We’ve been hearing a lot about this topic in the news over the last couple of weeks, and is of great interest for those of us in Ontario who drive south in the winter, especially for March Break!
Florida has passed a law requiring all out-of-country drivers to have an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). Failure to do so could result in fines and/or other charges. It’s not clear what the intention of this legislation was, and if it was to ensure that tourists from overseas were confirmed to be properly licenced. Those of us who have handled auto claims know that it can be quite arduous to confirm licence details from drivers from overseas, further hindered by communication and language barriers. In all likelihood, this law stemmed from such issues, and not because of us, their cousins north of the border.
In Ontario, anyone staying in the province for less than 3 months does not need an IDP. These drivers only need a valid licence from their home province or country, and need to be at least 16 years old. After 3 months, an IDP is needed. More information can be found here on the government’s website.
What are the implications of failing to get your IDP for your Florida vacation? One is that your insurance company might not cover you if you are in an accident. This can have dire consequences for large repair and medical bills. As per CAA (the only place in Canada where you can get an IDP) this new law is not being enforced for Canadian drivers, pending further review of the law. However, strictly speaking, if you do not have a valid licence, your insurer can deny coverage. So, what now?
You’ll likely want to err on the side of caution, and join the lineups at CAA to get your International Driver’s Permit. It’s a quick process, the cost is $25, and you must be at least 18. Don’t worry! It’s just a translation of your information. You don’t have to write a test.
We are thrilled to learn that our president, Jim Cameron, was nominated for the Fellow of Distinction Award, and has been selected as this years’ recipient!
Jim has been actively involved in the insurance industry throughout his over 30 year career, and is highly sought for his expertise, passion and philanthropy. Jim is a past president of the Ontario Insurance Adjuster’s Association, has facilitated several CIP and other courses for the Insurance Institute, and is an active member of the Huntington Society of Canada. Jim was recently awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work fundraising and creating awareness for the Huntington Society.
Please join us in congratulating Jim! We’re very proud to have him as our boss.
What are some common situations for subrogation in winter? There are a few!
With the temperature fluctuating, our streets become riddled with potholes. Driving over these can often cause significant damage to vehicles. Who is responsible for maintaining roads? It’s likely the city or municipality. It is important to send notice to the city or municipality immediately after the damage occurs. This is important for two reasons. One is that the city will attempt to repair the pot hole, preventing further damage. The other reason is that the notification for most cities is needed within 7-15 days if there’s any chance of subrogation recovery. It is important to follow up on these notices, and to thoroughly document loss details.
2. Snow Plows
Most often, when vehicles are parked on the side of a road, and a plow goes by after a heavy snow, there is a chance for damage to the parked vehicle. Snow plows long gone though, right? Maybe not. Ensure that photos and a cause of the damage to the vehicle are documented as soon as possible. If the damage is consistent with being hit by a plow, there is a chance of recovery. Find out what time the damage occurred, if there were any other vehicles damaged, and who was responsible for the snow removal. Not always easy, but worth a shot!
3. Snow Birds
Lucky folks will get out of the snow for winter, and head south to the U.S. Almost all states are tort for recovery. This means that you go to the at-fault party for recovery of damage. If one vehicle does not have collision coverage, that driver has to go directly to the other insurance company for their damage. It’s important to ensure adequate reserving for these losses, as the at-fault company has an exposure to third party property damage, as well as injury claims.
The important keys for pursuing subrogation successfully is to recognize the opportunities early, and to get complete details of the loss, and documentation to support damage and payments. Attempting recovery too late often leads to failure.
Jim Cameron, President of Cameron & Associates, after being presented with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal
Jim and Sharon Cameron are actively involved with The Huntington Society of Canada. It is a cause very near and dear to their hearts, having family members with the disease.
On November 9th and 10th, The Huntington Society of Canada held their annual conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in Toronto. Jim and Sharon Cameron attended along with about 350 people from across the country. After a rousing introduction by the Young People affected by Huntington Disease, YPAHD, the conference kicked into high gear.
Renowned scientists Jeffrey Carroll, PhD, an Assistant Professor of neuroscience in the Department of Psychology at Western Washington University and Ed Wild, MRCP, PhD, Clinical Lecturer in Neurology at UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square and graduate of Cambridge University in London, presented 3 different times on various facets of the latest experiments attempting to attain a treatment for HD. A multi-prong approach to attacking the disease targets:
cell protein and DNA alterations
deep brain stimulation by electrodes and others
Huntington’s disease is the incurable disease that scientists know the most about. Unlike Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, and ALS, scientists know the cause of HD. This is a tremendous advantage to research towards developing treatment and ultimately a cure.
The movie “Do you really want Know?”, directed by Academy Award Winning Director John Zarisky, was presented at the conference. The Canadian film, supported by TVO and Canada, amongst others, chronicles the discovery of the disease in 3 families and their differing approaches to testing among siblings and children. Dr. John Roder, whose story you can view by clicking on this link, attended the conference with his wife Mary Lou and has significant HD symptoms, was shown continuing to try to live a normal life, working as a researcher in cancer and schizophrenia at Toronto General Hospital. Dr. Jeff Carroll, who has been diagnosed along with 3 of his 5 siblings, was also featured. After learning that he carried the genetic mutation for HD, he changed career paths to become a neurologist, studying under Dr. Michael Hayden at UBC. He is now a world leader in research and along with Dr. Ed Wild edits HD Buzz which is available to the global community in 67 languages and presents easy to read research findings and papers by leaders in the HD scientific community. Dr. Carroll has twins who were the first infants born after pre-implementation genetic diagnosis, their embroyo screened for the mutation, and implanted to ensure the children cannot get HD.
There were a number of helpful seminars on how to better communicate with HD patients at various stages and assist caregivers. The active participation by young people in the YPAHD throughout is an encouraging sign that the tireless work by the many volunteers will continue and flourish into the future. The world wide HD community is organizing to record a data base to assist researchers to select participants in drug and therapy clinical trials, which will be starting soon.
On Friday night, many attendees joined friends of the cause at the Hockey Hall of Fame cocktail reception, with its many interactive exhibits thrilling young and old. Saturday dinner featured an Awards ceremony where years of service awards were given to caregivers and social workers, and special awards for individuals whose efforts contributed greatly to the cause. 38 Queens’ Diamond Jubilee Medals were also presented at the conference. The awards by the Queen through the Governor General of Canada are presented to 60,000 Canadians who have made a significant contribution to a particular province, territory, region or community within Canada. Our own Jim Cameron was thrilled to be one of the recipient’s of this medal, in recognition of his fund-raising efforts for the Huntington Society of Canada. We’re all very proud!
The conference closed with one slide: Drugs are on the way.
The conference was a tremendous success and provided inspiration and hope for all who attended for an eventual world without Huntington’s.
We’re pleased to present a new Guest Blogger! We came across Gifford Associates’ blog recently & love what they’re saying. We invited Tammy to blog for us, and are thrilled to feature her first entry.
Tammy Elizabeth Southin, BA (Hons) combines her solid insurance experience and extensive communication skills as an independent Social Media Consultant, with a particular interest in connecting the insurance industry in cyberspace. She provides top-level marketing and branding awareness services as the Social Media Marketing Director for Gifford Associates Insurance Brokers in Ottawa. Her work in this role earned Gifford Associates a special mention as a social media example for insurance brokers at the 2012 IBAO Annual Convention.
5 WAYS TO SAVE ON INSURANCE COSTS
Car insurance does not have to cost you a wheel and a hubcap; there are ways to help lower your premiums and still maintain sufficient car insurance coverage for you and your family.
Protect your car from theft
Does your vehicle come have an anti-theft device? Models having factory-installed devices are usually included in a company’s premium calculations. If you have an alarm system installed after purchase, you may qualify for an anti-theft discount. Note however that steering locking devices like the Club generally do not qualify.
Are you an older driver?
Experience pays off. If you are an older driver with a good driving record, your carrier may offer an age discount. As well, there are several insurance providers catering exclusively to drivers fifty and older.
Young drivers and driver’s education
Young drivers and high rates go together, but taking driver’s education can payoff in discounts for new drivers. Some companies also offer discounts for young drivers who are doing well in school, which means more incentive to study. Check for discounts that may apply for young drivers away at university.
Exclude drivers with poor records
Does a driver in your household have a poor driving record because of accidents, numerous traffic tickets or cancelled insurance policies? Consider taking out an endorsement to exclude that person from driving your vehicle. Avoid having to pay higher premiums for the mistakes of others.
Do your homework
Shop around for insurance quotes to see if you are getting the maximum discounts and rewards available. Comparing coverages and costs will help you decide on the right policy for you.
Your car is a necessity and so is having sufficient insurance. There are ways to keep your auto insurance rates down without sacrificing coverage. Talk to your insurance professional and review your policy to discover the many ways you can save money.
We are pleased to introduce Kevin M. Quinley, our guest blogger. He has a great blog on his own site, www.claimscoach.com, and has graciously allowed us to feature him as a guest blogger. Kevin Quinley CPCU, ARM, AIC is the principal of Quinley Risk Associates LLC, a boutique claims consulting firm based in the Richmond, Virginia area. He provides his nationwide clientele with services related to claims training, productivity, litigation support and expert witness services. He is the author of 10 books and over 600 articles on various aspects of insurance, risk management, claims handling and litigation management. You can reach him at or at his website, www.claimscoach.com.
Police Reports: Investigative Linchpin or Adjuster Crutch?
To what extent should an adjuster rely upon a police investigation? Should it substitute for the adjuster’s investigation or part of it? Or, should it simply augment the investigation but not be viewed as a substitute for it?
This issue arose recently in the context of a bad faith claim where I was engaged as an expert witness. The plaintiff/policyholder alleged, among other things, that the insurance carrier failed to conduct an adequate investigation. Part of the argument was that the insurance adjuster relied too much on the police investigation and did not do more in the way of taking a formal statement from the policyholder and interviewing witnesses.
The Police Report reflected the account of the incident (an alleged assault and battery) from the standpoint of the insured and of witnesses. There was no dispute about what happened in the incident itself. The coverage dispute pertained more to the policyholder’s intent and whether his actions triggered the “expected or intended” or the “willful and malicious” policy exclusions.
This raised the issue as to whether adjusters are obliged in every case to go beyond the Police Report or whether, in certain cases, the report can be the cornerstone of an adjuster’s investigation.
As new adjusters, we are often taught — rightly — to NOT view police reports as sacrosanct. Police Reports can contain errors, just as medical reports or even attorney reports can contain errors. Typically, police are not eyewitnesses to an accident or incident. Their reports will capture facts relevant to the breaking of laws and ordinances.
However, in some instances a Police Report might serve as the cornerstone of a claims investigation. This is not to say that the Police Report always constitutes the end-all and be-all of a claim investigation. It is not to say that the Police Report is necessarily the entirety of an adjuster’s investigation. However, there may be situations where there is no need for the adjuster to plow the same investigative ground that the police have tilled if the basic facts of a claim are not in dispute.
Consider a straightforward accident where Car A rear-ends Car B. No one disputes that, and it is reflected in the police report. Is the adjuster still obliged to track down, identify and take statements from all witnesses? At some point, this appears to be overkill.
Unless the adjuster is on notice that the Police Report is in some way erroneous or disputed, and if nobody disputes the basic facts of a straightforward accident, there may be instances where the adjuster can rightly rely on a police investigation for the bulk of the fact-finding without being accused of laziness.
The overarching principle is that adjusters and insurance companies are obliged to conduct reasonable investigations. This is required in many state unfair claim practice statutes. It is also found in the NAIC Model Unfair Claim Practices Act. Of course, “reasonable” is not defined. There is no paint-by-numbers description of what goes into reasonable. The statutes do not delineate the components of a “reasonable” investigation. What is reasonable in terms of investigation must be determined by the particulars of each individual claim.
At one extreme, you have straightforward scenarios where it is undisputed that Car A rear-ended Car B. If the police report reflects that, both drivers agree and there is no evidence to the contrary, then perhaps the police report can serve as the cornerstone of the adjuster’s investigation.
At the other extreme are complex and disputed facts situations. These could include the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico or the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan. Here, official reports might be taken with a grain of salt and should be the starting point, not the endpoint of an insurer’s investigation.
So, where do you stand on the issue? Are there situations where the Police Report can substitute for a big chunk of the adjuster’s investigation, OR is the adjuster obligated to always go back over the features captured in the report?
The presentation was delivered to a group of new to senior risk managers and sparked some great discussions on what to look for in policies and endorsements, and what information is necessary for the insurer’s protection on Certificates of Insurance.
Seminars like this are great to share information and help further everyone’s expertise. Keep an eye out for ORIMS’ next professional development sessions.
We have included links to pdf versions of our presentations for further reference in the links below.
With the new Accident Benefits regulation in effect for 2 years, have these changes had an effect on fraud? Is the amount of fraud reduced or have the culprits gotten better at hiding it? It seems like we’re always two steps behind!
Time will tell, if the amount of fraud is being reduced, especially with the drastic increase in the amount of mediations being scheduled through FSCO. Hopefully, less fraud will equal lower claim payouts AND lower premiums.