How a property owner can be liable when a motorcycle hits a wayward donkey.

A Supreme Court of Canada decision released Thursday means a construction materials supplier is partly liable for injuries suffered by a motorcyclist who collided with a donkey that escaped from a rural property.

In 2009, Amir Youssef was riding his motorcycle along Highway 7 northeast of Toronto when he got into a collision that left him seriously disabled.

On behalf of Youssef, the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee sued several parties, including Mark Burnfield and Redi-Mix Limited, tenant and owner respectively of the property from which several donkeys escaped.

In Youssef v. Redi-Mix Limited, released by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2018, Justice Gregory Mulligan found Redi-Mix was partly liable as the property owner, despite the fact that Redi-Mix did not own the donkeys.

The tenant did not defend the action and is in default. The 100-acre property has since been expropriated to enable expansion of Highway 407.

Key to the ruling against Redi-Mix was Ontario regulation 517/06, which outlines maintenance standards under the province’s Residential Tenancies Act. Section 8 of that regulation reads: “Retaining walls, gardens and fences in exterior areas shall be maintained in a structurally sound condition and free from hazard.”

Justice Mulligan found Redi-Mix partly liable by summary judgement, ruling that a trial is needed to determine damages.

Redi-Mix was partly successful on appeal.

In Youssef v. Misselbrook, released this past February, the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled that in addition to determining damages, a trial is also needed to determine whether the plaintiff is contributorily negligent.

But the appeal court upheld Justice Mulligan’s finding that it was negligent for the property owner to have failed to carry out regular inspections and notice that the gate immediately adjacent to a roadway was unlocked.

So Redi-Mix applied this past March for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, which announced July 2 it will not hear an appeal.

Justice Mulligan’s original 2018 ruling denied a motion by Redi-Mix to have the case against Redi-Mix dismissed. There are several other defendants. In arguing the property owner is not liable, Redi-Mix contends it has no duty to monitor the activities of its tenant and that is met its obligations with respect to the fencing.

Redi-Mix further argued that the ordinary rules of negligence should not apply in this case to a company that does not own a domestic animal.

But Redi-Mix was unsuccessful in arguing that Justice Mulligan erred in setting the standard of care too high for a landlord not in possession of property.

During the legal proceedings, lawyers queried three officials of Redi-Mix. A company partner admitted there was no one assigned to do periodic inspections of the property to see that the gates were being properly locked and ensure they were suitable.

At about 3:00 a.m. on the day of the collision, a passerby found Youssef lying unconscious on Highway 7, as well as a dead or injured donkey and four other donkeys nearby. Youssef has very little recollection of the collision.

A police officer who investigated the accident made a deposition. That officer reported that at the nearby property,  a fence with a metal gate had no lock. The officer was able to pry the gate apart so the donkeys could get back on to the property.

Justice Mulligan found that one or more donkeys was able to pry the gate apart and this is how the donkeys escaped.

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New boiler inspection rules coming to Ontario agriculture.

An exemption from inspection rules for boilers and pressure vessels in Ontario’s agricultural sector is coming to an end.

Starting next year, boilers and pressure vessels will have to get a certificate of inspection from the province’s Technical Standards and Safety Authority, government and consumer services minister Lisa Thompson has announced.

As it stands, Ontario law prohibits the operation of boilers and pressure vessels without a certificate of inspection by the TSSA,  whose wide range of responsibilities also includes oil tanks, amusement park rides and elevators, among others. But for boilers and pressure vessels, there is an exemption from the inspection requirement for agricultural operations, such as greenhouses, mushroom farms, and maple syrup farms, Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lyskyk noted in her 2018 report to the legislature.

That exemption ends next July, Ryan Jones, assistant vice president of loss control services at Cambridge-based Farm Mutal Re, said in an interview Monday.

“Generally, it’s a good idea to implement more rigour around how we use boilers and pressure vessels in Ontario,” said Jones, who learned of the exemption last week in a letter from Thompson to members of a government and consumer services ministry panel.

Ontario’s Technical Standard and Safety Authority Act gives the government and consumer services minister the power to “exempt any thing or part of any thing or any class of thing or any class of person from any provision of this Act.”  The minister’s exemption applying to boilers and pressure vessels in the agricultural sector was issued in 2001. That exemption is revoked effective July 1, 2021, says a July 17, 2020 letter from Thompson, posted to the TSSA website.

As a result, going forward, a periodic inspection would need be performed by either TSSA or the insurer of the boiler or pressure vessel, Jones told Canadian Underwriter.

“The biggest impact will probably be the greenhouse industry. Greenhouses have power generation, they have boilers. And most of those operations are larger than your standard Kitchener-Waterloo manufacturing facility, as far as the steam they are producing.”

Right now, there is a risk that operators may not necessarily understand the requirements, such as maintaining safety valves over pressure protection devices, said Jones. So without the inspection requirement, there is a risk that if a device catastrophically fails, safety devices may not operate as they should.

“Conversely,” he added, “you could see objects being operated in a dangerous condition continuously because the operators are unaware of the condition in which they are operating boilers.”

The auditor general recommended lifting the exemption in 2018.

“Information provided to the TSSA by one large insurer revealed that from 2015 to mid-2017, six boilers exploded at agricultural sites exempt from safety laws,” Lysyk wrote in her 2018 report.

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Tips for how to buy your first car.

Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases a person can make – especially if you’re purchasing a vehicle for the first time. Do you buy new or used? How do you avoid scams? What are your rights as a buyer?

To demystify the process, the Star reached out to Terry O’Keefe, director of communications and education at the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) and Jim Davidson, president & founder of CarSmart a Toronto-based car-buying service and consulting firm.

Here are their top tips when it comes to buying a car for the first time:

Do your research

When buying a car from a dealer, Davidson says many people start backwards by visiting the dealership before doing research.

“That is the worst thing to do, because people often succumb to pressure from a salesperson, misinformation about a car, and ‘today only’ deals that are never real,” he says. “You really need to do your research first, because this process can be a tricky thing.”

O’Keefe agrees, noting the importance of avoiding pushy salespeople at car dealerships.

“If you’re not being listened to by salespeople, OMVIC says shop elsewhere,” O’Keefe says. “You want to buy the car that’s best for you, for your needs, and for your family’s needs — not necessarily what the dealer wants to sell that week. If they’re not listening, move on.”

When doing your homework, keep in mind that online car reviews can be biased or fake. Davidson recommends consulting Consumer Reports, a non-profit organization that works to help consumers make the most informed decisions they can. The “New Car Preview” is dedicated to vehicles, he notes, and is a very helpful guide.

“It’s really tough to find genuine reviews that aren’t negative or fake,” he adds. “Just go straight to Consumer Reports, because they’re really, really good.”

Know your rights

Whether you buy new or used, a car buyer’s rights in Ontario depends entirely on where the vehicle is purchased.

“If you purchase from a registered car dealer, you are protected by Ontario’s consumer protection legislation, by OMVIC, who enforces that legislation, and you have access to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund, which protects consumers for up to $45,000 per transaction,” he says. “Consumers who buy privately forgo all those protections, so it’s really important to be educated if you’re planning to take this route.”

It’s also important to know your rights when it comes to signing contracts for car purchases. Eighty-five per cent of the car-buying public in Ontario incorrectly believes there is a “cooling off period” (or window of time to get out of a contract) after buying a car, O’Keefe says.

“People assume that there’s a ‘cooling off period’ for all kinds of interactions, but there’s not one for vehicles,” he says. “Do not sign a contract unless you are certain you want to complete the sale.”

Go for a spin

Once you’ve settled on the make of car, Davidson says visiting a minimum of three dealerships is critical to getting the best deal – and be clear you want to test drive a car before you consider buying it.

“It’s a total drag and an effort to do this, which is why people get lazy and often pay way too much for their car, leaving thousands of dollars on the table,” he said. “If you want a great deal and a great car that suits your needs, you have to work for it — it’s like anything in life.”

And don’t just take the car for a spin around the block: take any cars you might buy onto the highway, especially if it’s a used vehicle. Bringing a car up to higher speeds can help identify any problems – just make sure you bring someone with you in case you encounter challenges.

Go to a mechanic

If you’re buying a used car, O’Keefe says it’s critical to bring it to a mechanic before making the purchase. Asking for or purchasing a history report is important too, but a mechanic can find things a seller didn’t disclose, or even know about.

“It would be a huge risk to turn money over to a private seller especially without getting a history report or a mechanical inspection,” he says. “If something goes wrong, who are you going to turn to after the fact?”

Taking a car to a mechanic before finalizing a sale can also help weed out scams from curbsiders, or unlicensed car dealers who often pose as private sellers. Curbsiders frequently buy cars from salvage auctions, and don’t register the vehicle in their name to avoid tax, as well as making it harder for them to be traced to the vehicle in the future.

O’Keefe recommends consumers ask some serious questions to ensure they are not being scammed. These include how long the seller has owned the car, if they have maintenance records and why they are planning to sell the car.

Anyone selling a car in Ontario is required by law to provide the buyer with a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP), which includes details about the car, including who’s owned the car, its condition and outstanding liens on it.

“You want to make sure that the person who is selling the car is actually the registered owner, so ask to see the ownership for the vehicle and the seller’s driver’s licence,” O’Keefe says. “One of the telltale signs of a curb sider is not to register a car in their name – so make sure you ask for proof.”

Other things to keep in mind

  • The OMVIC website ( has a database of all licensed car dealers, as well as any entity they have ever charged, convicted and even put in jail. If in doubt, check it out.
  • When you’re researching the kind of vehicle you want to buy, think about how quickly its value depreciates if you’re planning on trading it in regularly. This can help you avoid wracking up significant negative equity.
  • Do your homework when it comes to financing your car to make sure you’re getting the best rate. It’s always a good idea to ask your own bank or lender what their rate is before accepting what’s offered by the dealer.
  • Understand “all-in” price advertising. If a dealer advertises a price for a vehicle, it must include all additional fees with the exceptions of HST and licensing.

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Does your home insurance cover your home-based business?

It’s easy to assume that the work-related activities taking place in your home are automatically covered by your home insurance. But is that really the case?

Even when we dream big, we often have to start small. Many major companies had humble beginnings. For instance, when Steve Jobs founded Apple, he set up company headquarters in his parents’ garage! If you’re launching a business or are self-employed, it’s likely you’re working out of your home, too.

What does home insurance cover?

Whether you’re a homeowner or a tenant, your home insurance first and foremost covers personal-use movable property. Your coverage may extend to some business property stored at your home, but not necessarily to merchandise, computers or specialized equipment.

The same holds true for liability—your home insurance protects you in case of physical injury or property damage to a third party, but not if the casualty occurs in the course of your business activities. For example, if you are an accountant working out of your home and one of your clients falls down the stairs when picking up his tax return, basic home insurance coverage might not protect you in the event of a lawsuit.

What are your options?

There are two types of coverage for home-based businesses:

1. Coverage for home-based workers added to your home insurance

This low-cost option is ideal for self-employed workers and small businesses operating from their private residence. This protection includes $10,000 to $50,000 coverage for business property, as well as liability arising from the use of the premises.

2. Separate coverage for your home-based business

Business insurance offers wider coverage that can extend to all aspects of your business—the building, furniture, equipment, merchandise, stock, operating losses due to an interruption in activities, privacy breaches, as well as liability. If you add errors and omissions coverage to the above, you’ll also be protected in the event a casualty or error that occurs in the course of your professional activities causes personal injury or financial losses. Business insurance is also the most flexible option and can be tailored to the needs of your business, to ensure you’re protected in all possible situations.

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Homeowners greet the season of chores. – By Mike Holmes

I love summertime for a few reasons. One, as a contractor, it tends to be my busy season, and I love working at the job site. It stays light longer, so that means more time spent on my new deck after work every day. And though I barbecue even in the dead of winter, nothing’s better than throwing a burger or steak on the grill during the summer.

Of course, the summer season brings summertime chores — and as much as we all want to kick back and enjoy the warm weather, we still have a few jobs to take care of around the house.

In particular, summer is the best time to pay attention to the health of your driveway.

Inspect your driveway

Your driveway has an important job at home that go beyond giving you a place to park your car. When properly graded, they help with water management. If the driveway is flat, or slants toward your home, you will see water gathering near your home, increasing your chances of a leak. When slated away from your home, it keeps water moving away.

As long as your driveway isn’t taking a beating from really heavy trucks, it won’t require much maintenance. Depending on use and your climate, typically, it should only need resealing every three years or so (yearly for concrete). Most homeowners will have asphalt driveways (though stamped concrete and interlocking stone are other potential materials), so you’ll want to use a latex sealant for maximum effectiveness.

Summertime is the best time of year to reseal your driveway. Why? For one thing, the heat will make the sealant dry quicker. Heat also makes material expand, and when the driveway is at full expansion, the sealant can reach all the pores in the driveway more easily — making it a more effective process.

If your driveway has a few small cracks, you should fill them quickly on your own. You should be able to get an asphalt crack repair kit at your local hardware store. Your goal here is to prevent water from sneaking into those cracks. If you don’t, when that water begins to freeze and thaw, it will start to heave the asphalt out of place, damaging the integrity of your driveway. When it gets to that point, you’ll be looking at a full replacement — so address cracks quickly while they’re small.

What causes cracks? Well, oil for one, so if your car is leaking fluids, get it fixed quickly. Tree roots are powerful, and can grow underneath the driveway, eventually pushing upwards through it. Don’t have any major trees or shrubs close to the driveway if you can help it. Finally, heavy automobiles can cause a lot of wear and tear over time. Your car, truck, or van are probably OK, but if you’ve got lots of big trucks using your driveway daily, you might want to consider using a material stronger than asphalt.

Keep cool indoors

When it gets really unbearable outside, most of us flee indoors with the air conditioning. Turning up the air conditioner keeps us cool, sure, but too much, and you start to see your energy bills getting out of control. So the name of the game is finding ways to keep us cool, without breaking the bank.

First, make sure your HVAC is running efficiently. During the summer months, especially, you’ll want to be checking your filter at least every month, and changing it as necessary. This keeps your system for going into overdrive just to keep you at a relatively cool temperature.

Make good use of your ceiling fans. Fans don’t actually cool the air, but the air movement helps keep our personal temperatures in check. Each summer, make sure you’ve switched the fan orientation to run counterclockwise. This pushes the air down toward you, helping cool your down. Remember, a ceiling fan is useless if you’re not in the room to feel the effects. So to save energy, when you leave the room, switch it off.

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Do you need home insurance to get a mortgage?

Most mortgage lenders require your property to be fully insured for its total replacement cost, as they want to make sure your home can be rebuilt in the event that it’s totally destroyed.

While most people know you’re legally required to have car insurance before driving a new vehicle, there’s no similar legal requirement for buying a home. But if you’re taking out a mortgage on a property (which most homeowners do), you’ll have to provide the lender with proof of insurance — so yes, you do need home insurance to get a mortgage. We’ve got the answers to your questions about why mortgage lenders require home insurance, how much home insurance coverage you’ll be required to have, and more.

Why do you need proof of insurance to get a mortgage?

When someone lends you money to purchase a property, they count on you being able to pay them back, which means they have an investment in your property. Because they have an investment in it, a mortgage lender wants to make sure your property is fully covered in the event of damage or a catastrophic loss caused by a fire, hurricane, or other peril. By requiring you to have home insurance, the lender is protecting their investment.

The lender also wants to make sure that you’re financially able to continue paying off your mortgage even in the event that your property is destroyed. You likely wouldn’t want to continue paying for a home you can’t even live in, but your mortgage doesn’t just disappear, and you’ll still be required to pay it off. So, while the lender is protecting their investment by requiring you to have property insurance, they’re also protecting you from the financial hardship that would result from defaulting on your mortgage (or failing to pay) if your home is destroyed.

What is the minimum amount of home insurance coverage you need when you have a mortgage?

Most lenders require your property to be fully insured for its total replacement cost, as they want to make sure your home can be rebuilt in the event that it’s totally destroyed. Generally speaking, the coverage recommendation provided by your insurance company will be enough to meet your lender’s requirements.

Some lenders only require you to have insurance coverage for the amount you still owe on your mortgage — but this generally isn’t recommended, as it could leave you without adequate coverage in the event of an emergency.

What types of home insurance coverage are required by mortgage lenders?

Generally speaking, your mortgage lender will require that your home at least be protected against the following perils, which are included in most basic home insurance policies:

  • Theft and vandalism
  • Falling objects
  • Fire and lightning
  • Hail and wind damage
  • Frozen pipes
  • Riots or civil unrest
  • Smoke
  • Explosion
  • Vehicles

Depending on where you live, your lender may also require coverage for other perils, like windstorms, sewer backup, overland water (water entering your home from outside), or earthquakes. When you have an outline of the specific coverages required by your lender, your home insurance broker can help make sure you’ve checked everything off the list.

Should you get more home insurance coverage than what’s required by your mortgage lender?

Yes, you should get enough coverage to protect yourself and your property, regardless of the amount required by the mortgage lender. Since a mortgage lender’s main priority is making sure your property itself is covered, their requirements won’t account for your personal needs. Talk with your insurance broker about your situation to make sure you’re fully covered with adequate coverage for your belongings and a high enough third-party liability limit.

Coverage for your belongings

In addition to making sure you have enough coverage to rebuild your home in the event that it’s totally destroyed, you should also take a detailed home inventory and get enough coverage for all of your belongings. If you have any specialty belongings or valuables like jewelry, artwork, bicycles, collectibles, or antiques, you should get the right coverage for those, too.

Third-party liability coverage

You should also make sure you have enough third-party liability coverage This coverage protects you if you’re responsible for an injury or damage to someone else’s property. It covers things like legal fees, lawsuit settlements, and other related expenses — up to the limit in your policy, of course. Most home insurance companies automatically set your liability limit at $1 million. While this may be enough to cover most liability claims, many claims exceed $1 million, so consider increasing your limit. This is especially important if there’s anything on your property that could increase the chances of someone getting hurt (a swimming pool, a swing set, or pets, for example).

When you’re shopping for a new home, a licensed insurance broker can help make sure your coverage meets your mortgage lender’s insurance requirements. They can also help you compare home insurance quotes and make sure you get the coverage you’ll need in the event of an emergency.


Hail: When the sky falls down.

Ice precipitations in the summer? It’s a much more common natural phenomenon than you would think, particularly in Alberta.

Those who have been in one of the many record hailstorms in recent years can attest to the fact that although they generally only last a few minutes, they can have devastating effects. In addition to the major hail events that made the headlines, there are dozens of hailstorms every year that cause significant damage.

How is hail formed?

Hail forms inside thunderclouds when air currents push water droplets to colder areas at high altitude, where they condense and freeze. When the pieces of ice get too big (hail can be the size of a grapefruit or even a melon!), they fall to the ground with speeds of up to 130 km/h.

Hailstorms occur mainly between May and October across Canada, but are most common in Alberta, the southern Prairies and Ontario. Alberta’s climate is particularly prone to hail because of its elevation and proximity to the Rockies.

Preventing hail

Radar stations monitor hail formation, and airplanes are ready to attack the clouds with an aerosol that can lessen the damage hail can cause. Science fiction? Not at all. This procedure is part of the Hail Suppression Program in Western Canada, thanks to a partnership between Intact Insurance and the Alberta Severe Weather Management Society.

How to prevent damage

Although most hailstorms pose minimal risk, when ice melons fall from the sky, they can cause serious damage to buildings and cars. Here are a few tips:

The essentials

  • Remove dead tree branches that may damage your house due to hailstones or high winds.
  • Store or attach all objects in the yard that may be damaged or swept away by the wind (furniture, BBQ, bicycles, toys, etc.).
  • If possible, park your vehicle in a garage or carport. Otherwise, cover it with a thick blanket or large boxes to minimize damage.
  • Close the curtains, shades and blinds in your house to restrict any flying glass should the windows break.
  • Stay indoors—hail can hurt you.

In case of hail

  • If you’re on the road, park your car away from trees and electrical wires that may fall on you. Stay there until the hail stops.
  • If there’s no safe place to park, cover your car with a thick blanket or put your car mats on the windshield and on the roof.
  • If you’re at home, stay away from windows, glass doors and skylights that could break if hit by hail.

An ounce of prevention…

  • Install impact-resistant shutters on large windows and glass doors.
  • Have your roof checked every year. And if you replace it, opt for the strongest materials.
  • Leave thick covers in your car.
  • Sign up for a weather alert service so you’ll know to prepare when a storm is headed your way.

If your vehicle or property is damaged by a storm, don’t panic. Repair or replacement costs may be covered by your car or home insurance. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact your insurance broker.


Why residential fire frequency is up.

The surge in people working from home has brought an increase in home cooking fires, risk and insurance professionals observe.

“You are seeing a spike in residential fires in condos and rental units because people are at home more and cooking more,” said Jeff McCann, CEO of Apollo Insurance Solutions Ltd., in a recent interview with Canadian Underwriter.

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.

Some get distracted when they are trying to cook, said Michele Farley, president of FCS Fire Consulting Services Ltd.

“Some people are putting cardboard in ovens and putting items such as metal in the microwave oven that should not be there,” Farley told Canadian Underwriter.

One fire department has advised consumers to take their pizza out of the box before heating it, reported Farley.

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,” said Farley. “At a time like this, it is critical for brokers to share fire safety reminders.”

In particular, said Farley, brokers could advise clients to:

  • 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 22 to 28, 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, said McCann. 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, McCann suggested.

Recently, LexisNexis Risk Solutions wondered if usage based insurance would be a good idea for homeowners the way drivers use it for auto insurance.

“Every stovetop, water pipe and door hinge is on full tilt when a home is fully occupied all day, every day,” said Dan Davis, director of IoT and emerging markets with LexisNexis Risk Solutions. “So it stands to reason that certain claims will naturally trend higher than others in those times.”

McCann was asked how easy it is for a home insurer to differentiate a good fire risk from a bad fire risk without asking a tenant questions they may not be able to answer.

FCS provides fire safety consulting to managers of more than 1,000 buildings with an average of about 100 people a building.

Apollo is an insurtech whose technology is intended to cut down the amount of time it takes a broker to process an application. Apollo Exchange offers Canada’s brokers access to multiple insurance providers, with over 500 classes of insurance.


How These Two Auto Insurers Rate Gender X Differently.

Pembridge Insurance Company plans to start rating motorists who identify themselves as ‘Gender X’ in Nova Scotia, charging Gender X motorists the same as women, the province’s regulator announced Tuesday.

Through its Pembridge unit, Allstate writes home and auto insurance in Canada through brokers.

As it stands, Pembridge’s rating algorithm in Nova Scotia only recognizes the male and female genders, wrote David Almon, a Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board member, in the board’s May 26 decision.

Tuesday’s decision comes six weeks after NSURB approved TD’s new rates and risk classification systems.

In Nova Scotia, TD Insurance Group — which includes Security National Insurance Company, Primmum Insurance Company, and TD Home and Auto Insurance Company — will start by taking the average of what Gender X drivers would have paid had they been male and what they would have paid had they been female.

“Rather than taking the approach of charging the lowest rate, the TD blending approach is replicating, to some degree, the premium that a rating algorithm without gender would produce. If gender were removed, the experience of both male and female operators would be aggregated, and the combined experience data would be used to develop required premiums,” NSURB member Peter Gurnham wrote in the decision approving TD’s rate filing, released April 16.

TD Group’s new rating methodology is already in effect.

In a separate release May 20, released test data generating by its own quoting software showing men pay more than women — with all other factors being equal 3 in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. The disparities shrink in older age groups.

In Nova Scotia, residents had already been able to make one of four choices (male, female, gender x or no indicator) when applying for a driver’s licence or photo ID card.

With NSURB’s May 26 ruling, Pembridge is now approved to assign the same premiums to Gender X drivers as females with similar characteristics, the NSURB member Almon wrote. Those changes take effect Sept. 2 for new business and Nov. 1 for renewals.

In TD’s case, a Gender X driver in Nova Scotia would be referred to a special unit within the underwriting department. The driver’s gender would be recorded in the client file.  The case would then be flagged for review at renewal, to make sure the premium is properly calculated based on the proposed formula.

“The issue with rating “Gender X” operators is what is the correct premium to charge?  Will the experience reflect better the characteristics of one gender over the other and if so, which gender is appropriate?  Some companies have opted to charge the lower of the male and female premiums for a risk with similar vehicle and driver characteristics,” NSURB member Gurnham wrote in April of TD’s rating methodology.

Since 2018, Ontario has allowed motorists to identify as Gender X. This was done to both accommodate and ensure the respectful treatment of transgender drivers and those who identify neither as male nor female, online quote vendor LowestRates.Ca wrote in an earlier blog.

Ontario’s decision to include Gender X on driver’s licences is good news because it allows people to live in a society that welcomes everyone, but also poses a challenge to the traditional rating system for auto insurance, brokerage Mitchell and Whale wrote earlier.

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Why Insurers are Investing in Drone Technology.

Accelerated drone usage by the insurance industry is another of the ripple effects that will come as a result of change thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last few months have changed the way people and businesses interact due to physical distancing requirements, thus making contactless drone inspections vital to the way insurers do business, says a report from GlobalData, a data and analytics company.

Its Quarterly Tech Trends survey found that 35% of firms in the insurance industry said they were investing in drone technology — even 68% of them said drones would have a disruptive influence in the property and casualty space, as well as agricultural.

The usage of drones isn’t new to the insurance industry. Adjusters have been using drones to get to areas that people can’t — or get to them soon enough, like a flooded area. Earlier this year, Jeff Sutton, senior vice president of business development and marketing with Claimspro in Toronto, told Canadian Underwriter that taking advantage of drone technology was something that has picked up in the last year to year-and-a-half. GlobalData’s report suggested that adoption will increase more rapidly.

“Drones are particularly useful for inspecting large-scale and difficult-to-reach infrastructure as well as vast areas of land,” said Beatriz Benito, senior insurance analyst at GlobalData. “The value proposition of drones had centred on the speed and safety they offer in loss adjustments, which ultimately resulted in operational efficiencies and cost savings.”

But in a novel coronavirus world, the benefits of using drones is being highlighted even further. Physical assessments are hampered by social distancing and isolation guidelines. “Keeping human contact to a minimum has not only become important, but sometimes strictly necessary because of lockdowns or parties — loss adjusters, claims handlers or policyholders — self-isolating,” GlobalData’s report said. “This means that walking through a damaged property with a policyholder may no longer be feasible.”

Throw in a natural disaster on top of a pandemic, expect drone technology to be of greater import. “Climate change has worsened extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, floods and tsunamis as well as non-weather natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanoes, and wildfires,” the report said. “After a disaster during the lockdowns, home insurers can use drones to inspect properties while still social distancing.”

Using drones is also an avenue to save carriers money, Benito observed, which is a significant consideration due the last few months. Customers will see benefits as well in their claims journey.

“At a time when many insurers have been badly hit by the pandemic, technology that has the potential to bring operational savings is likely to lure the industry,” she said. “On the other hand, customers will benefit from quicker claims processing and faster payouts.”

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