In addition to over- or under-insuring, sometimes business owners make other critical mistakes that cause them to overpay for commercial insurance policies. At DPM Insurance Group, our brokers and CSRs will help identify opportunities to help you get the best coverage at the most reasonable rates.
For starters, you don’t have to purchase all of your insurance (personal and commercial) through one insurance provider unless there’s a logical reason for doing so, like a package discount on your premiums. Our team will comparison shop and do the leg work to determine the best mix to fit your particular needs.
Once your policy comes up for renewal, there’s a chance your rates could increase. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out to see if we can negotiate a lower rate for you. Remember, you chose DPM Insurance Group to be your expert, so don’t be shy about asking questions. If there’s anything you don’t understand about a proposed policy, keep asking for clarification until you’re comfortable with the terms.
The hunt for commercial insurance is an anxious journey, but it gives you peace of mind in the long run by managing your company’s risk. Nowhere is the adage “better safe than sorry” more applicable than in the world of commercial insurance, so take the time to research the best options for protecting your small business.
When most people think about insurance, auto or home insurance are probably the first things that come to mind. But, what about insuring against alien abductions? Just because we could likely all use a laugh right now, here’s a list of the 10 of some of the weirdest things that people have insured.
Little Grey Men: As funny as this man seem to most of us, over $10 million in alien abduction insurance was once written. People were actually insuring against being abducted by aliens, with higher premiums for people who claimed themselves the victims of frequent abductions. A clause included that the person had to be able to prove they had been abducted.
Lottery Insurance: A medical employer in the United Kingdom once took out an insurance policy that would pay out if two or more of their employees ever won the lottery. The policy would only be paid out though if two employees won in the same draw.
Insuring the Bird: Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards insured his middle finger for over $1.5 million dollars.
The Boss: American rock legend Bruce Springsteen took out a policy for a record six million dollars to cover his raspy voice.
Double Vision: In the 1920s, a comedian named Ben Turpin took out a 25,000 policy for his crossed eyes. Turpin was worried that if his eyes ever uncrossed, he might lose his celebrity status.
Round and Round: Another hand-related policy went to Harvey Lowe back in the 1930s. He insured his hands for a reported $150,000. He was the reigning world yo-yo champion at the time.
Actually, It Is Unusual: Singer Tom Jones, known for numerous hit songs over the years, including “It’s Not Unusual” had quite an unusual insurance policy. He reportedly took out a policy for several million dollars to cover his chest hair. Tom’s chest hair was so popular with his female fans he feared its loss would ruin his career.
While poking fun at weird insurance policies can get a good laugh, it’s important to have proper coverage for real life risks and perils. At DPM Insurance Group, our brokers and CSRs are available to help you review your insurance needs, provide you a no-cost, no-obligation quote, and talk you out of trying to insure yourself against alien abduction.
At DPM Insurance Group, we consider your security our responsibility. Our brokers and CSRs work hard to find you the best coverage possible to protect you and your family. And while we’re ready to stand by you through any claim, we’d also like to help you and yours stay safe whenever possible.
When headed out for a summer camping get-away, not everyone is thinking about some of the things that could go wrong. We can’t help insure you against all the types of perils you might encounter in the back country… or the RV park, but hopefully these simple tips will help you stay safe.
Few things can be as relaxing as sitting around a camp fire with friend or family, roasting marsh mellows and telling stories. But there are several safety considerations to keep in mind,
Choosing the fire site
- Whenever possible, pick a site to build your fire that is close to a water source and sheltered from the wind
- Build your fire on a rock surface or bare dirt
- Build the fire at least three metres away from logs, stumps, trees and overhanging branches
- Make sure the fire is far enough away from buildings or tents.
Preparing the site
- Clear a space about two metres wide
- Remove pine needles, grass, leaves and twigs
- Ensure you have a pail of water and a shovel to control the fire.
Building your campfire
- Keep the fire smaller than one metre high and one metre wide
- Small fires are safer, easier to control and easier to put out
- A small fire will also keep cooking tools from blackening and let you get close enough to cook.
- Never leave a campfire unattended
- If you start a campfire, make sure you keep it under control and put it out before you leave.
Putting the fire out
Pour lots of water on the campfire then stir the ashes with a stick. Pour on more water and repeat these steps until:
- The ashes don’t hiss
- Everything looks wet
- No more smoke comes from the ashes.
Fire safety tips for kids
- Always have an adult supervise when you’re around a fire
- Never play with matches or fireworks
- If you see a fire burning with no people near it, tell an adult immediately.
There’s an old saying that goes “Don’t Complain, Camp in the Rain”. Whether or not you grumble about wet weekend weather, it’s important to consider the safety issues related to the extreme weather we often experience in Ontario. Being aware of your surroundings is an important part of staying safe outdoors. Identify in advance the places where you could take shelter if threatening weather approaches. Then, if the skies darken and you see lightning, you will know what to do and where to find the most appropriate shelter.
Here are some tips on what to do if you encounter the following phenomena.
Lightning, Strong Winds, and Large Hail: If in a tent or tent-trailer, move to the closest comfort station/washroom or your hard-topped vehicle. If no shelter is available, seek refuge deep in a thick stand of trees. If no trees or only solitary trees are nearby, then find the lowest-lying area. Crouch down and cover your head.
Heavy Rain/Flash Floods: Avoid camping close to streams or rivers as heavy rain can cause water levels to rise rapidly. Never cross rain-swollen streams or rivers as the undercurrents could carry you downstream. If flash flooding does occur, get to higher ground immediately.
Tornadoes: Move to a campground comfort station/washroom. Crouch and cover your head. If there is no comfort station or washroom nearby, evacuate your tent or camper van. Lie down flat in a low-lying area and cover your head with your hands. Do not get into your vehicle to escape a tornado! Strong tornadoes can overturn vehicles.
Source: Camping Ontario
While small business owners are often experts in their field, many know little about business insurance. Consequently, business owners may make mistakes when buying insurance coverage. Some errors may be minor but others can have serious consequences. Here are some of the more common pitfalls to avoid when buying insurance for your business.
Buying the Least Expensive Policy
Premiums can vary widely from one insurer to another, which is why the brokers and CSRs at DPM Insurance Group will explore several options when looking to place your policy. However, some business owners automatically choose the cheapest policy. This is a mistake. Buyers should understand what a policy does and doesn’t cover before they decide to buy it.
When purchasing business insurance, our brokers and CSRs obtain quotes from multiple insurers, then review the proposals in detail with you. We’ll discuss the types and amounts of coverage each company has listed in its quote. Our goal is to obtain appropriate coverage for you at a reasonable price.
Buying Too Little Property Insurance
Many small business owners insure their buildings and personal property under a commercial property policy. Unfortunately, they don’t always buy adequate limits.
Like some policyholders, you may assume that a policy that includes replacement cost coverage will automatically cover the cost to repair or replace your damaged property. You may not realize that your policy won’t pay more than the limit of insurance. If the cost to repair or replace damaged property exceeds the limit, your policy won’t cover the loss in full. Your company will have to absorb any remaining loss.
You should also be aware that most property policies include either a co-insurance clause or an agreed value provision. Both impose a penalty for under-insuring your property. If a loss occurs and you have failed to maintain a minimum amount of insurance, your insurer will not pay the full amount of the loss. Deliberately under-insuring your property is not a good way to save money on property premiums!
Gambling on Low Liability Limits
Virtually any business can be hit with a lawsuit. Lawsuits are unpredictable. Business owners can’t predict who will sue their firm, when the suits will be filed, or the amount of damages plaintiffs will seek. No one expects to be sued but lawsuits occur nonetheless. One large claim can put a small company out of business.
When buying general liability or auto liability insurance, don’t skimp on limits. If you are unsure how much insurance you need, our staff will work with you to determine the best protection for your situation.
Note that prospective landlords, vendors, and others may refuse to do business with you unless you carry a minimum limit of insurance. Similarly, a government entity may refuse to issue your firm a permit to erect a sign, hold an event, or perform other activities on public property unless you have purchased a specified limit. Nowadays, many companies and government entities require a limit of $1 million or more.
Automatically Choosing a Low Deductible
Deductibles are a form of self-insurance. They allow policyholders to save money on insurance premiums by paying for small losses out of pocket. They also allow insurers to avoid the cost of adjusting small claims.
When buying commercial property or auto physical damage insurance, don’t automatically select a low deductible. You may be buying more insurance than you need. Instead, consider how much premium you will save by raising the deductible from, say $2,500 to $5,000. As a general rule, you should choose the largest deductible your firm can comfortably absorb. A higher deductible will provide an incentive to protect your property from damage.
Failure to Adjust Your Coverage as Your Business Changes
Most businesses change over time. Small companies grow, acquiring new property and hiring more employees. Some expand their product offerings while others move to new geographical areas. When businesses change, their insurance needs change as well. Thus, business owners need to keep their insurance agents up-to-date on changes that have occurred. Unfortunately, some business owners don’t do this. The result can be inadequate insurance coverage.
The best time to reevaluate your insurance needs is at least a couple of months before your policies renew. Meet with our staff in person so you can explain any changes that have taken place at your company. We’ll review your coverage and limits to determine whether any changes are needed.
Failing to Insure Potential Income Losses
Like many business owners, you may have insured your company’s physical assets against loss or damage under a commercial property policy. However, you may have failed to consider a common consequence of physical losses, namely loss of income.
If your business premises are damaged by a fire or other peril, your company may have to shut down until the damage is repaired. Your business can’t generate revenue if it isn’t operating so a shutdown could be disastrous. You can help ensure your company survives an interruption by purchasing business income coverage. This coverage reimburses you for the income you would have earned if the loss had not occurred. It also covers expenses you must continue to pay (like rent or electricity) whether or not your business is operating.
Business income insurance is often provided in conjunction with extra expense coverage. The latter covers expenses you incur to avoid or minimize a shutdown of your business after a physical property loss.
Failing to Accurately List Entities or Locations
Most liability policies cover, as named insureds, the people or business entities shown in the declarations. People or entities not listed on the policy don’t qualify as named insureds. This rule applies to general liability, commercial auto, and umbrella policies. Neglecting to list a business entity on a policy can have disastrous results.
For example, suppose that ABC Inc. manufactures candy. For tax reasons, ABC creates a subsidiary called XYZ Inc. ABC then transfers ownership of its factory building to XYZ. The owners of ABC purchase a liability policy that lists ABC as the named insured. They forget to include XYZ. An accident occurs at the factory, and XYZ Inc. is sued. Because XYZ is not listed on ABC’s policy, ABC’s insurer refuses to cover the claim.
Similar problems can occur if business locations are omitted from a commercial property policy. Most property policies cover physical loss or damage to covered property at the premises described in the declarations. If damaged property is situated at premises not shown on the policy, the damage may not be covered.
Source: Marianne Bonner, for thebalancesmb.com
Most homeowner’s insurance policies have a contingency for voluntary medical payments and voluntary property damage payments. But what does that actually mean?
Voluntary Medical Payments coverage pays reasonable medical expenses in the year after an accident if you unintentionally injure another person or if they are accidentally injured on your property – even though you are not legally liable.
Voluntary Property Damage Payments coverage covers unintentional direct loss or damage you cause to somebody’s property – even though you are not legally liable. It can also cover loss or damage to someone else’s property caused intentionally by a minor child (12 years of age or under) in your care.
You don’t have to be legally liable to use either of these coverage options, and there is no deductible.
Reasonable medical expenses can include surgical, dental, hospital, nursing, ambulance service and funeral expenses incurred within one year of the date of the accident. The amount of insurance shown on your Certificate of Property Insurance is the maximum amount your insurance company will pay for each person in respect of one accident or occurrence.
Voluntary Property Damage payments cover what it would cost to repair or replace the property with materials of similar quality at the time of loss. Again, the maximum amount your insurance company will pay is shown on your Certificate of Property Insurance.
Your policy will outline all terms, conditions, limits and exclusions. At DPM Insurance Group, our brokers and CSRs will review your homeowner’s policy, or any other policy you carry, to help you ensure you have the appropriate coverage and fully understand what is and is not covered.
By understanding how to read insurance documentation, you are better able to manage your policy. Declarations, insuring agreements and policy conditions are found in home, auto and business policies.
The declarations in a policy provide basic information including: who is insured; what risks are covered; policy limits of liability and deductibles; the cost of the premium; effective dates of coverage; others who have an interest in the policy; a list of form numbers and endorsements that add to or alter the policy; the name of the insurance company.
For a claim to be valid, it must be covered under the insuring agreement and not stated as an exclusion. This section will include: what losses are covered; the subject matter of the insurance and a description of the property that is covered; the perils insured against (the circumstances under which the insured will receive the proceeds of the insurance); exclusions that eliminate specific uninsured hazards.
To maintain coverage, and insured industry or business must fulfil specified requirements such as: if a condition is breached by the insured, the policy may be void or voidable; or, the insurer may refuse a claim arising out of the breach.
Ways to Get Top Value
For the best possible rate and coverage, make yourself or your organization stand out as the “best in class” by taking an active role in the insurance buying process. Foster a strong relationship with your insurance representative. The more the representative knows about you and/or your business, the better prepared he or she will be to present what’s best for you in the insurance marketplace.
Provide well-organized, complete information. Business owners may be asked to submit information about risk management policies and procedures. Supply additional documentation that describes your business operations and why they’re considered best in class.
Make sure any information that you provide an insurance company accurately reflects your needs, the requested coverage and/or your organization and its operations.
Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada
We see it often in the insurance industry. A family is the victim of a break and enter and it isn’t until they begin the claims process that they realize they’ve under-insured themselves for just such a loss.
At DPM Insurance Group, our brokers and CSRs will take the time to review your current homeowners policy and make sure you understand completely what is covered and what is not, that you’re comfortable with your deductibles, that your limits are appropriate, and that you’re making your decisions with complete information.
While the number of home break-ins across the province have dropped in the last 10 years, the value of individual theft claims has risen dramatically. Other aspects remain the same, like the fact theft claims always increase dramatically over the summer months. In general, that’s because it’s more likely families are away on day trips or extended vacations and leave their homes vacant.
According to industry experts, the popularity of expensive electronic devices has also driven up the value of most theft claims. These small, valuable items can be easily removed from the home and sold quickly for cash, more than items like big screen TVs. Often, people also underestimate the value of the goods they accumulate over the years, so it’s prudent to update an inventory of valuable items and make any necessary adjustments to your policy to ensure you have the proper coverage.
Your grandmother’s gold jewelry or other family heirlooms may be worth more than you realize, and while you can add a policy rider to cover these items for their actual value, a “normal” household policy will have a cap on jewelry claims that can range from $2,000 to $6,000. Deductibles generally range between $500 and $2,500 on most homeowner’s policies. And while some people choose a higher deductible to reduce their premiums, it does translate to more out of pocket expense if they have to make a claim.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada suggests most policies offer enough theft coverage for the average family, since thefts are not as costly as water and fire damage. Under 10 percent of insurance claims are for stolen property while water damage accounts for nearly 50 percent, followed by fire at 20 percent.
But like most things, whether its prevention measures or navigating a claim, preparation is key.
Maintaining a catalogue of your possessions will make it easier if you ever have to file a claim. Going through that process will also provide the opportunity to realize the proper value of many items, and ensure you’re comfortable with the level of protection your policy provides.
But if you truly want to avoid having to make such a claim in the first place, taking steps to prevent theft can be fairly simple.
The most common way thieves enter a home is through an unlocked window or door. As well, thieves look for homes that appear to be unoccupied, so you should avoid leaving an impression that you’re not home. Make arrangements during vacations so newspapers and mail doesn’t collect in the driveway; ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway and use timers for indoor and outdoor lights.
More and more social media has turned into a virtual shopping list of potential targets for thieves. Posting vacation photos while still on vacation lets people know you aren’t home, especially if your social media friends do not have tight privacy settings.
A few simple rules to help prevent theft:
- Ask a trusted neighbor or friend to collect your mail and newspapers, keep your sidewalk and driveway clear, and park his or her car in your driveway. You can also request that mail deliveries be stopped or re-routed to a different address until you return.
- Consider light switch timers, especially multiple timers on a random setting. They are inexpensive and make your home appear lived in.
- Installing a home security system and outdoor motion detectors may deter burglars from targeting your home.
- Inspect your home before you leave. Put away bicycles and gardening or snow removal equipment, and be sure to lock your shed. Closely trim trees and shrubs to keep your house in plain view.
- If loading luggage into your car, do so in your garage if possible, so you don’t alert potential thieves you are leaving.
- Leave curtains and/or blinds as you would normally keep them while at home but be sure to store any jewelry, valuables and important paperwork out of sight or in a home safe or bank safety deposit box. Noticeable changes in your home’s typical appearance may hint that you are away.
- Don’t announce your vacation plans in casual conversations, in emails or on social networking sites.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your existing homeowner’s policy, the brokers and CSRs at any one of DPM Insurance Group’s six offices would be pleased to offer you a no cost, no obligation policy review and quote. Your security – Our responsibility.
As pandemic restrictions start to loosen and more campgrounds open for the summer, you may want to review the insurance on your trailer before taking to the open road.
At DPM Insurance Group, our brokers and CSRs want to find out what type of trailer our customer owns, so we can best determine whether it should be insured on an auto or property insurance policy. At the very least, the owner of a trailer should ensure their policy has appropriate third-party liability and physical damage exposures.
Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, provinces imposed various states of emergency. With Ontario in its second stage of re-opening, more facilities and services are now available at provincial parks in certain regions.
In Ontario, a trailer is considered a separate vehicle that needs a licence plate and vehicle permit issued by the Ministry of Transportation. But Ontario does not require a trailer to have a separate auto insurance policy.
When the trailer is being towed it receives the same liability coverage that is currently on your auto policy, BUT, it will not receive any other coverage associated with your auto policy such as comprehensive or collision coverage.
Since not all provinces require trailer insurance to be carried separate of a customer’s auto insurance policy, it’s always best for a customer to speak with a licensed insurance broker to discuss options.
Source: Canadian Underwriter
A spike in residential fires in condos and rental units across Ontario this year is being attributed to the fact people have been at home and cooking more during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic this past March by the World Health Organization, millions of Canadians who normally work from their office have been working from home, and some get distracted when they are trying to cook.
Some people are putting cardboard in ovens and putting items such as metal in the microwave oven that should not be there. One fire department even issued an advisory for people to take their pizza out of the box before re-heating it.
In Ontario, fatal home fires are up 65% since January compared to this time frame in 2019. Similar increases are being seen across the country. The numbers are alarming. This applies not just to single-family homes, but also to condominium buildings and multi-tenant buildings.
At DPM Insurance Group, beyond the idea of fire-related claims, we want our clients to be safe. With that in mind, we suggest the following:
- Ensure all occupants know what to do in case of emergency;
- Have a plan to escape from a fire and a pre-arranged meeting place outside;
- Always be alert when cooking;
- Only smoke outdoors; and
- Always use a safe method of extinguishing cigarette butts – such as putting them in an ashtray and not discarding cigarette buts in a planter.
About 4.7 million Canadians who do not usually work from home did so during the week of March 22nd to 28th, Statistics Canada reported earlier. When those who usually work from home were included in the statistics, 39.1% of the labour force, which is 6.8 million Canadians, worked from home that week.
The increase in cooking fires could change the way property insurance is underwritten. In particular, there could be a shift in the questions brokers and agents ask consumers who are applying for renters’ insurance. For example, there could be less emphasis on the quality of construction and the building’s fire safety systems, and more emphasis on what the rental units are used for and how often the clients are home.
Every stovetop, water pipe and door hinge is on full tilt when a home is fully occupied all day, every day, so it stands to reason that certain claims will naturally trend higher than others in those times.
Source: Greg Meckbach, for Canadian Underwriter
If you’re one of the many drivers who believes car insurance rates are too high, you might be surprised to know just how much of your premium goes toward covering the cost of fraudulent automotive claims.
According to a recent article written by Will Koblensky for Ratehub.ca, car insurance fraud is a $2 billion per year problem in Canada, but nowhere is it more of a problem than right here in Ontario. On average, it costs Canadian drivers about $125 per year on their insurance to combat car insurance fraud. In Ontario, drivers pay an average of $236 annually to cover the cost of insurance fraud.
While you may think the problem stems from drivers making false claims, there are actually several ways fraud is perpetrated that have nothing to do with regular drivers.
Fake auto insurance fraud
In these cases, someone impersonating an insurance broker advertises and offers to find you a lower rate than what you’re currently paying, for a fee. But Insurance brokers like DPM Insurance Group never take fees from consumers because the insurance company pays them a commission. In this scam, after they get all your driving history and information, the imposter calls a real insurance company, lies about your details and you get a lower rate. When you get into an accident, the real insurer denies your claim because the phony insurance broker provided false information.
Similarly, sometimes a fake company offers a very low premium, but never actually sets up any coverage after you pay. Even though you, the driver thought you were insured, you’re now actually driving without any insurance at all.
2. Staged car accidents
Fraudsters are practiced professionals and have a handful of techniques they use to stage an accident to make it look real.
A) The Swoop and Squat: One practice is so common, the Insurance Bureau of Canada has a special name for it – the “Swoop and Squat”. This scam involves two conspiring vehicles and one innocent vehicle. One fraudster changes lanes in front of another fraudster and slam their brakes. The second fraudster, now seeing their co-conspirator stopped in front of them, will also slam their brakes.
The innocent driver, with two vehicles suddenly stopped in front of them, rear ends the car in front of them and damages both the conspiring vehicles. The stopped fraudsters have made it appear as though the innocent driver is at fault in the accident. No Fault insurance only means that you’ll deal with your insurer when filing the claim, you can still be at fault.
B) The Drive Down: This is where an innocent vehicle in a parking lot gets waved to come out of their parking spot by an oncoming car. The oncoming car then intentionally drives into an innocent vehicle. The driver of the vehicle that initiated the accident will later deny that they waved the innocent driver to come out of their parking spot.
C) The Left Turn: This is where an innocent driver is waved on to make a left turn across the lane of an oncoming car. The driver of that oncoming car waits until the innocent vehicle begins making the left turn and then drives into the car mid-turn. The oncoming vehicle’s driver later denies they waved the turning vehicle through.
3. Unintentional auto insurance fraud
In truth, many Canadians may accidentally commit low-level auto insurance fraud without even knowing it’s actually fraud. Registering a vehicle at a family members’ residence for a cheaper insurance rate or listing someone as a primary driver when they’re not, constitutes as fraud.
Exaggerating injuries following an accident where you incurred real injuries is considered fraud. Cases where someone claims they can’t work because of an accident and then proceeds to find employment are punishable by fine or imprisonment.
How to prevent insurance fraud after a collision
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, it’s difficult to know if you’re the newest victim of fraud. You can, however, prevent fraud by following a series of steps after any collision.
- Stay calm
- Don’t confront or argue the conditions of the crash with the other driver. Save your story for the police and the insurance adjuster.
- Take pictures and notes of all vehicles following the accident, location of the collision, weather conditions, license plates, and insurance policies. Take note of any passengers and get their names.
- Make a note of any witnesses and get their contact information. Additionally, scan the area for security cameras that may have recorded the scene of the accident.
- Take pictures of your vehicle immediately following the repairs.
How to report car insurance frauds
If you believe you’re the victim of fraud either by a scam driver, a tow truck, a mechanic, speak with your insurer. Your discomfort is understandable, so know the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s anonymous online tip forms are there for you to report suspicious behaviour.
How auto insurance fraud pays its criminals
Auto insurance fraud on the road is where the criminal element becomes very dangerous. It begins with a recruiter finding a team of participants to stage an accident, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Following the accident, a tow truck company who’s in on the scam will come and tow your car. Later, they charge the insurance company an excessive amount. The tow may take your car to an auto body repair shop, also in on the fraud. There, additional damage could be done to your car, which increases the size of your claim. That auto body shop will then charge the insurance company for additional repairs.
While all this is going on, the participants in the fake accident go to a private rehab clinic. The clinic coaches on how to show signs of injury. The co-conspiring clinic will assist the injured to make an insurance claims under the accident benefits portion of their insurance. Accident benefits covers services like physiotherapy, housekeeping, care-giving and income replacement.
The recruiter in charge of this entire process, gets kickbacks from the tow truck, the mechanic, and the rehab clinic, the Insurance Bureau of Canada says.
Source: Will Koblensky for Ratebhub