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Pub Found Partly At Fault for Crash Caused by “Visibly Intoxicated” Patron

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding a Pub jointly and severally liable for a collision by a patron who was served alcohol to the point of visible intoxication.

In today’s case (Widdows v. Rockwell) the Defendant drove a vehicle and collided with the Plaintiff pedestrian.  The crash caused severe injuries, including brain damage.

At the time the Defendant was “quite literally, falling-down drunk.“.

Prior to the crash the Defendant was drinking at a local pub. In finding the pub jointly and severally liable for over serving a patron and failing to take reasonable steps to ensure he was not driving Mr. Justice Kent provided the following reasons:

[58]         Insofar as Rockwell’s consumption is concerned, I do not accept his evidence that he only consumed 2 1/2 beers at the pub.  Rather, I find as a fact that each of the co-workers bought at least one round of drinks for the other members of the group (and possibly more) and that Rockwell himself bought at least two rounds that included beer (for himself and Sauve), vodka (for Sahanovitch) and Fireball whiskey shooters (for all).  I find as a fact that by the time he left the pub to retrieve his truck, Rockwell had consumed at least five to six drinks, a combination of beer and liquor, and that he was significantly intoxicated by alcohol.  I also have no doubt, and I find as a fact, that the influence of alcohol on Rockwell was exacerbated by both a lack of food in the preceding 12 to 15 hours (and probably longer), and a high level of fatigue caused by extremely long work hours and inadequate sleep over an extended period of time.  His ability to drive safely was significantly impaired when he left the pub.

[59]         I recognize another possible theory of Rockwell’s intoxication is that he drank only two to three beers at the pub and in the two-hour period thereafter, he consumed substantial quantities of beer and/or liquor, whether at home or elsewhere, before the accident occurred.  While it certainly appears that Sahanovitch was an aggressive and irresponsible drinker of a sort who might engage in such behaviour, there is no evidence to support such a characterization of Rockwell.  When one subtracts the amount of time that it would have taken for Rockwell to drive home, this theory would require him to have consumed an enormous amount of alcohol in less than an hour, a proposition which is not consistent with his previous conduct and which, assessed from the perspective of robust logic and common sense, amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking and unfounded speculation on the part of Cambie Malone’s.

[60]         I am also satisfied however, and find as a fact, that Rockwell did indeed consume further alcohol after he departed the pub.  On the balance of probabilities, I find that this occurred at his residence and included consumption of vodka or other liquor in quantities more than Rockwell claims in his evidence.

[61]         It is not necessary to ascribe a precise figure to the amount of alcohol that Rockwell consumed after he left the pub.  It is sufficient to find that he was significantly intoxicated when he left the pub and that he became even more severely intoxicated through the consumption of additional alcohol before the accident happened…

[73]         In this particular case the affidavits from the pub employees all referred to the employees having successfully completed the “Serving It Right”, which is British Columbia’s mandatory “Responsible Beverage Service Program”.  This is a program sponsored by the provincial government and the hospitality industry which offers information about intoxication, as well as guidelines and suggestions for, as the tagline suggests, “responsible beverage service”.  Rather cleverly, none of the employee affidavits expressly disclosed the information and conduct guidelines suggested in the “Serving It Right” program.  Instead, all that was proffered was what was said to be Cambie Malone’s written “Policies and Procedures” which included the following paragraph:

It is your responsibility to ensure patrons do not become intoxicated while in the establishment.  You must refuse entrance and/or service to any person who is apparently under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Moreover, persons visibly under the influence of drugs or alcohol may not be permitted to remain in the establishment.  You must refuse the person service, have the person removed and see that they depart safely.  Intoxicated persons must NOT be permitted to drive.  It is your duty to ensure that a safe ride home is used.  This is a crucial responsibility of everyone in the alcohol service industry.

[74]         While the standard of care expected of a commercial host will, in large part, be governed by the particular circumstances of any given case, there are several general standards of conduct that could well apply simply as a matter of common sense, including:

·       ensure there are adequate supervision, monitoring and training systems in place so employees know and abide by responsible serving practices;

·       ensure there is a sufficient number of serving staff on duty so that effective monitoring of alcohol consumption by patrons is possible;

·       ensure employees know the signs of intoxication and the various factors that influence intoxication (gender, weight, rate of consumption, food, et cetera);

·       inquire if the patron is driving and identify any “designated driver” for groups of patrons;

·       know how to estimate blood-alcohol concentrations and ensure any driver does not consume more than the appropriate number of drinks to stay on the “right side” of the legal limit;

·       display “tent cards” on tables, posters on walls and washrooms, and menu inserts with easy-to-read charts and information about blood-alcohol concentration;

·       ask apparently-intoxicated patrons if you contact anyone to assist them or if you can get them a taxi and, if necessary, offer to pay for it;

·       display posters advertising free ride-home services available in the neighbourhood; and

·       if the patron rejects alternative options and insists on driving, despite being urged otherwise, contact the police to seek assistance and/or provide whatever information might encourage their intervention.

[75]         None of these things occurred in the present case.  Rather, the pub’s employees utterly failed in abiding by their own employer’s directive that “intoxicated persons (e.g., Rockwell) must not be permitted to drive”.  I have no hesitation in concluding that the employees, and therefore Cambie Malone’s, did not meet the requisite standard of care in the circumstances of this particular case and that their conduct was accordingly negligent.


#RoadSafety: Convenience vs Catastrophe

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Some incidents encountered during a career in policing stick with you for life and sometimes resurface later on as lessons learned. This memory involved a mother dropping her young son off for a birthday party by pulling over and stopping on the right side of the street. He exited the car and excited to join the festivities, ran to the back and darted across the street. He was struck and killed by a passing vehicle.

I was sent to the hospital at the beginning of the investigation to check on the mother and child because we did not know of the child’s condition at the time. I knew the woman personally because her older son was in the Cub Pack I volunteered with as a leader. Her anguish was terrible to see and I have no doubt that she will spend the rest of her life wishing that she had taken the extra time to pull into the driveway and let her son out of the car on safe ground.

One of my co-workers dealt with the driver of the vehicle that struck the boy so I did not get to see him. Do you think that he will ever forget that day? How many times will he go over the incident in his mind and try to see what he could have done to produce a different outcome?

All of this flashed through my mind when I followed behind a pickup truck one morning last week. Children wait for the school bus on the side of the street near my home. There were already children and adults waiting ahead on my right.

The pickup moved over into the oncoming lane and stopped across from the group. Instant deja vu.

I slowed immediately and proceeded at a walking pace between the group and the pickup, watching both sides for movement across the road. No one crossed and I was able to pass by safely.

What was going on in the mind of the pickup driver? Why not pull over to the right side of the street and stop? The vehicle had no businesess being on the wrong side of the road. In addition, the stop must be made with the vehicle at the right hand edge of the roadway.

All the driver had really done was managed to add more confusion to the situation.

In retrospect, despite what I had remembered from my past, the confusion here extended to me as well.

I had a duty not to collide with a pedestrian, especially a child, and in this situation had already inferred the possibility of one being present.

In general, you are required to pass by an overtaken vehicle on the left. There is an exception to this rule when there is an unobstructed lane on the right, as there was here. However, that pass on the right can only be done if it is safe to do. Both the pickup on the wrong side of the road and the possibility of a child getting out of it to wait for the school bus made the circumstances unsafe.

I should have stopped and stayed stopped until the situation resolved itself. Moving into a position of possible conflict regardless of how slow I was going was a poor choice.

Sometimes we can make all manner of errors when we drive and it still turns out all right in the end. However, don’t let those errors become the default setting.


Desjardins introduces new flood coverage for Canadians

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Thanks to new flood coverage—Endorsement 16d in insurance jargon—customers of Desjardins (Desjardins Insurance, The Personal and State Farm Canada) who live in low-risk areas will automatically be covered, at no charge, for damage caused by an overflowing waterway or dam break, for instance. And, with an additional premium, clients living in medium-risk areas can also take advantage of the new coverage.

95% of Desjardins policyholders can benefit from flood coverage:

  • 80% insure properties in low-risk areas
  • 15% insure properties in medium-risk areas

Desjardins is committed to developing products and services that offer peace of mind and meet the current and future needs of their clients. “We listened to our customers and designed this coverage with them in mind. We want to help people avoid unpleasant surprises because dealing with water damage is already difficult enough,” says Denis Dubois, President and Chief Operating Officer of Desjardins General Insurance Group.

“Our flood coverage has fewer exclusions than the protections offered by the majority of our competitors. It’s free for most clients and remains optional for policyholders who would have to pay for it. This gives clients the flexibility to adapt their coverage to suit their needs and their reality,” adds Dubois.

Did you know?
Home insurance policies cover accidental water damage, such as a burst water pipe, leaking dishwasher or overflowing bathtub. This basic coverage can be enhanced with other optional coverage, including:

  • Ground water and sewer back-up (Endorsement 16c) – Because of climate change, heavy rain events are becoming increasingly frequent, causing sewers to back up or water to pool around houses and seep in through the foundations. At Desjardins, 85% of clients have this endorsement on their home insurance policies.
  • Above ground water (Endorsement 42) – 90% of Desjardins clients have this endorsement, which covers damage caused by water seeping in through the roof, for instance.

The flood endorsement (16d) launched today completes the range of optional coverage already offered by Desjardins.

Higher-risk areas
A minority of Canadians live in areas with a higher risk of flooding. As it stands, they still don’t have access to appropriate insurance coverage.

“We’re continuing to work with the industry and the federal government to help make it easier for all Canadians living in high-risk areas to get insurance and minimize the number of homes without adequate coverage,” says Dubois.

About Desjardins General Insurance Group
A subsidiary of Desjardins Group, Desjardins General Insurance Group (DGIG) is Canada’s third largest provider of property and casualty insurance. The company distributes insurance under the Desjardins Insurance, The Personal, and State Farm Canada brands. DGIG is also a leader in Canada in white label distribution.


Garage owner gets chance to fight liability for teen hurt in stolen car crash

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

TORONTO _ A garage owner will get a chance to argue before the Supreme Court of Canada that he should not be held responsible for the terrible injuries a teen suffered when he and a friend stole a car from the lot and crashed it.

Canada’s top court agreed last week to hear the highly unusual case in which the injured teen successfully sued the garage for leaving the car unlocked and its keys in the ashtray.

Court records show the teens had been drinking and smoking marijuana when they trespassed on Chad Rankin’s property in Paisley, Ont., late on an evening in July 2006. One of the teens, then 16, decided to steal a Toyota Camry even though he had never driven before.

The duo headed to Walkerton but never made it. The passenger, who can only be identified as J.J., was left with catastrophic brain injuries in the ensuing crash. J.J., then 15, sued his friend and his friend’s mother as well as Rankin for negligence.

Superior Court Justice Johanne Morissette determined Rankin owed J.J. a duty of care because, among other things, people entrusted with motor vehicles “must assure themselves that the youth in their community are not able to take possession of such dangerous objects.”

The jury then found the injured teen and the defendants negligent, but laid the bulk of the blame 37 per cent on the garage owner. In doing so, jurors cited the fact that the car was unlocked, the key was in the vehicle, and that Rankin should have known there was a risk of theft. They also faulted him for the overall lack of security.

Last October, Ontario’s Court of Appeal refused to overturn the trial verdict, saying that Rankin did indeed owe J.J. a duty of care _ although not for the reasons Morissette had stated. It also found the jury’s findings reasonable.

“On the face of things, the notion that an innocent party could owe a duty of care to someone who steals from him seems extravagant, but matters are not so simple,” Appeal Court Justice Grant Huscroft wrote for the panel. “It is well established that the duty of care operates independently of the illegal or immoral conduct of an injured party.”

In this novel case, the Appeal Court found ample evidence supported the conclusion of “foreseeability” that a car might be stolen.

Trial witnesses, the court noted, testified that Rankin’s Garage routinely left cars unlocked with the keys inside, while other garages used lock-boxes or took other measures to secure the keys. Rankin himself testified that the witnesses had lied, saying he kept keys in a safe, and checked every night that vehicles were locked.

In addition, evidence was that the garage took no measures to keep people off the property when it was closed, there had been a previous auto theft from the lot, and joyriding in the area was common.

“The risk of theft was clear,” Huscroft wrote. “It was foreseeable that minors might take a car from Rankin’s Garage that was made easily available to them.”

Rankin, Huscroft found, had abrogated his responsibility for securing the cars against theft by minors like J.J. and while a different jury might have parcelled out the blame differently, its conclusions were not unreasonable. The court also ordered Rankin to pay J.J. $30,000 in legal costs.

It’s not clear when the Supreme Court will hear the case.


Auto insurance fraud costs Canadian consumers billions of dollars each year

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Auto insurance fraud costs Canadian consumers billions of dollars each year – ILSTV.com

March is Fraud Prevention Month and Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is highlighting that everyone can play a role in limiting the personal and financial costs of auto insurance fraud.

“Auto insurance fraud is a serious crime that costs Canadians billions of dollars each year,” said Garry Robertson, National Director, Investigative Services, IBC. “It’s an illegal, organized big business, largely unknown to consumers, that siphons resources away from our health care system, ties up our emergency services and courts, and drives up insurance costs.”

The property and casualty (P&C) insurance industry is increasingly sophisticated in its ability to detect and prevent insurance fraud. This includes fraud perpetrated by organized crime rings that stage collisions and involves the collusion of service providers such as medical facilities, auto body shops, and tow truck operators. IBC and P&C insurers work closely with CANATICS, an organization that uses state-of-the-art analytics technology to help insurers identify possible fraudulent activity committed by these dangerous crime rings.

IBC and P&C insurers also work across Canada with law enforcement agencies, all levels of government, insurance broker organizations and other stakeholders to raise awareness and coordinate efforts to fight this crime.

“Insurers and their partners are already playing a significant role in reducing instances of auto insurance fraud. However, it is important that consumers know what to look for and to avoid becoming victims,” added Robertson.

Consumers can help protect themselves against fraud by following these tips:

Do your homework when purchasing a used vehicle:

  • Select a reputable dealer and look into the vehicle’s history. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Inspect the vehicle you’re considering buying to make sure it wasn’t in a flood. Check for water stains and mildew. Also look for sand or silt under the carpets, floor mats and headliner cloth, and behind the dashboard. Look for rust on the screws on the console and in other areas where water doesn’t normally reach.
  • Check IBC’s VIN Verify Service. This service helps you make sure the vehicle hasn’t been fraudulently given a new vehicle identification number (VIN) to hide that it was previously branded as non-repairable.
  • Have a certified mechanic inspect the vehicle before you buy it.

Avoid staged collisions:

  • Never tailgate; instead, allow ample distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. Look well beyond the front of your car while driving.
  • If you suspect that you have been a victim of a staged collision, call the police from the accident scene and use IBC’s tip reporting program. Notify your insurance representative immediately.

Take extra care if you are involved in a collision:

  • Document all that you can. Write down the other vehicle’s licence plate number, collect driver’s licence and insurance information, photograph the damage, note the other driver’s behaviour and watch for warning signs of a scam. Fill out the IBC collision report form.
  • Use a reputable tow truck service. Be sure the tow truck has a licensing number. Carefully read anything you are asked to sign. Ask that your vehicle be towed to a secure location of your choosing.
  • In the event of a collision, call your insurance representative as soon as possible.

If you think you have witnessed or been the victim of an insurance crime, call IBC’s confidential TIPS Line (open 24 hours a day, seven days a week) at 1-877-IBC-TIPS, or submit an anonymous tip to IBC online.

IBC Initiatives to Identify and Deter Fraud

  • IBC TIPS Line and online tip form: IBC provides a webpage and toll-free phone number to allow consumers to anonymously report insurance fraud.
  • Provincial Auto Theft Network (PATNET): This award-winning IBC program brings together law enforcement agencies and the insurance industry to reduce auto theft and insurance fraud.
  • VIN Verify Service: This free IBC service allows consumers to check a database containing information from participating IBC member insurance companies to determine whether a vehicle has been reported as being seriously damaged in a flood.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 120,000 Canadians, pays $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $49 billion.


$217,500 in Damages Ordered Following Suckerpunch Assault

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, ordering the payment of $217,500 in total damages after the Plaintiff was injured in an assault/battery.

In today’s case (Rycroft v. Rego) the Plaintiff alleged he was injured in an altercation with the Defendant.  Although the Court heard differing versions of events the Court concluded the Defendant through an “unexpected” punch to the Plaintiff which began a brief physical scuffle.

In finding the Defendant culpable for the assault and the injuries that arose Mr. Justice Williams made the following findings of fact:

[30]         Based on my examination of all of the evidence, my conclusions with respect to what occurred are as follows.

[31]         In order to investigate the reported damage caused to the bike park, shortly after returning home, the plaintiff entered the yard behind his residence. Immediately before the altercation, while Mr. Rycroft was walking at a moderate pace in the general direction of his own home, Mr. Rego, walking quite briskly, approached him.

[32]         I accept that the plaintiff said words to the effect of “you must be the dad; I do not want kids playing there anymore.”

[33]         I find that, at that point, the defendant struck the side of the plaintiff’s head. The version of events which most sensibly and logically explains the resulting bruise is that, when he was struck, Mr. Rycroft had his head turned to the right. The punch was of significant force and unexpected.

[34]         As a consequence of the blow, the plaintiff went down in a forward direction, ending up on his knees. He had his hands on the ground. The defendant immediately applied some type of headlock to Mr. Rycroft from behind.

[35]         The two men struggled, with Mr. Rego behind and above Mr. Rycroft. No significant blows were landed.

[36]         The physical engagement ended fairly quickly. The defendant let go of the plaintiff and moved away, and the plaintiff got to his feet.

[37]         The defendant said something to the effect of “do you want round two?” or “do you want some more?” The plaintiff responded in the affirmative, I expect probably more reflexively than seriously, but did nothing physically to further engage with the defendant. Instead, the plaintiff reached into his pocket, took out his phone, and called 911.

[38]         At that point, the defendant and his wife left and went home.

[39]         In the course of the altercation, the plaintiff sustained an injury to his left temple area, an injury which is depicted in the photo marked Exhibit 6. I find that bruise was caused by a blow from the defendant.

[40]         It is also reasonable to conclude that Mr. Rycroft sustained minor injuries to his arm, his elbow area, and his hand, likely from going to the ground.

[41]         Finally, I accept that the plaintiff incurred some injury to his knees, also resulting from going to the ground.


Top 10 most stolen vehicles in Vancouver – Did yours make the list?

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Got an older Honda Civic currently sitting in your driveway?

You might want to double check.

The Vancouver Police released their list of the top 10 most stolen cars in Vancouver, and not only is the Honda Civic a popular car to own, it’s the most popular one to steal.

Other popular choices for car thieves include Ford F-150s, Toyota Camrys, and Jeep Cherokees.

Top 10 stolen vehicles in Vancouver

  1. Honda Civic (pre-2000)
  2. Ford F-150 (pre-1999) and Ford F-250 trucks (pre-2007)
  3. Honda Accord (pre-1998)
  4. Dodge/Plymouth Chrysler minivan (1991-2000)
  5. Jeep Cherokee (1993 to 1999)
  6. Ford Econoline van (2000 to 2007)
  7. Toyota Corolla (1990 to 2004)
  8. Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/ Sierra Trucks (1992 to 2006)
  9. Acura Integra (1990 to 2001)
  10. Toyota Camry / Solara (1989 to 1999)

If your car made the list, but anti-theft devices cost more than your ride, the VPD may have a solution for you.

The detachment is giving away wheel locks at four different locations while supplies last.

Get your own Plymouth (or whatever thief-prone vehicle you own) protector at these community police centres:

  • Collingwood – 5160 Joyce Street, Vancouver
  • Hastings Sunrise CPC – 2620 East Hastings Street, Vancouver
  • Kerrisdale Oakridge Marpole – 6070 E. Boulevard, Vancouver
  • Granville Downtown– 1263 Granville Street, Vancouver

Claims: Is my nephew committing insurance fraud?

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

My nephew had his car broken into and he lied and claimed he’d had a brand-new MacBook in it. He doesn’t think it’s wrong since insurance companies charge so much and make a lot of money. This is fraud, right? I’m trying to scare him. Dan, Toronto

Insurance fraud is, well, fraud – but for some, it’s considered a matter of just getting back a small chunk of what you’ve been pouring in for years, a researcher said.

“People think of insurance policies as a savings account – the more they’ve paid in, the more entitled they feel to take something back,” said Dr. Yoel Inbar, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. “If you’ve never filed a claim, it almost feels like you’re getting a bad deal.”

In several studies involving about 1,000 people in the United States and the Netherlands (“there’s no reason to believe this isn’t true for Canada”), Inbar found that people rationalized acts of fraud such as getting the body shop to fix existing damage along with claim-covered accident damage.

They didn’t see it as stealing, he said.

“People don’t understand how insurance works – they think it’s a big faceless corporation and it will come out of their profits,” Inbar said. “So they don’t realize that what it actually does is make it more expensive for everybody.”

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) referred to Inbar’s research when it released an Ipsos survey of 1,052 Ontarians.

In that survey, about 10 per cent said they had submitted an exaggerated or false claim.

Plus, 35 per cent said they didn’t know that defrauding an insurance company is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada – and 25 per cent said they didn’t know auto insurance fraud affects auto insurance premiums.

“People don’t understand the basic idea of risk pooling,” Inbar said. “If we ask people to describe what auto insurance is, they say, ‘You pay into to it so eventually you can take something out.’ ”

Inbar said “a small minority said what an economist will tell you: that it’s a mechanism for risk hedging.”

In 2010, KPMG estimated that insurance fraud cost companies $768-million to $1.56-billion.

That same year, Ontario reduced benefits paid out to people injured in accidents – and it saved insurance companies $2-billion.

In 2015, the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association released a report by two York University professors showing that Ontario insurance companies made big profits – as much as an 18.5 per cent return on equity.

What if you get caught committing insurance fraud? The claim could get denied, your insurance policy could be cancelled and, if it’s more than $5,000 and you’re convicted, you could get up to 14 years in prison.

Less than $5,000? Up to two years.


15 most famous cases of insurance fraud

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Alton Parrish 

  1. HCA/Medicare: In 2000 and 2002, HCA pleaded guilty to 14 felonies, including fraudulently billing Medicare as well as other programs. HCA had inflated the seriousness of diagnoses, filed false cost reports, and paid kickbacks to doctors to refer patients. HCA had to pay the US government $631 million plus interest, as well as $17.5 million to state Medicaid agencies, on top of $250 million already paid to Medicare for outstanding expense claims. It was the largest fraud settlement in US history, with law suits reaching $2 billion in total.
  2. John Darwin’s Death: John Darwin faked his death in a canoeing accident, turning up five years later. He’d been secretly living in his house and the house next door, while his wife claimed the money on his life insurance. They were both sentenced to six years in prison, but released on probation. BBC created a TV drama about their story called Canoe Man.
  3. The horse murders scandal: Between the mid 1970s and mid 1990s many expensive horses were involved in insurance fraud. These expensive horses, often show jumpers, were placed on insurance for accident or death, and killed for the insurance money. The number of horses killed in this manner is believed to be at least 50 and possibly as high as 100. It was the biggest scandal in equestrian sports, resulting in the death of a whistleblower, Helen Brach, in addition to the horses.
  4. John Mango’s fire: A Toronto businessman, John Mango hired someone to set fire to his business for the insurance money. Things got quite out of hand, killing one person during the fire and forcing many families to leave the area until the fire could be put out. Mango was charged with second degree murder on top of his fraud charges.
  5. Swoop and squat: In the 90s, car insurance fraud ran rampant. Cars would purposely get into accidents with innocent people on the road, hoping to score insurance money, and often, they did. These accidents frequently injured drivers, and some were even fatal. These accidents usually earned the orchestrators about $20,000 each.
  6. Michael Jackson’s prescriptions: Lloyds of London has recently filed suit to invalidate an insurance policy taken out by Michael Jackson. The policy covered his “This Is It” tour in the event that it was not successful. The payout was to be $17.5 million, but Lloyds argues that it is invalid because Michael Jackson did not disclose prescription drugs on his application. As Jackson died from an overdose, Lloyds is claiming deception.
  7. The Titanic: Everyone knows the story of the Titanic, but not everyone realizes that some believe it’s part of a conspiracy to pull off a huge insurance fraud. The Olympic, Titanic’s sister ship, was damaged and rendered useless during one of its voyages-and some believe that the Titanic as it sunk was actually the Olympic. Conspiracy theorists note several inconsistencies in the performance and construction of the “Titanic” that indicate the Titanic sinking was a case of swapped ships.
  8. Cooperman art theft hoax: Would you steal your own art for money? LA ophthalmologist Steven Cooperman did. He arranged for a Picasso and a Monet to be stolen from his home in an attempt to collect $17.5 million in insurance money. He was convicted in July 1999.
  9. Martin Frankel: Martin Frankel’s insurance fraud is just one in a long list of financial crimes. He was sentenced to 200 months in prison due to over $200 million in losses to insurance companies. He eventually plead guilty to 24 federal counts of racketeering and conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud.
  10. Bristol-Myers Squibb kickbacks: Regulators in California have gone after Bristol-Myers Squibb for insurance fraud, among other offenses. The lawsuit accuses Bristol-Myers of making payments to high-prescribing physicians, targeting and profiting on the private insurance industry. It is the largest health insurance fraud to be pursued by a California state agency. Additionally, in 2007, the pharmaceutical company paid $515 million to settle with federal and state governments against allegations of kickbacks to defraud Medicare and Medicaid.
  11. Dr. Gupta’s mystery procedures: There’s a nationwide manhunt launched by the FBI looking for Dr. Gautam Gupta. The complaint against him alleges that he submitted claims to Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Medicaid for unnecessary procedures, and even ones that were never performed. The fraudulent insurance claims from Dr. Gupta reached nearly $25 million.
  12. Millionaire insurance fraud: Charles Ingram was first made famous as a fraud when he cheated on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, using coded coughs to win. But his deception was further exposed when he was convicted of insurance fraud as well. He placed a suspicious £30,000 burglary claim, and was found to be dishonest, ultimately winning two guilty charges for his fraud.
  13. TAP Pharmaceuticals fraud: The Department of Justice got involved with this pharmaceutical insurance fraud case. TAP Pharmaceuticals engaged in fraudulent drug pricing and marketing conduct, as well as filing fraudulent claims with Medicare and Medicaid. They agreed to pay $559 million to the government for those claims, as part of an $875 million settlement for all criminal charges and civil liabilities.
  14. I get knocked down, but I get up again…and knocked down again 48 more times: With 49 cases, Isabel Parker earned her title as the queen of the slip and fall scam. During her career, she received claims totaling $500,000.
  15. Torching the Malibu: What do you do if you don’t want to pay on your car anymore? If you’re teacher Tramesha Lashon Fox, you get your students to set your car on fire in exchange for passing grades. She’d hoped to get insurance money, but instead lost her job and served 90 days in jail.

B.C. lawyer says pet insurance not worth the cost

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

When it comes to buying pet insurance and dealing with unexpected medical costs, critics argue you are better off self-insuring.

“I don’t believe in pet insurance because I have seen so many clients who have been on the spectrum of the gamut of people who do not benefit from pet insurance,”  said Victoria Shroff, a lawyer who specializes in pet litigation and an adjunct law professor at UBC.

Shroff has been practising animal law for close to 20 years and has witnessed clients let down by their pet insurance policies.

“It’s there for you when the sun is shining, the umbrellas are handed to you, but when it rains the umbrellas are taken away,” she said.

“That’s the same situation with pet insurance. People think they’ve got coverage, they go in and they need something done urgently with their animal, particularly older animals, and they’ll find – sorry, preexisting condition. We can’t cover you.”

Instead, Schroff recommends setting aside money every month for a  pet emergency.

“Have a specific savings account that you set aside for your animals. Put down $50 to $80 away per month per pet.”

Still, the BC SPCA recommends pet insurance.

“It can help your animal get better care faster and with less stress for you,” Dr. Emilia Gordon of the BC SPCA said. “Typically exclusions fall under a couple of categories. Many times preexisting conditions are excluded. Sometimes breed-related issues are excluded and sometimes it’s for a certain period and sometimes it’s for life.”

When choosing a policy, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association recommends pet owners ask the following questions:

  • Does the policy cover genetic conditions?
  • What percentage of fees will be reimbursed?
  • Does the policy cover vaccines?
  • What is the deductible?
  • Do your premiums change as your pet ages?

Gordon said consumers should read the fine print of any policy and consult with a veterinarian to help sort through the details. Policies are diverse and monthly premiums and deductibles can vary.