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ICBC’s Craziest Insurance Scams of 2014

Friday, January 30th, 2015

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ICBC’s Craziest Insurance Scams of 2014 – ILSTV.com

Source :ICBC

1. Time travel conspiracy: One case involved a driver, with an expired licence, who rear-ended another car. Since she didn’t have optional insurance to cover the damage to the vehicles, she asked the other driver to say the crash happened the next day. When he refused, she stopped off on the way home and bought the optional insurance before filing a claim. She was busted and had to pay $7,400 to repair both vehicles herself.

2. Airbagged evidence: Another driver, who was prohibited from driving at the time, claimed his vehicle was stolen just before it was involved in crash. But his DNA was found on the airbag in the car and he was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay for $18,000 in repair costs for the other vehicles.

3. Movie plot blaze: The owner of a truck claimed it was stolen while he was watching a movie. When it was later found destroyed by fire, investigators determined the vehicle had serious mechanical problems before the fire. They used cellphone records to prove the owner was actually at the site at the time of the fire. He was fined $4,000 and ordered to pay $3,000 for costs.

4. Hit-and-run victim turns suspect: The owner of a Honda Civic claimed his car was damaged in a hit-and-run while parked outside his home. But investigators thought the damage was strange and eventually matched paint chips from his vehicle with another hit-and-run. The driver admitted he had fled the scene of the real crash, and he was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay back $5,600 in claims.

5. Busted for blogging: A woman claimed she had suffered long-term injuries in a crash, leaving her with severe neck pain and headaches. But the investigator discovered her blog documenting a six-month motorcycle trip across some of the rougher roads in South America. At trial the judge awarded her just $12,000, two-thirds less than she was asking for her injuries.

6. Persistent pretender: A driver who was stopped by police talking on a cellphone, turned out to be driving with 90-day prohibition issued just two days before. He was charged and received a one-year driving ban. Undeterred, he got an interim driver’s licence in his friend’s name, and then transferred his vehicle to his friend’s name. But ICBC used facial recognition software to catch the impersonator and he was charged under the Criminal Code and fined $2875.


U.S. – The Staggering Cost Of Making An Auto Insurance Claim

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

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U.S. – The Staggering Cost Of Making An Auto Insurance Claim – ILSTV.com

Excerpted article written by Jim Gorzelany | Forbes

Here’s one more incentive to practice safe driving techniques with a religious fervor. Filing a single claim of $2,000 or more will cause an average motorist’s car insurance premiums to skyrocket by 41 percent, according to a recent study conducted for the website InsuranceQuotes.com.

And that’s just the national average. The study found that residents of California are subject to the stiffest penalties for, well, taking advantage of coverage for which one already pays dearly, with a single claim triggering a budget-busting 86 percent average rate boost. Those living in Maryland tend to suffer the mildest financial hardship after filing a car insurance claim, with a typical jolt of 22 percent.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the average car insurance premium in the U.S. is $815; do the math and you’ll find that means making a claim would cost the typical policyholder an additional $335 more per year in premiums.

This is all based on the actuarial premise that someone filing an insurance claim is more likely to get into another accident than a policyholder who’s never opened the umbrella of coverage, so to speak.

So what about an unlucky motorist who, in fact, follows up with a second car-insurance claim? He or she hits the proverbial ball out of the old park with a doubleheader of a premium upsurge at a national average 93 percent. “Many consumers underestimate the consequences of making claims because they can affect your rate for years,” says Laura Adams, a senior analyst at insuranceQuotes.com. “If you get a premium hike for making a small claim, that could hurt your finances over the long run.”

Bodily injury and property damage tend to be the costliest claims in terms of premium enhancement, according to InsuranceQuotes.com data, at an average 45 percent and 41 percent boost, respectively, while simple claims for comprehensive (non-collision) damage triggering comparatively minor bumps at just two percent.

Here are the states where those filing a single car insurance claim can expect to see the highest rate increases (based on a $2,000 claim against one’s bodily injury coverage):

  1. California — 86 percent
  2. Massachusetts — 83 percent
  3. New Jersey — 69 percent
  4. North Carolina — 58 percent
  5. Minnesota — 52 percent

And here are the five states where drivers can subject to the lowest pocketbook penalties under the same circumstances:

  1. Maryland — 22 percent
  2. Michigan — 25 percent
  3. Montana — 27 percent
  4. Oklahoma — 27 percent
  5. Mississippi — 28 percent

As mentioned above, these rate increases are hardly a one-time deal. Experts say consumers can expect such premium hikes to stay in effect for between three to five years – depending on the severity of the underlying incident – after which they should drop to their previous levels, assuming of course one has not filed another claim in the meantime.


There could soon be changes to the rules that affect U.S. bound CDN snowbirds

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

By Daniel Schwartz, CBC News

TRAVELmedical.insurance

There could soon be changes to the rules that affect U.S.-bound Canadian snowbirds.

A Canada-U.S. agreement is in the works to share information on who’s entering each respective country, and when, for example. The Entry Exit Initiative already covers non-citizens of the two countries, but the plan to start covering citizens as well has been delayed.

Once that’s in effect, the U.S. government will be able to easily check whether snowbirds overstay their welcome.

The Canada Border Services Agency cautions that legislative and regulatory changes need to happen before that can be implemented, and says it will provide additional information about the timing “in due course.”

There have also been initiatives in Congress over the last few years to extend the time some Canadians can spend in the U.S.

While those proposals are still being debated by American legislators, Canadian snowbirds continue to head to the U.S. in droves under the current rules, which have been in place for some time.

Here’s a short checklist for snowbirds about the rules on visas, taxation, insurance, and so on.

How long can Canadians stay in the U.S.?

Usually a maximum of 182 days, or about six months during a 12-month period. Those days can be amassed during one trip or they could be the sum of several trips.

People from countries other than Canada are allowed to stay a maximum of 90 days.

How long can a Canadian stay in the U.S. without paying U.S. taxes?

The Canadian and U.S. governments have plans to exchange information on when their citizens leave and enter the other country. Before the plan gets implemented, legislative and regulatory changes need to happen. (CBC)

The American Internal Revenue Service has a complicated way of determining this, and a form that may let snowbirds off the hook.

Complete the form and you can spend the full 182 days in the U.S. without paying U.S. income tax.

If you want to follow the formula, called the “substantial presence test,” here is how to do the calculation.

The test determines whether you have been in the U.S. long enough to be considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes. The IRS determines this by using an unusual formula that calculates the total number of ‘days’ you have spent in the U.S. over a three-year span, and that number must add up to 183 or more.

They calculate the sum as follows:

  • Each day in the U.S. in the current calendar year counts as one day;
  • Each day in the U.S. in the prior year counts as one-third of a day;
  • Each day in the U.S. in the year before that counts as one-sixth of a day.

If the sum of those three numbers totals 183 or more, the IRS may insist you file a U.S. tax return.

When the IRS explains the test on their website, they give an example of someone staying 120 days each year for three years, which would total 180 (by adding 120; 120 divided by 3; plus 120 divided by 6)  and mean they are not considered a resident.

Here’s another example. If a snowbird spent 180 days in the U.S. in both 2014 and 2013, they should limit their U.S. time to 92 days in 2015 to avoid being classified as a U.S. resident by the IRS.

Whether they own or rent, Canadian snowbirds usually take steps to avoid being considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes, like filing an IRS form that establishes their closer connection to Canada. (Susagna Guardiola)

There are exemptions available for students, teachers and diplomats, and for someone who is unable to leave because they develop a medical condition while in the U.S., but for serious snowbirds, the best strategy for maintaining non-resident status is filing out that IRS form, the “Closer Connection Exception Statement for Aliens,” better known to snowbirds as Form 8840.

Snowbirds establish their closer connection to Canada through things like having a permanent home, personal belongings, affiliations, family, business, driver’s licence and having voted in Canada.

The form needs to be filed with the IRS every year snowbirds spend time in the U.S.

How long can snowbirds be away from Canada and keep their provincial health insurance?

B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia require at least five months of residence in the province to continue health insurance coverage. Newfoundland and Labrador requires only four months.

The good weather, the golf courses and the scenery lure Canadian snowbirds to place like Rancho Mirage, California. But their U.S. stay is limited to 182 days. (Daniel Schwartz/CBC)

The other provinces and territories require six months’ residency, but Quebec does not count trips of less than 21 days as non-residency.

Some provinces will allow longer periods out-of-province if a written request is made by the resident.

To get provincial health benefits back after losing them usually requires living in the province for three months, at which point coverage begins again.

What are the rules for snowbirds buying supplemental travel health insurance?

That depends on the policy they buy. CBC News has had many horror stories about Canadians who needed medical treatment in the U.S.

The key things to watch for are issues around pre-existing conditions and the limitations and exclusions of the coverage.

How can snowbirds maintain their home insurance coverage in Canada while they are away?

That also depends on the individual policy, but in general, most require extra measures by a resident away for a long trip.

If no one is living in the house after the snowbirds fly away, some insurers require someone (a family member or acquaintance) to regularly do a walk-through or check the property.

What happened to the proposal to extend the limit for some Canadians to 240 days?

At least twice in recent years, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Congress, but not passed, to extend the length-of-stay limit to 240 days for Canadian citizens over 50 years old and their spouses.

However, that proposal is now caught up in the debate over U.S. immigration laws. Now that the White House is bypassing Congress on the issue, and using executive orders, Canadian snowbirds shouldn’t hold their breath.


How mortgage-free seniors can become a target of title fraud

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

According to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, title fraud can happen in one of two ways. With identity theft, fraudsters can use stolen or fake identification or documents to pretend to be a homeowner and obtain one or more mortgages on the property, then walk away with the cash. Fraudsters can also register forged documents to discharge any existing mortgages then transfer the property to themselves and register a new mortgage against the property’s clear title, pocketing the proceeds.

Statistics don’t exist when it comes to the annual number of all instances of real-estate fraud but estimates of damages range from $400-million to $1.5-billion in Canada annually, according to First Canadian Title, a title insurance company. In 2013 alone, the firm declined to insure a mortgage twice a week based on the suspicion of fraud; the average mortgage was $360,000.

“We have been tracking and reporting trends in real estate fraud for many years and last year we noted an increasing number of frauds against older homeowners,” says Lori Sartor, FCT vice-president of residential solutions.

“Over the last number of years it has become more common. Unfortunately, fraudsters have been successful in some cases, and they’re getting smarter. When we see fraud, whether it’s with seniors or not, some of them are very, very intricate and quite well-thought-out with multiple parties involved.

“For people who’ve been in their home for longer than 20 years,” she adds, “they can’t understand why anyone would ever do this.”

“The existence of a charge, mortgage or other registered encumbrance on real property diminishes the value of the asset and makes it a less desirable object of financial abuse,” Mr. Webb says. “The high incidence of mortgage-free real property ownership makes older adults a gold mine for those who are prone to commit financial abuse.”

Then there are other factors that leave seniors vulnerable just as with other types of fraud: medical conditions that might lead to diminished mental capacity; lack of familiarity with computerized documents; and isolation. Older adults living with a spouse or partner are less likely to be abused than those who are single or widowed and living alone, Mr. Webb says, adding that older women are at an even higher risk of all forms of financial abuse, including title fraud, than men.

Another contributing factor is the use of power of attorney for property. “Power of attorney abuse is so prevalent and harmful that it is rightly called a licence to steal. Older adults owning mortgage-free real property are prone to giving powers of attorney to ensure proper financial planning in the event of mental or physical incapacity. It is not at all surprising that in a small number of these cases the powers of attorney given are in fact used to commit title fraud without the knowledge of the older adult.”

Title fraud can be difficult to prevent, but to avoid it, never sign documents you don’t understand or when you’re feeling pressured, Mr. Webb says. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada suggests checking with your provincial land registry office to ensure that the title of your home is in your name and reviewing your credit report regularly to make sure the information is correct. Purchasing title insurance is also worth considering, Mr. Webb says.

“Although the incidence of title fraud is rare, the consequences can be devastating and the cost is well worth while.”

Prices vary from province to province and company to company, but Ms. Sartor says one-time premiums typically start at around $350.

The FCAC urges anyone who’s a victim of real estate fraud to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the police, the country’s two credit-reporting agencies (Equifax and TransUnion), your bank, and your provincial land registry office. Mr. Webb also suggests getting legal advice from someone you trust and hire yourself.

According to FCT, which recently launched a website called Retire Your Home to give people more information about title fraud, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal have higher rates of fraud. However, as Mr. Weekley can attest, anyone in the country is at risk. He figures his home was targeted because the value of lakefront properties in Saskatchewan has risen greatly lately.

“People need to be aware that title fraud is out there,” he says. “I wouldn’t say it’s rampant, but it’s there. They can steal the house from you.”


Autonomous cars could save Canadians $65B a year

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

By Emily Chung, CBC News

wonky-driver

 

By 2020, the report says, Google hopes to have fully autonomous vehicles on the road and most major car manufacturers will be selling vehicles capable of driving themselves at least some of the time.

Current models of the Mercedes-Benz S-class can already automatically accelerate, brake and steer under certain circumstances. (Fredrik von Erichsen/Associated Press)

That’s only a small step from some current models such as the Mercedes Benz S-class, which can already automatically accelerate, brake, and stay in the same lane under certain circumstances. By 2025, fully autonomous cars are expected to be available from some traditional car manufacturers.

Using Canadian statistics, Gill calculated some of the potential benefits:

  • There are 2,000 vehicle fatalities a year in Canada, many caused by human error. Self-driving cars could reduce collisions by more than 90 per cent, saving $37.4 billion.
  • Automated vehicles could eliminate five billion hours per year that Canadians spend behind the wheel, worth $20 billion.
  • Self-driving vehicles could potentially reduce the need for car ownership, operate safely while closer to one another and easily adjust to traffic, saving $5 billion a year in congestion costs.
  • They could also reduce fuel costs by $2.6 billion by reducing congestion and the need to drive around looking for parking, and by generally being more fuel efficient.

Increased car-sharing

Individual households could save $2,700 a year, mostly through increased car-sharing, Gill estimates. “If you could get a car very immediately to your door, do you really need to own a car?”

‘If you could get a car very immediately to your door, do you really need to own a car?’— Vijay Gill, Conference Board of Canada

Reduced car ownership and the rise of automated taxi services or personalized transit could have many spin-off effects, the report suggested. There could be a reduced demand for parking. Land currently devoted to parking could be turned into other things, densifying cities.

On the other hand, Gill said, automated vehicles may make it cheaper and easier for people to travel and for people who can’t drive to use cars. More people may have the incentive to travel longer distances, leading to increased urban sprawl.

“This technology could drive one or the other or both at the same time.”

Federal and provincial governments also need to consider the wider potential changes — sectors that involve driving or are closely tied to driving, such as auto insurance or parking, may suffer. On the other hand, new jobs related to the sensors and software that enable self-driving cars may arise.

Transit planning

Gill suggests some of these changes could be barriers to the adoption of self-driving vehicles.

The potential job losses may cause some people to lobby for a slower transition away from human drivers. He pointed out that some public transit vehicles are already capable of driving themselves, but still have drivers for this reason.

Other hurdles include a lack of insurance rules about who is responsible in the case of a collision involving a self-driving vehicle and the cost of the technology, which needs to drop before it is widely adopted.

In the meantime, the report urges governments to consider the potential effects of automated vehicles on major infrastructure projects such as transit, which are planned decades ahead.

“If we’re planning that for 30 years now and making more or less billions of investments to do it,” he said, “I think this work is worth at least a footnote and probably quite a bit more than that.”


Motorist Faulted For Crash After Driving Too Fast In Foggy Conditions

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

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

Reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Kamloops Registry, assessing fault for a fatal collision which occurred during foggy conditions.

In today’s case (Roy v. McGinnis) the Plaintiff was driving a motor home which had stopped at a T intersection approaching a highway.  The Plaintiff attempted to turn left on the highway.  The area was covered in dense fog and visibility was poor.  The Plaintiff failed to appreciate that the Defendant was travelling down the highway as the Plaintiff entered the intersection.  Both motorists were found equally to blame for the crash, the Plaintiff for entering an intersection when it was unsafe to do so and the Defendant for failing to drive safely given the conditions.  In reaching a conclusion of equal blame Mr. Justice Groves provided the following reasons:

[30]         I conclude that on November 25, 2004, by operating his loaded tandem truck at a speed of at least 90 to 100 km/h when the visibility was limited to less than 100 feet due to dense fog, such that an operator driving reasonably for the road conditions would more likely have driven at close to 50 km/h, the defendant operated his vehicle in a negligent manner in that he breached the standard of care established by s. 144(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act by operating a vehicle at an excessive speed considering the visibility and weather conditions.  I further conclude that this negligence was at least a partial cause of the accident in that, but for the unreasonable and excessive speed at which McGinnis was operating his vehicle, McGinnis could have avoided the impact with Roy’s vehicle, just as Smith had avoided impact when travelling at 50 km/h.

[31]         In so concluding, I note the defendant’s argument and supporting case law that, as a servient driver turning into a lane where the defendant had a right of way, the plaintiff bears the onus of proving that a reasonable and skillful driver would have had sufficient opportunity to avoid a collision (Walker v. Brownlee and Harmon, [1952] 2 D.L.R. 450 at 461).  Here the collision occurred over a very short period of time; however, I have found above that a reasonable driver would have been travelling much slower and so would have had more time to perceive the danger.  I therefore find that the plaintiff has met his burden of proving that a reasonable and skillful driver would have had a sufficient opportunity to avoid the collision.

[32]         I also find that the plaintiff was negligent…

[36]         As such, I conclude that the plaintiff was negligent in that he failed to comply with s. 175(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act, when he entered a through highway and in doing so failed to exercise appropriate caution and to yield the right of way to traffic, traffic which was so close so as to constitute an immediate hazard.

[37]         However, based on the evidence before me, I cannot draw any particular conclusion as to the relative level of negligence of these two negligent drivers.  Better put perhaps, I cannot conclude based on the evidence before me which driver was more negligent.  On the one hand, the plaintiff was clearly the servient driver, but on the other hand, the defendant was, I find on the evidence which I accept, driving at a speed far in excess of what would have been safe for the road and weather conditions he encountered on that day.  

[38]         As such, relying on s. 1(2) of the Negligence Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 333, I apportion liability between the plaintiff and defendant equally.  As such, the defendant is 50% responsible for the damages resulting from the accident and the plaintiff is 50% responsible for the damages resulting from the accident. 


How much would it really cost to replace your home?

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Source: Edmonton Sun

computer_keyboardAsk any Canadian home-owner to name their biggest investment — their real pride and joy — and most likely they’ll say it’s their home.

It’s their sanctuary with the pristine lawn and beautiful garden, the finished basement and renovated kitchen. When such a paradise exists, why would anyone want to risk losing it?

But what if disaster struck and your place was severely damaged by fire or some other catastrophe? Are you certain your insurance policy would cover the rebuilding of your house and the replacement of all the contents?

Unfortunately, this answer often comes too late that the homeowner isn’t adequately covered. The property insurance experts from Desjardins Insurance have some answers and suggestions to help you.

First, be prepared: The first three days after an emergency are the most critical. So consider creating a 72-hour emergency kit.

Typically it will include three days’ worth of water for each person in your family, non-perishable food stuffs, candles, flashlight and batteries, and a first-aid kit.

Next, take an inventory of your belongings. Be thorough because it’s easy to underestimate the total value of your possessions. Include furniture, jewellery, electronics such as computer equipment, game systems and television, along with clothes, shoes, boots, pots, pans, other personal and household items.

Take particular note of expensive items such as antique furniture or other valuables.

Read your policy carefully: It’s important to remember your home insurance will not cover every type of major loss. The typical home insurance policy will cover a fire loss, as well as damage caused by lightning, windstorms, hailstorms and even tornados. Standard homeowners’ policies in Canada exclude flood damage.

However, policies generally cover other kinds of water damage, for example from a sewer backup or a burst pipe in your house. Desjardins Insurance is one of the few companies that also cover damage caused by water seepage through basement walls or floors.

Your policy may be worth more than your home: Many people believe if their home is burnt to the ground, they would automatically receive full market value for their house. This isn’t true. The value of a home insurance policy is based on the cost to rebuild the house, not to sell it on the market. The actual replacement cost could end up being either greater or less than the market value.

Replacement costs will include the material (lumber, roofing shingles, siding material, carpet, drywall, etc.), and the labour and architectural services. There are also additional costs associated with the demolition and clean-up of the site before construction, which can be expensive in a crowded city neighbourhood.

The location of your home could be a factor too. For example, if you’re located in a remote or rural area, travelling expenses and supply transportation need to be taken into consideration.

For more information about your insurance policy and the replacement value of your home, speak to your insurance provider. Or for immediate answers, call or visit Desjardins Insurance at www.desjardinsgeneralinsurance.com.

– News Canada


Why Don’t We Teach Driving in School?

Friday, January 16th, 2015

“Will driver education ever be made mandatory?” asks a DriveSmartBC reader. He expressed the opinion that most of what drivers need to know could be taught in the high school classroom. While I would like to see mandatory training I don’t think that this could be done well in high schools because of the lack of an opportunity to actually drive under the supervision of a qualified instructor.

The current provincial school curriculum does make provision for driver training related studies from grade 8 onward in Health & Career Education and Career & Personal Planning. ICBC provides course content packages free of charge that the teachers can use in these programs if they choose to. The content in the packages is geared to have students anticipate the consequences of bad choices made while driving and to develop a positive attitude about sharing the road.

Speaking from my own point of view, I learned more in the hours spent behind the wheel with a qualified instructor sitting to my right and providing constant guidance than I did in the classroom. While some of the necessary knowledge could be learned in the classroom, few parents are prepared to provide on road training thoroughly and in proper progression. I suspect that even fewer public schools would be interested in offering this type of instruction.

This leaves us with private driver training schools. They are prepared to do the most comprehensive job of preparing a new driver, but at a price. Should it be mandatory? When ICBC changed the time reduction in the GLP for drivers who took training, enrollment immediately suffered. For the most part, we’re clearly not prepared to take training unless there is a tangible benefit. Perhaps it is time for BC to join Quebec and Saskatchewan in making driver training mandatory for new drivers.

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.


Top Five Frauds of 2014 announced by Manitoba Public Insurance

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Manitoba Public Insurance released its annual list of Top Five Frauds of 2014, highlighted by a man who burned and destroyed his vehicle for no reason other than being “really mad”. This past year’s list also featured a vehicle theft that really wasn’t a theft and the intriguing claim for imaginary hail damage.

Fraudulent and suspicious claims are handled by Manitoba Public Insurance’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU). The efforts of this special unit resulted in fraud savings last year of $7.5 million for Manitoba auto insurance rate payers. The SIU will investigate about 3,000 claims yearly. Anyone knowing someone who is involved in auto insurance fraud is encouraged to call the Manitoba Public Insurance TIPS Line: 204-985-8477 or toll-free 1-877-985-8477. All calls are anonymous.

Top Five Frauds of 2014 per MPI

Manitoba Public Insurance released its annual list of Top Five Frauds, highlighted by a man who burned and destroyed his vehicle for no reason other than being “really mad”. This past year’s list also featured a vehicle theft that really wasn’t a theft and the intriguing claim for imaginary hail damage.

Fraudulent and suspicious claims are handled by Manitoba Public Insurance’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU). The efforts of this special unit resulted in fraud savings last year of $7.5 million for Manitoba auto insurance rate payers. The SIU will investigate about 3,000 claims yearly. Anyone knowing someone who is involved in auto insurance fraud is encouraged to call the Manitoba Public Insurance TIPS Line: 204-985-8477 or toll-free 1-877-985-8477. All calls are anonymous.

No. 1 ‘Mad at the World’

It was the temper tantrum to rival all temper tantrums. After completely losing control of his emotions, a Winnipeg man was left with a criminal record, $2,000 fine, permanent scars and a completely destroyed vehicle worth $40,000.

The man admitted he was “just mad at the world” when explaining why he destroyed his new pickup truck. With his temper burning red, the man consumed nearly 20 beers at a party with co-workers, who later drove the man home.

Upon returning home, the man was still fuming at the world and in front of his co-workers, poured a large amount of gasoline onto the front seat of his new truck. After waiting a few minutes, he then tossed in a match.

The deadly mixture of gasoline and oxygen resulted in a fiery explosion, burning the man on his chest and arms. The investigation quickly led to the vehicle owner and his co-workers, who originally all lied to police about the incident. However, the co-workers eventually confessed the truth, and police contacted MPI investigators.

The vehicle owner was later convicted of arson causing damage to his own property.

No. 2 ‘The Theft that Wasn’t’

Whether it was sheer nerve, or a complete memory lapse, a man boldly opened a theft claim with Manitoba Public Insurance, stating his vehicle had been stolen in broad daylight from his driveway.

During the course of the subsequent investigation, it was discovered that the vehicle had not been stolen ? it had been repossessed by a finance company after months of non-payment.

The embarrassed vehicle owner claimed he was unaware of being in arrears. The claim, which would have cost $11,000, was denied.

No. 3 ‘A Hail of a Tall Tale’

Thanks to the keen eyes and expertise of an MPI estimator, a vehicle owner’s attempt to defraud the Corporation of nearly $10,000 (value of claim) was unsuccessful. The fraud began after the man opened a hail claim days after a hail storm swept through his community.

During a visual inspection of the badly damaged vehicle, it was quickly determined by the estimator that about half of the dents were not consistent with hail, but were manmade. A technician with MPI’s Research and Training Department, using industry approved techniques, would also confirm the damage was not caused by hail.

The man agreed to withdraw his claim after being told of the results of the fraudulent hail investigation.

No. 4 ‘No work…..all fun’

A Winnipeg driver was fined $1,000 and agreed to repay $12,000 back to Manitoba Public Insurance after pleading guilty to Making a False Statement. All the result of an anonymous call to MPI’s TIPS Line.

The man was involved in a minor, single-vehicle collision ? he told police at the scene that he was uninjured. However, only a few days later he opened an injury claim with Manitoba Public Insurance. He told his Manitoba Public Insurance case manager that he had regular bouts of dizziness, trouble walking and limited physical abilities. He was also seeing several doctors.

Soon after the crash he began receiving income replacement cheques from the Corporation.

A call to the Manitoba Public Insurance TIPS Line about the man resulted in the SIU opening an investigation, which quickly revealed the man was doing a variety of activities ? snowmobiling, running, shovelling snow and working in his garage refurbishing a trailer. Based on this information the man was subsequently criminally charged.

No. 5 ‘Sins of the son’

A Winnipeg man, who was driving his father’s vehicle, claimed he was doing the speed limit when he inexplicably lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a light standard.

Damage to the vehicle was nearly $20,000, in addition to costs associated with a destroyed city of Winnipeg light standard. During MPI’s investigation, it was learned that the driver was racing another vehicle at extremely high speeds, which ultimately caused the vehicle to crash.

After hearing the real facts, the father decided to withdraw the claim, while the son signed a Promissory Note to the City of Winnipeg for the damage to the light standard.

Source: Manitoba Public Insurance


Dangerous driving: employer liable for unauthorized use of company vehicle

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Source: Lexology

It is well understood that employers may be vicariously liable for the actions of their employees when the employees are acting within the scope of their duties. However, the Alberta Court of Appeal came to a more unorthodox conclusion when it decided that an employer was liable for an employee’s bad behaviour (PDF) despite that the employee’s behaviour was directly contrary to express instructions. In Mustafi v. All-Pitch Roofing Ltd., a roofing company was on the hook for the negligence of an employee who drove a company truck, in spite of explicit direction not to do so.

The employee of All-Pitch Roofing was given access to a company vehicle in the winter to keep warm and store his tools. The truck was parked at the work site and the employee was given the keys.  However, the employee was provided with express instructions not to drive the vehicle.

On Christmas Eve 2007, the employee was working on a residential roof in southwest Calgary. Contrary to the direction of his employer, the employee drove the company truck, resulting in an accident. The injured party, Xhevat Mustafi, sued the employee and All-Pitch, but only the liability of All-Pitch was contested. In the original trial, All-Pitch was found not to be liable for the actions of its employee. But the issue was reconsidered on appeal.

Appeal Decision

A majority of the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the trial decision and determined that All-Pitch was liable for the employee’s negligence.

This finding turned on an analysis of section 187(2) of the Alberta Traffic Safety Act (PDF), which makes the owner of a vehicle liable if, at the time of the accident, the driver was in “possession” of the vehicle with the consent of the owner. The Court decided that, even though the employee did not have permission to drive the truck, he did have permission to use the truck to store supplies and keep warm. As All-Pitch had provided the employee with keys to the truck so that he could carry out his employment, the condition not to drive the vehicle was not determinative – it was unwritten and could be revoked at the employer’s convenience with one phone call.

Takeaway for Employers

The law in Alberta is now that, for the owner of a vehicle to be vicariously liable for the driver’s negligence, all that is required is that the owner have consented to the driver being in possession of the vehicle. The same may be true in other provinces where similar legislation exists, such as Ontario’s Highway Traffic Actwhich makes the owner of a vehicle liable for loss resulting from negligent operation, unless the vehicle was in the possession of another person without the consent of the owner, Manitoba’s Highway Traffic Actand others. In light of this finding, employers in Alberta – and across Canada – should review their policies on the use and “possession” of company vehicles. Even when an employee is instructed not to drive a vehicle, an employer can still be found to have consented to possession, opening employers up to liability from injured third-parties.

This decision also reminds us of the importance of having driver use policies, for those employees that drive company vehicles. Explicit driver use policies, including any restrictions on the use of the vehicle, may help employers reduce the likelihood of being found vicariously liable for the actions of their employees. An employee’s written acknowledgement of any restrictions may not eliminate employer liability, but it may act to deter employees from engaging in the restricted behaviour in the first place.