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Drug screening devices: a new method to protect against impaired driving

Results from the federal government’s oral fluid drug screening device pilot project suggest the devices can be successfully used in Canada to identify drivers who test positive for certain drugs in various conditions.

A total of 53 police officers from seven jurisdictions across Canada collected over 1,140 samples between Dec. 18, 2016 and March 6, 2017 with two oral fluid screening devices that were selected for the pilot project.

Oral fluid screening devices can detect the recent presence of several drugs, including THC from cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamines, opioids, benzodiazepines and amphetamines.

Feedback from officers involved in the pilot project was largely positive. Officers reported that the devices were easy to use at the roadside with some standard operating procedures.

Drug impaired driving is a serious problem and giving law enforcement more tools to detect and deter drug-impaired driving will better protect communities.


Safety-first is essential with the anticipated increase in drone activity

New risks emerge for underwriters to assess in connection with increase in use of drones.

Sales of drones for private use have increased substantially in the last few years but now commercial drone activity is growing at an alarming rate. Current uses of drones include disaster relief, inspecting and exploring inaccessible places, precision agriculture, claims handling and logistics.

To improve air traffic at a low altitude, authorities and drone manufactures need to respond to changes due to the rapid development of technology and its capabilities.

Insurers have taken a proactive approach to fill the gaps in knowledge and to offer a comprehensive cover for all stakeholders. Since drone-related accidents involving bodily injury and/or property could provoke legal action, drones for both private and commercial use should have legal liability insurance to cover third-party damage.

With no uniform regulation currently existing for drones, insurance has to be tailored around diverse national regulations, in addition to being flexible enough to adapt to the frequent changes made.

We will continue to monitor the use of drones and their development, along with how drone insurance is affected next year. If you have any concerns, make sure to speak to your broker or company agent.


Insurance needs to adapt to new technology

Technology-focused investments are pushing business model changes across industries. With the continuous development of technology and its applications crossing traditional boundaries, insurance policies need to adapt to rising pressures of meeting new demands.

Insurance policies within the personal lines insurance value chain, including product development, client acquisition, underwriting, and claims are being challenged to update their policies as technology changes. Digital capabilities and the arrival of new competitors carving off pieces of the insurance value chain may well drive a significant restructuring of the industry.

New innovative technologies are rooted in mobile and digital but include a wide range of categories, with fundamental changes in communication, data availability and computation. Underlying these changes are several critical enabling technologies, from connectivity to analytics to artificial intelligence.

Insurance needs to continue to adapt as technology advances. We will continue to provide information regarding technology and its relation to insurance developments.


Cyber security risk: malware designed to perform attacks on power supply infrastructure

ESET Canada Inc., an IT security company, reported that its researchers have been analyzing samples of dangerous malware capable of performing an attack on power supply infrastructure.

They have named this malware Industroyer and state that is was most likely involved in the December 2016 cyber attack on Ukraine’s power grid. This attack resulted in power outages for over an hour in the capital of Kiev.

This newly discovered malware is capable of directly controlling electricity substation switches and circuit breakers. It uses industrial communication protocols used worldwide in power supply infrastructure, transportation control systems and other critical infrastructure.

The potential impact may range from simply turning off power distribution, triggering a cascade of failures, to more serious damage of equipment.

Kiev’s cyber attack is a prime example that cyber insurance should be at the forefront of your business’ budget to protect you from harm.


An increased risk of flooding for Canadian homes

The Canadian landscape is changing when it comes to floods. Climate change and society’s constantly transitioning land infrastructure are contributing to an increased risk of flooding in Canada.

We are seeing a transformation in land, which changes the impact of weather. From lush green landscapes to city grey infrastructures, we are altering the means of receiving and balancing rainfall and need to create new systems to account for both man-made changes and environmental developments.

Weather systems are slowing down and as a result leaving a more damaging effect. Canada is experiencing a new form of lingering weather with heavy doses of rain resulting in such historic floods as Manitoba’s major flood in 2011 and Calgary’s catastrophic flood in 2013.

It is important for consumers to be educated about floods to help them take precautionary steps to address the risk. Consumer awareness is fundamental to the success of avoiding disastrous conditions.

For more information on your policy’s flood insurance options, contact your broker or company agent.


Ford makes self-driving vehicles a reality with artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is the theory and development of computer systems capable of performing tasks that normally require human intelligence. Ford Motor Company has announced its US$1 billion investment in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company, to develop a virtual driving system for their autonomous vehicle launching in 2021.

Ford is expanding into an auto and a mobility company. They believe that investing in Argo AI will create significant value for their shareholders by strengthening the company’s leadership position in bringing self-driving vehicles to market in the near term and creating technology that could be licensed to others in the future.

The partnership aims to deliver the virtual driver system for Ford’s SAE level 4 self-driving vehicles. Argo AI plans to join forces with Ford’s autonomous vehicle software development effort to strengthen the commercialization of self-driving vehicles.

The successful deployment of self-driving cars will fundamentally change how people and goods move. This partnership will enable self-driving cars to be commercialized and deployed at large, extending affordable mobility to all.

We will continue to monitor the use of artificial intelligence and its development. Because the journey into the use of artificial intelligence is just beginning, there is excitement to see what the future holds.


Yoga insurance and its growing need

As fitness continues to rise in demand for both trendsetters and health enthusiasts, so does the need for its insurance. In addition to the fitness and balance benefits that yoga provides, it is also used as a method to treat PTSD, whiplash, depression and marital issues.

The yoga industry and the demand for insuring it are growing at an accelerated rate. The trends are constantly changing and at times this change occurs faster than the insurance can react. Being involved in this segment takes constantly refreshing oneself on the industry and the growing demands that are changing and developing by the minute.

As this area of insurance begins to be explored and defined it will be interesting to see the path it takes. We will continue to monitor how yoga insurance is affected next year. If you have any concerns, make sure to speak to your broker or company agent.


Mail scams: a loosing sweepstake

Mail scam is a fraudulent scheme in an attempt to obtain money or something of value from an individual. In 2014, the Canadian Anti‐Fraud Centre Annual Statistical Report stated that more than 42,000 complaints were filed for fraudulent activities originating in Canada or affecting Canadians.

On February 10, 2017, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) issued a warning to consumers about a mail scam conducted involving an unlicensed insurance company called TD Insurance, Melohre Mannex. Although this company may have a similar name to a licensed insurance company, they are not registered or affiliated with FSCO or the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario (RIBO).

The company issues notices to recipients stating that they are among the winners of a Home Phone Mega Sweepstakes Raffle. They claim to be working on behalf of the North America Financial Clearing Services to find winners that have not claimed their winnings.

The company sends the recipient a cheque to help pay taxes, insurance, handling and shipping fees. It requires the recipient to contact the claims representative listed on the document to either activate the cheque or start the claims process.

This type of scam is commonly known as an advance fee fraud. FSCO warns consumers to exercise caution if they receive unsolicited correspondence advising of lottery, sweepstakes or raffle winnings, and are encouraged to forward copies of the materials received to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Within the past year FSCO has issued several warnings of advance fee fraud scams.

For more information on your policy’s fraud insurance options, contact your broker or company agent.


The Dangers of Texting & Driving

Our Texting and Driving blog post from 2014 has been receiving a lot of attention recently. We would like to bring this to the forefront again as it continues to be a concern on our roads.

Money Saving Pro has recently put together a guide on the dangers of texting and driving based on our previous posts. While there is plenty of general awareness surrounding this dangerous activity, the most convincing argument is the data:

Statistics on texting and driving can be eye opening to those who don’t see this as a real highway safety issue:

  • An estimated 341,000 auto accidents in 2013 involved texting and driving (National Safety Council)
  • 3179 people were killed in distraction-related car crashes in 2014. (U.S. Department of Transportation/
  • Roughly 660,000 drivers are using an electronic device at any given time. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

We certainly do not want to give up all of the wonderful things our smartphones bring to our lives. As with most things, however, there has to be some level of risk mitigation in order to enjoy the pros without adding undue cons.

Cyber Insurance To Disrupt Business

Cyber insurance is intended to protect individuals or companies from online risks relating to their technology infrastructures; however, is not typically included in commercial general liability policies or traditional policies. The challenge is that some insurance companies are refusing to pay out for breaches caused by ineffective security practices.

With online technology taking a larger role in personal and business’ everyday lives, Cyber insurance is becoming more of a critical requirement for safety of your online presence and technology. The premiums and payouts will be increasing with the higher need and cost for breaches which are becoming more prevalent and frequent.

Yahoo’s last hack was a prime example that cyber insurance should be at the top of all business’ minds and fit into all 2017 budgets!