Why your insurance policy might not cover you after a collision

Your car insurance policy is designed to protect you and your vehicle when you need it most — but there are certain situations when your insurer of might deny a claim for damage to your vehicle after a collision. Here are the most common ones:

You’ve breached a condition of your policy by participating in a race or in illegal activities (e.g., illicit trade or transportation). Not only could you find yourself with a hefty fine – or even jail time – but your insurance company may deny your claim and cancel your policy.

While your car insurance policy is designed to protect you and your vehicle when you need it most, there are certain situations when your insurer may deny claims for damage to your vehicle after a collision.

You’ve made a fraudulent claim. Not only are staged accidents and car insurance fraud dangerous for everyone involved, but they’re expensive for insurance companies – and over time, an increase in false claim payouts can lead to higher premiums for everyone who has car insurance.

The claim you’ve made isn’t covered by your policy. For example:

You decided not to purchase collision coverage (the coverage you need if you’d like to be reimbursed for repairs following a collision).

The collision occurred while your vehicle was rented or leased by you to another person.

An excluded driver (someone you have intentionally removed from your car insurance policy) was driving your vehicle at the time of the accident.

Keep your broker informed about any changes in your vehicle use so they can make sure you have the coverage you need.

Repairs to your vehicle will cost less than your deductible. If the damage will only cost $300 to repair but your deductible is $500, you’ll be responsible for paying the bill. Get the lowdown on deductibles and make sure you’re comfortable with the deductibles outlined in your policy.

You were using your personal vehicle for business. If you have a personal car insurance policy but you’re using your vehicle for commercial purposes (making deliveries, towing) and are in a collision, your claim won’t be covered. In addition to a denied claim, your insurer could also cancel your policy for failure to disclose a material change.

You were using your personal vehicle to transport paying passengers. Your personal auto insurance policy won’t cover you if you’re using your vehicle as a taxi, bus, or sightseeing van to transport paying passengers. It’s important to note, however, that this typically doesn’t apply to situations like sharing the cost of an occasional trip with others traveling with you or being reimbursed for driving expenses like gas as a volunteer driver.

Your policy has expired or been cancelled. If your car insurance policy was cancelled (for non-payment, for example) and you continue to drive without purchasing new coverage, you won’t be protected in a collision.

The good news is most of these situations are avoidable – so always follow the rules of the road, drive safely, and reach out to one of the brokers or CSRs at DPM Insurance Group to make sure you have the right coverage before the unexpected happens. If you make any changes to how you use your vehicle and aren’t sure whether something needs to be reported, it’s worth contacting us just to be safe.

Source: Economical

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

No matter where you live in Canada, it is illegal to drive without car insurance. If you’re caught driving without insurance, you will face hefty fines and a conviction will have a significant impact on your future insurance premium. If you’re involved in a car accident, and you are not insured, the consequences and costs are more severe.

What are the fines and penalties for driving without insurance in Ontario?

The penalties for driving without insurance vary across the country. While no demerit points are involved in Ontario, the penalties upon conviction are severe:

  • A minimum fine of $5,000to a maximum of $25,000. Your driver’s licence may also be suspended from 30 days up to one year.
  • Fines for a second or subsequent conviction range from $10,000 to $50,000, and your licence can be suspended for up to one year. On top of that, the vehicle you’re driving can be impounded for three months, and you’ll have to pay the costs associated with the vehicle’s impoundment and storage.
  • Ontario also adds a mandatory 25% victim fine surcharge to these costs on conviction.

What happens if I drive a vehicle that isn’t mine without insurance?

Suppose you borrow your friend’s car to drive to the store, but the vehicle is not insured by the owner. If you’re caught, you could be charged with failing to produce an insurance card since an insurance policy follows the vehicle, not the driver. The owner of the uninsured vehicle may also be charged with driving without insurance as a result.

Before you borrow anyone’s vehicle, make sure they have a valid, active insurance policy on that car before getting behind the wheel.

How does a driving-without-insurance conviction affect insurance?

The fines and penalties for driving without insurance coverage in Ontario are tough, and they stay on your driving record for three years. But the effect it can have on your insurance record could prove more costly.

Insurers tend to view a driving without insurance conviction as seriously as an impaired driving conviction. It is possible any of the following could happen:

  • Many insurance companies may refuse to insure you.
  • You could be classified as a high-risk driver, which makes it difficult to get insured.
  • If you do find an insurer that will offer you a policy, the cost won’t be cheap. You may be looking at paying thousands of dollars a year for insurance.

What happens if you get into an accident without car insurance?

If you get into a collision and you don’t have any insurance coverage, you’re in a world of trouble. For starters, you will have to pay for all the damages to your vehicle as well as any other vehicle(s) involved in the accident – even if you’re not at-fault for the collision.

Car accidents tend to injure people, sometimes severely, or even cause death. The cost of medical rehabilitation for someone injured in an accident may not be cheap, and in some cases, the injuries someone suffers may be life-altering.

As a driver without insurance, you could face expensive lawsuits. The injured people as well as their insurers may come after you through the courts to recoup their financial losses and legal fees. Those costs could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, and without insurance, you may be forced to declare bankruptcy.

If you are uninsured and are injured in a car accident for which you are not at-fault, you cannot sue the at-fault driver for damages. That leaves you footing the medical bills for your rehabilitation.

What happens if you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver?

If you get into a collision with another motorist who does not have insurance, but you are insured, there’s no need to worry.

One of the coverages in a standard auto policy in Ontario is called “uninsured auto”. It protects you from this circumstance, but it has a limit of $200,000 for damage to your vehicle minus a deductible. However, you can increase the limit on this coverage. Also, uninsured auto coverage protects you in the event you are involved in an accident with a hit-and-run driver. Your insurance company will pay for the damage to your vehicle, any injury you suffer, and any other expense related to the claim.

If you have additional coverage such as collision or upset coverage, it will kick in up to the liability limit. Though collision coverage usually provides funds for damage to your vehicle if you’re at-fault for an accident, most insurers will payout for repairs to your car damaged by an uninsured motorist.

What happens if an uninsured driver flees the scene of an accident?

Uninsured (and unlicensed) drivers might flee the scene of an accident, even though it’s not a smart move to do so. Like driving without insurance, failing to remain at the scene of an accident is illegal and comes with serious consequences. You could be charged under your provincial highway act, or you could be charged under the criminal code.

In Ontario, for example, drivers found guilty of fleeing the scene face jail time up to six months, risk losing their driver’s licence for two years, and face fines ranging from $200 to $2,000 – not to mention accumulating seven demerit points. Drivers found guilty under the criminal code may face jail time of up to five years.

If the driver had auto insurance, they would likely face a significant premium increase. In more severe cases, the insurance company could cancel the policy altogether.

If the driver didn’t have insurance, it will be challenging for them to find a provider afterward. And if they do, they can expect high premiums as these convictions will stay on their insurance record for at least three years.

What happens if an uninsured driver seriously injures you?

Suppose you are in a collision with an uninsured motorist and are severely injured. In that case, the accident benefits portion of your policy will cover your medical expenses up to a limit of $200,000 on a standard insurance policy.

You can also add optional protection to your policy to safeguard against this type or risk, known as the family protection endorsement. This is designed to protect you and your family if you are seriously injured in an accident by an uninsured driver or as a result of a hit-and-run.

The value of being legally insured

Accidents can happen at any time to anyone, including safe drivers. Ensuring you have adequate car insurance coverage is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and vehicle as well as others around you.

 

Source: Insurancehotline.com

Maybe buying insurance should take longer than 10 minutes

If you’re like most people, between work, family and a never-ending to-do list, there’s not much time left to research and buy insurance. So, how much time should you actually carve out to get the right coverage? Of course, speed is always a priority. It’s part of the reason digital insurance chatbots and online quoting tools have grown in popularity. But the ‘quick to click’ online method doesn’t work for everyone, and you’ll likely have questions that are best answered by a broker.

In many cases, by using both digital and traditional tools and services, you can actually save time to purchase while also ensuring you’re properly covered. It doesn’t have to be an “either/or” option. Whether buying insurance in person or online, you may still want access to the expertise of a broker to guide you in the right direction and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Here are eight tips to help guide the insurance buying process:

Do some online research

Digital services are convenient – and you can often purchase 24/7, whenever it fits your schedule. But you can also end up more confused than before, entering an online research wormhole after looking at countless sites. So, consider this only part of your process. Don’t worry if you don’t find every answer – just write down your questions while you get comfortable with the terminology and what you might need to consider for coverage.

Talk with a broker

While digital insurance is here to stay, traditional options aren’t going anywhere either. Hybrid approaches, where brokers offer a combination of digital services with human consultation and advice, are becoming more common. For instance, it is possible to get a quote for certain insurance products on the DPM Insurance Group website.

Whether talking to a broker in person, on the phone or via online chat, they can also walk you through digital quoting tools and review your coverage options. Insurance is not always ‘one size fits all’.

Understand the vocabulary

If you don’t know the difference between “sewer backup” and “overland water” coverage, for example, a broker can explain it to you in plain English. If you purchase one and not the other, you could find yourself without coverage when you discover water in your basement.

Your broker can help you understand all these terms, what common situations you could encounter, and then help you pick the right coverage for your home.

Avoid gaps in coverage & costly mistakes

“When purchasing an insurance policy there may be sub-limits or potential gaps in coverage. A broker can provide you with knowledge to make the right decision for the coverage you feel is appropriate for you.

Purchasing the wrong coverage can lead to costly mistakes – and a broker can help you avoid those errors. Often with digital insurance options, people make a decision based on the cheapest price. Or they don’t want to spend a lot of time going through all the options, which can lead to not fully understanding any gaps in coverage. Even a small, innocent oversight could lead to a claim denial.

Double check your list

While you might want to make a quick decision at this point, double check that you truly understand all the answers to your questions. There’s a reason why this process shouldn’t always take just 10 minutes, particularly when you’re dealing with your most valuable assets. If you aren’t quite clear, revisit steps one and two. You’ll thank yourself later.

Having someone in your corner at this step can provide peace of mind. That way, if a future worst-case scenario does indeed happen, you know you’re covered. Nobody ever wants to imagine a situation where their home catches fire and is damaged beyond repair, taking with it all their belongings and possessions. At that point, the time you spent going over all your options with a broker will have been well worth it.

Check out with your broker

Whether online or in person, your broker can help you complete your application. After you make an insurance purchase, they will also make sure your needs have been met and any follow-up questions are answered. Lean on them to make sure you’re covered.

Have an advocate on your side

If, in the future, you do need to make a claim, you’ll be able to refer to information on websites and access digital tools. But when speed is a factor, as is often the case when it comes to difficult situations involving your home and property, having an advocate who can help you through the process is appreciated.

If you need to make a claim, would you rather read through your policy and wording on your own, or have a broker who already understands the policies and protocol walk you through everything and be your advocate? A broker can help move things forward, and be on your side to get you through it – whether that’s helping to fill out lengthy forms or having a go-to person who can move things along with the claim’s adjustor.

Renew your policy with ease

When it comes time to renew or make updates, you also have choice — in your coverage options and the method in which you’ll communicate with your broker. In some cases, this can be relatively straightforward, but if you’ve recently made a claim or had changes to your property or living situation, for example, some adjustments might be necessary.

This isn’t to say that chatbots and digital tools aren’t handy for speedy renewals. In fact, they are growing in popularity because people like getting access to quick information. But don’t make them the be-all and end-all source of advice. If you have uncertainty, talk to a broker.

The main purpose of a broker is to provide clients with choice, advocacy and value. That choice extends from in-person meetings to digital portals with options to talk to a broker for expert advice.

No matter how you decide to purchase insurance, you still need to put in the time – and the quickest (and seemingly easiest) approach won’t necessarily cut it. Whether you want to review that information in person or online, a broker can provide peace of mind that you’ve made the right insurance choices.

 

Source: Wawanessa

Safety Tips for Halloween

Even as parents and caregivers continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Halloween is still one of the most exciting nights of the year. This year’s festivities may still look a little different and call for creative alternatives that are both fun and follow COVID-19 recommendations. But regardless of how you choose to celebrate this Halloween, here are a few ways to make safety a part of your planning.

Planning your costume

When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls, whether around the house or on the street.

For greater visibility, decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colored clothing.

Choose non-toxic face paint and make-up to ensure kids can see because full-face Halloween masks can obstruct a child’s vision.

Facemasks to protect from COVID should not be decorated with paint or magic markers.

When Halloween activities take you outside the home

Tips for kids:

  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
  • Put electronic devices down, keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
  • Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars and be especially careful around driveways and alleys.
  • Join kids under age 12 for trick-or-treating. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, tell them to stick to familiar areas that are well lit, stay on sidewalks if available, and trick-or-treat in small groups.

Tips for drivers:

  • Be especially alert and take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
  • Slow down in residential neighborhoods. Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
  • Reduce any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.

When you’re planning Halloween activities at home

Use glow sticks to light up jack-o-lanterns instead of candles. This will help prevent burns from open flames.

Keep decorations away from open flames, light bulbs and heaters. Paper decorations and things like cornstalks can catch fire easily. Double check to make sure smoke alarms are working correctly and review your fire escape plan with your family in case there is a fire.

 

Source: safekids.org

 

Sometimes Even Good Drivers Get in Accidents

It’s difficult to imagine anyone whose driven for more than a few years hasn’t had a close call at one time or another while driving down the road, but occasionally a near-miss turns into a direct hit.

To err is human, but when it happens while driving, it often ends in a collision. From an auto insurance perspective, an at-fault collision can be a costly mistake. It takes about six years for a collision to no longer factor into the premium you pay. However, the reality is that accidents happen but knowing why, where, and when collisions occur can go a long way in avoiding them.

Why car accidents happen

Statistics show quite clearly that most collisions are avoidable. The Traffic Injury Research Foundation estimates that 90% of all road crashes result from human error.

Human error, however, includes poor decisions. Following too closely, speeding, driving while distracted or impaired, ignoring traffic signals or signs, and refusing to yield right-of-way are all decisions that can easily lead to a collision. Despite the common phrase, “rules are made to be broken,” this is not the case when you are driving.

Where collisions happen

Whatever the error in judgement that led to the collision, car accidents are most common at an intersection, according to Transport Canada’s National Collision Database (NCDB). Whether it is where two roads meet or where there’s an entrance (or exit) to a parking lot or driveway, 48% of accidents happen when drivers are potentially turning.

No matter where the collision occurred – whether it was at an intersection, mid-block, or on a highway – almost one in four collisions (24%) involved one driver rear-ending another driver.

When auto accidents happen

You’d think most accidents happen when the weather is foul, when it is raining, foggy, or snowing, but this is not the case. Based on the collisions recorded by the NCDB, the overwhelming majority (69%) happen when it is clear and sunny out.

Accidents are also more likely to happen:

  • On Fridays (17%)
  • During the evening rush hour between 3 – 6 p.m. (25%)
  • When you are driving on your own (72%)

Low auto insurance rates are no accident

Your driving record and insurance history factor heavily into the auto insurance rate you pay. If you have been involved in an at-fault collision, you know this to be true. The good news is a collision will not follow you forever. In the meantime, one way to drive down your auto insurance rates is to shop around, or better yet, let one of DPM Insurance Groups licensed brokers or CSRs do the leg work for you. It is the only way to know for certain that you are getting the lowest rate possible.

 

Source: Insurancehotline.com

Five Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Driver’s Training

For many young Canadians getting behind the wheel for the first time is a milestone on the highway to adulthood. But the excitement of independence often overshadows the fact that each year thousands of drivers are injured or killed in car accidents.

The key to preventing tragic traffic fatalities is instilling a skill-set of safe driving practices in young drivers. That’s why insurance companies often offer lower car insurance rates to young drivers who have taken a driver’s training course, and why DPM Insurance Group offers an annual scholarship program for six new drivers to take such a course.

The cost of driving school lessons ranges from $600 – $800 on average, but the insurance savings can be more than double that when stacked up against the initial expense. Investing in driver’s training pays off – lowering the insurance premiums of young drivers and helping them develop confidence surrounding the rules of the road.

Here are tips for getting the most out of driver’s training:

Find the right driving school

It’s not as ambiguous as it sounds. If you’re a new driver there could be dozens of schools available and not all are accredited. To tap into available insurance discount you’ll want to find a school that’s approved by your province’s Ministry of Transportation.

Meet with the instructors

You’re going to be spending a fair bit of time, in class and behind the wheel so you’ll want to make sure the people teaching you the essentials of driving fit your personality. There are a lot of accredited driving schools out there, so if you’re not fussy on the instructors look elsewhere for someone you feel you can learn from the best. Meet with both the in-class and the behind-the-wheel instructors.

Less is more

Find out what the student to in-class instructor ratio is; the fewer the students the better. In Ontario, for example, the maximum ratio is 40 students to one instructor, but MTO states their preference to be a 24 to 1 ratio. The fewer students in your class, the less divided your teacher’s attention will be and the better chance you’ll be successful.

Solicit feedback on driving lessons

At the end of the lesson, chat with your instructor and get a full overview of what you’re doing well and what you could improve on. Make mental notes. If there’s something you aren’t comfortable with yet, like parallel parking or highway driving, let your trainer know so they can coach you through it. Remember, everyone starts at the same point, so there’s nothing embarrassing about taking your time to build up to advanced driving techniques. Learn at your own pace and get feedback to track your progress.

Practice makes perfect

As with anything, practice, practice, practice and confidence (and skills) will follow. Stay calm while behind the wheel and try to get in extra time with a parent, relative or other qualified driver – even if it’s just to practice the tough stuff or specific skills like three point turns. When you’re a passenger, watch other drivers and try to pick up any good habits or tricks they’ve developed (while ignoring the bad). The lessons lay the framework, but it’s up to you to take the initiative to ensure you’re driving safe.

 

Source: Insurancehotline.com

Golden rule to protect your vacant property

Are you selling or renting a home that’s still sitting on the market? Do you have an out-of-province property that you can’t visit due to travel restrictions? If you’re leaving any property unoccupied for longer than usual, you can take steps now to avoid unnecessary risk and costs.

While vacant properties are relatively common, the average person may not even realize their property fits this description — or how easy it is to update their insurance status.

“It’s important to consider buildings or homes that you might be leaving unoccupied for an extended period of time. People are thinking about their properties differently,” says Dom Mandaliti, manager of Loss Control with Wawanesa Insurance.

A lot of people assume their home insurance covers them – and it does… up to a point. That’s why it’s helpful to understand, from an insurer’s perspective, the difference between an unoccupied property and a vacant one, and how it affects your policy.

What does “vacant” actually mean?

First off, there are many reasons a property could be considered “vacant.” Your short-term rental property might have a gap in tenants during a slow period or the off-season. Perhaps you’re moving into a new home and your previous one is sitting empty while you wait for it to sell. Or you might be a snowbird flocking south, leaving your wintery Canadian home behind.

Different insurers will use different definitions, but it’s really about your intent to return to the house or property. If you intend to go back at some point in the near future, the property is considered unoccupied. But if you never intend to go back, it would be considered vacant. However, even an unoccupied property still falls under the “vacant” category when it comes to insurance, so it’s best to follow the same rules.

A vacant property is any place where all the occupants have moved out and they have no intention of returning to live there – and no new occupant has taken up residence. This applies regardless of whether it’s furnished.

Further, it’s important to know that “vacancy” can refer to a newly constructed building or a home you recently purchased but haven’t moved into. Most insurance policies have a time limit on how long a property can be unoccupied or vacant before that policy is null and void – often around 30 days.

Risky business

The longer a property is unoccupied, the higher the risk of property damage and loss, which could range from water damage to theft and wreak havoc on a property. A vacant structure can become a target for burglary, vandalism and even people squatting. It can also attract other unwanted guests, such as mice or other critters that make themselves at home.

The problems can escalate from there, especially when nobody is checking in on the place.

“There have been many cases where fires have been caused by squirrels and other animals chewing through wires in the attic,” says Mandaliti. “If you’re gone for too long, Mother Nature tends to take over.”

And, when it comes to insurance, malicious or accidental damage outside your policy terms can have unwanted consequences. If you don’t notify your broker of a change in your property status – such as leaving it unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days – you could end up with a reduction in coverage. If vacant, your policy could potentially be voided.

So what should a property owner do?

The simplest and easiest thing is to call your broker well in advance before you’re planning to leave a property unoccupied or vacant. Even if you’re not sure if this applies to you, give your broker a quick call to get some advice. It could affect your coverage and protect you in the long run.

Your broker can advise you on the best course of action, based on your circumstances and geographical region. They will be able to explain how to extend your coverage past the 30-day mark, and can give you an overview of any potential pricing adjustments to your policy. The extension may come at an extra cost, which varies by region, but it will also give you peace of mind and added protection.

“It’s very important to request a vacancy permit whenever you’ll be leaving your property vacant for more than 30 consecutive days,” Mandaliti continues. “By having that conversation with your broker, you can agree upon the right length of time for this permit.”

If you’re able to visit your broker in person, you can also get any paperwork signed at the same time. But if you’re not able to visit your broker in person or you’d prefer to have a phone conversation, permits can also be signed and scanned over email.

What else should you do?

Your insurance policy will also stipulate your other obligations in order to maintain your insurance, such as ensuring the water supply is shut off, locking all doors and windows, keeping debris clear from the building and general property maintenance while you’re away.

Arrange for regular check-ins by a trusted friend, neighbour or family member during the period of unoccupancy. In the case of a short-term rental or vacant home, this could also be something you do relatively quickly with an occasional pop-over on the weekend or when you’re out running errands.

How do you stay on top of everything? Following a checklist of best practices can help to reduce risks and losses on your unoccupied or vacant property – and ensure you’re still covered if and when you need it.

Checklist: Vacant Property 101

  • Call your broker:Provide advance notice that your home will be left vacant or unoccupied for a certain period of time.
  • Vacancy permit:If you’ll be away for more than 30 consecutive days, this may be required on your policy. Sign and send the paperwork back to your broker.
  • Regular maintenance: Have a trusted friend, neighbour or family member conduct regular and ongoing walk-throughs during the period of unoccupancy or vacancy. Consider creating a detailed checklist to help them out.
  • Water supply:Shut off your main water supply valve to help reduce the chances of a rupture or leak.
  • Security:Take steps to ensure your home is secure and protect it against vandalism and burglary. Consider a monitored security alarm system, video surveillance system and exterior motion sensor lighting. Put interior lights on a timer so it looks like someone is home.
  • Mail:Part of maintaining the property and avoiding that ‘abandoned look’ is picking up the mail, especially if it’s in a front yard or door-side post box, or if packages are delivered outside the door.
  • Lawn care: Ensure the yard is properly maintained so the property looks like people are always around. Have a friend or family member mow the lawn in summer or shovel the walkways in winter.
  • Alarm maintenance: Test all fire protection and detection systems to make sure they’re in good working order.
  • Winterization: For those colder months, make sure the home is winterized with adequate heating to prevent pipes from freezing. If the heat is turned off, ensure all systems containing water are drained.
  • Mice and more: Take steps to minimize exposure to vermin infestations. Have your trusted friend or family member check the property for foul odours, pest droppings, nesting materials or strange noises. Set traps if needed, and call an exterminator if there’s evidence of animal activity.

Above all else, the most important takeaway is to talk to your broker when leaving a property unoccupied for over 30 days. By reviewing your policy and requirements, your broker can walk you through any required steps and give you the reassurance that you – and your investment – are protected with proper insurance coverage.

 

Source: Wawanesa

Experts on why home insurance can be more expensive in smaller towns

As some Canadians are priced out of larger cities and look to move to smaller communities, insurance experts say homebuyers should be aware that life in a small town can often mean higher home insurance premiums.

According to financial products comparison site Ratesdotca, the average cost of insuring a home in places like the Windsor-Essex region and the Sudbury, Ont., area hovered around $2,000 per year.

That compares to averages between $1,200 and $1,350 per year in Toronto, and around the $1,000 mark in some Greater Toronto Area communities.

While the company doesn’t have data for other provinces, John Shmuel, managing editor of Ratesdotca, said he expects the trend of higher rates in smaller communities would continue.

Cities like Windsor often have more detached homes and bigger lots, which can push premiums higher because homeowners could require more kinds of coverage. It’s not the homes themselves that are the issue, it’s the type of coverages that would apply to the home. More land is an issue as well, because there’s more liability that way.

Shmuel, added that higher crime rates and more exposure to natural disasters like flooding are some of the reasons homebuyers can expect to pay larger premiums in smaller locales. He pointed out that, contrary to popular opinion, smaller towns often have higher crime rates than some bigger cities.

“It comes down to how home insurance is calculated by insurers. An insurer is trying to price the level of risk of an adverse event happening to your home being insured,” said Shmuel, saying climate change is a particular concern in the industry

“Cities like Toronto have taken a number of large scale projects to better protect itself from flooding and the increasing intensity of storms. Meanwhile, rural and small town areas… might not be as well prepared for a flood.”

Shmuel noted that Windsor was one of the worst cities in Ontario for high insurance premiums due to a mix of high crime rates and exposure to flooding.

But homeowners have options it comes to lowering their home insurance rates.

Purchasing a sump pump (which removes excess water from a basement in the case of flooding), or a backflow valve (which prevents water from a sewer line flowing the wrong way during heavy rain events), are two ways to lower insurance premiums. Upgrading your home monitoring system could also be a worthwhile way to protect your property while also lowering premiums, although Shmuel said it’s important to speak to your insurer about the exact kinds of systems that qualify to lower your premium.

Experts agree it’s worth consulting local brokerages in the community you’re moving to. Local insurance brokers know the area better and know what’s needed compared to someone sitting in a call centre.

Source: Salmaan Farooqui, Canadian Press

Loss of Use: Why it’s an important part of your policy

Loss of Use coverage – commonly included in home, tenant and condo insurance policies, is designed to help people who are suddenly unable to live in their home due to an insured event. For example, if your home is extensively damaged or even destroyed completely in a fire, Loss of Use will cover temporary living expenses while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.

You may also hear this coverage referred to as “Additional Living Expenses” (or ALE), but the distinction is that ALE is just one component of Loss of Use coverage.

Additional Living Expenses (ALE)     

When an insured scenario makes your home unfit to live in, ALE takes care of the increase in necessary expenses you have to pay to temporarily relocate. This may include:

  • Alternative living accommodations
  • Food
  • Storage
  • Pet Care
  • Fuel/Transportation
  • Moving Costs

An adjuster will help determine the best approach for you and any members of your household. The goal is to set you up with a temporary arrangement that reflects your current standard of living.

Fair Rental Value

This component of Loss of Use coverage protects you if you have a home that you rent to tenants. It covers your loss of rental income while you are no longer able to rent your home because of damage.

Prohibited Access

Prohibited Access is when you are required to evacuate your home, even though your property itself may not be directly affected by a loss. Perhaps there is insured damage to a close neighbour’s home that puts yours at risk, or a wildfire takes place in your area that requires the whole block to temporarily relocate. Prohibited Access coverage reimburses your additional living expenses while you are unable to live in your home as a result of the incident.

What isn’t covered by Loss of Use?

A helpful way to think about it is that Loss of Use – and more specifically, ALE – covers the additional costs you would not otherwise incur if you didn’t have to evacuate your home. You would continue to be responsible for costs that you were already paying before the loss took place. For example, you would still be obligated to pay your property tax, mortgage, or rent – even during your temporary relocation period.

At DPM insurance Group, our licensed brokers and CSRs can answer any questions about Loss of Use. If it’s been a while since we’ve chatted, this may also be a good opportunity to review your coverage and ensure your policy covers all of your current needs.

 

Source: Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company

Work from home? Follow these cybersecurity best practices

It seems impossible that the start of the pandemic that sent so many home to work began 18 months ago. That time has flown for some, and seemed like an eternity to others. Whichever camp you fall into, a lot has changed since the early days left small and large companies alike scrambling to set up employees to work remotely. Now, some companies are considering permanent work-from-home setups while others will return to the office and others still may find themselves navigating a hybrid system of part in-office and part in-home operations.

And just as there are a lot of different work routines to cope, there are just as many security gaps still wide open in remote workforces.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates fewer than five per cent of victims file a fraud report and that a majority of phishing scams that solicit personal information don’t involve direct financial losses. But according to Anna McCrindell, vice president of Commercial Insurance with Wawanesa, financial loss isn’t the only consequence of a security breach. The possibility of loss of intellectual property, compliance fines, damage to a company’s reputation and ultimately, loss customers is still very real.

How cybercriminals trick you

Pandemics, natural disasters and other unusual events are seen by cybercriminals as an opportunity to breach vulnerabilities. Now, 18 months into the pandemic, attacks continue to evolve.

McCrindell says cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated, and more customized. Victims are enticed to click on malicious links, give up passwords or install unauthorized software. From there, cybercriminals can gain access to corporate systems, steal sensitive data, extort ransom or even add your computer to a botnet to launch malicious attacks on other computers.

How to practice good cyber hygiene

As Canadians continue to work from home or embrace hybrid work, it’s a good time to look at security measures to protect both personal and work-related data.

Do:

  • Familiarize yourself with potential risks related to your work and your industry, particularly if you handle sensitive information.
  • Trust health-related information only when coming from reliable medical sources, and trust professional information only from sources you can verify.
  • Use hard-to-guess passwords for email, cloud storage and corporate networks (including VPNs), and use different passwords for different accounts.
  • Change the default password on any home network devices, including routers and Wi-Fi access points, and update the firmware. Better yet, use two-factor or multi-factor authentication.
  • Use safe methods to exchange documents, spreadsheets, presentations or other files with your colleagues and business partners, and use company email to exchange information with outside business partners.
  • Keep your work computer and work-related documents and files in an area at home that is physically separate from your family life.
  • Use your work computer for work only, and limit the use of your personal devices for work-related purposes.

Don’t:

  • Provide business information, even seemingly innocuous information, to requestors you cannot verify with certainty.
  • Use the pandemic as an excuse to bypass regular work processes, such as authorizing payments.
  • Disable security software or automatic updates on your work computer.
  • Leave work-related files with sensitive information lying around openly at home.
  • Give family members or other individuals access to your work computer.
  • Use your work computer for private business.
  • Email business documents to your personal email account.
  • Use any cloud services or install any software on your work computer that your company hasn’t authorized for business use.

McCrindell added that it’s also important to ensure your company has an incident response plan – from who to contact if an incident occurs, to how to isolate infected devices and restore data from the last backup. While there’s no guarantee you or your team won’t be the victim of a security breach, proper cyber hygiene can make you a less attractive target to cybercriminals and mitigate any potential damage.

 

Source: Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company

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