Sunday, May 14th, 2017
Lawyer Josiah MacQuarrie answers some key questions about property protection from environmental damageDid you know most insurance policies don’t include ‘overland’ flooding? CBC posed viewer questions to insurance lawyer Josiah MacQuarrie about nebulous policy language, ageing infrastructure and more.
1. Too much rain causing indoor puddles? You’re probably not covered.“Your typical insurance policy excludes ‘overland flooding,'” said MacQuarrie. The term refers to what we’re seeing now in Quebec and Ontario, with water damage caused by rainfall, swollen rivers and rising water tables. Most people don’t know that overland flooding is an add-on, MacQuarrie explained. Clients usually need to pay more in an additional policy to protect themselves against this type of water damage, which insurers view as foreseeable and preventable with proper home maintenance. To qualify for most basic coverage, the source of the water damage needs to be unexpected, like a broken dishwasher or burst pipe. But the “natural ingress” of water — like the kind you get when your foundation starts leaking — typically isn’t covered, said MacQuarrie.
2. Climate change is making floods more likely.Extreme weather claims in Canada have gone up 400 per cent in the last eight years, said MacQuarrie. And insurance companies are prepared. “The insurance industry has been seeing this for some time,” he added. In the face of a changing climate, insurance providers are devising strategies to deal with extreme events like floods by evaluating the kinds of products they offer and how they handle claims. MacQuarrie says more weather events mean more claims are paid — which probably mean higher premiums in the long run.
3. If you live in a flood plain, you’ll pay a lot more.The trick is to know you’re buying in a flood plain before making a down payment. But what if you already live in a place prone to floods? For some that live in high-risk areas and want overland flood insurance, “you’re going to pay a lot for it,” said MacQuarrie. “It may be that the cost is just prohibitive.”
4. Once the flooding stops, a lot of people will find they’re uninsured.“It’s tragic,” said MacQuarrie, but many people will discover their policies don’t cover flood damage — or the costs of shelter from fleeing their homes — in the coming days and weeks. That means many will be looking to their provincial government for help. It’s possible that disaster relief payments may depend on whether or not a home is insured, as they did in Windsor, Ont. last fall, when heavy rainfall caused widespread basement flooding. Aid to impacted people in Windsor was dispensed on a case-by-case basis, and there were different options for homes that had insurance and those that didn’t. But the guidelines from Public Safety Canada, the federal body that provides disaster relief funding to the provinces for distribution, state that insurable property isn’t eligible for reimbursement. “Insurable,” according to the guidelines, means that “insurance coverage for a specific hazard for the individual, family, small business owner or farmer was available in the area at reasonable cost.”
5. Insurance companies aren’t evil. But they are businesses.While insurance providers are “in the business to make a profit,” according to MacQuarrie, they’re also obligated to pay claims under the legal terms of their policies — meaning that if it’s on paper, they’ve got to pay. But confusion arises when clients misunderstand their coverage. MacQuarrie cautions renters and homeowners to check their policies carefully, and seek help from a licensed broker if they’re having trouble understanding the language. “There’s an obligation on people who purchase insurance to know what’s covered and what isn’t,” he said. “Whether or not the average person is going to sit down and read their policy cover to cover? It’s unlikely.”
6. Renters need coverage, too.Just because you don’t own that condo doesn’t mean you get to skip insurance bills. Tenants can purchase contents insurance to cover water damage to their furniture, electronics and other valuables. “It’s certainly something that anyone who is renting a property should be looking into,” MacQuarrie said.
7. Different types of damage aren’t equal.It’s a costly distinction, and one made regularly by insurers. Why are some kinds of damage covered, but not others? Higher-risk items often get removed and are offered as add-ons instead, according to MacQuarrie. Without those distinctions, basic premiums would be too high to remain competitive, he explains. “If every possible loss was covered on a homeowner’s policy, the typical person probably couldn’t afford insurance.”
Sunday, May 14th, 2017By Kate McGillivray, CBC News Increasingly severe weather in Canada has made for changes in home insurance that could leave homeowners unprotected if their house is damaged in a flood. The first thing to know: most home insurance policies don’t include flood insurance at all, explained Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Since about 2013, when Toronto experienced a record-breaking stormthat flooded hundreds of basements, insurance companies have begun offering overland flood insurance, “typically as an add-on,” said Karageorgos. In other words, if you didn’t sign up for it, it’s likely you don’t have it. Karageorgos points to a 2016 flood in Windsor and Tecumseh, Ont., to illustrate how expensive flooding can be for homeowners — and how common it is for people to be caught unaware by their lack of coverage. “In many cases there weren’t policies that had flood insurance, and those that did, there were usually limits,” he said. One Windsor resident’s house sustained about $50,000 of damage, but his insurance policy only covered one-fifth of that.
Sunday, May 14th, 2017
With the threat of more flooding in parts of B.C. this week, ICBC is urging drivers to be cautious in and around flooded areas.
ICBC recommends finding a safe location on high ground for the temporary storage of vehicles and seasonal vehicles such as motor homes, trailers or snowmobiles located in low-lying areas that may be subject to flooding. Customers must ensure that vehicles are properly licensed and insured before they’re operated on any road or highway. Customers can purchase temporary operation permits from any Autoplan broker. Do not store valuable goods or household items in your vehicle as these items are not covered by vehicle insurance.Here are ICBC’s top tips for drivers in and around flooded areas:
Floodwaters can quickly wash out roads and bridges. That’s why it’s important to be prepared and plan out an alternative route in case the road you want to use is closed. Check drivebc.ca for the latest road conditions and Emergency Info BC for up-to-date flood information.
If you find yourself on a road that’s flooded or marked closed, don’t continue. Turn around and use another route.
If you have no choice but to drive into water, drive slowly and cautiously. Watch carefully for signs of a moving current that may impact the safety of the road ahead. Respect the power of water.
Think about what you can’t see – hazards such as submerged trees or downed powerlines that may be in the water. If in doubt, don’t proceed.
After driving through deep water, always test your brakes. They may pull to one side of the other or they may not work at all. You can dry the brakes by driving slowly and applying brake pressure lightly. Other parts such as emergency brake cables, axels and electronic components should be dried and checked by a qualified professional as soon as possible.
If your vehicle stalls on a flooded stretch of road, be prepared to abandon it and retreat to higher ground.
Don’t try to retrieve vehicles from flooded areas until it’s safe. Wait for the water to recede.
If your vehicle’s engine has even been partially immersed in flood water, don’t try to start it. Qualified professionals should check all operating systems and fluid levels to prevent possible future problems.
ICBC’s optional comprehensive or specified perils coverage provides customers with protection for vehicle damage caused by rising water. Customers can report a claim online at icbc.com or by calling ICBC’s Dial-a-Claim at 604-520-8222 or 1-800-910-4222.
If you’ve been placed on evacuation alert, take a few minutes to pack all of your important documents including your B.C. driver’s licence and/or B.C. services card/B.C. identification card, passport, original birth certificate, marriage certificate and Canadian citizenship document. Protecting these valuable documents will spare you from having to replace them. It’s also a good idea to have a copy of your vehicle registration and Autoplan insurance policy.
Sunday, May 14th, 2017
Excerpted article was written By Yvonne Colbert, CBC NewsIt is billed as a way for vehicle owners to reduce their insurance rates, and measures everything from braking practices to speed in order to reward good driving habits. Even so, Steve Carver has no interest in attaching a telematic device to his car, calling it “an invasion of privacy.” His long-time insurance company offered him one after he questioned why his rates went up last year, despite a clean driving record and a single claim years ago for a windshield. “I said, ‘I’ve been with your company all these years and you’re treating me like a criminal,”‘ said Carver, who lives in Blockhouse, N.S., and has been with Intact Insurance for two decades. “I don’t think it’s right.” A telematic device is a small gadget that plugs into the port of a car and measures driving habits such as hard braking, acceleration, speed, distance travelled, time of day and, in some cases, location. The move toward them is called usage-based insurance. The Insurance Bureau of Canada said it expects more and more insurance companies to start offering telematic devices to their customers.
Sunday, May 14th, 2017“Water is the new fire,” declared Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada. “Insurers are paying out more with regards to water damage claims than fire damage — even though home insurance really started out as a fire protection policy.” Since 2009, Canadian insurers have been paying out an average of $400 million a year for severe weather events, most of which involve flooding. During the previous 25 years, weather events cost the industry an average of $100 million a year, according to insurance bureau data.
The federal government also pays for flood damage through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements program, which reimburses the provinces after a natural disaster: the bigger the event, the more it pays. A 2016 report by the parliamentary budget officer concluded that the cost of disaster relief for severe weather (hurricanes, winter storms, thunderstorms and floods) has been rising steadily for 20 years: from an average of $54 million between 1995 and 2004 to an average of $410 million a year between 2005 and 2014. The report estimates that the federal government can expect to pay $673 million annually for flood damage alone in each of the next five years. The problem, Karageorgos said, is a function of the country’s aging water and sewer infrastructure combined with storms that are growing in severity and frequency due to climate change. The Insurance Bureau of Canada has identified severe weather as a priority and has called on governments to work with the industry to build a national flood program to finance new infrastructure, improve flood defences, update floodplain maps and restrict construction in vulnerable areas. “Canada’s aging sewer and storm water infrastructure simply cannot handle today’s precipitation,” concludes the IBC’s 2016 annual report on the state of the industry. According to the IBC, about 10 per cent of Canadian homeowners live on a floodplain and require overland flood insurance, which protects against the kind of flooding experienced this week in the National Capital Region. But since the insurance pool is so small, and the relative risk so high, the cost of flood coverage is prohibitive. For those in areas that are regularly inundated, flood coverage is simply unavailable since insurance is designed to protect against random events, not predictable ones, the bureau says. University of Waterloo professor Blair Feltmate, leader of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, called overland flooding “the elephant in the room in Canada.” “Flooding, by a very large margin, is the greatest extreme weather event challenging Canada today — by far,” he said. “And flooding basements, specifically, is the greatest cost.” Feltmate said the average homeowner shelled out $42,000 to repair basement damage after serious flooding hit Calgary and Toronto in 2013. Most of those homeowners, he said, had caps on their insured losses and had to finance the bulk of the repairs out of their own pockets. “We now have, in Canada, a growing uninsurable housing market where people simply do not have insurance coverage for flooding,” he said. “It makes those homes a ticking time bomb because it means that when the next flood comes along, they’re going to find out they don’t have any coverage, and they’ll have to wait for disaster relief assistance if they do qualify.” Some homeowners could default on mortgages, he said, while they await disaster assistance, which can take months to process. “The threat to the Canadian mortgage market right now is not a 25 basis point rise in interest rates,” he argued, “it’s the uninsurability of basements.” The problem will only get worse as climate change advances, he added, since hotter temperatures increase evaporation into a warmer atmosphere that retains more moisture. It means more water comes down in storms that dissipate more energy, Feltmate said, with potentially disastrous consequences.
“It has gone up four-fold, and there’s no reason to believe it will go down,” Karageorgos said.
Sunday, May 14th, 2017NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. _ Police say a former employee of the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia has pleaded guilty in a case where people connected with the Justice Institute of B.C. were targeted with firebombings and shootings. An earlier trial heard 15 families across Metro Vancouver were terrorized after a man who saw them park at the justice training centre in New Westminster, B.C., tracked them down using information from their licence plates. The attacks were orchestrated by Vincent Cheung who was sentenced to 13 years in prison by a B.C. Supreme Court judge last July. The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit says the investigation determined an employee of ICBC fraudulently obtained the victims’ names and personal information by searching their licence plates. Police say 44-year-old Elaine Rheaume pleaded guilty in New Westminster Provincial Court to one count of unauthorized use of a computer on Monday. Rheaume, who was fired by the corporation in 2011, received a suspended sentence of nine months of probation and 40 hours of community service.
Sunday, May 14th, 2017
In an ideal world, drivers would stop if they see you backing out of a parking space. But if you’re counting on them to stop, you may need a backup plan.
“Generally, the person backing up does not have a ‘right of way’ – they must ensure it is safe before they start,” Constable Melissa Wutke, spokesperson for RCMP Traffic Services, said in an e-mail. “There is no definition under the [Motor Vehicle Act of B.C.] that stipulates, ‘you must wait for a vehicle to completely back up from an area before passing.’”
Section 193 of the act says, “The driver of a vehicle must not cause the vehicle to move backward into an intersection or over a crosswalk, and must not in any event or at any place cause a vehicle to move backward unless the movement can be made in safety.” It’s a $109 fine, including fees, and two demerit points.
Even though the law doesn’t say drivers have to stop to wait when somebody’s backing up, it’s something people should do. Just don’t assume they will.
“Common sense would dictate that if you see a vehicle in your lane of travel, then you must wait for that vehicle to move before you continue in that lane,” Wutke said.
If somebody speeds past out of nowhere and hits you – they could be charged with driving without reasonable consideration. It’s a $198 fine and six demerit points.
“On a surface level, the person backing up has to show caution – but if somebody drives through at a ridiculous speed and they try to slip through the crack and not stop for you, they could be charged,” said RCMP Sergeant Lorne Lecker, with Deas Island Traffic Services. “That’s where witnesses and video are so crucial.”
Or, you could both be charged. Even without charges, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia has to determine who’s at fault.
“As a driver, your top priority is to avoid the collision in the first place than be cleared after an investigation,” Lecker said.
The laws vary by province. Ontario is the only province where the rules of the road don’t apply on private property that’s used by the public, like mall parking lots.
So, if you back up and hit someone in Ontario, you won’t be charged under the Highway Traffic Act – but you could be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada.
And, Ontario’s fault determination rules do apply in parking lots, said the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
“Based on the limited information provided, [the driver backing up] would be at fault,” said Pete Karageorgos, IBC’s director of consumer and industry relations.
The law aside, if you’re struggling with drivers and pedestrians who won’t stop, you may have things, er, backward, said Angelo DiCicco, GTA general manager with Young Drivers of Canada.
“It’s better to back into the stall in the first place so you’re not backing out into an uncontrolled environment when you leave,” DiCicco said. “Backing out is very dangerous – there are people going by, kids running out – and rearview cameras have severe limitations.”
And, if you’re backing out extra cautiously because you can’t see if somebody’s there, you may be annoying drivers who’ve been waiting for you.
“Now they’re pissed off and decide to go while you’re double– and triple-checking,” DiCicco said. “If you’re having issues backing up and people are honking at you – at some point, you have to think, ‘Maybe it’s me.’”
If you do decide to back into a stall, signal and then roll down the window to gesture to let other drivers know that you’re backing in – and that they can go around you.
“If they don’t get it, you put the vehicle in reverse,” DiCicco said. “You want to communicate with the vehicles around you that the space is yours and you want to back in.”
Still, if you do back out, drivers should, ideally, stop – out of courtesy.
“Treat the people they way you want to be treated,” DiCicco said. “If someone is on your intended path, you wait. It’s like McDonald’s – first come, first served.”
Source: The Globe and Mail
Sunday, May 14th, 2017
Sunday, May 14th, 2017Adding to this site’s archived postings of ICBC chronic pain cases, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic pain in a Plaintiff pre-disposed to somatization. In the recent case (Alafianpour-Esfahani v. Jolliffe) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2012 rear end collision that the Defendant was responsible for. The Plaintiff alleged brain injury altogether this claim was not proven at trial. The court found the plaintiff was pre-disposed to somatization and suffered from a chronic pain disorder following the collision. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $120,000 Madam Justice Sharma provided the following reasons:
 In light of the following factors, I find Ms. Alafianpour-Esfahani is entitled to $120,000 in non-pecuniary damages:
a) the accident caused soft tissue injuries to her neck, back and shoulder that resulted in headaches and developed (in combination with her predisposition to somatization) into chronic pain;
b) she has not likely reached maximum medical improvement of her physical symptoms, but any further improvement depends upon the success of addressing the reactivity of her nervous system, which will be challenging;
c) her physical symptoms have been prolonged because of her psychiatric condition characterization by a vulnerability to somatization and pathological nervous system reactivity;
d) her prognosis for improving her condition by following a thorough program of desensitization is fair, but that is tempered by the chronicity of her condition because it has been left untreated fro 3 ½ years;
e) the accident has negatively impacted all aspects of her life, including her relationship with her family, her social interaction, her ability to work, her recreational activities, her ability to maintain her home and yard, her ability to cook for family and friends; her ability to provide emotional support to her children, especially her daughter and her ability to travel.
Sunday, May 14th, 2017
Sixty per cent of motorcycle crashes in B.C. involve other vehicles – that’s why ICBC is urging everyone to share the roads safely with motorcycles and yield the right-of-way at intersections.
Today marks the start of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and, with warmer weather upon us, more riders will be hitting the road. It’s important that both drivers and riders practice safe driving to keep our communities safer.
Last year in B.C., 1,600 motorcyclists were injured in 2,600 crashes.
Tips for drivers:
Give extra space when passing a motorcycle: Allow at least three seconds following distance when you’re behind a motorcycle.
Scan intersections: As with other vulnerable road users, the majority of car crashes involving motorcycles happen in intersections. Drivers need to look out for motorcycles – especially when turning left – they can be harder to see and it can be tough to judge how fast they’re travelling.
Leave your phone alone: Stay focused and avoid distractions that take your mind off driving and your eyes off the road.
Share the road with motorcycles: If in doubt about who has the right-of-way, yield to the motorcycle.
Tips for riders:
Wear all the gear, all the time: This includes a helmet that meets DOT, Snell or ECE safety standards and safety gear designed for riding. In all weather conditions, wearing proper motorcycle safety gear is key to reducing the severity of injuries in the event of a crash.
Be bright and visible: Protect yourself and your passengers from serious injury by choosing gear that has bright colours and reflective materials.
Manoeuvre intersections safely: Especially where oncoming traffic is waiting to turn left, adjust your lane position and reduce your speed so you’ll have an escape path or time to stop if you need it.
Share the road with vehicles: Never assume a driver has seen you. They may not accurately judge your distance or speed of approach. As best you can, stay out of drivers’ blind spots.
This month, local police will be conducting two free motorcycle skills training sessions: in the Lower Mainland on May 13 and in Greater Victoria on May 14. Riders are invited to bring their motorcycles to receive coaching by police instructors and learn skill-enhancing and life-saving manoeuvres in a closed course.
Get more driver and rider tips on icbc.com.
Last year in the Lower Mainland, 940 motorcyclists were injured in 1,500 crashes. On average, 12 motorcyclists are killed in crashes each year in the region.
Last year on Vancouver Island, 310 motorcyclists were injured in 520 crashes. On average, six motorcyclists are killed in crashes each year in the region.
Last year in the Southern Interior, 330 motorcyclists were injured in 440 crashes. On average 11 motorcyclists are killed in crashes each year in the region.
Last year in the North Central region, 47 motorcyclists were injured in 73 crashes. On average five motorcyclists are killed in crashes each year in the region.
*Motorcyclist incident and injuries in B.C. based on ICBC claims data (2016). Includes incidents in parking lots and incidents involving parked vehicles; and excludes crashes involving out of province vehicles.
Motorcyclist fatalities in B.C. based on police-reported data (2011-2015). Includes low-speed motorcycles (scooters, mopeds and trikes).