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.”


Are Autonomous Cars Coming Soon?

If you are led to believe most of your clients will get around in self-driving cars within a decade, you might want to think again.

“Autonomous vehicles will likely not be on our roads for at least another 25-30 years, and that is a conservative estimate,” said Kristine D’Arbelles, senior manager of public affairs for the Canadian Automobile Association, in an interview. She was referring to fully autonomous vehicles where no human is controlling the car.

A Google search of “self-driving sooner than you think” yields more than 25 million results. Topping the results are published reports suggesting that fully autonomous vehicles are coming “sooner than you think.”

An evolution to self-driving cars would change the insurance business model. The current auto insurance model is predicated on the notion that vehicle drivers and owners carry liability risk and that accidents are usually caused by bad driving.

A few years ago, some were saying that by 2021, we would have fully autonomous vehicles, suggested D’Arbelles. She predicts that when her son (who just turned four) has kids, those kids may not need driver’s licences when they grow up.

But there is a difference between the automated features on some of today’s vehicles (such as lane departure warning) and fully autonomous vehicles that do not have pedals or a steering wheel.

“That is where the lack of knowledge and confusion from Canadians comes from right now” D’Arbelles said.

A majority (83%) of Canadians is “just vaguely aware of what’s coming in autonomous vehicles,” she said.

Ottawa-based CAA, a federation of eight independent clubs, released Monday results of a poll in which about 2,000 Canadians were asked about autonomous vehicles. In the survey, conducted this past December, Canadians where asked both about autonomous vehicle benefits and about their concerns with autonomous vehicles.

When respondents were asked if they had concerns, the options they were given were hacking, unauthorized access by a third party to data, and accountability in the event of an accident. They were also given the choice of saying they had no concerns or they do not want to answer.

Fifty-nine percent said they were concerned about hacking, and 53% were concerned about the potential for third-party access to driver-generated data. Multiple responses were allowed. The results are considered accurate to within 2.2 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

D’Arbelles said she recently rented a car that had an advanced cruise control feature. Unlike traditional cruise control, the one on her rented car would slow the car down if the vehicle in front slowed down. “It’s not autonomous in the sense that I can sit back and start watching a movie and start playing with my phone,” she said. “I actually have to be fully aware of what’s going on around me.”

Ontario has had an automated vehicle pilot program for three years. But participants must ensure a human is able to bring the vehicle to a safe stop.

“Theoretically, there could be a fully autonomous vehicle ready to go on the road, but a lot of kinks have to be worked out before we are in a society where fully autonomous vehicles sort of take over our road,” D’Arbelles told Canadian Underwriter.

For example, roads will require traffic control signs and pavement markings that can be read not only by humans but also by the vehicle-borne computers.

There are various levels of vehicle autonomy. For example, the Society of Automotive Engineers defines Level 0 as having no automated features whatsoever while Level 5 means the vehicle can go at all times without human intervention.

SAE level 4 means the vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under certain conditions. The driver may have the option to control the vehicle.

Level 3 means the vehicle manages most safety-critical driving functions but the driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times.

Level 2 means partial automation. At least two automated tasks are managed by the vehicle, but the driver must remain engaged with the driving task.

Level 1 means there are some features for driver safety and comfort and a human is required for all critical functions.


Sump Pump Maintenance Check

Water damage is one of the worst problems the average homeowner will have to deal with. Irreplaceable possessions can be completely destroyed, cleanup is difficult and expensive, and the musty smell can linger for weeks. And in the battle against water damage, your home’s sump pump is the often unsung hero keeping disaster at bay.

If you’re a new homeowner who is just learning the ropes of home maintenance, you might not know if your home has a sump pump or where it’s located. But it’s important to get to know this device and how to take care of it throughout the year because it’s your most important defense against basement flooding.

What is a Sump Pump?

In a home with a basement, a sump pump typically sits in a small sump “pit” at the lowest point of the basement floor. The job of the sump pump is to catch groundwater that seeps in through a foundation drainage system and pump it away from the home, either into a storm drain or a nearby area that drains naturally. During rainy seasons, flooding events and even plumbing-related floods, a working sump pump can evacuate hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water per hour.

Types of Sump Pumps

Residential sump pumps fall into two broad categories: submersible and pedestal.

  • Submersible pumps sit in the wet sump pit all the time, which makes maintenance a messier job and adds a lot of wear and tear. They are, however, much quieter than pedestal pumps.
  • Pedestal pumps are cheaper, longer-lasting and easier to maintain, but the noise they produce during pumping may make them impractical for many homes, especially those with finished basements.

Sump Pump Backup Systems

Beyond the basic choice of submersible vs. pedestal, you have more choices when it comes to backup pumps. Though not all sump pumps have accompanying backup systems, it is very important to choose one that has this feature — if the main pump fails for any reason, including a power outage, the backup pump should save the day.

Many sump pumps have a fully integrated battery backup system that self-charges while the power is on so that it can operate even when the power is off. Other models may require you to supply your own battery, often a car or boat battery. Another type of backup system connects to your home’s plumbing and uses water pressure to keep groundwater moving when the electricity is off.

Whichever type you own, you should familiarize yourself with the maintenance and replacement schedules that are specific to your model. Maintenance steps can vary, especially when it comes to taking care of those ever-important backup batteries.

Sump Pump Annual Maintenance Checklist

Keeping your sump pump in tip-top shape is a small job — so small it’s easy to overlook. Since the consequences of sump pump failure can be huge, it’s recommended that you maintain your sump pump at least once per year, ideally during spring cleaning, when seasonal rains really put the pump to work.

Here’s your essential sump pump maintenance checklist:

  1. Make sure your primary pump is connected to power and turned on. If your pump is plugged into an outlet rather than hard-wired, make sure the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) on the outlet has not been tripped.
  2. Test your pump for functionality by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pit. The pump should turn on automatically and pump the water away in seconds. Sump pumps use a float to detect water, and this float can become stuck due to dirt and sediment. So if your pump is powered on but doesn’t start pumping during the test, try to loosen the float before calling for service.
  3. Disconnect and clean the pump. Disconnect the pump from its power source and discharge line. Remove the pump from the pit and carefully clean all accessible parts of dirt, sediment and small stones. If possible, remove the grate at the bottom of the pump and clean it separately. If the sump pit is messy, clean up the area while you have the pump removed. Model-specific instructions on how to clean a sump pump may be helpful, but most pumps can be safely cleaned with a garden hose, paper towels and a stiff-bristle brush.
  4. Check the pump’s discharge line for obstructions. Small particles usually flow through, but sometimes small rocks get wedged in the pump, grate or discharge line where they can inhibit the flow of water.
  5. Perform model-specific maintenance to the battery backup system as needed.

In addition to annual maintenance, it’s worth testing your sump pump with a bucket of water at least once per month, especially during the rainy season. If something goes wrong with your pump, it’s better to find out during a controlled test than during a heavy rainstorm.

To help make a plan for replacement, check your sump pump’s original documentation (or find it online by searching for your model number) to see what replacement interval the manufacturer recommends. It may also be helpful to schedule an annual visit from a licensed plumber to inspect and maintain both your sump pump and water heater. Just be sure to remind your plumber of your sump pump’s age and ask for a professional opinion about when replacement is warranted.

When to Replace Your Sump Pump

No sump pump lasts forever, and your pump could fail due to old age in the middle of a major rain event. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to estimate your pump’s lifespan and replace it proactively.

As a general rule, submersible pumps last 5 to 15 years and pedestal pumps last 20 to 30 years. Frequency of use plays a large role in the lifespan of a pump, so if you live in a wet area with a high water table, expect your pumps to wear out on the lower end of that spectrum.

To help make a plan for replacement, check your sump pump’s original documentation (or find it online by searching for your model number) to see what replacement interval the manufacturer recommends. It may also be helpful to schedule an annual visit from a licensed plumber to inspect and maintain both your sump pump and water heater. Just be sure to remind your plumber of your sump pump’s age and ask for a professional opinion about when replacement is warranted.


Top Threat Facing Canadian Businesses

Cyber attacks and data breaches are the Number 1 threat to businesses in North America, according to Aon plc’s newly released 2019 Global Risk Management Survey.

Aon surveys thousands of risk managers across 60 countries and 33 industries every two years to identify key risks and challenges their organizations are facing. Cyber attacks/data breach topped the list this year in Canada and the United States (these two countries accounted for 24% of survey respondents). Rounding out the Top 5 were:

  • Damage to reputation/brand
  • Economic slowdown/slow recovery
  • Failure to innovate/meet customer needs
  • Business interruption

“This year’s survey results illustrate the escalating concerns over the rapidly changing business environment and the potential for unwelcome surprises Canadian organizations face that can disrupt their business model over time and damage reputation almost overnight,” said Bill Besse, chief client officer of commercial risk solutions with Aon in Canada.

Although difficult in the current environment, risk preparedness is key for Canadian businesses, according to the survey.

“Those firms that anticipate, plan and prepare will minimize earnings volatility and maximize profitability and will have a competitive advantage in today’s business world,” Besse noted in a press release Monday.

Globally, the top two risks were economic slowdown and damage to reputation/brand. Global risk managers are reporting their lowest level of risk readiness in 12 years; many of the top risks, such as economic slowdown and increasing competition, are uninsurable. As a result, risk managers need to embrace risk management as opposed to risk transfer to mitigate these threats and protect their organizations from potential volatility.

The survey also asked global businesses for their projection on what the top risks would be in three years. In Canada, the Top 5 future risks are:

  • Cyber attacks/data breach
  • Failure to innovate/meet customer needs
  • Failure to attract or retain top talent
  • Economic slowdown/slow recovery
  • Aging workforce & related health issues.


Insurance Broker VS Agent

What is a general insurance agent or broker?

Home insurance comes under the financial sector known as Property and Casualty (P&C) Insurance. In Ontario, general insurance agents, also known simply as insurance agents, are people who are licensed and regulated by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) to sell a variety of insurance products including home and auto insurance, and they are employed by one insurance company. To see if an insurance agent you want to work with is licensed, visit FSCO’s Agents Licensed in Ontario database. Alternatively, ask an insurance company for the name of an agent authorized to sell their products.

An insurance agent is different from an insurance broker. An insurance broker may sell insurance on behalf of more than one insurance company and works to find you the coverage that best suits your needs from any of the companies they represent. Insurance brokers are licensed by the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario (RIBO). To learn more about insurance brokers, visit the RIBO website .

What is a P&C insurance company?

A property and casualty insurance company, also known as a general insurance company, issues and sells home and auto insurance to individuals through its agents or brokers, and promises to pay benefits to holders of those policies. In Ontario, insurance companies are licensed and regulated by FSCO. For a list of licensed companies visit FSCO’s Licensed Insurance Companies in Ontario database.

FSCO’s role

FSCO licenses and regulates insurance agents and companies in Ontario to ensure consumers are protected and to enhance their confidence in the insurance sector. If an insurance agent is licensed and regulated by FSCO it means that they had to meet certain requirements that are in place to protect you.

As well as checking that the general insurance agent or company you want to work with is licensed by FSCO, you should also check FSCO’s Enforcement Online database to see if any enforcement action has been taken against them in Ontario. Enforcement actions like having their licence suspended, or being fined (Administrative Monetary Penalty) means that there have been some issues in regards to compliance with the law that resulted in these sanctions. You might also want to check out the Canadian Insurance Regulators Disciplinary Actions  database that offers public access to regulatory decisions issued by insurance regulators across Canada. 

Insurance agent and company responsibilities

General insurance agents, brokers and companies have obligations and responsibilities to you, the insurance buyer. Visit the RIBO website to understand a broker’s responsibilities.

Insurance agents and companies are required to:

  • be licensed by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to sell property insurance in Ontario;
  • comply with the Ontario Insurance Act ;
  • make treating you and other consumers fairly a core component of their governance and business culture;
  • have policies and processes in place to handle your complaints in a timely and fair manner;
  • protect your private information and immediately inform you of any breach;
  • if an agent, have successfully passed the qualifying examination conducted by the Insurance Institute of Ontario (agents are exempt if they have a Chartered Insurance Professional designation); and
  • if an agent, must disclose to you in writing any conflicts of interest that they may have.

In addition to licensing requirements, insurance agents and companies should follow industry best practices. They should:

  • act with due skill, care and diligence when dealing with you and when recommending home insurance policies to you;
  • promote home insurance policies and other related products in a manner that is clear, fair and not misleading or false;
  • recommend suitable home insurance policies by assessing your property, content and liability, taking into account your disclosed personal circumstances and financial situation;
  • provide continuing service to you until all obligations have been met;
  • ensure that a licensed insurance agent is always available for consultation during business hours;
  • provide their contact information, licence number, and other information that you request; and
  • draw your attention to all relevant information before you buy a home insurance policy.

Your rights and responsibilities

When you purchase a home insurance policy, you enter a contract which gives you the following rights and responsibilities:

You have the right to:

  • understand your policy, and to receive explanations in plain language from your insurance agent or broker.
  • receive clear information about the claims process.
  • file and resolve any complaints.
  • protection of your privacy.

You are responsible for:

  • paying all premiums as outlined in the policy.
  • disclosing information about the value of your home and contents. If you undervalue your home or contents when buying the policy, you might not have enough coverage. If you overstate the value when making a claim, your policy may be cancelled or voided.
  • disclosing information about renovations or home-based business activities, no matter how small.
  • disclosing full and complete information on your home insurance application, including previous home insurance claims.
  • reviewing the application thoroughly before signing and submitting.

Questions to ask an insurance agent or broker about home insurance

When purchasing a home insurance policy, use these questions as a guide when speaking with a home insurance agent, broker or company.

  1. What does this home insurance policy cover and to what extent?
  2. What does this home insurance policy exclude? Can you give me an example of when an exclusion would happen?
  3. I have the following valuables: [list off items you consider valuable]. Does this home insurance policy cover these valuables? If not, how much would it be to get an endorsement for the valuables? Do I need to get appraisals done for these valuables when they’re insured?
  4. I have a locker/storage unit/shed/garage. Is it covered under this policy?
  5. What liability does this home insurance policy cover?
  6. How much are the deductibles in this home insurance policy?
  7. Does this home insurance policy cover replacement cost or actual cash value?
  8. Do I qualify for any premium discounts?
  9. Are there any discounts you offer for making my home more disaster resistant?
  10. If I combine my home and auto insurance, is there a discount?
  11. Are the premiums paid monthly or annually?
  12. When does the policy coverage begin? For how long?
  13. If I need to make a claim, how do I do this?
  14. I’ve heard floods are on the rise. Does this home insurance policy cover floods, also known as overland water?
  15. Am I covered for sewer backup? If so, to what amount?
  16. Do you have any tools or resources such as a home inventory document that can assist me in making better decisions and protecting my home?
  17. Do I live in an area that is more prone to risks? Is there anything I can do to protect my home against these risks?

What to do if you have a complaint

If you have a question or complaint about a service or product that you purchased, you should speak with your insurance agent, broker or the insurance company first and see if they can resolve the issue. 
If you want to file a complaint about an insurance company or agent, you can follow the three steps on FSCO’s website: How to Resolve a Complaint about Insurance. Keep in mind the following when asking FSCO for assistance:

  1. FSCO reviews complaints for non-compliance with the Insurance Act and its regulations. FSCO cannot adjudicate claims, review contractual disputes or impose a settlement. We also cannot assist in obtaining compensation.
  2. FSCO does not deal with concerns regarding claims, interpretation of policy coverage and policy processing and handling. For these concerns, please contact the General Insurance OmbudService (GIO). GIO is an independent organization who assists consumers in resolving concerns or disputes with their home, auto or business insurers. They may be reached at 1-877-225-0446 or through their website at www.giocanada.org .
  3. FSCO cannot review consumer concerns regarding insurance premiums. Like many insurance products, property insurance is sold in a highly competitive environment. Each insurance company has its own unique set of underwriting guidelines which outline the risks it will insure and will not insure. As a result, the premiums companies charge and the coverages provided will vary from company to company. If there has been a change in risk, or if a risk has had a number of claims within a certain period of time, an insurer may use discretion when deciding whether to renew or cancel a policy, and what the premium would be.

If you have a complaint against an insurance broker, visit RIBO’s website  to learn more about their complaint process, or contact a complaint officer at 416-365-1900.