The government is promising cuts, but can they deliver?

There has been no shortage of chatter and speculation surrounding the proposed cuts to insurance premiums being promised by the current Ontario government. And while we could all use a break in the pocketbook, the essential question on everyone’s mind is simply this: Can they deliver on these proposed cuts? If so, how?

photo credit: Alejandro Mallea

Will we really see a full 15 percent cut?

At the 2014 National Insurance Board of Canada Conference (held September 21, 2014 in Ottawa, Ontario), at the session entitled “Taking the Pulse: Where are we at with auto insurance”, panelists discussed and debated whether or not the proposed 15% decrease in auto insurance premiums was truly realistic.

General consensus among panelists was that the proposed 15% decrease in auto insurance premiums would be great for consumers, and would certainly allow the current government to make good on a key part of their proposed insurance reforms, there is simply not enough room to make it happen.

In an article posted on Canadianunderwriter.ca, Barbara Sulzenko-Laurie, Vice-President of Policy Development for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, is quoted as saying:

“… in our conversations with the superintendent of insurance, he’s indicated to us that no one in FSCO believes that there’s 15% that’s in the system (to be reduced).”

For more details on this story, please click through to read the full article. If you would like to discuss how these proposed changes may impact your policy, please call or email us at insurance@roughleyinsurance.com.

Gone Phishing?

There has been a lot of awareness generated about fraudulent activities that target seniors, usually with
telephone calls, to get them to give up personal and banking account information. In a digital age, however, anyone who spends time online is a target for ‘phishers’.

Phishing is a form of fraucyber-crime-500d that is actioned online, where the fraudster(s) pose as legitimate companies in order to access financial information. Phishing is typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter personal details – account numbers, login details, passwords – at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one. (Wikipedia)

Personal attacks are most common, but more and more businesses are now being targeted:

Businesses aren’t being attacked by computers, but by people attempting to exploit human frailty as much as technical vulnerability. It is a strategy problem, a human problem and a process problem,’’ said Steven Henderson, who leads PwC’s Canadian forensic services.

Cyber-crime is on the rise, and all industries are struggling to defend themselves. In a recent study published by PwC, one in three Canadian business admit to being the victim of economic fraud of varying degrees.

Just like telemarketers phishers are virtually impossible to stop. So what should you do if you suspect that you are being ‘phished’? On the personal side, Gord Jamieson, head of risk services at Visa Canada states that “emails shouldn’t be opened, [and] they shouldn’t be deleted until after they’re forwarded to law enforcement, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at info@antifraudcentre.ca.”

For businesses, the challenges to overcome phishing and cyber-crime are significantly increased due to the number of vulnerabilities – be it the people using technology or the software and online platforms themselves – within their systems and the fact that we have become so dependent upon technology for the daily execution of business. Tightening online security in the workplace, including adding additional layers of anti-virus and/or anti-phishing software and enforcing strict controls over internet access, is really the only option.

For more data on the impact of phishing on Canadians, please click here to read an article posted on www.globalnews.ca.

The (deadly) risks of taking your eyes off the road

DistractedDrivingWe all know that we shouldn’t do it, but at one point or another most of us are guilty of using our cellphones while driving. Although there is a complete, legal ban on the use of cellphones while operating a motor vehicle in Ontario, the threat of a fine does not appear to be enough to discourage drivers – in Ontario and across the nation – from engaging in this risky behaviour.

In her recent Globe and Mail article, Jessica Leeder reports that “distraction – caused by texting, smartphones and other forces that draw drivers’ attention off the road – is eclipsing impaired driving as the leading cause of crashes and fatalities in many jurisdictions across Canada and the United States.”

 “With the proliferation of technology, it’s hard to say what … this is going to lead to,” said Nova Scotia RCMP Constable Mark Skinner. “We know it’s a problem already. Will the problem continue to get worse?”

Although drivers of all ages are guilty of engaging in this behaviour, teens are reportedly the highest risk group. A 2013 study commissioned by the Ford Motor Co. of Canada reported the following alarming statistics:

  • 93 per cent of teens admitted to distracted driving;
  • 72 per cent admitted to using hand-held technology, such as texting, while behind the wheel; and,
  • 37 per cent admitted to e-mailing while their vehicle was in motion

To read the entire Globe and Mail article, please click here.

Insurance Industry News

Toronto-area drivers say they would try pay-as-you-drive insurance

~ Posted on canadianunderwriter.ca/news on 2012-04-23

Two-thirds of drivers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) say they would likely try pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) insurance if it were available, notes a study by the Pembina Institute, a non-profit think tank that promotes sustainable energy solutions.

The institute’s study offers policy options on how to avoid traffic congestion in the GTA, canvassing the opinions of 1,001 area drivers whose one-way commutes to Toronto took more than half an hour.

Of the approximately 66% of respondents who were open to trying PAYD insurance, 85% indicated they would change commuting habits to find another way to The min & max bet remain the same as the table limits and please keep in mind that you have no way of actually interacting with the chosen blackjack player and you will not be able to tell them how to play their hand. get to work if they had the insurance.

The Pembina Institute report suggests examining “a pilot project for PAYD insurance, ensuring that it is at minimum revenue neutral, but provides strong incentives for drivers to leave the car at home in favour of other cost-effective options.”

PAYD insurance is not currently available in Canada, although Aviva Canada offered a pilot program in Ontario from 2005 to 2010. The Pembina report notes 6,000 Ontarians participated in Aviva’s program, with an average premium savings of 19%.

In the United States, Progressive Insurance offers optional PAYD insurance in 39 states, with an average savings for customers of 10 % to 15%.

The insurance option is most likely to be popular among people who drive less than 10,000 km per year, the report states.

“For insurance companies to offer the program, it needs to have public support — which has been demonstrated by the [Insurance Bureau of Canada] poll as well as by this survey,” the institute reports. It also must be cost-effective and operational at a large scale.

“As the tracking devices can be expensive, the province could implement legislation to reward participating companies, such as tax credits that would be phased out once a specific number of vehicles are covered by PAYD insurance.”

Claims costs for Ontario auto insurers "still out of control": IBC

This article was originally posted here at Canadian Underwriters online on May 28, 2012.

Claims costs for Ontario auto insurers remain high despite the gains realized as a result of the provincial reforms in 2010, notes the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) submission to the Ontario Committee Hearings on Auto Insurance on May 28.

“While the September 2010 reforms were a needed first step in reducing the pressure on no fault injury costs, claims costs are still out of control,” IBC’s vice president for Ontario Ralph Palumbo told the hearings.

The Standing Committee on General Government passed a motion Apr. 16 to strike the select committee, which is holding public hearings to propose recommendations to the minority government.

Palumbo listed four reasons why claims costs remain high, namely mediation backlogs, an increase in catastrophic injury claims, an increase in bodily injury costs and the persistence of auto insurance fraud.

“First, there is an excess of 30,000 unresolved claims cases awaiting dispute resolution at [Financial Services Commission of Ontario, FSCO] and these have undetermined costs,” Palumbo said. “Depending on how these cases are decided, it could re-ignite the accident benefits costs spiral.

“I cannot stress strongly enough how this backlog is a major risk to insurance premium stability. Claimants don’t know what their benefits will be and insurers don’t know how much their claims are going to cost.”

Second, Palumbo said, the number of catastrophic injury claims is rising faster than other claims. Between 2004 and 2010, the number of no-fault injury claims rose 28%, while the count for large claims has more than doubled.

Hospitalizations from motor vehicle accidents are down 12% and yet auto insurers are being presented with many more catastrophic injury claims, Palumbo said. “This is a mystery.”

Third, bodily injury (BI) claims costs on the tort side are increasing rapidly. Palumbo said latest available figures show that the frequency of these claims has been rising, as has the average claims cost. BI claims represent more than $2 billion in annual costs.

“It is very concerning that the volume and average cost of these types of claims appear to be rising so rapidly, Palumbo said. “BI is on the same track accident benefits were before the 2010 reforms and more needs to be done to assess the causes and what can be done to alter this concerning trend.”

Finally, fraud persists in the Ontario auto insurance system.

“Many [insurers] are currently in the process of preparing responses to a FSCO [Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule] questionnaire about their internal practices to address fraudulent and abusive claims,” Palumbo said. “Companies have taken significant steps to enhance their claims management process — for some companies this has meant wholesale restructuring of their claims departments. As well, consumers are becoming more educated.

“We want to continue this momentum because society as a whole will benefit from fighting this crime.”

 

Ontario Anti-Fraud Task Force Interim Report

The steering committee of the  Ontario Auto Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force has asked its working groups to consider the licensing and regulation of health-care clinics, plug current gaps in regulation (such as the introduction of a regulatory regime for tow truck drivers, for example) and the establishment of a dedicated fraud investigation unit.

In addition, the working groups have been asked to develop a consumer engagement and education strategy so people will be aware of the claims system and thus not susceptible to misinformation provided by fraudsters.

Finally, the working groups will consider the development of a single Web portal for Ontario auto insurance claimants. The portal would be a source of consumer information and education on matters such as approved protocols for treatments on specific auto related injuries.

These and other recommendations are part of an extensive report issued by The Ontario Auto Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force, which the Ontario government established in July 2011 to determine the scope and nature of automobile insurance fraud and make recommendations about Mensen kunnen dan gewone online casinospellen spelen, maar dan met live dealers. ways to reduce it. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) issued a press release saying it was “pleased” with the interim report.

“To have a real impact on Ontario”s efforts to eliminate insurance fraud, we need to address the underlying factors that contribute to the problem,” said Ralph Palumbo, IBC”s vice president of Ontario. “The Task Force has accurately identified those factors, as well as other issues that require further examination.”

In addition to endorsing the recommendations in the Task Force report, IBC is advocating for the imposition of tougher criminal and civil penalties for identity fraud and theft.

The recommendations in the task force will go now go to three separate working groups for further review. The Task Force established a working group to look at each one of the following topic areas related to auto insurance fraud:

  • prevention, detection, investigation and enforcement;
  • regulatory practices in the automobile insurance system; and
  • consumer engagement and education.

The steering committee overseeing the work of the Task Force and its three working groups will issue a final report due by Fall 2012.

The full interim report can be viewed at:  http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/autoinsurance/interim-report.html