of apportionment of 30-35% for such a passenger who voluntarily rides with a drunk driver. The higher end of this range is amply supported, particularly by the fact that Ms. Telford herself provided most of the alcohol consumed by Ms. Hogan that day.

[106] I assess Ms. Telford’s contributory negligence to be 35%.