Ontario car insurance eligibility and restrictions

Auto insurance is mandatory in Ontario, but that doesn’t mean all vehicles and drivers are eligible for standard market car insurance. Some drivers may have to be covered under a high-risk insurance company.

Here’s what you need to be eligible for standard market personal car insurance in Ontario.

Valid Driver’s Licence

  • Must have valid driver’s license
  • All people listed on the policy must also have a valid license
  • Must have a G, G2, G1 or equivalent

Residency

  • Must be a Canadian resident
  • Must reside in Ontario

Vehicle Type & Usage

  • Vehicle must be for personal usage only
  • Vehicle must be road safe
  • Vehicle modifications must be reported to insurer
  • Vehicle must not be used for illegal activities such as racing
  • Business vehicles require commercial auto insurance

Good Legal Standing

  • Serious prior convictions, past insurance losses, and claims can affect your eligibility
  • Previous fraud convictions will almost guarantee you won’t be eligible
  • Not disclosing information that can affect your policy can make your insurance null and void

Standard Auto Insurance Coverage in Ontario

Ontario auto insurance policies are standardized and comprised of four mandatory types of car insurance coverage. All four of these types of car insurance coverage are included in a basic car insurance policy. When comparing quotes, keep in mind that unless you’ve indicated additional coverage, all quotes provided are for standard auto insurance coverage. You always have the option to increase your coverage amounts and purchase additional car insurance coverage as well. When adding things to your policy, it is likely your quote will change to reflect this coverage.

Mandatory Auto Insurance Coverage in Ontario:

Third-Party Liability

Provides coverage in the event someone is injured or killed in an accident, or their property is damaged, resulting in a lawsuit. Liability insurance covers the costs of settling these claims up to your coverage amount.

Mandatory minimum coverage amount: $200,000 minimum, but higher amounts often recommended.

Statutory Accident Benefits

Provides coverage for a number of benefits in the event you are injured in an automobile accident, regardless of who is at fault. These benefits cover medical expenses such as physiotherapy and other expenses not covered by OHIP. All maximum payouts are subject to eligibility as outlined in your car insurance policy. You can purchase additional coverage for most of these Statutory Accident Benefits.

  • Income Replacement Benefits: Basic weekly income replacement of 70% of your gross income up to $400/wk.
  • Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care Benefits: Up to $65,000 for serious injuries, and $1 million for catastrophic injuries.
  • Caregiver Benefits: Up to $250 per week for the first dependent, and $50 per week for each dependent after that.
  • Housekeeping and Home Maintenance Expenses: Maximum payout $100 per week.
  • Death and Funeral Benefits: Up to $25,000 is provided to your spouse, $10,000 for each dependent, and up to $6,000 in funeral costs in the event you are killed in an automobile accident.

Direct Compensation-Property Damage (DC-PD)

Covers damage to your vehicle or loss of use of your vehicle and its contents in the event another person is at fault. There are additional caveats to this type of coverage. The accident must have happened in Ontario and involved at least one other insured vehicle. If you are seeking additional coverage for your vehicle, you’ll want to purchase collision insurance.

No defined mandatory amount. This type of coverage is for your vehicle so long as it meets eligibility.

Uninsured Automobile

Provides coverage in the event you are injured or killed by an uninsured driver or as the result of a hit-and-run. Can also cover damage to your vehicle if caused by an identified uninsured driver. See Statutory Accident Benefits coverage above.

Optional Auto Insurance Coverage in Ontario:

In addition to increasing coverage amounts for third-party liability insurance and statutory accident benefits, there are also a number of different types of optional insurance coverages you can add to protect your vehicle, the most common being collision and comprehensive car insurance coverage.

  • Collision coverage/Upset Coverage– Covers losses to your vehicle if you’re involved in a collision with another object, including another vehicle, or an object in or on the ground.
  • Comprehensive Coverage– Covers listed perils identified under Specified Perils coverage, as well as damage caused by falling/flying objects, missiles, and vandalism.
  • Specified Perils Coverage– Covers losses from fire, lighting, windstorm, hail, rising water, theft, attempted theft, earthquakes, explosions, and other named perils as identified in your policy.
  • All Perils Coverage– Combines collision and comprehensive coverage and provides additional protections.

Note that these optional coverages may have their own deductibles.

 

Source: Canadian Underwriter

Car Insurance: How Student Discounts Work

Well, fall 2020 may not be what we were all expecting as our kids head back to school, but that doesn’t mean there are not still some practical considerations to be addressed, especially if your student is a young driver.

If you’ve been wondering if you are eligible to claim a student discount from your current insurance provider consider the following:

Away at School Discount 

Generally speaking, an “Away at School” discount only applies to occasional drivers on vehicles. To qualify each company has some or all or different requirements:

Underage Operator(s) under 25 years of age, while living away at a post-secondary educational institution will qualify for a 50% discount off most of your auto insurance coverage.

In order to qualify for this discount, all underage drivers listed on a vehicle as an occasional driver must:

Be registered as a full-time student at an accredited post-secondary institution (University or College).  Evidence of enrollment must be provided at each policy renewal.

Live more than 100 km from home and only return home on holidays etc. and the vehicle remains at home.

Some insurance companies may require that the student also have a clean driving record.

Good Student Discount

A 10% Good Student discount MIGHT be available for principal and occasional operators and is applicable to the majority of your auto coverages if the following criteria are met:

The student is a vehicle operator(s) under 25 years of age.

The student has a minimum license requirement: G2.

The student is enrolled in an accredited high school, college or university as a full-time student

The student operator(s) must prove that they have maintained a minimum 80% average or its equivalent in the prior school semester.

Documentation of the student operator(s) student number, average or GPA along with the name and address of school may be required.

The insurance company may request to be furnished with a copy of supporting documentation on annual basis in order to validate the discount being applied.

Find Out For Sure

Many insurance companies offer some form of student discounts on their automotive policies based on the criteria outlined above.  If you are already insured with a company then you should check with your broker to find out if you are eligible to use any of these discounts. If you are not yet insured and looking for quotes on an insurance policy, contact one of the brokers or CSRs at DPM Insurance Group and let them provide you with the best insurance advice for your situation. Click here for a link to the contact information for all of your six office across Chatham-Kent and Essex County: https://dpmins.com/locations/

Sewer Backup Coverage Includes Septic Systems

Many homeowners are under the misconception that to qualify for sewer backup coverage, they need to be connected to a municipal sanitary sewer system. But that’s not the case – backup or discharge from a sewer, septic tank, or storm drain are all covered IF you have the right coverage.

Having sewage backup into your home is not only unsanitary, the damage can be difficult and costly to repair. Most standard home insurance policies do not cover sewer backup, meaning that if you wake up to find three or four inches of raw sewage in your basement, you could be out-of-pocket for cleanup and repairs. Sewer backup coverage can be added to your existing insurance policy, and covers damage that results from water and sewage moving up through drain lines into your home.

What Covered by Sewer Backup Insurance?

Sewer backup insurance is designed to protect you from the financial burden that a sewer backup can bring. This type of insurance covers:

  • Incidental damage from sewer or septic system backups, including the cost of cleaning or replacing walls, flooring, and furniture.
  • Overflow from a sump, a sump pump, or other related equipment.

Your home will likely need a deep professional cleaning, especially if the sewage found its way into your duct work. You may need to replace your drywall and flooring, as well as furniture and other personal items. Not only does this require a significant time commitment, but the cost can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars.

Coverage amounts and availability vary, and the Brokers and CSRs at DPM Insurance Group can help you determine how much sewer backup coverage you should carry for sufficient protection.

Is My Home at Risk?

Water from sewer systems can carry dangerous bacteria and viruses that can cause serious illnesses in the members of your household. E. Coli, salmonella, and hepatitis are commonly found in sewer water, as well as toxic pesticides, residuals from pharmaceutical drugs, and protozoan, all of which pose a significant danger to people and pets.

A mop and a bucket are far from sufficient for handling the mess; specialized training and equipment are needed to ensure that this type of contamination is taken care of properly.

Your home may be at risk if:

  • You live in an older neighbourhood with an ageing sewer system
  • Your neighbourhood has a lot of trees and shrubs; roots from these can break into service lines and cause blockages
  • Your pipeline system carries both rainwater and sewage
  • You live in a low-lying region

Preventing Sewer Backup

While there is no surefire way to ensure that you never experience a sewer backup, there are several preventative measures that you can take to significantly decrease your risk.

Dispose of grease properly: Fats, sauces, and cooking grease should never be dumped down the drain. Once they’re in the drain, these oils will cool and solidify, eventually forming a complete blockage. Instead, pour the oil into a heat-proof container and throw it away.

Replace damaged and outdated pipes: Many homeowners don’t realize that not only are they responsible for the pipes within their home’s structure, but they’re also responsible for maintaining the pipes that run between their home and the sewer main. If you have old clay or cast-iron sewer lines, then update them with plastic or PVC pipe.

Install a backwater prevention valve: A backwater prevention valve allows water to pass through a pipe in only one direction. In the event of a backup, the valve will close up, preventing water and sewage from coming up through the drains.

Insurance companies offer different types of water damage insurance options, endorsements, and discounts, and comparing these products can be confusing. The brokers and CSRs at DPM Insurance Group can help you weigh your needs and options and build an insurance policy that will best fit you.

While you may, or may not, currently have sewer backup coverage on your policy, knowing about the endorsement is a key way to ensure that you are exposing yourself to an acceptable amount of risk, and getting the most out of your policy.

But sewer backup coverage does have its limits. The first issue is that many insurance companies spend a large amount of money in handling sewer backup claims every year. Because the amount they have been paying out is so high, some have imposed special limits or conditions upon their policies. Some companies may insist on a higher deductible ($2000) onto any sewer backup claim you might have, regardless of the deductible on the rest of your policy (which is typically much lower). The best way to know what conditions are placed on your policy is to ask your broker.

Another drawback is that sewer backup might not be available in certain areas, and that sewer backup does not provide coverage for any other types of water damage, like a flood. Flood coverage or overland water protection is a separate coverage you must purchase. If you would like to learn more about water coverage, and possible extensions to improve your policy, you should speak to one of the brokers or CSRs at any one of DPM Insurance Group’s six offices across Chatham-Kent and Essex County.

Click here for contact information for all of DPM’s offices: https://dpmins.com/locations/

Moving Day: Are Your Belongings Still Covered Once They’re in The Truck?

Moving is stressful. There are so many things to remember to do and arrange that your home insurance coverage is probably the last thing on your mind. But it’s an important step – one that could save you (or cost you) thousands of dollars.

 

You might be wondering if your insurance policy will cover your personal property during a move. The answer is ‘yes’. But it’s also a lot more complicated than that. While home owners insurance generally does help cover your possessions, the loss has to be related to a peril that’s listed in your policy.

And while it’s common for insurance providers to maintain coverage for contents during a move, it’s not a legal requirement. So always double-check with your provider before moving day.

You could choose to purchase a separate policy to cover your personal property during a move instead. However, a different policy is usually more expensive than amending your home insurance policy. Plus, your home insurance policy includes critical protection against liability exposures that your family may face. If you let your home insurance lapse and accidentally injure a third party, then you’ll be responsible for any injuries and damages sustained by the third party.

When Moving Between Residences, Ensure Both Are Covered

Your home insurance policy might cover both your old and new home for 30 days. However, you must still tell your insurer that you’re moving – make sure you notify them about 30 to 60 days before your planned moving date. If your belongings are divided between two properties for more than 30 days, make sure you’re covered by contacting your insurer so that they can modify the terms of your insurance policy or add a note to your file.

Changing Provinces? Location Matters

If you are moving out of province, you’ll need to check with your insurance company or broker to make sure you can still get coverage in your new location. If not, then you’ll need to give yourself time to find a new provider and set up a new policy.

According to research conducted by Square One Insurance, more than 300,000 Canadians move to new homes in different provinces each year. Ontario had the most significant portion of new residents at 27% in 2016, followed by Alberta at 21%. Interestingly, Alberta had the largest share of residents leave the province at 24% in 2016, followed by Ontario at 20%. The insurer’s study also found that a whopping 80% of Canadians are not adequately insuring their belongings while they’re in transit.

Stuff Can Go Wrong: Ensure There Are No Gaps in Your Coverage

If you find yourself needing to change providers or policies, it’s imperative to ensure there are no periods that you’re not carrying any insurance. It’s also worthwhile to understand what factors affect your home insurance premium. Many things can happen to change expected the timing of moving day, including:

Closing dates may change

Keys can be dropped off early or late

Moving companies can overbook

Extreme weather can cause delays

Be ready to contact your insurance company and notify them of a change in dates of both properties. That will ensure your contents are covered appropriately. It also gives you liability insurance in case anyone comes to harm on your property, regardless of the cause.

Do-It-Yourself Moves May Cost More Than You Think

If you have decided to forgo movers and rely on family and friends to help you, you could save a lot of money, as long as you protect yourself with the right coverage. If you rent a truck, decide how you are going to insure it. You can either take out the insurance offered by the rental company or call your auto insurer.

If something happens to the truck, you may be able to claim it on your auto insurance as if it were your vehicle. But you also have to take into account the possibility of your friends accidentally damaging your belongings or getting injured during your move. You should include liability coverage and also increase your home insurance to cover all perils.

If you plan to use your vehicle instead, make sure you pack your personal property carefully. You need to be able to see out the back window as well as make sure any passengers will be able to sit comfortably.

Using Professional Movers

Finding a professional moving company to help you can be much less hassle than trying to organize friends to help and rent a truck, but you still need to do your homework and make sure you choose one that has good references and ratings. You can also check to find out if the mover has been certified by the Canadian Association of Movers (CAM).

The insurance coverage movers offer also varies:

Check if the company has their own equipment or whether they’ll use a subcontractor to provide the service. If so, make sure you know their certification and track record. Determine if the mover is responsible for all services from end to end — including those provided by subcontractors.

Some movers offer basic coverage based on the weight of your belongings. In that scenario, regardless of what might end up damaged, the coverage will be the same.

Some movers will not insure anything that you have packed yourself; others will provide you with packing instructions.

Ask for a copy of the insurance policies before choosing your moving company. On moving day, inspect the condition of your belongings with the mover before and after the move, and make sure you agree on how many boxes there are.

Understand that breakage and theft are different types of claims. While your homeowners’ policy will likely cover theft, when it comes to damaged property, it is usually the moving company that needs to offer insurance for that type of risk.

Don’t Forget to Cover Any Stored Belongings

If you put things in storage to prepare for a move, consider purchasing insurance coverage for stored goods. There are usually several options to choose from, inducing released liability which will provide basic compensation for damaged or lost belongings or replacement value protection which will cover the full cost of replacing any damaged or missing items. If your possessions must be left in a moving van overnight, confirm that it will be parked in a secure area or unloaded into a secure facility. If your goods are in a facility, check if it is heated during the winter months.

Source: Gail Balfour, for Insurance Business Canada

Travel Insurance Within Canada and COVID-19

Are you getting the itch to travel? International travel to the U.S. or other countries remains off-limits for vacationers and adventure-seekers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is still much to explore and enjoy within your home province or in Canada.

In March, the Canadian government issued an “avoid all non-essential travel” advisory outside of Canada, which remains in effect currently because of the coronavirus. It also advises Canadians to steer clear of taking a cruise ship until further notice. Travel to Canada from abroad is also restricted until further notice. If you decide to travel internationally despite the government advisory, you may not be allowed to return to Canada. Furthermore, the Canada-U.S. border remains closed to all non-essential travel.

If you travel within Canada, purchasing a travel insurance policy before departing is still a smart move. Why? Provincial health insurance covers some – but not all – of the unexpected medical expenses incurred outside your province. Other expenses, including non-medical costs, will need to be covered by supplemental coverage. For instance, if you cancel or experience an interruption to your travel plans unrelated to COVID-19, or if your luggage is lost or stolen, a policy with travel cancellation or interruption coverage and baggage protection may help recoup some of your costs.

Canadian provinces and territories have a reciprocal agreement that allows them to bill each other for services offered to Canadian travelers outside of their home provinces. For example, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) will provide coverage for a visit to a walk-in clinic or emergency treatment in a hospital in other provinces when you show a valid Ontario health card, but there are limitations. Expenses including ambulance services, prescription drugs issued outside of a hospital, home-care services, diagnostic and laboratory services outside of a public hospital, fees charged by private hospitals or clinics, cosmetic surgery and assistive devices are not covered.

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP), meanwhile, provides coverage for insured physician and hospital services in other provinces. In most cases, if you present a valid Alberta health card to a medical or hospital service provider and receive insured services, there is no cost to Albertans. But there are limitations to what medical expenses are covered.

The one outlier is the province of Quebec. Quebec does not have the reciprocal agreement with other provinces and territories. That means if you visit Quebec and require emergency medical services or need to visit a physician, you may be required to pay upfront if you don’t have a travel insurance policy. The same applies to Quebeckers who visit other provinces or territories. Some services are reimbursable, while others are not.

Without travel insurance, you may need to pay the cost of some medical treatments you receive in another part of Canada on your own.

Can I Travel from One Province to Another?

Although many provinces in Canada still have states of emergency declarations and travel restrictions in place, it is possible to travel from one province to another depending on the region you wish to visit.

Some airlines are beginning to offer flights within Canada or abroad. But if you’re hesitant to board an airplane during the pandemic, taking a road trip may be more appealing. On that note, travelling within Canada by train offers the opportunity to see the countryside wherever you go. Regardless, travelling close to home for the foreseeable future is perhaps the safest way to go.

What Kind of Travel Insurance Coverage Is Available?

A standard travel insurance policy provides different levels of coverage. With the situation changing daily, it’s best to have a conversation with your broker or the insurer to understand what your policy provides coverage for and what it does not.

Most policies offer the following types of coverage:

  • Emergency Medical. Emergency medical travel insurance generally covers you for unexpected medical emergencies, including ambulance trips, medical treatment and prescription drugs, hospitalization, medical diagnosis and evacuation.
  • Trip Cancellation and Interruption. This coverage protects you if you must cancel a trip because of an emergency or unforeseen medical problem. It may also provide you with funds if your trip is delayed due to bad weather, or if you are forced to stay in a hotel unexpectedly because of a delay in your travel plans.
  • Baggage Protection. If an airline loses your luggage while in transit, this coverage will provide funds for you to replace your lost items such as clothing.
  • All-Inclusive. Think of all-inclusive travel insurance as a ‘best of’ package. It includes emergency medical, trip cancellation and interruption coverage, and it may also include baggage protection, as well as accidental death and dismemberment.
  • Cancel for Any Reason. It may cost a little more, but adding what’s known as cancel-for-any-reason coverage to your overall policy offers more flexibility if you’re faced with an unexpected event. This coverage allows travelers to cancel their travel plans and be reimbursed for non-refundable payments, but specific criteria must be met to be reimbursed. Also, know this kind of coverage will typically protect you for a percentage of your travel costs. The level of coverage will vary between insurers.

Regardless of what type of policy you buy and the coverage it provides, it’s essential to be sure you understand the terms, conditions, and limits of your policy.

How to Stay Safe While Travelling

If you do travel outside of your home province, think about buying a travel insurance policy before you head out. Whether you travel outside of your province or within it, avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19 by taking precautions to lessen your risk against respiratory illnesses, including:

  • Maintaining physical distancing at all times and avoiding large crowds and crowded areas
  • Staying away from people who are sick
  • If you feel under the weather or suspect you are falling ill, seek medical assistance immediately
  • Wearing a non-medical mask or face covering that completely covers your nose and mouth
  • Being aware of and following all local public health advice
  • Frequently washing your hands with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds, and using an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs. If you use a tissue, dispose of it immediately after and wash your hands

 

Source: Canadian Underwriter

Common Car Insurance Misconceptions

Driving in the passing lane of the highway, you see in your rear view mirror an antenna pull up behind you. A horn blares. You pull into the right lane, and an orange Lamborghini Aventador moves ahead, leaving you behind in its vapor trail.

“That guy must be paying a fortune in insurance premiums,” you say to yourself, trying to feel better about owning a battered, two-door 1998 Honda Civic.

You wouldn’t be alone in drawing that kind of mistaken conclusion, according to a recent poll conducted by Rates.ca. In fact, even if you correctly assumed the Lamborghini driver had more licence demerit points than you do, you’d still be perpetuating a myth about how car insurance rates are calculated that isn’t necessarily true.

The findings in the survey speak to the fact that underwriting criteria for setting auto insurance rates remain a mystery to many Canadian drivers. The P&C insurance industry as a whole still has its work cut out for it in explaining the “black box” of how auto insurance rates are determined, the results suggest. For example, Canadians got a failing grade (2.6 out of 7) when asked whether they thought seven auto insurance statements were true or false, according to a new survey of 1,513 Canadians conducted by Leger Marketing from August 7-10, 2020.

Among the seven statements, Canadians were asked whether the following were true or false:

  • The colour of a vehicle can affect the cost of an insurance premium (38% of Canadians incorrectly think it does, while 23% did not know).
  • An expensive or high-end vehicle costs more to insure than a less expensive one. (79% of Canadians think an expensive or high-end car costs more to insure than an economically-priced vehicle, although this is not necessarily the case. Insurers consider many factors when determining a customer’s premium, including how easy it is to steal the vehicle and how expensive it is to repair. Based on the theft factor alone, the 1998 Honda Civic cited above — which once appeared on a list of Canada’s Top 10 Most Stolen vehicles — may actually cost more to insure than the Lamborghini.)
  • Insurance companies base their auto insurance premiums on the number of demerit points a driver may have. (Although 68% of the respondents think insurance companies base their premiums on the number of demerit points they have, they do not. Only 10% answered that one correctly. Demerit points are used by provincial governments to determine whether or not a driver’s licence should be revoked, but they do not affect premiums directly. That said, the number and severity of tickets will certainly affect insurance rates.)

The survey also paints an interesting picture of consumer awareness regarding both comprehensive auto coverage and the premium discounts available for reduced driving due to pandemic lock downs.

The survey results make it clear that by “comprehensive,” consumers think that means everything is covered – including damage caused by a collision. In fact it’s an optional type of coverage added to a policy that pays for damages or losses resulting from specific perils such as theft, vandalism, fire, hail, and objects that fall on your vehicle (like a tree branch) or that fly off the road (like a stone off the back of a truck).

But when asked if the following statement was true or false, “comprehensive auto insurance coverage means my vehicle is covered for everything,” 42% of Canadians said it was true, 34% said it was false, and 24% did not know.

Likewise, a misfire on communications with drivers appears to have happened during COVID-19. Many Canadian auto insurers offered premium discounts for reduced driving after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus to be a global pandemic Mar. 11, 2020. In the survey, Canadians were asked whether the following statement was true or false: “If you are not driving at all because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can temporarily suspend your car insurance coverage.”

Although you can temporarily suspend your auto insurance coverage if you are not driving at all because of the COVID-19 pandemic, just 39% got it right, 25% were incorrect, and 36% said they did not know.

Overall, no one participating in the survey got all of the answers correct; the average score was 2.6 out of 7. A total of 9% of Canadians who participated in the survey got all seven questions wrong.

Source: David Gambrill for Canadian Underwriter

Approved Anti-Theft Devices Might Lower Your Rates

Given the progress in automotive technology, you’d be tempted to think that it’s almost impossible to steal a car. After all, the days of spicing two wires together to start the engine are gone, right? The key lock on your steering wheel prevents theft. What’s to worry?

In 2018, more than 86,000 vehicles were stolen across Canada. And while Quebec was once Canada’s wonderland for car thieves, the mantle has recently been taken up by Ontario and Alberta, which account for 55% of auto thefts between them. Taking preventative measures to protect your car from theft can potentially make a difference on your car insurance premium.

Old bangers were once the most popular cars to steal; a slim jim and some tinfoil is all it took. As sophisticated as anti-theft technology is, thieves are keeping pace, not just in their tactics, but in their business models. Now, thieves are targeting expensive cars to sell them to unsuspecting consumers, or even ship them abroad, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

Vehicles from the Ford F-Series pickup family are far and away the most stolen in Canada. If you rule out pickup trucks and just look at cars, various Lexus models and the 1998 Honda Civic Si two-door coupe rank among the top 10 for most stolen vehicles in 2019.

Given that auto theft in Canada is trending upward after hitting a low in 2014 (though still well down from its 2003 peak), what’s a driver to do to protect a vehicle?

Take a Layered Approach to Theft-Proofing Your Vehicle

Theft prevention devices fall into two broad categories: active and passive. Active devices must be manually activated — a door lock, a steering wheel lock, or a car alarm system. Passive devices automatically monitor your car 24/7.

Crime experts advocate a layered approach to auto theft prevention:

  • Layer 1: Common Sense. Even if you’re only stopping for a moment, remove your keys and lock your doors. Many a vehicle has been lifted when someone left the car running to quickly pop into Tim Hortons. Park in well-lit areas, near the booth in public lots if possible.
  • Layer 2: Warning Devices. These are aimed at warning thieves, not you, telling them your car is protected. For example, steering wheel locking devices are consistently lauded as one of the best theft prevention devices. Wheel locks also show would-be thieves that you mean business.
  • Layer 3: Immobilizing Devices. The auto immobilizer is the king of the passive systems. The immobilizer cuts off current to the starter motor, the ignition switch and the fuel pump. It’s so effective that insurance companies may offer you a discount on your policy if it’s an approved device and is installed by a reputable shop. Immobilizers come in various shapes and forms: smart keys, kill switches, wireless authentication and fuse disablers are some. A caveat: More sophisticated thieves targeting higher-end vehicles have developed the technology to bypass some of these systems, by cloning fobs or using radio frequency amplifiers.
  • Layer 4: Tracking Devices. Technically not a theft prevention device, tracking systems can help retrieve a car after the fact. Global positioning systems (GPS) and wireless technologies send a signal to a system that gives up the location of the vehicle, making it easier to find and recover.

With proof that you have installed an approved anti-theft device in your car, you may start saving on your premium right away – depending on the insurance company and the discounts that are offered. But there may be other savings as well; in the event that your car is stolen, some providers may offer a reduced deductible on the claim if the anti-theft device was defeated by the thieves.

Other insurers may also offer discounts for anti-theft devices other than immobilizers, such as vehicle tracking systems, but an immobilizer remains the most effective method of protecting your car against theft. Ask your insurance company what their policy is on anti-theft device discounts. Many drivers are not aware that they could be getting a discount for protecting their car.

The Items Left in Your Car Can Attract Thieves

Sometimes, thieves don’t really want your wheels. They just want that juicy stuff you left on the front seat. This doesn’t require sophistication; if a slim jim won’t work, a rock through the side window will. Items stolen most often from parked cars include:

  • Smartphones
  • Personal electronics (laptops, tablets, etc.)
  • Work tools
  • Credit cards and identification
  • Cash or change
  • Car parts or accessories (for example, car stereos)
  • Garage door openers
  • Sunglasses
  • Keys

If you have comprehensive coverage as part of your auto insurance policy, does it cover items stolen from your car? No. Those items are covered by your hometenant, or condo insurance policy (depending on the policy). If you don’t have a home or condo policy, you won’t be compensated.

Source: Dave Webb, for Insurance Bureau Canada

The Ins and Outs of Car Rental Insurance

Are you planning on renting a car for a road trip and heading north to the cottage for a few days? Have you given thought to the auto insurance coverage you will need for that rental car?

Your home or tenant insurance will cover your property in the car like your luggage and other possessions but the car itself is a different story. And purchasing a car rental company’s insurance policy can be expensive.

Vehicle rental companies typically offer four types of auto insurance:

A collision damage waiver (CDW) to protect you from paying for any damages to the rental car or it if it is stolen, which may cost as much as $40 per day

Supplemental liability insurance protects you and any other authorized driver against third-party injury, death, and property damage claims. It may cost up to $10 per day

Personal accident insurance covers you and your passengers for any medical expenses resulting from a car accident, and may cost up to $9 per day

Personal effects coverage pays for losses, theft, or damage to any personal items you have inside the rental car, and may cost up to $7 per day

Buying the rental company’s coverage can jack up the cost of your vehicle rental significantly.

A common misconception is that personal auto policies are transferable from personal vehicles to rentals, and what’s not covered can be covered by built-in insurance on your credit card. The reality is it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Will My Auto Policy Cover a Rental Car?

The rental car provider will have coverage on the vehicle for liability, but it will not protect you if the vehicle is damaged while in your possession. Check your auto insurance policy to see if you have this coverage if you are not sure, or if you know that you do not have the coverage, talk to your broker.

You may need to buy an endorsement from your insurance company beforehand. Known as Ontario Policy Change Form 27 (OPCF 27) in Ontario, check with your insurance professional regarding what the limit of coverage is for vehicles you drive that you do not own, including rental vehicles. The endorsement will feature a deductible, and the coverage includes all drivers listed on the policy, but it is only valid in Canada and the United States. It’s also important to note that the damage to a rental vehicle under this endorsement is for the same coverage that you have on the vehicle on your policy. For example, if you do not have comprehensive coverage on your personal policy, you may not be covered for vandalism on a rental car.

Although the cost for this additional coverage varies by insurance company, it is typically $40 to $50 per year. After adding an endorsement to your policy, make sure that you have a copy of your auto policy with you as proof that you have the coverage as some car rental providers may require it.

If you were to travel outside of Canada or the United States and wish to rent a vehicle at your destination, your personal auto policy won’t cover that rental vehicle. Also, currency conversion in the U.S. should be taken into consideration in the event of filing a claim due to an accident, as your deductible will be in Canadian dollars.

Will My Credit Card Cover Rental Car Insurance?

Some credit cards will offer car rental insurance if used to pay for the car rental. But you need to be fully aware of whether or not it impacts your own auto insurance policy. For instance, some cards won’t insure certain vehicles like trucks and mobile homes.

In other cases, the credit card insurance policy may be void if you travel on unpaved roads. Credit card rental car insurance may exclude coverage for liability or personal injury to you or others. You may face additional fees from the rental provider for the loss of use of their vehicle that your credit card won’t cover. Err on the side of caution and contact your credit card issuer in advance to get the details on your coverage and its limitations.

When Does Buying Insurance from a Car Rental Company Make Sense?

There are instances when purchasing coverage from the rental provider makes sense even if it adds to the cost of your rental vehicle:

If you don’t have a personal auto insurance policy

If you do not have OPCF 27 as an endorsement on your policy

If you rent a vehicle outside of Canada or the United States

If the value of the vehicle you rent exceeds the maximum amount of your endorsement limit

If you want to avoid paying the rental company’s higher costs for car insurance coverage, contact your broker or insurer and inquire about adding OPCF 27 to your policy. As always, be sure to read the fine print, do your homework before venturing out, and enjoy a worry-free getaway.

 

Source: Canadian Underwriter

Protect Your Home’s Plumbing and Sewage System

Lumps of congealed and hardened fat are plaguing sewer systems across the country. Could it happen in your municipality? It all depends on what you flush down the toilet or pour into the sink.

Here’s an experiment: Fry up some bacon. Let the leftover grease sit in the pan for a few hours. Observe the skating rink of lard left behind.

What you are looking at is the beginnings of a potential fatberg if you dispose of it using your sink or toilet. Fatbergs can pose a serious threat to your home’s plumbing system. While home insurance exists to protect you from the unexpected, neglecting to maintain and care for your dwelling, including its plumbing and sewage systems, can lead to insurance claims larger than the limits outlined in your policy.

The term Fatbergs was coined in 2008 when large lumps of congealed cooking fat began washing ashore on the coast of Wales. It came to be identified with sewer blockages in the Victorian era plumbing of parts of London. The Whitechapel Fatberg weighed in at 130 tonnes and was 250 metres long. It took two months to remove. The last remaining chunk, hard as concrete, was displayed for five months at the Museum of London.

Though fat gets the credit, it’s not the only component. Experts believe the rise in the use of so-called “flushable” wipes is contributing to the problem, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying fetishistic cleaning of hands is certainly not helping. Other detritus, from condoms to tampons, can help form a fatberg.

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Avoiding Water Damage to Your Home

Water damage, and whether or not it is covered under your insurance, is a complicated issue. Coverage depends on what caused the water to enter your home as well as the optional add-ons you may have purchased when getting your policy.

People have flushed some odd things down the toilet. While some are at the extreme level of plumbing compromises, there is an ongoing problem with everyday usage of home-based sinks and toilets. And the risks aren’t just blocking the sewage system – which can have disgusting effects on basements – but the casual disposal of cooking fat and non-biodegradable items are also a threat to your home plumbing. What goes in doesn’t necessarily come out.

So what can you safely flush down the toilet? Bodily waste and toilet paper. That’s pretty much it. Sinks see a wider variety of content, some of which can be detrimental to your plumbing. Here’s a shortlist of things to keep out of your plumbing:

  • Grease and cooking fat. You’ve got a skillet full of leftover fat but don’t pour it in the sink, even if you run hot water with it. Pour it off into a leftover soup can and freeze it until garbage day or let it cool and solidify and scrape it into the green bin. Small amounts of cooking oil can go in the green bin, as long as there’s an absorbent material, but large-scale disposal of cooking oil depends on your municipality’s bylaws.
  • Wipes of any kind. Hand wipes, baby wipes, disinfectant wipes, even if they’re billed as flushable, aren’t. These go in the garbage.
  • Tampons and paper towels. Both absorb water and enlarge, potentially blocking your U-bend. Don’t flush them. Same goes for facial tissue. They all go in the green bin.
  • Condoms, cotton swabs or balls, dental floss. All of these should go in the garbage, not the loo.
  • Shaving stubble. Shaving stubble likely won’t clog a sink, though it may slow drainage over time. But if you’re removing your six-months-a-lumberjack beard, put a paper towel over the drain and wipe out the sink afterwards.
  • Leftover medication. Return unused drugs to a pharmacy. If we flush it, we run the risk of harming wildlife as well as the quality of our freshwater.

Protecting the Plumbing and Sewage Lines to Your Home

No one has reported a bus-sized fatberg in Ontario, but the potential is there. In 2011, a fatberg backed up sewers in Halifax. Vancouver spends more than $2 million a year cleaning up mini-fatbergs.

Even with the best plumbing hygiene, blockages happen. Have two plungers on hand: The suction-cup-shaped on for sinks, the flanged one for toilets. Pro tip: You need water to clear a block. The fuller the sink or toilet, the bigger the column of water, the more force applied to the clog.

Better pipe hygiene will result in optimum flow through your pipes and help avoid costly repairs and claims on your home insurance.

Source: Dave Webb for Insurance Bureau of Canada

Slip, Trip and Fall

​​As a homeowner or tenant, you may be held liable for slips, trips and falls on your owned or rented property. Know what hazards to look out for, and understand your legal liability and what to do if someone is injured.

As a homeowner, you’re responsible for keeping your property and areas such as stairs, walkways and driveways reasonably safe for people who use them. Before a courier, babysitter, delivery person or repair technician visits, be on the lookout for common hazards such as:

  • Ice and snow – use salt, shovel and/or sand to keep walking surfaces clear within bylaw time frames
  • Unexpected elevation changes, surface cracks or gaps – fix issues within your property line and/or report issues on municipally-owned property such as uneven sidewalks
  • Slippery surfaces such as wet floors or tile flooring – put down a non-slip covering
  • Missing or loose handrails on stairs – arrange repairs
  • Debris such as slippery and wet fall leaves – keep walking paths clear
  • Lighting – ensure all areas are adequately lit

Your Legal Liability

You may be held liable for slips, trips and falls if you don’t provide a reasonable standard of care in keeping your property free from hazards. If you are hosting a yard or garage sale, consider what you can do to prevent the potential for harm.

As a tenant, liability may be shared with your landlord. Who is held liable depends on the circumstances of the loss. The following criteria are considered:

  • Was the danger foreseeable?
  • Was the homeowner’s conduct in accordance with acceptable standards of practice?
  • Did the danger exist for an unreasonable amount of time?
  • How easily could the danger have been prevented?

The best way to avoid liability is to prevent losses from occurring in the first place. Be diligent in keeping your property free of hazards. Regular maintenance is one of the most effective ways to defend yourself against a claim or lawsuit should one occur.

In the case of a shared space when you are a tenant, ensure your lease agreement clearly states your responsibilities.

What to Do If Someone Slips, Trips or Falls

  1. Assist the injured person in finding medical treatment. Call an ambulance if necessary.
  2. Record the names and contact information of any witnesses. Obtain and record detailed descriptions of the incident from the victim and witnesses.
  3. Refer any discussions with the claimant to your insurer. NEVER ADMIT LIABILITY!
  4. Take pictures of the area where the incident occurred. If possible, photograph the footwear that the injured person was wearing.
  5. Document the incident. This may help to establish a defense for a claim presented at a later date and help your insurer analyze the cause of the incident.
  6. Report the incident to your insurer. Provide them with:
    1. Details of the incident
    2. Information about what you did to avoid the incident.
  7. Investigate potential causes and take steps to prevent and/or respond better to similar incidents in the future.

 

Source: The Insurance Bureau of Canada

 

 

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

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

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250 St. Clair St.
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Phone: 519-352-4343
Toll Free: 1-800-561-4949
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Essex Office

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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

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403 Wellington St.
Wallaceburg, ON N8A 2Y2

Phone: 519-627-1777