What stops this insurer from measuring effectiveness of winter tires?

More than half a million Manitoba motorists are taking advantage of a winter tire financing program, but the jury is still out on whether the program has reduced accident frequency or severity.

There are about 580,000 registered passenger vehicles in Manitoba, said Brian Smiley, a spokesperson for Manitoba Public Insurance. MPI has processed about 130,000 loans for winter tires under an incentive program, Smiley told Canadian Underwriter.

Now in its fifth year, the incentive program allows motorists to get low-interest loans (prime plus 2%) of up to $2,000 towards buying winter tires as well as towards some of the associated costs.

But MPI is not at the point yet when it can keep statistics on how effective winter tires are in reducing accident frequency or severity. “Studies suggest that until there’s an 80% or higher usage rate, accurate analysis is not possible,” said Smiley.

Different provinces take different approaches to winter tires. For example, winter tires are mandatory from Dec. 15 through March 15 in Quebec, while Ontario insurance regulations have required carriers to give discounts for winter tires since 2016. The exact discount and criteria vary among insurers in Ontario.

So can one conclude that if everyone had winter tires, claims costs would be a certain amount lower than if no one had winter tires?

“Such projections are difficult to calculate,” said Smiley. “While winter tires have their safety merits, the onus of road safety ultimately rests with the driver of the vehicle. For example, an impaired/texting driver can still get into a crash despite the fact that the vehicle is equipped with winter tires.”

In Manitoba, motorists can get low-interest loans if they are private passenger (not commercial) customers of MPI and are buying the tires for vehicles with gross weight of under 4,541 kg. They also must have no financing restrictions or outstanding payments on their MPI accounts.

The tires must have the Transport Canada snowflake symbol, so mud and snow (all-season) tires do not qualify. Transport Canada says tires marked “M + S” continue to provide safe all-weather performance but may not always be suitable for severe snow conditions.

MPI customers can  pay for their tires by making monthly, pre-authorized payments to MPI through their bank accounts.

Tire and Rubber Association of Canada has a series of videos that compare the difference between proper winter tires and summer tires.

The MPI program does not let clients borrow money to repair tires. It also does not provide loans to maintain and store tires, unless that is included as part of the initial cost. It also does not provide loans for the cost of switching tires,  unless included as part of the initial cost.

It does provide loans for the cost of several associated items – among them rims, addition of studs to tires (some limitations apply), mounting and balancing, wheel alignment, nitrogen fill, valve stems, shop supplies and applicable taxes and fees.

Source article: https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/insurance/what-stops-this-insurer-from-measuring-effectiveness-of-winter-tires-1004170205/

Ontario Brokers Raise $23,000 for Women in Insurance Cancer Crusade

Toronto, ON, October 31, 2019/InsPress/ – The Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) and insurance brokers across the province raised $23,000 in support of the Women in Insurance Cancer Crusade (WICC)—an organization that supports cancer research and education. Fundraising took place at IBAO’s 99th Annual Convention last week in Toronto.

“We continue to learn about the key role WICC plays in mobilizing Canada’s insurance industry in the fight against cancer,” said IBAO President Jeff Gatcke. “Given our partnership with WICC Ontario—a new collaboration we announced earlier this year—we wanted to further align our largest event and platform with this important initiative. We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.”

WICC was founded in 1996 and has raised over $16.5 million since its reception. As a Community Partner of WICC Ontario, IBAO promotes WICC Ontario initiatives to its membership and the broker community at large through its communication channels.

“WICC is honoured not only to have partnered with IBAO through its Community Partnership but also to have been selected as IBAO’s charity of choice for this year’s Convention,” said Marilyn Horrick, Co-Chair, WICC Ontario. “Extending our reach for cancer research fundraising into the brokerage community is an incredible opportunity and would not have been possible without the IBAO. We’re moved by the generosity of Ontario’s brokers and we’re tremendously grateful for the support.”

Funds raised from IBAO’s 99th Annual Convention will support research initiatives across Canada.

– 30 –

The Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) is a not‐for‐profit association representing over 13,000 insurance brokers across Ontario.

Source article: https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/inspress/ontario-brokers-raise-23000-for-women-in-insurance-cancer-crusade/

Windsor’s First Cannabis Store to Open November 1, 2019

Things should get rolling at Windsor’s first legal pot shop by the start of November.

Kyriakos (Kirk) Anastasiadis said Wednesday his new joint at 545 Ouellette Ave. should be past regulatory hurdles, renovated, stocked and open by Nov. 1.

“I’m just excited to get working on this and bringing some good business and positivity to the downtown Windsor core,” said Anastasiadis, 30, who owns several bars and restaurants in London.

Anastasiadis was one of 42 applicants selected in the most recent Ontario lottery last month to receive a retail pot store licence, assuming all the regulatory requirements are met.

A dozen of those applicants have since been disqualified for failing to submit required documents in time. Another one withdrew the application.

“I wasn’t disqualified, so that’s a good next step,” said Anastasiadis, who plans on moving to Windsor to run the store. “I got all my applications in, then the next step is they’re going to do an interview, and then it’s the build.”

As long as he passes the final inspections, Anastasiadis said he will be ready to go by the end of next month.

“In the application for the cannabis dispensary you have to propose a set date for inspection, and as of right now that is end of October, Nov. 1,” he said. “The AGCO is going to come in and do this inspection, then they’ll let you know if you’re ready to go or what changes you have to make to the store.”

One of his biggest jobs before November will be renovating the store.

“It’s a lot of cosmetic,” said Anastasiadis. “Rip out the floor and put a new floor in. Basically beautifying the place.”

The regulations require storeowners to have a vault for storing inventory, but Anastasiadis said that’s already taken care of.

“Being an old bank, there’s actually a vault built into it,” he said. “That takes a lot of the steps out of the way as long as the vault is up to code.”

Anastasiadis must officially receive his licence before buying inventory, but he said the product should arrive quickly once the order is in.

“They set you up with their wholesaler from the (Ontario Cannabis Store), then you put in your order,” he said. “They do weekly deliveries.”

That first order will likely be a big one.

“I believe the first order is allowed to be up to 100 kilos,” said Anastasiadis.

That includes all cannabis products from oils and mouth sprays to pre-rolled joints. Anastasiadis said he also plans to sell edibles once they hit the legal market.

#Windsorontario, #AandA, #Brokerisbest, #Cannabis, #Windsorpotshop

Source: https://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/windsors-first-legal-pot-shop-slated-to-open-nov-1

Electronic Pink Slips A Go

You can now show your proof of auto insurance electronically in Ontario

Pink auto insurance slips aren’t being eliminated yet, but new option being phased in over 1-year period.

Ontario drivers can now carry electronic proof of their auto insurance on their smartphones or other devices.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips said the pink paper insurance slip isn’t being eliminated yet, but being able to display the information on a phone will be more convenient for many drivers.

“We’ve all had enough paper in our lives, at least me, for one, I have experienced rummaging through the glove box, looking for that little pink slip,” Phillips said as he made the announcement on Thursday. “Well, as of today your rummaging days are over if you choose this electronic option.”

There will be a one-year phase-in period, when insurers will have to issue a paper card in addition to the electronic option if it is requested.Phillips said drivers in Alberta, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador can already display their proof of insurance electronically. 

“With the proliferation of mobile devices and apps and various add ons, it only makes sense that drivers in Ontario can  take advantage of the same options that drivers in other provinces can,” he said.

Drained battery, damaged screen no excuse

The electronic cards will feature safeguards that won’t allow them to be altered or edited, and privacy concerns are top of mind, Phillips said.

Drivers will be responsible for making sure their phone can display the proof of insurance, even with a poor signal, drained battery or damaged screen. The Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, speaking for Ontario’s new car dealers, welcomed the news.

“In this advanced, technological age we live in, there is no good reason why drivers must carry a paper copy for proof of insurance,” director of government relations Frank Notte said in a statement.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada said consumers have digital options in other sectors such as banking and retail, so auto insurers are pleased their customers will have the same choice.

“We look forward to working with the government on other measures that will improve the auto insurance system for drivers,” the insurance bureau’s Ontario vice-president Kim Donaldson said in a statement.

Electronic proof of insurance was one of a number of ways the government signalled in its spring budget that it was going to reform auto insurance.

The province is also reverting back to the default benefit of $2 million for those who are catastrophically injured in a collision, after it dropped to $1 million three years ago.

#Windsorontario, #AandA, #Brokerisbest, #cbcwindsor

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/car-insurance-pink-auto-ontario-electronic-1.5271540

What’s the most dangerous form of driving? What do the telematics say?

When it comes to the most dangerous form of aggressive driving, speed stands above the rest as most likely to cause a crash.

Research from the University of Waterloo has found that speeding is more likely than hard braking, hard acceleration and hard cornering to cause a vehicle to crash. The university combed through 28 million trips recorded with telematics data to see that speeding led to more crashes than the other riskier behaviours. In fact, the other forms of aggressive driving were statistically insignificant when it came to collisions.

What does this mean for an insurance company? They should assess a driver’s risk based on how fast they drive.

“For insurance companies using this telematics data to assess who is a good risk and who isn’t, our suggestion based on the data is to look at speed, at people driving too fast,” said Stefan Steiner, a statistics professor in the university’s mathematics faculty.

The study now provides factual evidence that speed is a leading cause for crashes. Previously, this was just an assumption, said Allaa (Ella) Hilal, an electrical and computer engineering adjunct professor.

“Some of the results are no surprise, but prior to this we had a whole industry based on intuition,” she said. “Now it is formulated – we know aggressive driving has an impact.”

Phil Gibson, managing director of personal insurance at Aviva Canada, agreed. “This analysis and the conclusions of the researchers confirms what we’ve seen in our experience for years: drivers who speed are more likely to be involved in an accident. We (insurers) have historically used moving violations, like speeding tickets, in pricing and underwriting auto insurance, because they reflect an increase in the risk of a driver having an accident,” he told Canadian Underwriter.

There are still some unknowns, however, Steiner cautioned, such as the same vehicle being used by different drivers and that further research was needed to verify their results.

Still, the study could impact how telematics data is used by the insurance industry. Rather than judging risk based on age, location or gender, a look at a person’s driving data could determine their premiums.

Furthermore, Hilal noted, to the extent that drivers know their data is being tracked and therefore curb their risky driving behaviours, better driving could lead to better rates. “Having this information exposed and understood allows people to wrap their minds around their true risks and improve their driving behaviours,” she said. “We are super-pumped about its potential.”

Recently, insurance industry experts told Canadian Underwriter that distracted driving was their biggest concern for drivers as crashes rise. Aviva Canada said the total number of vehicles repaired was up 2.2% from 2017-18 in the provinces in which the company operates.

Blame was put on people using their cellphones while driving, as well as people being distracted by infotainment systems in the vehicles. Now compound distracted driving with aggressive behaviour and you have a potential recipe for disaster, Gibson said. “Any of those four aggressive driving behaviours (speeding, hard braking, hard acceleration and hard cornering) analyzed would be made much more dangerous if the driver is distracted in any way.”

Source: https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/insurance/whats-the-most-dangerous-form-of-driving-what-telematics-tells-us-1004167563/

Umbrella Coverage – Why is it important?

The definition

A personal umbrella policy provides additional coverage when a client’s base liability coverage is exhausted. It covers legal fees and loss of income associated with liability claims – even for incidents that occur outside of Canada.

The challenge

Coverage that protects property is an easy concept for clients to buy into. It’s straightforward to understand and is often mandatory. The need becomes less clear when it comes to coverage that protects against legal action.

Many clients associate liability with businesses or high-income earners. The reality is that most of us are targets for legal recourse, even when going about our regular, low-risk lives. Pet owners, social media users, people who do volunteer work… wealthy or not, these people are all vulnerable.

Trends suggest that Canadians are becoming more litigious, and court cases are resulting in larger payouts. And while lawsuits don’t directly result in the loss of the ‘things and stuff’ protected by standard personal insurance policies, people could indirectly lose assets if they need to come up with the cost of an unexpected settlement.

Finally, when you consider the modern hazards that impact our safety (e.g. texting while driving), it’s hard not to appreciate how unpredictable an everyday task can be – or how far a resulting lawsuit can go.

Start with a conversation

Get to know your clients. Sincere engagement does wonders for customer loyalty, and it has the side effect of revealing important insights. For example, do they:

  • Have children?
  • Have hobbies?
  • Do volunteer work?
  • Travel frequently?
  • Own rental properties?
  • Use social media?

Clients who answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions are candidates for personal umbrella coverage. What’s holding them back? Awareness is a major factor. But once you resolve that…

Overcome the “it won’t happen to me” mentality

There’s a misconception that court battles are the stuff of TV dramas. In many people’s minds, their ‘boring lives’ are enough protection. Here are four relatable scenarios to share with your clients to demonstrate how a personal umbrella policy could save the day:

  1. Social Media. Personal umbrella coverage protects against libel, slander and breach of privacy. The level of confidence internet users feel when posting from ‘behind the keyboard’ makes it too easy to broadcast messages to hundreds or thousands of people. All it takes is one person to retaliate; whether it’s the proprietor of a restaurant who receives a defaming review, or the parent of a child whose photos are shared.
  2. Teenagers. They’re maturing and finding their independence, which is exciting for parents to see. What can be concerning is the fact that they don’t fully understand the scope and potential impact of their behaviour. And if a dependent is responsible for a damaging action or breach of privacy, the parent may be responsible.
  3. Mandatory or not, auto accidents are so common that it’s undeniably smart to have this coverage. But base policy limits are relatively low considering the potential damages. When someone is at fault for a collision involving multiple vehicles – especially if any of the victims experience loss of future income or require long-term care – their standard coverage gets eaten up quickly.
  4. Hosting events. Small get-togethers involving close friends and family appear low-risk at first glance. However, unpredictability increases when you add variables like alcohol, pets, or small children. We hope our loved ones wouldn’t sue, but in cases where compensation is needed, the decision to pursue legal action becomes less personal and more about necessity.

A personal umbrella policy is often more affordable than increasing liability on each individual base policy, and it protects the actions of your clients and their families wherever they are in the world. As sensibly as we might go about our lives, we are all subject to the unpredictability of other people’s actions.

The bottom line for your clients; our world is evolving, so the way we protect ourselves must change too.

Graham Haigh began his insurance career in BC in 1994 after earning his Bachelor’s degree from Simon Fraser University and attaining his FCIP and CAIB designations. He is a past President of the Insurance Institute of BC and an award winning instructor for the Insurance Institute of Canada’s CIP program.

He joined Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company in 2009 as Regional VP for BC & Yukon. In 2015, Graham moved with his family to Winnipeg to run Wawanesa’s Central region. He accepted the role of VP, Broker Distribution in 2019.

He can be reached at 204-985-3930 (office) or by email at ghaigh@wawanesa.com

Source: https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/insurance/why-your-clients-need-personal-umbrella-coverage-1004165274/

$200 000 Liability for Auto insurance is the minimum, but far from the standard.

Although Ontario motorists can legally put their vehicles on the road with as little as $200,000 in liability coverage, brokers likely wouldn’t want one of those motorists for a client.

“There is no way you can justify why you sold someone a $200,000 [auto] liability policy,” Rick Orr, Stratford-based owner and account executive at Orr Insurance Brokers Inc., said Friday in an interview.

As a general rule, Orr’s private passenger auto clients carry $2 million in coverage because awards from successful motor vehicle accident lawsuits are sometimes well over $1 million. So the fact that Ontario private passenger vehicle owners are only required by law to buy $200,000 in liability coverage is “totally antiquated,” said Orr, a former president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario.

“It seems odd that nobody has updated it,” said Orr. “We don’t have a single client that would have less than $1 million in liability coverage.”

Orr says it’s not hard for brokers to up-sell to $2 million, partly because the client only has to pay an extra $100 or so a year in premium.

“The last time I looked, which was a long time ago, the [annual premium] difference between $200,000 and $1 million wasn’t much,” he said. “We will get some people who say they don’t need $2 million, but nobody in a long time has ever said they would want less than $1 million in coverage.”

Most brokers realize it would become an errors and omissions risk if they were to sell a client a liability policy with a limit of only $200,000.

“There are all kinds of incentives to make sure consumers are properly protected, because if not, they are coming after us at the end of the day,” Orr said.

Saskatchewan also mandates $200,000 in liability coverage. Unlike Ontario, however, the Saskatchewan government has a monopoly on basic auto through the public insurer SGI. In Saskatchewan, the basic plate coverage has created an issue.

About half the motorists in Saskatchewan have only “base plate coverage,” Dave Pettigrew, president and CEO of brokerage Harvard Western Insurance, told Canadian Underwriter in 2018. At the time, the Insurance Brokers Association of Saskatchewan formed a committee to make sure that motorists in the province were adequately insured.

In Ontario, there is more than one reason to buy liability limits far in excess of the mandatory minimum. “Another reason you should be carrying higher liability coverage is [that] you are actually protecting yourself against people who don’t carry enough,” Orr said Friday.

For example, an optional family protection endorsement provides coverage if the broker’s client gets hurt, sues the at-fault motorist, and the at-fault motorist turns out to be underinsured. As Orr explains, using a hypothetical example: “If I get hit by a 17-year old who has $500,000 or $1 million in coverage, and they do $2 million in damage to me, and I sue them, my [family protection endorsement] will make up the difference to what my liability limit is.”


Safer cars does not lead to cheaper insurance.

New technology is making cars much safer than they used to be. But those features aren’t translating into lower insurance rates — since those fancy new components cost a lot more to repair and replace.

Modern safety features such as automatic emergency braking, frontal collision warning and lane departure assistance are automating the process of driving more than ever before, and are giving drivers more tools and information to avoid some of the most common accidents.

But they don’t make today’s cars crash-proof. And when collisions happen, those high-tech tools make cars a lot more complicated and expensive to repair.

Take headlights, for example. A generation ago, a car’s headlights were fairly standard — just a bulb, as bright and long-lasting as possible, and a casing to point it in the direction of the road ahead. Given their position on the car, the headlights are one of the most common parts that would see damage in a collision, whether it’s a mere fender-bender or a head-on collision. But the cost to replace a headlight would be a couple of dollars.

Today, that same headlight could well be equipped with technology that allows it to dim itself depending on light conditions, and the light actually moves into a turn so the driver can better see oncoming dangers. Those are great features, but they come with a hefty price tag — $1,371 US on average to replace a modern headlight, according to CCC Information Services, an analytics firm that provides data to car manufacturers, the insurance industry and body shops.

Headlights aren’t the only culprit. A basic fender or bumper cover can cost hundreds of dollars to replace, thanks to the series of telematics, radar and other camera-based sensors it likely contains. 

Car components that used to be little more than simple metal and plastic are now highly sophisticated technology, which makes them much more expensive to replace. (Joan Dymianiw/CBC)

Add it all up, and basic components that used to be nothing more than metal and plastic can now cost thousands to repair and replace. And most of them need to be calibrated to communicate with a vehicle’s internal computer, which is work that only a skilled technician can do.

“There’s a lot more to repairing a vehicle in a collision than there was in decades gone by,” said Peter Karageorgos, the director of consumer relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Cost of crashes ‘going up’

Karageorgos said today’s cars may indeed be built safer than ever before, but that doesn’t mean crashes are becoming less likely. With more vehicles on the road and more distracted driving, the number of collisions is still going up. According to the IBC, the insurance industry paid out just over $12 billion to just over 1.2 million car insurance claims last year, a number that is just shy of 2017’s record level, which itself came after five straight annual increases, compared with $8.8 billion in 2011.

“You may be in a safer car, that may lead to a reduction in the number of injuries or extent of injuries, and that’s a good thing,” Karageorgos said. “But we are seeing repairs and frequency going up, and the severity or cost is also going up.”

Police agencies across Canada have identified distracted driving as a major cause of accidents, and Karageorgos said driver complacency is undoing some of the leaps forward in modern safety technology. “We may have lane departure sensors, but does that mean drivers are no longer doing a shoulder check? Are practices behind the wheel suffering because we are relying on technology?”

Susanna Gotsch, an analyst with CCC Information Services, said part of the problem is that most of the new safety features have shown some success with some of the most common types of collisions, but they are far from perfect. 

Automatic emergency braking is a great example. One of the testing protocols for the technology at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Gotsch said, is that a vehicle must prove it will automatically apply the brakes if it senses an oncoming obstacle on a dry road, with no debris, on a sunny day. “The vehicle has to demonstrate that it will apply the brakes,” she said. “It doesn’t say that it has to stop completely, it just has to show that [it] applied the brakes if the driver has not.”

So under an ideal circumstance, that technology can help make injuries less severe by slowing the car down as much as possible if a driver is distracted and has forgotten to brake before driving into the red lights in front of them. But that’s a long way from making the vehicle crash-proof.

Windshields used to just be moulded pieces of glass. But many — such as the one on this Hyundai Ioniq electric vehicle — now come with a suite of telematics and sensors in them, which require expensive calibration if they get damaged. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)

Unseen challenges

Next, Gotsch cites the example of a car with automatic emergency braking getting into a common fender-bender at a slow speed in a parking lot. “Even if you have it, if somebody backs into you, you can’t say, ‘Don’t back into my car,'” she said. And you’ll still have to pay a higher repair bill to recalibrate those sophisticated sensors after the accident.

Indeed, most of the new technologies may save a life or avert a serious accident under ideal conditions, but they don’t do much under other conditions. She cites the famous example of a man in Florida who was killed in his Tesla in 2016 while the Autopilot function was engaged, after his vehicle crashed into a tractor-trailer that was legally crossing the roadway. 

“The technology worked as designed to see objects in the front of the vehicle, not objects coming from the side,” Gotsch said.

To be clear, no one is suggesting that the suite of modern safety features aren’t making cars safer in the aggregate. Gotsch said data from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety does suggest that there is a benefit in a large number of cases. “There is a reduction of claim frequency in certain types of scenarios,” she said. “But what hasn’t borne itself out yet is what the flip side is on the cost side, whether they are outweighing each other.”

“We haven’t really seen the full benefit yet from a cost perspective.”



​​​​​​​​​​Insurance telematics – also known as usage-based insurance (UBI) or pay-as-you-drive – represents a shift in how insurance is administered and how premiums are calculated. Telematics has the potential to reduce your premium costs and generate significant benefits to society.​

How to Drive Your Premiums Down with Telematics

Telematics technology customizes insurance to your pattern of driving. It works by monitoring your real-time driving behaviours to provide an objective picture of your driving habits.  

Some insurers use telematics to monitor the key risk factors associated with driving a car. The technology assesses your driving habits, including: 

  • ​The distance you drive
  • The time of day when you are on the road
  • When and how you accelerate and brake

If you exhibit better driving habits or improve your driving behaviour, you can potentially save on insurance premiums. A telematics device creates an objective, personalized profile based on specific criteria. 

How Telematics Technology Works

Telematics was first used for auto insurance in Canada by one insurer in 2013 and has since grown to be included in a number of insurers’ product offerings. The telematics program gives you a small wireless device that acts as information and communication technology that can be quickly and easily installed in your car’s diagnostic port (typically under the steering wheel). 

The data collected is subject to strict privacy policies and not used for any other commercial purposes without consent. The insurer analyzes your data solely to determine savings and assesses typically the three driving habits listed above. 

With some programs, you can then track your driving habits and savings online, have your online information dashboard updated daily, and have your telematics discount calculated monthly. 

​Telematics programs are voluntary and you are fully informed of the variables your insurer collects for use in the program. Before signing up, you provide your express, informed consent for the collection, use and disclosure of the information used by the insurer.

Other Benefits of Telematics

According to the Victoria Transport Policy Institute​ in British Columbia, widespread adoption of telematics has other potential benefits as a result of people driving less. They include: ​​

  • Reductions in congestion, traffic accidents, pollution, energy use, road and parking costs as well as more people walking instead of driving, which promotes health and fitness 
  • Opportunities for urban planners to explore other land-use objectives  

The Telematics Forecast

The number of insurers offering telematics is expected to increase. Canadian insurance companies are learning from the experiences of their counterparts in the U.S. and Europe.

In 2012, IBC conducted a survey in Ontario that found that the majority of those polled would be in favour of telematics. The option to choose telematics was most popular among people who drive less than 10,000 kilometres a year.


Where Liability Insurance Fits into Bicycle Accidents

If you have clients who are riding their bikes this summer, how does liability insurance work if they get into an accident?

“Specialty cyclist insurance policies do exist, but my understanding is they are not very common,” said Ari Krajden, a partner with Toronto law firm Kawaguchi Krajden LLP.

Liability for bicycle accidents is “typically” covered under a home insurance policy but motorized scooters and other types of vehicles may not be, Krajden said Tuesday in an interview.

Cyclists who are unsure of their coverage should be asking their insurance broker or agent, said Krajden, whose areas of practice include personal injury and insurance coverage.

Unlike auto insurance, the wording of home insurance policies are not stipulated in provincial regulations.

“They can differ from insurer to insurer. It’s important to read your policy,” said Krajden.

Suppose a cyclist collides with a pedestrian, no motor vehicle is involved, and the pedestrian decides to launch a personal injury lawsuit.

“If a cyclist is sued, and the allegation is that they are negligent and caused a personal injury, (the cyclist) would likely turn to a home insurance policy or a renter’s policy first,” said Krajden.

If a plaintiff suing a cyclist alleges that the cyclist is at fault in an accident, the plaintiff must prove the cyclist owes a duty of care. Whether a duty of care exists depends on the facts in that situation, said Krajden.

In addition to proving the cyclist has a duty of care, the plaintiff would also have to prove the cyclist somehow failed to meet the standard of care required by civil law.

“The standard of care is determined by considering what would be expected of an ordinary, reasonable and prudent person in the same circumstances,” LexisNexis reports.

So if you have a duty of care towards someone, and if you fail to meet the standard of care and the other person is injured or suffers property damaged, you or (your insurer) could be forced to pay that other person.

In Ontario, bike riders must share the road with others and obey all traffic laws, notes Toronto-based Ambridge Law. The Highway Traffic Act stipulates a bicycle is a vehicle, so cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers and cannot carry passengers.

What happens if a motor vehicle is involved?

“All cyclists in Ontario involved in car accidents have access to accident insurance benefits, even if the accident was their fault,” reports Ottawa based Grenier Law, whose areas of practice include pedestrian and bicycle accidents.

“Bicycle accident cases can get very complicated and involve a number of parties, including motor vehicle operators who may be held liable,” Grenier Law notes. “It is worth noting that a car doesn’t even have to be moving for you to have a collision; ‘dooring’ [is] when a motorist opens their door without looking, and a cyclist runs into it. As well, some cycling accidents can be caused by dog attacks.”

So what happens if a cyclist gets into an accident on private property, and no vehicles, pedestrians or other bikes are involved?

This is where the Occupiers’ Liability Act could come into play.

In this scenario, if the cyclist wants to sue a property owner or manager, alleging that dangerous conditions on the property caused the accident, the cyclist would have to prove the property occupier failed to meet the legal standad of care, suggested Krajden.

“If I am operating any type of business and I am inviting people on to my premises, a duty of care is already established by the Occupiers Liability Act to maintain the premises so as to be reasonably safe.”