What to Do If You Hit an Animal on the Road

Canada is known for its natural beauty and plentiful wildlife. Unfortunately, it is also a place where collisions involving large animals are reported every year. According to the Ontario Provincial Police, there are 14,000 collisions involving wildlife every year in Ontario alone, the most in Canada.

Dawn and dusk are often the times when wildlife is more likely to be seen on the roadside. Not only that, but heading into winter, driving conditions can impede visibility and the ability to stop suddenly. And the salt used to melt ice on the road can attract some larger animals who seek it out for its mineral content.

So now might be It’s a good time to brush up on some safety tips and precautions, and make sure you have the right car insurance to protect you, especially if you tend to commute through areas where wildlife roams.

Tips to avoid a wildlife collision

The best course of action is to avoid hitting a large animal with your vehicle in the first place. Make sure to slow down in wildlife-inhabited areas, especially where signs are posted, and mentally prepare your reaction to different potential scenarios before they happen, just in case. Be on the alert for wildlife at all times. The most likely situations for collisions with animals are:

  • Driving one hour before and after dusk and dawn
  • In October and November
  • On two-lane highways at speeds of 80 km/h or more

Here are 15 ways to minimize your risk:

  • Plan your travel to avoid the above times and situations, if possible.
  • When you see wildlife, immediately scan the environment for other animals as many travel in groups.
  • Be particularly careful at the ends of fences as this is where many animals cross a road.
  • Be cautious of wildlife standing alongside roads. They can bolt at any moment if frightened.
  • Drive defensively. Other drivers may not know how to react to wildlife on the road and could swerve into you.
  • Scan your surroundings constantly. Watch for movement and, at night, for the reflective glow in the eyes of some animals.
  • Watch for other vehicles pulled over or that suddenly slow down. Other drivers have spotted wildlife that you are not yet able to see.
  • Ask passengers to watch for wildlife and give specific observations such as, “deer on the left”.
  • Do not drive fatigued, impaired, or distracted.
  • Do not speed in wildlife areas and try to drive at the lower end of the speed limit or just below the limit, if it is safe to do so.
  • Do not rely on roadside fencing to protect you. Some animals can jump over or crawl under fences.
  • Do not litter as this attracts animals to the roadside.
  • If an animal appears on the road ahead, slow down or stop if necessary and safe. Turn on your hazards as an alert to other drivers.
  • If an animal has crossed the road without incident, be ready in case they turn around.

What to do if you’ve hit an animal

If you can’t stop a collision from happening, your number one priority is to keep yourself, your passengers and other drivers safe. Don’t swerve into oncoming traffic. Try to drive toward the spot the animal comes from, not where it is going. Brake firmly and quickly, then steer your vehicle in a way that you will strike the animal at an angle. Letting up on the brake just before you hit the animal will reduce the chances of it coming through your windshield.

Despite your best efforts, if you find yourself in a collision with an animal, consider the following tips:

  • Pull over to a safe location, out of the way of oncoming vehicles, and turn on your hazards.
  • Call 911 if you or any of your passengers are injured.
  • Take the time needed to calm down and clear your head so that you can assess the situation – hitting an animal can be traumatic.
  • Never touch an injured animal, even if it seems harmless. It’s hurt and scared, which may be a dangerous combination.
  • Call the local police if the animal is blocking traffic or is creating a hazard for other drivers. If it is safe to do so, set out roadside reflectors or flares if you have them.
  • If your car is unsafe to drive, call for a tow. Look for broken lights, leaking fluids or anything that could make driving your vehicle dangerous.

How insurance providers handle wildlife collisions

What kind of insurance will cover damage to your car if you hit an animal? Will you be covered for the repair costs for this type of collision or will you be left to pick up the bill?

A collision with a large animal can cause a considerable amount of damage to your car. If you purchased the optional collision and comprehensive coverage when you got your policy, the costs for the damage would likely be covered. Collision coverage provides protection if your car is damaged in an accident, while comprehensive provides coverage for non-accident-related damage claims: both have a deductible.

Which coverage applies, however, will depend on the nature of the collision:

Scenario 1: If a deer was lying dead in the roadway from a previous collision, but you happened to hit it, your collision coverage will likely apply as there’s an expectation that you should have seen it in time to react and safely avoid the resulting accident.

Scenario 2: If a deer should suddenly run onto the road and you hit it, there would be little you could do to avoid it. Therefore, your comprehensive coverage would typically apply.

Remember, these are both optional types of coverage, so make sure to opt-in to the right coverage to protect yourself from an unexpected wildlife collision.

Does hitting an animal affect auto insurance rates?

Usually no, but it depends on your province or territory and the car insurance company. Hitting an animal is generally considered a not-at-fault accident and will be paid for under your comprehensive policy. So, it won’t affect your rates unless you make several claims around the same time.

But if it’s considered a collision – for example, if you swerve away from the deer and hit another car – your car insurance rate could go up. Talk to your broker and make sure you know your coverage and options.

source: Gail Balfour for insurancehotline.com

Home Business and Your Insurance

Liability is the greatest risk for home-based businesses. If you operate a sole proprietorship or small business from your home, be aware of, manage and mitigate your business risks. A separate business insurance policy for your home-based business can provide peace of mind.

​Will My Home Insurance Policy Cover My Home Business?​​​

A home insurance policy offers a small coverage limit for books, tools and instruments necessary for a business, profession or occupation. As such, if you operate a business from your home, you should inform your insurance representative and obtain additional coverage to mitigate the risk of a potential loss. Review your policy, speak with your insurance representative and be aware that limits on a home insurance policy may not be adequate for all of the equipment used by your business.​

Small Business Can Add Up to Big Risks

Liability is typically the greatest risk with a home business. Consider these scenarios:

  • What if a client falls while walking up the steps to your home?
  • What if you are sued because of problems with a product or service you provide?
  • If you run a daycare business in your home, do you have adequate coverage?

Personal liability on your home insurance policy does not cover such situations. Commercial liability insurance would cover most damages you may be ordered to pay and would pay the legal costs to defend you in a lawsuit. ​

3 Ways You Can Minimize Potential Losses​

Risk management strategies are not just for big businesses. The process gives a clear and structured approach to identifying and mitigating risks. It doesn’t need to be complicated. You can create a comprehensive risk management plan for your home business by answering questions such as:

  1. What can go wrong?
  2. What will you do to prevent the harm from occurring and to respond to the harm or loss?
  3. If something happens, how will you pay for it?

Work with your insurance representative to determine what kind of coverage you need to protect your business. Do this as prior to starting the business and keep in touch regularly with your representative as your business grows and evolves.​

Do I Need Errors and Omissions Insurance?

If you’re paid to give professional advice, you require professional liability or errors and omissions coverage. If you give a client advice that is wrong or fail to provide necessary advice and the client’s business suffers as a result, such insurance will generally cover the damages and legal defense costs. This is specific commercial coverage for professional liability and is not covered under a home insurance policy.

The RIBO licensed brokers and CSRs at DPM Insurance Group are always prepared to take whatever time you need to ensure you completely understand your insurance policies; or answer questions about potential new coverages you are considering.

Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada

Making a Claim on your Homeowner’s Insurance

We hope you never have to go through an experience that means you need to file a claim, but if you do, here’s what you should know:

  • Make a complete list of all damaged, destroyed or stolen items. If possible, attach proofs of purchase, receipts, police reports, owner’s manuals and warranties for lost or damaged items. Take photos of damaged items and attach those as well. Keep ruined items, unless they are dangerous or otherwise pose a health hazard. It’s best to create a home inventory list and update it accordingly before you experience a loss.
  • Call your insurer as soon as you can. You are required to do this. Be as detailed as possible regarding the circumstances and subsequent damage. Most insurance companies have a 24-hour claims service. Keep your insurer’s contact information handy at all times.
  • In the event your home is unfit to live in, ask your insurer about what expenses you’re entitled to and for what period of time. Keep all receipts and invoices for additional living expenses following your loss.
  • A claims specialist or adjuster will contact you to investigate the circumstance of the loss, examine all the documents you provide and explain the next steps in the process.
  • Your insurance company will ask you to complete a “proof of loss”. This is a form that lists what property and/or items have been damaged or lost, with the value or cost of the damage or loss. You must sign and swear that the statements you make in the proof of loss are true. If any of the statements are untrue, your insurance may be voided. Usually, the proof of loss must be completed and returned to your insurance company within 30 days.
  • Review your policy carefully to ensure you are familiar with specified deductibles, coverage limits and replacement values. Insurance companies generally offer three options for your damaged or stolen items: repair, replace or reimburse. Your policy requires that you take steps to limit further damage.
  • Discuss with your insurer whether you can use a contractor or supplier of your choice to do any repairs, and if so, the amounts to be paid. Make sure that the contractor or supplier respects the price and specifications agreed upon with your insurer.

Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada

Roof Protection For Your Home

Your roof plays an important role in protecting your home and its contents. Damage to a roof caused by hail or wind is usually covered under a home insurance policy. Hire a licensed roofing contractor for repairs, replacement and advice on appropriate roof materials.

​​Hail, wind and other types of severe weather can damage your roof. If you have one layer of asphalt shingles on your roof, it may be more susceptible to hail damage than two layers. Each spring and fall, be sure to get out your binoculars and inspect your roof from the ground.

Common signs of age-related wear and tear or potential issues may include:

Cracked, curling or missing shingles

Rain gutters that are filled with leaves, nests or other types of debris

Asphalt debris or granules in a gutter or on the ground

Wear around chimneys or other fixtures

Unsecured drainage and downspouts that angle toward a foundation.

You may also check your attic for signs of wear on your roof. Look for:

Outside light coming through your roof

Visible signs of water damage

Sagging boards.

Typical Insurance Coverage for Hail or Wind Damage 

Damage to homes caused by hail or wind is usually covered under your home insurance policy. This includes damage caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees, or damage to your home and its contents from water entering through sudden openings caused by wind or hail. In certain circumstances, if you are unable to live in your home due to insurable damage you may also be covered for additional living expenses.

Roof Materials 

While there are many types of roof coverings, your choice may depend on where you live. Options to consider include:

Asphalt – many choices

Wood – less resistant to fire, more susceptible to extreme wet or dry climates as well as pest damage

Slate or tile – weight and a need for specialty contractors are considerations

Standing-seam metal – helpful with clearing snow loads

Concrete – may last the lifespan of your property.

A licensed roofing contractor can provide you with more information about suitable choices for your home.

 

Source: Insurance Bureau Canada

Oil Tank Care

Without proper insurance, if your oil tank spills or leaks you could be 100% responsible for cleanup costs – which average $250,000 to $500,000 but can be even more. As a property owner, you are responsible for the year-round maintenance of this potential environmental hazard.

Oil is used for home heating in some regions in Canada, specifically in more rural areas. Leaks and spills from a home oil tank are dangerous and costly. After an oil tank spill, the average cost for cleanup is $250,000 to more than $500,000 and includes:

Replacing the tank and supply lines

Removing contaminated soil from around your home

Replacing your home’s foundation.

If oil spills or leaks on your property, you could be responsible for all costs unless you have the proper insurance. As a property owner, you – not the oil company – are responsible for maintaining the oil tank.

Oil Tanks and Your Home Insurance

Typically, a home insurance policy does not cover the loss or damage to your property resulting from an oil spill. However, the liability coverage provided by your home insurance policy may cover, up to the purchased monetary limit, the liability you incur when an unintentional oil spill on your property contaminates a neighbour’s property. Intentional acts are not covered under home insurance liability coverage.

What To Consider When Buying an Oil Tank

Home oil tanks hold about 1,000 litres and are available with plastic liners to help reduce internal corrosion and with valves for draining water.

A tank’s lifespan depends on its location and exposure to the elements, the grade of fuel used and maintenance. NEVER buy a used tank. When buying a tank, look for:

Certification by the Standards Council of Canada or the Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada

Metal pipe connections

One that automatically prevents the accumulation of water by allowing condensation to be drawn off with oil entering the furnace

4 Tips for Installing an Oil Tank

Ask your supplier about a certified installer for your new oil tank. Never transfer oil from an old to a new tank – it could contaminate the new tank with water-laden sludge. Your tank should be installed:

At least 15 metres (50 feet) from a well

On non-combustible footing, such as a concrete slab or patio stones

Where it can be easily inspected

Away from a wall to help prevent it from rusting.

5 Maintenance Tips

Regularly inspect your tank for signs of corrosion, such as rust or shifting.

Ask your oil distributor to do a visual inspection of your tank if you are uncertain about its age or condition.

Protect your tank lines from foot traffic.

Make sure your tank, lines and connections – and the area around them – are kept clear of snow and ice. Your fuel oil company may provide shielding devices.

Keep your roof clear of snow and ice that could fall on your tank.

As with any question you may have about your home insurance policy, the brokers and CSRs at DPM Insurance Group are always happy to take the time to explain your coverage, help you mitigate the risks of a potential claim, and guide you through the process should the need arise to make a claim. At DPM Insurance Group, your security is our responsibility.

Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada

Preventing distracted driving in the workplace should be a priority

A new report is calling for companies – particularly trucking firms – to establish distracted driving policies to protect employees.

The report looks into the trend of distracted driving in the workplace/commercial setting, and how employers can mitigate it. The report also mentions that while new health and safety measures were established in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic volumes are returning back to normal and it has become paramount to maintain the safety of essential workers who continue to use major thoroughfares.

It stated there has been a consistent decline in injuries and claims in the transportation industry over the past 20 years – this has been put down to employers’ increased commitment to higher safety standards. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes declined, the report noted. But while the number of fatal crashes fluctuated between 309 and 523 between 2000 and 2015 in Canada, the number still hit 389 in 2017, the report said, citing data from Transport Canada.

Crashes caused by distracted driving are not just threatening lives, but costing employers as well. The report mentioned data from the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, which found that in 2017 the average number of days lost for transportation employees injured within one month of a workplace incident was nine days.

Other notable findings of the report included:

  • Investment in safety translates into less turnover and higher retention rates of qualified and skilled drivers in an industry with a shrinking pool of potential candidates.
  • The cost to implement standard prevention training for all new employees is still less than the cost of post-incident training for the small number of employees that may require it.
  • A pattern of collisions and claims is an indicator of risk and ultimately results in much more expensive insurance costs. Unfortunately, many smaller companies are not fully aware of the consequences of a blemish on their National Safety Code record which can have long-lasting effects.
  • In addition to the immeasurable costs for communities and families who experience death and serious injuries due to distracted driving, these collisions have significant costs and consequences for employers.
  • As traffic volumes rapidly return, normal vehicle collisions and the aftermath continue to have both direct and indirect costs for employees and employers.

Source: by Lyle Adriano for Insurance Business Magazine

Six essential tips for a smooth moving day

Anything can happen in the process of moving, so it’s important to be prepared for anything that could unexpectedly take place. To ensure your move remains as stress-free as possible, here are some tips to set yourself up for success.

Plan ahead and stay organized
Safety should always come first when it comes to moving and it starts with organization. Whether it’s while packing, moving or unpacking, it’s important to keep things orderly to reduce the risk of injury. Clearly labelling boxes and packing in phases can also help this process go smoothly. And while it’s always important to have pictures of valuables for record keeping, it’s even more critical when moving. This will help to identify valuables if they’re lost or damaged in the event of a claim. These items should also have appraisals as they could be needed in some cases to ensure proper settlement value.

Hire reputable movers
Heavy items such as sofas and dining tables should never be moved alone. If possible, hire a reputable moving company with positive reviews. It’s important that the movers are licensed and have their own commercial insurance. And it’s just as important that your clients have their contents insured, too. One of the things about small moving companies is that they will say (and might even believe) that they have the proper insurances, but often lack the basics, including workers’ compensation and liability, let alone cargo insurance. There’s nothing wrong with asking to see proof of insurance.

Update the insurance policy
Whether you’re upsizing or downsizing, it’s critical that your existing policy is updated to reflect their new address and needs.

If you’re selling your home, it’s important to keep insurance in place until the new owners take possession, as vacancy can create significant restrictions on water coverages – even if the insurer is aware of the vacancy. It’s advisable to turn the main water supply valve off if the dwelling will be unoccupied temporarily.

Clients who are renting should have tenant’s insurance in place to cover them for contents and liability. This will also ensure there is coverage while moving into their new home. Tenants insurance is valuable coverage, even when you don’t own a lot of valuable items, because it helps you build up insurance history. Also, many first-time tenants incorrectly assume the landlord provides coverage for them.

Know the risks
On moving day, some of the risk has to do with items not being handled properly or stored safely. The longer a move takes and the higher the number of places items are stored temporarily, there is potential for damage. It’s important to note that if you’re placing personal items in a storage facility, restrictions and limitations on coverage may apply in certain situations.

Moreover, if you are given access to the property prior to taking possession, and you store your personal belongings there, anything that’s stolen or damaged can cause you to be out of pocket if you don’t have a proper policy in place.

It’s never too early to talk about moving
Proactively discussing moving with your broker will ensure that you take the necessary actions to make your move safe and smooth. Being prepared is always a great antidote to a stressful situation – the more prepared you are, the easier the move will go.

Source: Insurance Bureau Canada

Identity Theft

If your personal information is stolen, criminals can use it in elaborate schemes, including insurance fraud. Learn how to safeguard your identity.

7 Ways Identity is Stolen

  • Phishing techniques or Internet hacking strategies collect your personal information.
  • You respond to an unsolicited phone call or email from someone claiming to be from your credit card company.
  • Someone watches while you enter your PIN at a store or ATM and then steals your wallet.
  • Personal information on receipts and mail is scavenged from your recycling bin.
  • Your car is broken into and identification documents from your glove-box are stolen.
  • A stolen vehicle permit is used to ship a stolen car out of the country.
  • Stolen insurance information is used to make false insurance claims or even take out a mortgage against your property.

What Identity Thieves Look For

These criminals seek personal information to impersonate you and access your bank accounts, secure new credit cards, make purchases and pursue other criminal activities. Safeguard documents in your home or at a secure off-site location, such as a safe-deposit box. Safeguard:

  • Passports
  • Internet passwords
  • Bank account and social insurance numbers
  • Credit card information.1

Signs that your Identity has been Stolen

Victims of identity theft may receive a letter advising them that they have been approved or denied credit that they never applied for. Mail – credit card statements or other documents – suddenly go missing. Collection agencies start calling about accounts that were fraudulently opened.2

Prevent Identity Theft through your Vehicle

  • Always roll up your vehicle’s windows, lock the doors, activate the security alarm and pocket the key – even if your vehicle is sitting in the driveway
  • Lock your gas tank cap
  • Keep your vehicle registration certificate and proof of insurance with you at all times
  • Never leave valuable objects with identifying information or packages in full view; instead, put them in the trunk
  • Always park your vehicle in a well-lit spot
  • Be aware of suspicious people, activities or vehicles in your neighbourhood and report them to police
  • Know the location of your car keys at all times.

Source: IBC Canada

Ontarians not grasping the meaning of distracted driving

A new study in Central Ontario found that while an overwhelming majority of Ontario drivers are aware of how serious the distracted driving problem is, many are still unaware that they’re contributing to the problem.

The research, conducted online by Campaign Research from January 10-14, 2019, surveyed 1,504 Ontario residents. Of that number, 91% said that distracted driving in the province has worsened.

Some 32% of the survey’s participants identified themselves as distracted drivers. But when distracted driving was defined to participants, that number jumped to 43%.

Notably, 45% said that they often see others holding a mobile phone while driving. However, only 3% of respondents admitted to using their phones while behind the wheel.

Distracted driving continues to be a challenge on Ontario’s roads, nearly a decade after the initial legislation banning handheld devices was introduced. There continues to be a general lack of understanding by many drivers who don’t realize that distracted driving is more than just holding your phone. It’s anything that diverts your attention away from the road, whether it be your phone, food or the radio.”

The survey found that the group of motorists most likely to commit distracted driving violations are highway drivers (58%), followed by those who commute 90 minutes or more (54%), and drivers aged 25-34 (59%).

When asked to justify their behaviour, distracted drivers gave the following reasons:

  • 41% said they needed to use their phones in case of an emergency
  • 41% said they used their phones while stopped at a red light
  • 36% said they used their phones while stuck in traffic

But there is no justification for distracted driving. A moment of distraction can have dangerous, if not fatal consequences. Just because your vehicle isn’t in motion doesn’t mean you can take your eyes off the road.

Source: by Lyle Adriano for Insurance Business Magazine

A majority of Canadians lack auto insurance literacy

A recent survey has found that the majority of Canadians lack insurance literacy when it comes to auto insurance – and that limited understanding could bite them in the form of overpaying for insurance, or being underinsured.

The survey showed that 42% of Canadians incorrectly believe that comprehensive auto insurance covers everything. Just 34% said they knew this was false, while another 24% said they did not know.

As Canadian drivers, the more we understand about auto insurance, the more likely we will get the coverage we need at a fair price and avoid disappointment when filing a claim for damages.

The survey additionally revealed that a good portion of drivers are not aware of certain insurance savings opportunities, or have misconceptions about the way their insurance works.

Twenty-five per cent (25%) of the survey’s respondents did not know they could suspend their auto insurance if they are not driving during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 39% knew they could, while 22% said they did not know.

Sixty-eight per cent (68%) incorrectly assumed that insurers base premiums on the number of demerit points a driver has. Just 10% know that is not the case, while 22% did not know.

Thirty-eight per cent (38%) think the color of their vehicle influences the cost of insurance, when it does not.

Seventy-nine per cent (79%) believe an expensive or high-end car costs more to insure than an economically priced vehicle. Eight per cent (8%) indicated that price is not always a factor, while 13% said they do not know.

If you ever have question about your insurance policies, or are looking for advice to limit your risk exposure, the brokers and CSRs at DPM Insurance group are always happy to help. Click here for information on how to contact one of our six offices: https://dpmins.com/locations/

Source: Lyle Adriano, for Insurance Bureau Canada

Blenheim Office

24 Marlborough St. N., Box 479
Blenheim, ON N0P1A0

Phone: 519-676-8159
Fax: 519-676-0020

Chatham Office

250 St. Clair St.
Chatham, ON N7L 3J9

Phone: 519-352-4343
Toll Free: 1-800-561-4949
Fax: 519-352-6484

Essex Office

29 Talbot St. N, Box 69
Essex, ON N8M 2Y1

Phone: 519-776-6457
Fax: 519-776-7400

Harrow Office

65 King St. W., Box 790
Harrow, ON N0R 1G0

Phone: 519-738-2277
Fax: 519-738-2279

Tilbury Office

59 Mill St. E, Box 1239
Tilbury, ON N0P 2L0

Phone: 519-682-0202
Fax: 519-682-2391

Wallaceburg Office

403 Wellington St.
Wallaceburg, ON N8A 2Y2

Phone: 519-627-1777