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Does auto insurance cover personal items involved in an accident?

Many people wonder how much their auto insurance actually covers and if personal items are included in their policy.

Did you know that legally insurers are required to pay for all reasonable expenses incurred to repair or replace personal items. These items include:

• Clothing worn at the time of the accident that was lost or damaged

• Dentures

• Hearing aids

• Prostheses

• Any other medical or dental devices that were lost or damaged in the accident

In order to receive reimbursement for replaced or repaired items, you must submit a claim with all receipts and necessary supporting documentation. If your claim is denied you may need to consult a lawyer as there are strict time limitations to dispute denied claims and the process involved can be tedious and complicated. To learn more about these limitations you can contact GIO free of charge at 1-877-225-0446 or via the GIO website.

For more information, read the full article from The Spec ( For specific detail on what you would be entitled to in the case of an auto accident, contact your insurance broker or company agent.

4 Important Tips For Wildfire Insurance Claims

With wildfires continuing to burn throughout the Fort McMurray area and other regions in Alberta, many Canadians are turning to their insurance providers for assistance. According to Steve Kee, director of communications for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, there are many myths surrounding filing insurance claims during times of natural disasters. Here are four tips from Steve on filing a claim during an emergency:

1. You don’t have to claim immediately
One of the big myths is that people must file their claim right away, or they won’t get anything from their insurance provider. This is false, and in reality, the formal claims process actually begins once the damage has been assessed. Thus, for many people faced with a natural disaster, including those in Fort McMurray, they are unable to claim right away and will be eligible to do so at a later point.

2. Check in with your insurance provider early and often
It’s important to check in with your insurance company early on as many policies come with additional living expenses, which people are entitled to as soon as they are evacuated. Some insurance companies even provide cheques at evacuation centres.

3. If you have home insurance, you’re likely covered
There is a lot of false information regarding whether home insurance is valid if the home was destroyed in a natural disaster. Many people believe that “an act of God” excludes something from a policy, which is not true. Most policies do cover natural disasters and insurers pay for damages as a result of windstorms, rain, hail and wildfires.

4. Know your policy
People need to know what’s in their policy and what they are entitled to. Some comprehensive policies will even cover damage to vehicles, so it’s best to know beforehand what you can expect from your insurer.

For the full story, visit CBC here. For more information on what you’re entitled to in the case of a natural disaster, contact your insurance broker or company agent.

The arrival of autonomous vehicles will upset the insurance industry

In the not-so-distant future, autonomous vehicles will be driving on our roads, as automakers including BMW and Chrysler dabble into mapping companies, a key technology in the development of automated vehicles.

With 95% of road accidents caused by human error, driverless vehicles are bound to make driving much safer. In Canada, accidents claim the lives of nearly 2,000 people annually, and injure more than 165,000.

But what does the driverless vehicle mean for insurance? The one major issue that insurers will have to address is liability. Will the manufacturer of the autonomous vehicle be responsible during an accident? What happens if the driver disables the autonomous driving system and then gets in an accident? Would the mapping software company be responsible if there was an issue with the operating system?

These are all questions that have yet to be answered and it will be interesting to see what types of regulations roll out and how insurance companies adapt.

Under Toronto City Council’s proposed recommendations, private transportation companies would need $7 million of insurance

Currently in Toronto, only taxicabs and limousines are required to carry a minimum of $2 million of collision and passenger hazard insurance. This may soon change with the Toronto City Council pushing recommendations that would require private transportation companies to carry a minimum of $2 million of collision and passenger hazard insurance, in addition to $5 million of commercial general liability insurance.

Under the new recommendations, taxis will continue to charge a city-regulated rate when a cab is hailed. Fares booked through a brokerage, either by phone or app, may be discounted by the brokerage. The recommendations also eliminate the minimum $70 per hour fare requirement for limos. Both Limos and private transportation companies would be subject to submitting an annual safety standards certificate issued by a licensed mechanic. Private transportation companies would not be licensed by the city but they must meet the same criminal background and driver screening requirements as vehicle-for-hire drivers, with records subject to audit by the city.

The proposed recommendations outlined in a report titled, A New Vehicle-For-Hire Bylaw to Regulate Toronto’s Ground Transportation Industry, are meant to provide ground transportation industries with an opportunity to develop efficiencies, allow for competition and reduce the regulatory burden.

Insurance Matters When Purchasing A New Home

There are many important things to consider when shopping around for your dream home. The location, layout of the house, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the overall design and need for upgrades are all important things to consider. However, when it comes down to insurance, some home features outweigh others.

One major factor to consider is how old the property is. Older homes can be challenging to insure due to features like knob and tube wiring, which are unable to accommodate today’s electrical load, making them a fire hazard. Another issue is that older wiring is often not compatible with today’s fixtures. Some insurers will provide temporary coverage while the homeowners are replacing the old wiring, but many insurers are wary of providing coverage.

Another issue is buried oil tanks. Even if an oil tank is no longer in use and filled with sand, the potential for surrounding contamination from any leaking oil is too great a risk for insurers to even consider offering coverage. Complete removal of the oil tank and remediation of the surrounding soil is necessary.

Unmaintained drainage systems, including gutters and downspouts can be a huge threat when it comes to water damage. With more people renovating basements, insurance costs are higher when flooding and water leaks occur. Failed waterproofing in older home can also raise issues, as it may represent a long-standing problem, not a sudden and accidental incident that insurance normally would cover.

In order to protect your future home, learn more about the property you’re purchasing and get in touch with your broker or company agent to find the right insurance fit for your prospective home.

Ways To Cut Your Auto Insurance Costs

Auto insurance can be expensive, but there are ways to cut costs and keep your rates at a manageable level. Below are six ways to help you cut your insurance costs.

1. Be mindful of the type of car you select.
The type of car you drive has a significant impact on the auto insurance premium you will pay. People who drive sportier cars may be faced with much higher insurance premiums than those driving “low-risk” cars. Cars that are more likely to be stolen or be in an accident will always come with higher insurance premiums.

2. Avoid accidents and distracted driving.
Insurers label those with multiple accidents, distracted driving and other infractions on their record as high-risk drivers. High-risk drivers pay higher insurance rates. It’s important to know your driving record and how it can be improved to lower your rates. An infraction such as a distracted driving ticket can increase your insurance from five to 25 percent depending on whether or not you have other tickets.

3. Get winter tires for your vehicle.
Some provinces, including Ontario, have made it necessary for insurance companies to offer a discount to drivers who install four winter tires. Check with your insurance provider to make sure you aren’t missing out on this offer.

4. If you can, pay all of your insurance premiums at once.
Rather than doing monthly instalments, pay all of your insurance premiums in one lump sum to spend less on your coverage. Often, insurers will charge extra to cover the cost of administering monthly payments.

5. Know your policy and shop around for rates.
It’s important to be aware of your policy and review it frequently. Rates can change over time. You should also review discounts on the policy to make sure you are receiving all of the discounts you’re entitled to. It may also be a good idea to check out what other insurance companies are offering. It’s a competitive market and insurance companies determine their rates on different factors. This means the type of car you drive and your driving record may weigh differently with another insurance company.

6. Increase your Deductibles
Increasing the deductibles in your insurance policy can save premium dollars. When doing this you must consider how large a loss (up to the deductible) you are prepared to pay for yourself in the event that a loss does happen. Ask your broker or company agent how much this can save.


Edmonton embraces Uber as it becomes the first city to pass an Uber-friendly bylaw

As ride-sharing becomes more popular, pressure has been put on Canadian cities to pass Uber regulations. Recently, Edmonton became the first Canadian city to pass a ride-sharing bylaw.

Uber now has the responsibility of arranging provincially-approved insurance before the March 1st deadline. Uber will not be able to get a license under the new bylaw without provincially-approved insurance and drivers operating without insurance will be charged fines of up to $5,000.

Will other Canadian cities follow suit? In January Uber received a taxi brokerage license from the City of Toronto for its taxi service, which is another step towards a regulatory solution. However, the city is still trying to reach an agreement on the fate of Uber. Recently, Toronto city council voted not to seek a court injunction against Uber and individual UberX drivers, and is instead, delaying legal action against the ride-sharing service.

Stay tuned for more Uber developments within Canada.

Ride-Sharing Is Here To Stay, But What Are The Insurance Implications For Drivers?

The world of ride-sharing is transforming Canada’s auto-insurance industry. With about 20,000 UberX drivers in Toronto alone, ride-sharing is considered to be the future and some auto-insurance providers are beginning to work on policies catered to this service.

Toronto-based Aviva is the first insurer to roll out ride-sharing policies according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. The coverage is an addition to a personal policy and covers ride sharing-drivers for up to 20 hours per week. This coverage is expected to start in early February with permission from the Financial Service Commission of Ontario, for sale in that province.

Ride-sharing drivers need to be mindful of the fact that regular auto insurance policies will not cover them. The standard auto insurance does not cover drivers who are carrying paying passengers. Some insurance companies are beginning to ask policyholders if they are using their personal vehicles for Uber. Policyholders who are ride-sharing drivers may have their personal auto insurance policy cancelled.

Ride-sharing passengers also need to be mindful of what insurance their drivers carry. Passengers would be well advised to ask what kind of insurance the driver has and whether it covers ride-sharing.

For more information on ride-sharing and how it may affect you, check in with your broker or company agent.

The Common Home Insurance Condition That Could Result in a Denied Claim This Winter

Canadians need to be aware of the vacancy provision contained in their insurance policies to make sure their homes are protected while they are away. A recent survey has found the majority of Canadians are unaware of one common home insurance condition that, if not met, eliminates coverage for household damage as a result of frozen pipes.

Damage from frozen pipes is a common issue for homeowners across Canada. Low temperatures cause the water in the pipes to freeze. As the water freezes into ice, it expands causing the pipes to rupture. Once the ice starts to melt, severe water damage can occur. Insurance providers have placed conditions on policies, as the damage is often worse if the homeowner is away when the pipes freeze.

The condition requires homeowners who are away for more than a few days to turn off water at the home’s main source and drain all pipes. Alternatively, they can arrange for someone to enter the house daily and ensure heat is maintained. The survey found that 91% of the 1,200 people surveyed were not aware of this condition.

This condition applies during the usual heating season, which for most regions is October to May. It’s very important that homeowners review their policies as the condition varies between insurance providers. Some providers maintain that homeowners must take action if they are away for a few days, while others give policyholders a week. A variety of insurance providers are updating this condition to allow for fire sprinkler systems to remain functional and for exceptions to be made in the case of medical emergencies.

Check in with your broker or company agent to make sure you’re following all the proper protocols to protect your home this winter.

Laneway Houses Lead To Insurance Questions

With urban real estate costs rapidly increasing, many potential homeowners are looking for other options to offset housing costs. One option that many are considering is revitalizing the idea of the laneway house. Traditionally used for parking garages, these detached buildings were often used either as servant’s quarters or to house adult family members.

These days, many homeowners are thinking of converting their additional structures into residential buildings that they can rent out to offset the costs of their new homes. While not all cities allow for this, Vancouver issues permits for such projects and Calgary is launching a pilot project to allow it on one of their streets. But what does this mean from an insurance perspective?

As of now, most insurance companies cover laneway homes in the same way that they cover regular houses, and don’t offer a separate policy for the separate dwellings. This could prove problematic, as the laneway house will live in a legal grey area between “detached structure” and “dwelling”. Also, if the building is being rented out, a homeowner’s policy may not cover it. The safest course is to disclose the use of the laneway building to your broker or agent, and have him or her ensure that your insurance needs are properly addressed.

Certainly the appeal of a laneway house is not lost on many residents, and while cities start to consider the idea, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this be an issue that insurance companies take a look at.