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.

Source: https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/insurance/hot-line-why-residential-fire-frequency-is-up-1004179588/

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, LowestRates.ca 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.

Feature image via iStock.com/Yackers1
Source: https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/legislation-regulation/how-these-two-auto-insurers-rate-gender-x-differently-1004178810/

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.”

Feature image by iStock.com/scanrail

Source: https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/technology/why-insurers-are-investing-more-in-this-technology-1004178803/

Importance of cleaning your dryer vent regularly.

As a homeowner, you understand the importance of cleaning your gutters, changing your air filters and properly maintaining your lawn. But how much time do you spend cleaning your dryer vent? If you’re like the average homeowner, the answer is probably, “not much.”


Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Data Center, nearly 15,000 structural fires occur each year as a result of an issue with a clothes dryer, and clogged, dirty dryer vents cause 80% of the fires.

Warning signs that it’s time to clean your vent

  • Clothes are taking much longer than normal to dry. It will often take two or three cycles to dry them.
  • Clothes have a strange, burning smell to them. This could be a sign that your dryer vent isn’t properly able to ventilate the warm air out of the appliance.
  • The laundry room feels excessively hot when the dryer is running. Again, this could be a result of a clogged vent that isn’t letting hot air escape.

Problems caused by a clogged dryer vent

  • Fires. The lint from your clothes can build up inside the dryer vent. This material is highly flammable and can cause a fire.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. When the dryer vent is clogged, dangerous CO gases aren’t able to escape. Instead, they build up inside the vent and may seep out into the laundry room and into other areas of the home.
  • Wear and tear on the dryer. When it takes two or three cycles to get your clothes dried, this puts a lot of strain on your dryer. It can lead to excessive wear and tear on the unit.
  • Skyrocketing utility bills. A dryer that is running more often than it should to dry clothes will use a lot of energy. This will be reflected on your monthly utility bills.

Dryer maintenance tasks can be handled by the average homeowner. Be sure to clean the lint out of the lint trap between each drying cycle. Regularly clean the dryer’s vent cap on the exterior of your home. Call a dryer cleaning professional to have them maintain your appliance at least once a year.

Source: https://www.yourhomesolutions.com/blogs/home-solutions-blog/importance-of-cleaning-your-dryer-vent-regularly

How to wash your car like a pro.

Nothing makes your car look better than a good wash. It’s a critical step if you’re selling your used car, but even if you’re not, it’s important for good maintenance and to help you enjoy your ride. The best car wash can happen in your driveway with a hose, some soap, cleaning mitts and a few buckets of water. Pick a good location. You don’t want to clean the car in direct sunlight or direct heat as the soap will dry onto the car before you can rinse it off. Aim to wash the car in the early morning or late evening and don’t wash it near a dusty road or under a tree where buds, bugs and leaves can fall and stick to the car. Make sure your hose has a nozzle with enough pressure to spray the car and one that allows you to stop the water flow when you want. This way you’re not running water throughout the entire process.

  1. Focus on the wheels
    • Use a hose with a nozzle that provides good water pressure to spray the wheels of the car. The wheels contain the most dirt and debris so you want to clean them first.
    • Spray around the wheel wells, as well as the undercarriage to get rid of brake dust, dirt and to clear out any road salt left behind from winter.
    • Clean the wheels with a cleaner that’s made for tires – some cleaners work best with certain paints or types of aluminum and you can typically find this information in your owner’s manual. You don’t want to damage your wheels by using the wrong product.
    • Once you’ve finished with each of your wheels, put that mitt or chamois aside – you don’t want to use this on the rest of the car or you’ll risk transferring all that tire dirt and debris to your car and scratching the paint.
  2. Prep and lather
    • Spray the entire vehicle with water to rinse away surface dirt and to give your vehicle a good coating of water. Pay attention to all the cracks and crevices and make sure you cover the entire vehicle.
    • Prepare two buckets of water – one without soap and one with soap. Use a cleaning solution that’s specific to cars as a household cleaner could strip wax off the paint or damage the finish. A professional car cleaning solution will also allow the water to sheet and bead off, making the drying process quicker and reducing the likelihood of water spots.
    • When you’re filling the buckets, follow the instructions on the cleaner so you use the right amount of solution. You’ll use the soapy bucket to lather up your mitt or chamois with soap for the car and the bucket of water will be used to rinse dirt and debris from the mitt after you’re done cleaning each area. It’s important that the cleaning mitt is free of dirt or else it can scratch the paint as you clean.
    • You want to work your way down as you wash the car and clean it in sections. Start with the roof. Use the mitt to make one swipe, flip it over to swipe again and then rinse it. Don’t try to scrub or rub off the dirt. As you finish each section, give that area a rinse so soap doesn’t just sit there. Clean the back of the car last, as this is an area with a lot of dirt.
    • If during the cleaning process the mitt falls on the ground, rinse it very thoroughly before even considering using it on the car. Dirt and gravel could have gotten lodged into the mitt in the fall and you don’t want to be rubbing that into the car’s surface.
  3. Rinse and dry
    • Once you’ve washed up each section of the car, remove the nozzle from the hose and use the free-flowing water to rinse the vehicle. Start with the top and again, work your way down, making sure you don’t leave any soap behind.
    • The final step is to use a dry chamois or a microfibre cloth to gently and thoroughly dry the vehicle. Avoid household towels and instead use the cloth to drape the vehicle, with little rubbing or pressure. Squeeze water from the cloth as you continue to dry until you’ve reached every spot and you’ve got a streak-free finish that shines!
    • It’s inevitable – as soon as you’ve taken the time to clean your car, a flock of birds fly over and leave their mark. While it’s hard to prevent, it is important to clean up after. Wipe off bird poop as soon as possible as the highly-acidic droppings can damage your car’s finish.

Source: https://www.carfax.ca/resource-centre/articles/how-to-wash-your-car-by-hand

Eight essential tips for working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

TORONTO — In an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, government and health officials across the country have asked Canadians to stay indoors and practise physical distancing.

These measures have led many companies to implement measures forcing their employees to work from home. For many, this is unfamiliar territory that comes with its own set of challenges. Overcoming them will require a new way of working and even communicating with others, as well as a bit of help. Here are some expert tips on how to master the art of working remotely:

HAVE A DEDICATED WORKSPACE

Start by designating a space specifically for work. While the ideal option would be an area that is physically separate from the rest of your home – such as an office or another room – this isn’t necessary, says Dominick Miserandino, CEO of Inquisitr Media.

Having operated various remote media companies over the past two decades, he insists that the perfect place to work has less to do with the physical space than it does with how you view it.

“You just need to have a place that you associate with work,” he said. “Somewhere that puts you in the right mindset.”

Anything from a small desk to the kitchen table will do, as long as it mentally prepares you to do work. Ideally, it’s also quiet and free of distractions.

Hilary Carter is the managing director of Blockchain Research Institute, an organization that studies the technology behind cryptocurrency. Having had plenty of experience with working remotely, she also suggests doing what you can to create a work environment that’s stimulating – light a candle, keep a photo of happier times nearby, and make sure there’s plenty of light. The goal is to be comfortable.

“Nobody has a roadmap to deal with this isolating environment,” she said. “Whatever it is that brings you comfort, bring that to your workspace.”

But don’t get too comfortable, warns Carter, who says to avoid working in bed.

MAKE A SCHEDULE

It’s especially important to maintain a schedule while working from home. How we structure our day is often based on having to work somewhere other than where we live, explains Scott Schieman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto. As a result, much of this structure is lost when working from home.

“Now, it’s easier to fall away from routine,” he said. “I think the work productivity that goes with that falls away too.”

To maintain that sense of routine, Carter recommends starting and ending your workday at the same time you typically would. Sticking to the same schedule helps create a sense of normalcy and allows you to get more work done.

“Whatever it is that you do that feels normal to do, keep doing it,” she said. “If you’re trying to resort to a new routine, I think you might be adding more stress to your life than you are relieving it.”

When planning for work, Miserandino recommends organizing tasks based on what you need to accomplish by the end of each shift. Keep track of all the work you’ve done as well as what you have left to do, and try to schedule meetings for the same time each day. He insists that having a clear plan in place leads to psychological well-being.

“Having that set schedule gives your brain a chance to reset,” Miserandino said. “It gives you that feeling of control in a rather uncontrollable circumstance.”

TAKE BREAKS

When building your schedule, make sure to include breaks. Keep them short and space them out across the day.

According to Schieman, breaks should be both mental and physical, so try to spend that time away from your workspace whenever possible. He suggests making coffee, going for a walk, or tackling some quick chores instead of falling into the trap of scrolling through social media.

“It’s healthy to take some time away from sitting in the same position and looking at screens all day,” Schieman said. “Taking a break ultimately makes people feel better, and that’s what we want in this particular circumstance.”

It’s also important to remember that breaks are a normal part of the workday, adds Carter. She recommends taking breaks as you typically would; they were likely already part of your daily routine, and they help refresh the mind.

“It has the same benefit that applies in the office,” she said. “We just have to make a bit more of an effort to take breaks because we don’t have the same kind of natural opportunities as we do in the workplace.”

GET DRESSED

The question of what to wear while working from home has sparked plenty of debate online. While some suggest getting dressed as though you’re going to the office, others prefer to look a bit more casual.

For Miserandino, the answer is clear: absolutely get dressed up while working from home.

“You have to feel like you’re going to work, you have to feel that purpose,” he said.

Whether you’re dressing up, combing your hair, or brushing your teeth, Miserandino insists that getting ready as you normally would for work helps put you in the right mental state to be productive.

For Carter, it’s about following your regular work routine as much as possible. She recommends getting dressed at the same time you normally do and wearing the same clothes you world normally wear to work.

“[Getting dressed] separates your sleep state from your awake state, and helps your mind focus on the activities of the day,” she said. “Working in your jammies is not advisable.”

DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN SETTING BOUNDARIES

For many, working at home involves being around children.

Parents have gotten creative with setting boundaries to ensure they get work done at home. But Carter recommends not getting too caught up in separating work from aspects of your personal life.

Whether it’s a young child who needs your attention or a pet that won’t stop making noise, realize that you’re going to have interruptions. While she suggests doing what you can to minimize them, there’s no need to be so hard on yourself.

“People shouldn’t sweat the stuff they can’t control,” said Carter.

Miserandino also encourages parents to be mindful of how they communicate their schedules to children. He insists that the goal shouldn’t be telling your kids when you can’t talk to them as much as telling them when you can.

“Give them something to look forward to, because kids are going through their own tough time,” he said. “It would be more effective to look forward to this than to avoid that.”

For those moments when you can’t spend time with your kids, Carter recommends reaching out to friends and family for some virtual help. Ask if they’re able to spend time with your child online to keep them occupied while you join a video conference or take a phone call.

“Parents trying to deal with young children and work at the same time are experiencing similar pressures,” she said. “No one is an island in this.”

You can also find other ways of keeping kids busy using this list of resources.

INCREASE COMMUNICATION

Communication is key in any work environment, but now that many are working from home, it’s vital, explains Miserandino. He recommends an increase in daily communication to keep your team informed of what tasks you’re working on, and to keep in touch using more than just emails – instead, try scheduling daily phone calls or video conferences.

“The goal should be to get as close to physical human contact as possible,” he said.

Carter agrees, encouraging companies to communicate with their employees via video as much as possible. This allows for the observation of facial expressions and offers a connection similar to what would exist in an office setting.

“We respond well to each other’s faces,” she said. “We want to see ourselves in the conversation.”

But no matter the tool, Schieman insists it’s important to be mindful of how we’re being perceived through our electronic devices.

“There’s a lot said through communication technology that can be misunderstood,” he said. “[The pandemic] has amplified this in a massive way.”

In any workplace, the ability to read body language and assess non-verbal cues can shape the way we provide feedback and share ideas, explains Schieman. With many companies shifting away from face-to-face interaction, it can be harder for those emotional nuances to come across. While he agrees that video conferencing is the closest thing to communicating in-person, Schieman cautions that it isn’t the same.

“I think the rapid pace of all of this has required a lot of people to adjust very quickly to a new way of communicating,” he said. “That is one of the most important things to keep in mind.”

BE RESPECTFUL

It’s especially important to be mindful of what’s happening in the world and the impact this has on the people you work with. As we cope with the effects of a global pandemic, Miserandino suggests making an effort to be more aware of new challenges faced by those around you. After all, we’re in this together.

“I’m more conscious that eventually, more people are going to have issues of loved ones having trouble or challenges in terms of getting material resources they may need,” he said. “We need to be respectful and understanding of what everyone is going through.”

Part of this mindfulness involves recognizing the toll of physical isolation on your coworkers, advises Schieman. Many are likely feeling lonely and lacking emotional support – especially those working from home for the first time, who’ve had to immediately adjust to a new work environment.

His advice? Reach out to those you work with, as well as family and friends, more often, even if it’s just to ask how they’re doing.

“Checking in on each other signals something we need right now – empathy and compassion,” said Schieman. “It’s important to make sure people feel like they matter.”

AVOID SCAMS

Working from home often means using personal devices to access company data. This presents a number of cyber security issues, according to Alexander Urbelis, founder of Blackstone Law Group.

The information security lawyer recently discovered that a group of hackers tried breaking into the World Health Organization’s online network. He explains that while these types of breaches are not new, more people are likely to be affected by them.

“Now, it’s just a difference of degree in that workforces have gone from operating 5 or 10 per cent off-premises to now having a remote workforce 100 per cent of the time,” he said.

This results in the use of more personal devices and remote endpoints, like computers, to transfer data, including highly sensitive information like financial projections, trade secrets, and business plans.

He recommends companies use more IT support services as well as cyber hygiene best practice measures like two-factor authentication (2FA) or multifactor authentication (MFA). He encourages the use of these measures for personal accounts as well, including email and social media.

“If those are hacked by the bad guys, it becomes a vector through which hackers can push malware out to you,” said Urbelis. “That can then lead them directly back into your companies.”

Other recommendations include the use of a virtual private network and ensuring that passwords are constantly changed. He advises keeping your home network password protected and upgrading the firmware on your router. Finally, beware of phishing scams. Don’t click on any unusual links or documents, and notify your employer of any suspicious activity.

“The takeaway here is to be extraordinarily skeptical of anything that pushes you to download files, or provide any banking or credit card information or any kind of login or account information,” said Urbelis. “We all have a collective and shared responsibility to utilize good cyber hygiene right now.”

Source: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/eight-essential-tips-for-working-from-home-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic-1.4874662

10 Ways changing your driving can save big bucks on your fuel bill.

Tweaking your behaviour behind the wheel can be a pain — but it could also save you minimum $500 or more in gas every year

Typically when drivers want to make drastic gains in their fuel efficiency, they’ll swap whatever gas-guzzler they’ve got with a less-thirsty alternative.

But you can save hundreds of dollars a year at the pump just by changing the way you drive. We’ve drafted this list of 10 tips that, collectively, should save you up to $500 or more in fuel per year, if applied properly and depending on your vehicle of course.

Some of these you might already know, some are just applied common sense, while some sound counter-intuitive. Like our first tip, for example…

Tip 1: Accelerate briskly

You’ve likely heard slow starts off the line at stoplights are one of the best ways to reduce your fuel consumption. Guess what? The longer you take to reach your cruising speed, the more you stretch the energy demand.

It’s actually better to accelerate adroitly — not peeling out or burning rubber, since, yes, your high-revving engine will make you pay at the pump later if you floor it. But applying about two-thirds throttle is perfect.

Does your car have a manual transmission? First gear should be used only to get the vehicle rolling, with a rapid gear change through all the following ratios to keep RPMs as low as possible. With some older automatic transmissions, shifting to a higher (and more beneficial) gear can be achieved by briefly taking your foot off the accelerator.

Tip 2: Stick to high-speed highways

Now you’ve reached cruising velocity, stay there. Nothing makes your engine thirstier than braking and re-accelerating. This is why it’s greedier at lower, variable speeds in-city compared to the higher, constant speeds of the highway. So when possible, choose highways instead of urban roads.

Have to go through heavy traffic in-town? Keep your distance from other cars and anticipate traffic movement, two tips that also save on brakes and tire wear. This helps cut down how much coming-to-a-complete-stop you’ll have to do, which in turns saves fuel.

Tip 3: Don’t coast to a stop in neutral

Remember when grandpa told you to let your vehicle coast in neutral because the reduced load on the engine would save gas? That hasn’t been true for at least 20 years, since while , yes, modern vehicles are designed to shut off their fuel supply when decelerating, they only do so if a gear is engaged.

You can test this one out on some new cars: with the on-board computer set to show instantaneous consumption, go into neutral gear. You’ll see a bit of fuel wasted, as if you were idling. Coasting could also adversely affect revs when you go back into gear, and full-on “free-wheeling” runs the risk of keeping you from reacting quickly in the case of an emergency where you might need to accelerate.

Tip 4: Keep your speed at a nice even 100 km/h

If you really want to save substantial money at the gas pump, don’t drive at 120 km/h on the highway. We’re not talking about avoiding fines for breaking the law, we’re talking about another set of laws — the laws of physics, which stipulates that the aerodynamic drag on your car at 120 km/h causes your car to burn at least 20 per cent more fuel than it would at 100 km/h.

If you commute along at least 50 km/h of highway per day in a vehicle with average-for-Canada fuel efficiency, this simple difference in speeds can save you around $400 per year (at an assumed $1.10 per litre for fuel). Double that if you drive a bigger SUV.

Tip 5: Don’t rely on adaptive cruise control

Your car’s cruise control is great for maintaining a steady speed on highway, helping save an average of seven per cent on gas, and at max, twice as much. That said, modern adaptive cruise control systems can negatively affect fuel mileage in high-traffic situations because they constantly alter your speed to match the car ahead. In those situations, it’s often better if you take control of the throttle.

Cruise control also might not be your best bet when roads are up hill and down; a system struggling to maintain a given speed on hilly terrains will not maximize your fuel efficiency. In those cases, not only you should forget about cruise control, but you should go with the flow, even if it means resisting the temptation to floor the accelerator. Rather, nurse your fuel consumption by being slight and gradual with pedal application, in tune with a low-RPMs-momentum.

Admittedly, your trip uphill might take a little longer, but you’ll catch up on the downhill letting your car coast – not in neutral, remember – while you mind the speed limits, of course.

Tip 6: Buy a block heater

If your car doesn’t have a block heater already, get one, and use it every time the temperature drops below zero. Every component of your car that needs to be warmed – the engine, its fluids, etc. – will get to temp faster. Warmer oil means less wear on your engine, savings in fuel consumption and reduced emissions.

How much can you save at the pump if you install a block heater? More or less the cost of a daily coffee. Indeed, CAA-Quebec did some experiments with vehicles it did and didn’t plug in. Over a two-month period at an average temperature of -10 degrees Celsius, the heated cars saw 15 per cent less fuel consumption for the first 20 kilometers of driving. Some vehicles showed a whopping 33-per-cent improvement.

To save energy overall, connect your block heater to a timer so it only starts three or four hours before your morning departure. Leaving it on longer turns your gas savings into wasted electricity.

Tip 7: Keep your tires inflated

We won’t repeat how and when you should check your tires’ pressure — that’s a topic we’ve already covered before. But we’ll tell you why you should. For every temperature drop of 6 degrees Celsius, your tires lose 1 psi of pressure.

Mother Nature sends us a cold front? If you haven’t topped off your tires recently, that snap could see them underinflated by roughly eight psi (56 kPa), at which point you’re wasting about four per cent more fuel, says Natural Resources Canada. In the long run, not only will you be frittering away pennies at the pump, you’ll be cutting down the life expectancy of your tires by up to 10,000 km, the government body says.

So when’s the last time you checked your tires’ pressure? If you don’t remember, you’re among the one-third of Canadian drivers, says tire industry research, who likely has at least one tire underinflated by more than 10 per cent.

Tip 8: Mind where you park

The last time you went to the shopping mall, where did you park? Did you start at the entrance then zig-zag down the rows searching for the spot? When you found it, did you drive in nose-first? Know that you would have saved gas – and time – if you started your hunt in a more remote corner of the lot full of spots, especially if you found a space you could leave without backing up from.

It’s a small savings, but every little bit helps — and if you’re able, the exercise walking to the store entrance isn’t bad either.

Tip 9: Lighten your load

This tip won’t break the bank either, but sort through the stuff you leave in your car. That old hockey bag, that sacks of de-icing salt, that old box of books you keep forgetting to donate — they don’t weigh a lot on their, but altogether, getting rid of them may save you gas. Every 25 kg of extra mass increases the fuel consumption of a mid-size car by about one per cent.

Hypermilers” maximizing their economy will go as far as unbolting their rear seat, but we’ll stop short of that and other controversial techniques they employ.

Tip 10: Try not to idle so much

You already know it, but idling does little but waste gas. We’re talking between a quarter and a half-litre for every 10 minutes in a car going… nowhere. (That’s just one good reason a block heater works better than a remote starter.)

Natural Resources Canada says, balancing “factors such as fuel savings, emissions and component wear,” you should shut off your engine if you’re going to be stopped for more than 60 seconds. There is one exception, and that’s if you’re in traffic. Don’t turn off your engine on the road like that, just try to avoid said congestion.

Use the radio traffic reports to your benefit, try Google Maps or Waze, choose less-known and -crowded roads, whatever. Anything’s better than watching your on-board computer undo your hard-earned low-fuel-consumption average after sitting five minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Source: https://driving.ca/features/feature-story/10-ways-slightly-changing-your-driving-can-save-big-bucks-on-your-fuel-bill

Ins and Outs of Travel Insurance Amid Coronavirus Outbreak.

VANCOUVER – Travellers nervous about globe-trotting during the novel coronavirus outbreak may be eligible to receive a refund for cancelling their travels, say insurance experts, but it depends on the destination, their insurance policy and other factors.

“I think in any case of sort of an epidemic like this, it’s really an evolving situation and every day is different, something new happens,” said Joan Weir, director of health and disability policy for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. CLHIA represents 99 per cent of the country’s life and health insurance companies, according to its website.

Travel insurers watch the unfolding situation very carefully, she said, and the association is frequently checking in with all its members about what they’re experiencing.

There are now more than 31,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, according to the World Health Organization.

The bulk of these are in China, where there have also been 637 deaths. Across 24 other countries, there are 270 confirmed cases and one death. There are five confirmed cases in Canada.

The WHO declared the outbreak a global health emergency in late January.

The Canadian government issued a Level 3 advisory for China, asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel. There is only one higher level, which advises travellers to avoid all travel.

The government recommends people avoid travelling to Hubei Province, where Wuhan city is located. The province has recorded 22,112 of China’s 31,211 coronavirus cases, according to the WHO.

As soon as the Canadian government declares a Level 3 or 4 travel advisory, a person may cancel their upcoming trip and their insurance should cover any lost expenses, said Weir.

“You’d have to submit receipts,” she said, but travellers should receive refunds for flights, hotels and other costs.

Trips booked before the government issues these advisories are often covered by travel insurance, said an emailed statement from the insurance company RSA Canada.

“Trips booked after this point are not eligible for medical coverage or trip cancellation/interruption coverage.”

Allianz Global Assistance Canada, which declined to comment due to “how quickly the current coronavirus is evolving and the changing advisories” from Canada’s government and others, posted a notice on its website to customers about the outbreak indicating booking timing mattered for coverage eligibility.

People travelling to China whose trip cancellation benefits kick in if the government issues a Level 3 advisory would be eligible to submit a claim if they purchased insurance before Jan. 29, when the government issued its advisory, according to the statement.

For those who do qualify, it doesn’t matter whether their trip is next week or in six months, said Weir.

However, the destination matters. While 24 countries have confirmed coronavirus cases, Canada’s travel advisory applies only to China. That means a person who feels uncomfortable travelling to any of the other countries won’t be able to get a refund for cancelling their trip, she said.

That is, unless they purchased what’s known as cancel-for-any-reason insurance, she said, which does exactly what the name implies.

Those who haven’t purchased any travel insurance may still be able to secure a refund, Weir noted, as many major credit cards offer some kind of coverage.

“But it depends on which credit card you have and what the benefits are,” she said. “So it’s good to know what your credit card covers for trip cancellation, for trip health, all that.”

For instant quote and purchase on travel insurance, visit www.24webquote.com

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2020.

Source: https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/claims/ins-and-outs-of-travel-insurance-amid-coronavirus-outbreak-1004173736/

How Often Should You Wash Road Salt off Your Car?

If we are headed for another economic downturn (to say nothing of the subprime car loan bubble bursting) it’s more important than ever to keep what you have now in peak condition. Who knows what our financial or living situations will look like after the next big one hits. You may wonder if you can afford all the little upkeep items you do for your car, but what you really should be asking is this: Can you afford not to do those things?

There’s one big thing you can take care of now before it becomes a huge problem later, and that’s rust. It’s not a problem for our friends in the warm weather states where they don’t salt the roads—bless their hearts—but it’s a huge issue for cars that operate in cold climates. Once rust takes hold it spreads fast and is very difficult to counter. The best offense against rust is a defense, which is washing your car often when the roads are salted.

Salt, as you may know, is used on roads to melt snow and ice. But it’s horrible for steel because it accelerates the oxidation process. I know the slow-motion destructive power of road salt firsthand. It’s little wonder; my own home state of Michigan spends $24 million on 500,000 tons of road salt last year alone, the Detroit Free Press reports.

A tie rod in my first car, a 1995 Dodge Avenger, rotted through while I was driving it. Thankfully I escaped unharmed, but by then it was either spend $1,500 to repair a car worth maybe that same amount, or sink that cash into a long-term car loan. Now, as then, is not the time to be taking out loans. Now is the time for protecting what you have.

The easiest way to preserve your car is to become a neat freak. Wash it early and wash. It. Often. But how often?

Washing right after a snow is your best bet, according to the New York Times, not to mention good, old-fashioned, common sense. The weather report is really your best friend here. Try to wash your car the first snow-free day you can for maximum impact.

This guide in HowStuffWorks recommends drivers wash their cars every two weeks, but more if salt is involved:

Most experts recommend washing your car every two weeks or so throughout the year as a general rule. If you live in an area with a lot of salt — either from a nearby ocean or from salt trucks on the winter roads — you probably should wash it more, as salt can corrode the metal and cause rust.

Those who spend a lot of time driving through the backcountry should give their car a little more TLC, as well. The aforementioned bird business is acidic enough to eat through your car’s paint job if it’s left too long. Same goes for dead bugs and tree sap, so they should be washed off as necessary.

Your car can go longer between washes depending if you don’t drive it every day, or you keep it in a garage and out of the elements.

So yes, once a week should be the rust prevention goal.

Even once-weekly washes can go a long way towards preserving the structural integrity of your car, and don’t discount the importance of waxing and undercoat. Is that a lot of effort in the cold? Sure. But if we truly are stepping off of a cliff and down into an economic precipice, you might just find yourself with plenty of free time soon anyway.

Source: https://jalopnik.com/how-often-you-should-really-wash-road-salt-off-your-car-1831398962

Are you making these password mistakes?

From leaving passwords written on sticky notes laying around to using simple passwords to not using proper technology to secure client data, employees and companies still have much to learn about data security, according to a recent report. And with new research showing that cyber incidents are the top global risk for businesses, the blunders highlighted are a lesson in securing personal, corporate and client data.

Dashlane, a credential management company that stores and manage passwords through a desktop or mobile app, recounted the biggest mistakes companies and people made over the last year when it came to securing various accounts via a password in its annual Worst Password Offenders list.

Its top offender was Facebook, which made two critical mistakes from which all companies can learn. The company admitted that it not only exposed passwords of hundreds of millions of users internally to its employees, it also breached user privacy by asking for the email passwords of new users and harvesting contacts without consent. Facebook also violated security best practices by storing account passwords in its internal data storage system for years in plain text.

The tech giant then left a server unprotected – meaning, without a password – leaving 400 million users’ phone numbers and record exposed.

Facebook’s series of security blunders kept Google in second place for the year as the company admitted that it, similarly to Facebook, had stored passwords as plain text … since 2005.

Some of the worst mistakes weren’t done by corporations, according to Dashlane, as people were also inadvertently exposing their own passwords. Their mistakes are also a lesson for many others.

For example, how many people in your office have a password on a sticky note attached to their computer or desk that anyone walking by could see? Dashlane called out actress Lisa Kudrow who posted a photo of an article about an upcoming role. But included in the photo was a password written on a sticky note attached to her computer monitor.

Simple passwords continue to be a thorn in the side of security experts. U.S. Congressman Lance Gooden was caught on camera unlocking his phone with the code “777777.” Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres admitted that her password skills were lacking following a hack of her Instagram account. She was using the password “password.”

Dashlane recommends the following tips to secure accounts:

  • Use a different password for every account. “Password reuse is an epidemic. Repeating the same password across your accounts is a lot like using the same key for your house or your car,” the company said.
  • Use two-factor identification. It adds an extra layer of security by using two of three verification methods, such as your password, biometrics and a smart card.

Source: https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/insurance/are-you-following-these-password-blunders-1004172791/