Wednesday, December 21st, 2016Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) today published its annual Top 10 Most Frequently Stolen Vehicles list. This year, IBC has also published a list for each one of its regional offices. High-end luxury SUVs are the most commonly stolen vehicles in Ontario. “For the second consecutive year, auto theft across Canada and Ontario has increased,” said Kim Donaldson, Vice-President, Ontario, IBC. “After large declines in auto theft activity over the last decade, the number of stolen vehicles has gone up 6% nationally, compared to last year. In Ontario, the number has increased by 5%. Many of the high-end vehicles that are stolen in Ontario will end up in overseas markets.” Ontario Top 10 Most Frequently Stolen Vehicles List This year’s 10 most frequently stolen vehicles in IBC’s Ontario region are: 1. 2015 Toyota 4Runner 4-door 4WD SUV 2. 2014 Toyota 4Runner 4-door 4WD SUV 3. 2003 Hummer H2 4-door AWD SUV 4. 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD and 2003 GMC Yukon 4WD SUVs 5. 2015 Lexus RX350/RX450h 4-door AWD SUVs 6. 2002 Cadillac Escalade 4-door 4WD SUV 7. 2015 Acura MDX 4-door 4WD SUV 8. 2011 Range Rover Sport 4-door 4WD SUV 9. 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD and 2004 GMC Yukon 4WD SUVs 10. 2005 Chevrolet Suburban 4WD and 2005 GMC Yukon XL 1500 4WD SUVs Keep your vehicle safe It pays to be vigilant about deterring car thieves. “A vehicle left running unattended is not only easy to steal, it has increased value as a stolen vehicle because it comes with the keys,” Donaldson said. Cars are stolen for a number of reasons. Stolen vehicles may be shipped overseas, where they are either sold to consumers who don’t know they are buying a stolen car; chopped for parts; or used to commit another crime. “It takes less than a minute for a car thief to steal your vehicle .If you’ve gone to the trouble of buying a car that has a theft deterrent system, don’t make it easy for thieves by leaving the keys in the car,” added Donaldson. Protect your vehicle by following these tips:
- Never leave your vehicle running when unattended.
- Park in well-lit areas.
- When parking your car, always close the windows and lock the doors.
- Put valuables and packages in the trunk, where they’re out of sight.
- Keep your car in the garage at night.
- Don’t leave personal information in the glove box. Take your insurance and ownership documents with you when you park your vehicle.
Wednesday, December 21st, 2016VANCOUVER _ British Columbia’s transportation minister says more needs to be done to prevent chunks of ice falling from Metro Vancouver’s bridges and damaging vehicles. A winter storm brought more than five centimetres of snow to the region Monday and there were numerous reports of snow and ice falling from bridges, leaving vehicles with cracked windshields and dented roofs. “We’re very thankful that no one was hurt during these incidents, but we’re not happy at all that vehicles were damaged by falling snow and ice,” said Transportation Minister Todd Stone. He said the Insurance Corporation of B.C. has received 40 claims from people whose vehicles were damaged. Ten of the claims came from drivers who were travelling over the Port Mann Bridge between Surrey and Coquitlam, and 30 from motorists going over the Alex Fraser Bridge, which spans New Westminster and Delta. Stone said the province will pay the insurance deductibles for all of the damaged vehicles, but it’s too soon to say what the cost will be because more drivers could still come forward. Similar incidents were reported on the Port Mann Bridge in 2012, shortly after it opened. Devices were later installed on each of the bridge’s 288 cables to drop down and clear snow and slush in wintry weather. They were in operation Monday. A de-icing spray was used to try and keep snow and ice off the towers and cross beam of the Alex Fraser Bridge, but staff are now investigating what else should have been done. “I want to say very clearly to the people of British Columbia that we can and we will do better,” Stone said. Another snow storm is scheduled to hit the region Thursday. Stone said, among other things, monitoring is being increased on the bridges.
Wednesday, December 21st, 2016By Alex Glenn THE ASSOCIATED PRESS You might think you have airtight insurance protection against storms, car accidents and other mishaps. But you’d hate to discover hidden cracks in your coverage once it’s too late. Here are five insurance problems you might not be as prepared for as you think and how to plug the coverage gap. 1. NO FLOOD INSURANCE Flooding has occurred in every state in the country over the past five years, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Yet only 12 per cent of homeowners nationwide carry flood coverage, an Insurance Information Institute poll found. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding; you’ll need a separate policy. You can find local agents through the National Flood Insurance Program . You can also ask your home insurer for help starting a policy through the federal program, or whether there are companies in your state that offer private flood insurance. There’s a 30-day waiting period before coverage kicks in, so get flood insurance squared away well ahead of coming storms. 2. NO WAY TO PAY OFF A LEASE OR LOAN ON A Totalled CAR Gap insurance helps you avoid owing money on a car loan or lease even if your vehicle has been totalled or stolen. Along with comprehensive and collision coverage, gap insurance is a smart addition if you lease or finance a car. Say you lease a $20,000 car at payments of $400 a month. Five months later, your car is totalled in an accident. If the car’s value has dropped to $15,000, that’s the amount your collision claim check will be, minus your deductible. That won’t be enough to cover the $18,000 left on your lease. This is where gap insurance kicks in. It makes up the difference between what your car is worth when it’s stolen or totalled and how much you owe on a car loan or lease. You can buy gap insurance from the car dealership or your lender. Or you can go through your car insurance company _ which is typically cheaper unless you want gap coverage for several years. 3. NO PLAN FOR SEWAGE BACKUPS You may not realize that you’re responsible for the sewer line that runs from the main pipeline in the street to your house. Yet standard home insurance typically doesn’t cover backups in this part of the line. Enter sewer backup coverage. It pays for cleanup and repairs from spewed sewage in your house. Sewer backup coverage is relatively affordable $40 to $50 a year, according to the Insurance Information Institute . Talk to your home insurer about adding this kind of coverage. 4. NO INCOME AFTER A DISABILITY Among 20-year-olds, more than 1 in 4 will suffer a disability before retirement age, according to the Social Security Administration. If you aren’t able to work because of an illness or accident, you need a plan to pay the bills. Social Security disability insurance is available only to people with long-term disabilities lasting at least one year. Some employers offer short-term disability insurance, but it isn’t as common as you might think. Just 38 per cent of workers have access to short-term disability insurance through their employers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You don’t have to rely on your workplace for coverage. Individual disability insurance is available from several insurers, such as State Farm, MetLife and Mutual of Omaha. If your employer doesn’t offer short-term disability insurance, or your current benefits fall far short of replacing your full salary, look into getting a policy elsewhere. 5. NO FINANCIAL SAFETY NET FOR EARTHQUAKES Most homeowners, even those who live in high-risk areas, go without earthquake insurance. They risk financial ruin if their homes and belongings are destroyed. Only 10 per cent of California residents have earthquake insurance, and 14 per cent of people in western states, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Standard homeowners insurance won’t pay to fix damage caused by earthquakes. Home insurers might offer earthquake coverage as a policy add-on for an extra cost and in California they’re required to. Or you might need to look for stand-alone earthquake insurance. Californians can shop for a policy through the California Earthquake Authority. For those living in other states, ask your home insurer or agent for help finding companies that sell earthquake coverage, or check your state’s department of insurance website.
Wednesday, December 21st, 2016Press Release: The latest Allstate Insurance Company of Canada Safe Driving Study, released today, reveals that collisions continue to rise in a number of provinces across Canada. Despite improvements in Alberta and New Brunswick, the national collision frequency rate has risen from 5.60 per cent to 5.70 per cent since the previous period, representing a 1.7 per cent increase in claims across the country. Now in its eighth year, the Safe Driving Study examines collision data of Allstate Canada customers in Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Ontario — which is then used to rank cities across the country according to collision frequency. Of the 86 communities included in the 2016 study, Spruce Grove, AB ranked as the safest, with a collision frequency rate of 3.60 per cent, while the community with the highest regularity of collisions was Halifax, NS, at 7.77 per cent. “Last year’s Safe Driving Study identified a trend towards rising collisions, and the latest study demonstrates that this has not changed,” says Dave MacInnis, Vice President, Product Operations at Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. “Each year, we investigate our claims data to identify important developments in driving. We feel it’s essential to share our findings with Canadians, to encourage conversation about what it means to be a safe driver.” Attention Editors: Please see below for a collection of safe driving tips for drivers. Highlights of the 2016 Safe Driving Study Despite an overall hike in the frequency of collisions across Canada, two provinces experienced particularly significant increases. For the second consecutive study, Nova Scotia was the province with the highest collision frequency rate, ballooning from 5.42 per cent to 6.39 per cent, representing an increase of 17.8 per cent since the previous period. Ontario followed suit, jumping from 5.59 per cent to 5.79 per cent. Conversely, New Brunswick was found to be the province with the lowest collision frequency rate at 5.13 per cent. Allstate data shows that the three most common types of collisions are: vehicles being rear-ended (26 per cent); accidents that occur while passing through an intersection or turning (24 per cent); and collisions involving parked vehicles (13 per cent). Exercise increased caution on Fridays The latest Safe Driving Study also shed light on which days of the week saw the highest frequency of specific types of collision claims over the past decade. At 17 per cent, Friday is the day with the highest number of collision claims across the country. In fact, Fridays see the highest frequency of collisions spanning nearly all categories, including: multi-vehicle accidents involving a chain reaction (19 per cent of all claims of this type occur on Fridays); lane changes (18 per cent); vehicles being rear-ended (18 per cent); collisions resulting from turning or passing through an intersection (17 per cent); and head-on collisions (17 per cent), amongst others. “Our latest findings reinforce that Friday continues to be a treacherous day on the road, spanning minor and major collisions – many of which could be avoided,” says MacInnis. “While our data is not able to identify specific reasons as to why collisions are up, or why more take place on Fridays, we suspect that various factors, such as increased traffic, inclement weather, and distracted driving may contribute to the heightened rate of claims.” Pedestrians and cyclists— be weary of Wednesdays While the highest frequency of overall collision claims take place on Fridays, the study found that accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists were most likely to occur on Wednesdays, when 17 per cent of these types of collisions have taken place. The second-highest day of the week for collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists was Friday (16 per cent). “Regardless of the day of the week, it’s always concerning to hear about collisions involving cyclists and pedestrians – and our data shows that there’s work to be done to reduce the frequency of these sorts of accidents,” says MacInnis. “As more cities across Canadaare working towards becoming more walkable and bike-friendly, this serves as a reminder to remain alert and take steps to be safer behind the wheel throughout the work week.” Tips for drivers to stay safe behind the wheel Allstate Canada offers the below safety advice for drivers across the country:
- Be aware of others on the road. Remember to always safely share the road with cyclists and keep a close eye out for pedestrians. Exercise additional caution when in high-traffic areas and at intersections.
- Mind your speed. One of the key contributors to collisions is a high rate of speed. One of the main steps drivers can take to reduce their chances of being involved in a collision is to reduce their speed.
- Always use your signals. Be vigilant about signaling to indicate a lane change. The second most-common type of collision in this study involved lane changes.
- Don’t follow too closely. Accidents involving cars being rear-ended were the most common type of accident in the study. Leaving enough space to brake safely makes it less likely you’ll bump into the car ahead of you.
- Put down your phone. Distracted driving is a significant contributor to avoidable accidents. Refrain from distractions such as eating or grooming, and consider storing your phone out of arms’ reach so you’re not tempted to look at it while operating your vehicle.
- Never drive impaired. If you’re planning to consume alcohol, plan ahead for your ride home. Options include public transit, a designated driver, or a taxi. If you suspect another driver to be impaired, call 911 and report it to the police.
- Ten Albertan communities were included in the 2016 study, with four landing on the list of the top 10 safest cities, including the leader, Spruce Grove, AB (#1, 3.60 per cent).
- Three Albertan communities ranked among the top-five that saw the greatest decrease in their collision frequency rate, with Leduc(#11, 4.36 per cent) experiencing the most significant decrease with a reduction of 30 per cent and St. Albert (#8, 4.22 per cent) seeing a reduction of 23 per cent.
- For the second consecutive study, Nova Scotia was the province with the highest frequency of collisions, with a 17.8 per cent increase in its collision frequency rate.
- Five communities in Nova Scotia were included in the study: Bedford (#45, 5.67 per cent); Dartmouth (#64, 6.28 per cent); Hammonds Plains (#67, 6.31 per cent); Lower Sackville (#74, 6.74 per cent); and Halifax (#86, 7.77 per cent)
- Of the top-five communities that experienced the most significant increase in their collision frequency rates, three of these communities are located in Nova Scotia, with Hammonds Plains seeing the greatest increase at 43 per cent, followed by Lower Sackville at 40 per cent.
- Of the six New Brunswick communities ranked in the study, Rothesay featured the lowest collision frequency rate (#24, 4.97 per cent).
- Other communities featured in the study include: Riverview (#32, 5.21 per cent); Saint John (#37, 5.37 per cent); Dieppe (#40, 5.52 per cent); Fredericton (#51, 5.88 per cent); and Moncton (#58, 6.09 per cent).
- Six of the ten safest communities in this study are in Ontario, with Val Therese (#3, 3.69 per cent) ranking as the safest community in the province.
- Other Ontarian communities included in the top 10 are: LaSalle (#4, 3.80 per cent); Chelmsford (#5, 3.86 per cent); Sarnia (#7, 4.09 per cent); Belle River (#9, 4.25 per cent); and St. Thomas (#10, 4.31 per cent).
Wednesday, December 21st, 2016REGINA _ Police in Saskatchewan are getting another tool to help them nab speeders, distracted drivers and impaired drivers Some 32 automated licence plate readers are being installed in RCMP patrol vehicles starting this week. The automated readers are also able to alert police when a plate is linked to a stolen or unregistered vehicle, a suspended driver or someone wanted by authorities. Saskatchewan Government Insurance has funded a total of 47 automated licence readers in the province so far. The new readers are to be used in a pilot project focused on problem roadways and intersections in central and southeastern Saskatchewan. Police say the automated system, which uses infrared technology, allows officers to check more plates and identify high-risk drivers quickly.
Wednesday, December 21st, 2016Reasons for judgement were published November, 28th by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for post traumatic stress disorder as a result of a vehicle collision.
In today’s case, (Harmati v. Williams) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2011 rear end collision that the Defendant accepted fault for. She suffered PTSD and a generalized anxiety disorder following the crash and the Court accepted these conditions were caused by the collision. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $100,000 Madam Justice Choi provided the following reasons:
 Dr. O’Shaughnessy was steadfast in his opinion when he testified that Ms. Harmati’s PTSD was as a result of the accident. He wavered on cross examination that the generalized anxiety was a result of the accident. I accept Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s testimony and diagnosis and found him to be a forthright and helpful expert witness…
 On a balance of probabilities, I find that Ms. Harmati’s present disability, both physical and psychological, is a result of the accident. I accept Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s opinion that the PTSD was triggered by the accident, and I am satisfied that there is a substantial connection between the injuries Ms. Harmati suffered in this accident and her present symptoms sufficient to impose liability on the Defendants. Just as the Defendants are liable for any physical injuries caused to Ms. Harmati, they are too liable for any psychological injuries that arose from this accident.
 I find that but for the accident, Ms. Harmati would not have suffered from pain in the neck, head and back or post-traumatic stress disorder. While Ms. Harmati may have had a more extreme reaction to the accident than most, she is better described as a “thin skull” than a crumbling one. The injuries she has suffered were not inherent in her original position and would not have occurred had the accident not happened…
 A few lay witnesses testified as to Ms. Harmati’s ongoing limitations.
 Mr. Gosling testified that Ms. Harmati is responsible for most of the cleaning, but that they don’t keep a clean house, and that Ms. Harmati is responsible for most of the cooking. She does more now than she did when they first cohabited because she is no longer working. I found Mr. Gosling a measured and careful witness, whose evidence I found credible.
 Mr. Gosling testified that Ms. Harmati does not want to be a burden, so she will insist on performing tasks that then require her to rest, such as carrying groceries and pots of boiling water.
 Mr. Derek Carswell worked with Ms. Harmati at Electronics Art. They were both hired on the same day in 2010 and became friends. Prior to the accident, he described her as “bubbly, enthusiastic and lots of energy”. After the energy, he testified that she was “subdued, lacking vital energy”. He said they played video games with their respective partners and that after the accident, she could not play video games for long because she needed to rest and due to nausea. Mr. Carswell testified that some video games are virtual reality games, involving wearing a headset and a screen which wraps around your face, and is an immersive gaming experience. Ms. Harmati has been unable to participate in this type of game since the accident…
 Having considered the evidence and cases, it is my view that an award of non-pecuniary damages in the amount of $100,000 is appropriate.
Wednesday, December 21st, 2016Ouch! My ICBC insurance rates are going up as much as 42% over the next five years according to an article in the Province newspaper. I already paid $630 this year for the privilege of having my fellow British Columbians help me pay for collision liability if I make a mistake and crash my pickup. I’m not looking forward to paying $895 in 2021, but when you consider how much you could be on the hook for if you didn’t have insurance, even that doesn’t look too bad. If you are a fan of B.C. politics, this is an interesting situation. ICBC tried to have the B.C. Utilities Commission (which oversees the setting of ICBC rates on behalf of taxpayers) keep their increase forecast under wraps. The Commission ultimately refused to do this. The N.D.P. points out that this is an attempt by the Liberals to hide bad news just prior to an election. The provincial government takes “dividends” out of ICBC coffers that could have remained for investment and the reduction of our insurance rates. ICBC rightly points out that insurance rates have been impacted by the cost of bodily injury claims, insurance fraud and the cost of repairing high end vehicles. If I’m reading their annual report correctly, the cost of claims totalled just over 4 billion dollars in 2015. That’s for an average (2009 to 2013) of 52,000 injury crashes (about 142 per day). Fraud costs us all between $100 and $150 per year according to ICBC, which is definitely significant in my view. Both ICBC and the Insurance Bureau of Canada hope that we’ll all help by preventing frauds. In fact, ICBC has two units that work to expose fraud, the Special Investigations Unit and the Cyber Unit that uses information available on the internet and social media to catch offenders. Examples of frauds are highlighted in ICBC’s 2015 Hall of Shame and Cyber Fraud files. To the contrary, a pair of lawyers from the law firm Murphy Battista in Vancouver think that insurance fraud is only a drop in the bucket of claims each year. I don’t understand refusing to insure high end vehicles as a cost cutting measure though. ICBC and other insurance companies know how much these vehicles cost and how much they cost to repair. Setting an appropriate premium for the risk is what an insurance company is all about. If they do cost six times as much to repair, surely the rates should be six times higher. The Fraser Institute is a Canadian think tank that, in part, communicates the effects of government policies on our well being. Their last report claims that B.C. drivers are paying rates that are too high due to a lack of competition. So, how do we as drivers decide what is reasonable and what is not for our mandatory vehicle insurance purchase? The true answer probably lies somewhere in the middle of all of this. I’d be willing to bet that if we quit crashing into things our rates would be much lower. That may seem trite, but we do it about 700 times a day in this province.
Wednesday, December 21st, 2016Press Release: It’s another insurance industry first as Aviva Canada today announces a 15% auto insurance discount for drivers of vehicles that have Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). The discount will be available to all Aviva-insured drivers and will be applied to their policy automatically upon purchase or renewal. AEB is a road vehicle safety system that uses sensors to detect possible front-end collisions. The system automatically applies the brakes to prevent, or lessen the damage of, such impacts. “Automatic emergency braking is quickly becoming a key feature in preventing collisions and reducing their severity. This means less repair costs and more importantly, fewer injuries,” said Jason Storah, Executive Vice President of Broker Distribution for Aviva Canada. “It’s simple – our customers who choose vehicles with features that help prevent collisions, or reduce their impact, will pay less for their insurance coverage.” In March of 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced a historic commitment of 20 automakers, representing more than 99% of the U.S. auto market, to make automatic emergency braking a standard feature on virtually all new cars no later than NHTSA’s 2022 reporting year, which begins September 1, 2022. Major manufacturers like Toyota are stepping up to the plate even sooner. In October, the company became the first non-luxury brand to start making these systems standard equipment on most of their models. Toyota’s complete package of enhanced safety features, called “Toyota Safety Sense”, includes several active safety technologies designed to enhance driver capabilities and control in a variety of situations. Specifically, these technologies help mitigate collisions, help drivers stay in their lanes, and help improve nighttime safety. “We applaud Aviva Canada for being the first Canadian auto insurer to reward drivers for adopting advanced safety features like AEB,” said Stephen Beatty, Vice President, Toyota Canada Inc. “We feel that everybody deserves to benefit from advanced safety technologies and have already started including them on most models.” The AEB discount will not apply to coverage for damages incurred while not driving such as theft, vandalism – and in general, the possibility of damages not reduced by an emergency braking system. For consumers or Aviva Canada customers interested in learning more about the AEB discount and when it will be available to them, please visit Aviva Canada or contact your insurance broker.
**For journalists only: For demonstrations of Toyota’s AEB feature, please contact us as we have a vehicle, along with Aviva Canada and Toyota spokespeople, available in Scarborough from 1:00-2:00 pm today.**