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What do I do after a traffic accident?

What do I do when I’ve been in a car accident?

If you’ve ever been in an accident you know it can be a stressful and confusing situation. When you’ve made sure each person is safe from harm and that immediate injuries have been addressed you might not be sure what to do next. Do you call the police? Do you report the accident to your insurance provider? It might not be immediately clear what you should do. However, the Ministry of Transportation and the Ontario Automobile Policy require that certain steps be followed after an accident.

owen sound car accident

Accident in downtown Owen Sound. Photo courtesy of Cory Laycock, Bayshore Broadcasting.

Do I have to report the accident to the police?

In the following cases you are required to report your accident to the police:

  • If anyone sustains an injury or if there is a fatality.
  • If there is more than one vehicle involved.
  • If you damage private or public property.
  • If the damage to your vehicle is $1000 or more.

The penalty for failing to report an accident to the police is a fine of $300-$1000, 3 demerit points, and a possible jail term and license suspension.

You are required to provide your name, address, license number, license plate number, insurance information, and the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle to the police as well as any other person involved in the accident. You are also entitled to request this information from the other driver.

Do I have to inform my insurance broker?

All accidents are to be reported to your insurance provider.

When do I call my insurance broker?

As soon as possible!

Who decides whether my vehicle will be repaired or replaced?

Your insurance provider determines whether your vehicle will be repaired or replace. They make this decision by calculating your vehicle’s value and the estimated cost of repairs. If the cost to repair you vehicle is higher than its value your vehicle will be replaced. If you have questions about this process, speak with your broker. He or she can answer your questions about how this decision is made.

boat safety

Be a smarter boater, be a safer boater

Spring has sprung! Well, almost. Despite this inconsistent weather, the fleeting moments of warm weather and sunshine have us looking forward to a long summer. One of our favourite ways to spend a hot summer day is to get out on the water with family and friends. The best way to enjoy a day on the water is with the peace of mind that you are prepared.

If you plan to operate a power-driven boat this season you must have proof of competency. Your proof of competency shows that you know and understand the rules of the water and how to boat safely. The most common form is the Pleasure Craft Operator card which can be obtained by taking a safety course and passing a test, and the card is good for life.

With your Pleasure Craft Operator card in hand, you are almost ready to cast off. Don’t forget the following:

Things you must keep on your boat

  1. Your proof of competency; it’s your license to operate a motor boat.
  2. Life jackets for each occupant. Remember that an effective life jacket fits properly, and is properly fastened at all times you’re on the water.
  3. A buoyant heaving line at least 15 metres long.
  4. Water-tight flashlights or approved flares.
  5. A sound signaling device.
  6. A manual propelling device such as a paddle.
  7. A bailer or manual water pump.
  8. A Class 5 BC fire extinguisher.

Things you should keep on your boat

  • A marine first aid kit.
  • Drinking water and snacks.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Dry clothing.
  • Waterproof matches.
  • A knife.

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Carbon Monoxide is a toxic gas; be sure your detectors are functioning properly

Why do I need a Carbon Monoxide detector?

Carbon Monoxide is an colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas which is toxic when inhaled in high concentrations. It is produced by burning gasoline, propane, natural gas, wood, or other fuels. If there is any blockage which does not allow for Carbon Monoxide to be vented from your home you can be exposed to high levels of this deadly gas.

Commercial Account Manager Tara McMillan found her home filling with Carbon Monoxide last month. She and her family are safe thanks to her Carbon Monoxide detector, and she wanted to share her story and experience with you with the hope it will help keep you safe in the future!

Tara’s story

owen sound commercial insurance broker

Tara: For anyone that does not have Carbon Monoxide detectors or hasn’t replaced them in a while, I want to personally remind you and share my experience.

Tara: I have a woodstove which we use during cold weather in my basement. I have a Carbon Monoxide detector right near the unit, one outside my bedrooms on the main level and a third near a gas heating stove in my living room also on the main level. I woke up on Sunday morning to loud beeping. After a couple of minutes playing with the smoke detectors I realized the beeping was coming from the Carbon Monoxide detector which normally reads “0” but was flashing at 44 and rising. After calling the fire department and expecting to hear that it was a faulty unit as it was the only one going off, it turns out that in fact my house was filling with Carbon Monoxide. The cause was determined to be a back-draft from the woodstove which had not been used in a couple of days due to the warm weather.

How do I protect myself and my family?

Ontario legislation dictates that if your home contains a fuel-burning appliance or attached garage you must have a detector outside each sleeping area. If your appliance is in a service room there must also be a detector in that service room.

Tara: Had I not had the Carbon Monoxide detector I’m not sure how long it would have taken to cause further problems than just the severe headaches and nausea that I have been having.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning can cause a range of symptoms from headache and nausea with just light exposure to unconsciousness and death within just a few breaths of high concentrations of the gas. If you are feeling inexplicably ill, check the reading on your Carbon Monoxide detectors and be sure they are functioning properly.

Tara: What’s scary is the detector right beside the woodstove did not trigger.

Carbon Monoxide and smoke detectors should be replaced, according to South Bruce Fire Department, every 5 years and tested monthly. Detector batteries should be changed every 6 months.

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prevent fraud

Fraud is no joke: 5 tips to prevent becoming a victim

March was Fraud Prevention Month, and all month long we were posting tips to Facebook and Twitter to help keep you safe from fraudsters and scammers. Now it’s time to recap! These 5 tips will help you recognize the signs of fraud and give you the steps to keep yourself safe from becoming a victim.

1. Know your insurer!

Do you know your broker’s name? Do you know your broker’s face? Is he or she someone you can trust?

Your broker is responsible to keep you apprised of any and all changes to your home and car insurance: the stuff that keeps you and your family protected when you need it. Be sure your insurer is someone you can trust, someone who is available by phone, by email, and in person. Be sure he or she is someone who will communicate with you in a way which makes you feel comfortable that you are covered.

https internet security2. Keep your pins to yourself!

This goes for your passwords too. While complex passwords are your best bet to keep your private information safe from fraudsters and scammers, be sure you can remember them. Never write them down and be careful while entering them into an ATM, debit machine, or computer. Never give out personal information online (even if it’s to a trusted website) if the address does not begin with https://. Be aware that your insurer, bank, or other financial service will never ask for personal information or passwords by email.

3. Be thorough!

If you’ve ever been in an accident you know it can be a stressful situation to be in. It is easy to forget details and it can be incredibly difficult to remember important information just days later. This is why it is important to record everything including details which seem insignificant at the time. Police will attend the scene of an accident if there are two or more vehicles involved. Use this to your advantage. Alert the authorities of any accident immediately. Reporting your accident and getting the police involved will help protect you from insurance fraud.

4. Communicate!

Do you suspect someone has committed insurance fraud? Report it! You can report insurance crime to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. You can report other suspicious behavior to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

5. Sleep on it!

Trust your instincts. If you’re feeling pressured into a deal take some time to reflect on the circumstances and your choices. A good insurance broker has your best interests in mind and will provide you with all the necessary information and time to make the best decision for you. Never feel afraid to walk away from a deal if someone is making you feel uncomfortable.

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online scams

5 signs of an online scam

This afternoon I received a concerning direct message on Twitter: “FYI this profile on twitter [link] is spreading nasty blogs around about you”. In a panic I clicked the link. What popped up was strange. The page, which looked an awful lot like Twitter, stated that for security purposes I had been logged out and needed to provide my password to log back in. That seemed strange, so I took a quick look at the address bar and noticed that all the letters were there but they were all out of order; instead of “twitter.com” I read “itwtier.com”. What is that? That is called a scam.

twitter scam

What is an online scam and why should I care?

An online scam can take place by email, on Facebook, on Twitter– anywhere! Their purpose can range anywhere from spamming your friends, tricking you into sending money, or to extract sensitive information such as the password to your online banking account. Online scams can be as invasive and damaging as having your home broken into, so it is important to know and recognize the signs so that you can protect yourself.

How do I protect myself?

When you know the warning signs it is easy to protect yourself from online scams. Here are 5 basic signs of an online scam which will help you protect yourself:

1. I don’t know this person!

Trust is something that is earned. You wouldn’t trust just anyone on the street with your newborn and you should approach online communication with the same care as you do choosing a babysitter for your little bundle of joy. Never share personal information with someone whom you do not trust.

But, as you can see above, online scams are not limited to people whom you do not know. Be aware when a family member, friend, or coworker is behaving out-of-character, is asking you for money online, or sending you suspicious links. This might be a sign that his or her email or social networking account may have been compromised.

2. They’re asking me for money.

Never send money online and be wary of family or friends who send requests for money. For example, a common online scam involves one’s email account being used to send out emails to his or her contact list stating something like the following: “I’m in London, England, and have been mugged. I’ve lost my passport and I need $$$$ to get home.”

3. They’re asking me for personal information.

Your insurer, your bank, or any other legitimate business will never ask for personal information by email. If you receive an email from your bank or other institution requesting personal information contact them immediately by phone or in person to report the communication.

internet security4. This link looks “funny”.

If you’ve been sent a link by anyone you don’t trust or a link which you do not know to be trust worthy, do not click it! Do not share personal information with a website you do not trust. Check the address bar: does it say http:// or https://? Never share personal information of any kind with a website if the address does not begin with https://!

5. Something just seems suspicious!

Intuition is a powerful tool! If you feel there is something suspicious about someone or something’s behaviour you are probably correct.

What do I do if I’ve been the target of a scam?

Remember that legitimate people, companies, and brands are available by more methods of communication than just an email account. If you have a question about anything you’ve seen online contact the company directly. It is important for people and companies to know if, when, and how they are being impersonated.

Should I be concerned about water damage to my commercial property?

Winter is here, and it has brought the snow with it! There are a lot of benefits to snow like snowshoeing, skiing, and snow days! But the one thing snow guarantees each year is that it will melt, which can cause serious water damage to your property.

What are the signs of water damage?

  • sewage odour
  • wet areas on the property
  • slow fixture drains
  • gurgling drain noises

What can I do to prevent water damage?

  • Clean your eaves troughs.
  • Be aware of moisture levels around your building.
  • Know your water bill. Unexpected increases in your water bill may indicate a problem.
  • Hire insured contractors to remove snow and ice from your roof on a regular basis to prevent damage or collapse.
  • Have your sump pump system checked, tested, and cleaned each spring.
  • Fill out a monthly inspection checklist to keep track of any developing problems and any maintenance performed. Click here to download the checklist.
  • Click here to get more details regarding water damage and how to protect yourself and your property.

the dominion of canada,

What is wedding insurance?

Wedding Photography by Sophia LemonYour wedding is a carefully planned and intimate affair. You spend a not-so-small fortune and put your blood, sweat, and tears (literally) into every detail. After all this is a day you’ll remember for the rest of your life; this is a day you will relive with your children and grandchildren. It will be a perfect day! But what if your photographer is a no-show? What if your dress rips? What if a close family member falls ill and the wedding must be postponed?

Each of these scenarios and more can ruin your wedding and leave you with a significant financial burden that is seemingly impossible to navigate. This is why wedding insurance is necessary. Should your photographer be unable to deliver your album for whatever reason, we’ll have you covered for the cost to retake your photos. Should you, in a wedding-induced frenzie, put a heel through your dress while trying it on the week before your wedding, we’ll have you covered for the cost. Should your father contract a severe case of adult chicken pox, we’ll have you covered for those non-refundable deposits.

What does wedding insurance cover?

  • Commercial General Liability including Host Liquor Liability for three 24 hour periods including the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception and gift opening.
  • Wedding cancellation: Reimbursement of deposits paid or contracted to be paid because of the unexpected cancellation of the wedding.
  • Wedding photos and video: Payment of the extra expenses necessary to retake the photos if they cannot be reproduced for any reason including non-appearance of the photographer.
  • Bridal attire: Coverage for physical loss or damage to the bridal attire once the property is in the care of the Insured.
  • Wedding presents: Insurance for direct physical loss or damage to wedding presents.
  • Honeymoon cancellation: Reimbursement of pre-paid, non-refundable cost of travel due to the cancellation of the actual wedding.
  • Loss deposit: Reimbursement of non-refundable deposits made to providers of any booked goods or services if they suffer financial failure.
  • World-wide coverage.

How do I get wedding insurance?

The cost of wedding insurance is minimal, and considering the literal and emotional value of your special day provides considerable piece of mind! To learn more about wedding coverage, and to prepare for your wedding contact us. We’ll give you all the details and put your mind at ease for your special day.

Drive Sober! And have a Happy New Year

 

2013 is just around the corner. With it comes all the fun of TV countdowns, great music, an overwhelming amount of food, and a great night with friends. If you’re not careful, however, all the fun could be lost in the back of a police car, in a jail cell, in an ambulance, or worse.

What is Impaired Driving?

Impaired Driving is driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. These intoxicants affect one’s ability to concentrate and react to driving conditions. And with thousands of pounds of vehicle behind him or her, an impaired driver is a dangerous driver.

Impaired Driving is a serious criminal offence. In fact one can be charged with Impaired Driving by simply sitting in the driver’s seat, even if the vehicle is not moving. These charges carry hefty fines, license suspensions, and jail time.

  • The minimum monetary penalty for driving with a BAC (blood-alcohol level) between 0.05% and 0.08% is $150. The minimum fine for driving with a 0.08% BAC or higher is more than $1000.
  • Drivers convicted of Impaired Driving must enter an Alcohol Education Program and Alcohol Treatment Program.
  • Ignition Interlock devices (breathalyzers) are mandatory for a minimum of 1 year for first-time offenders. Ignition Interlock devices are mandatory for third-time offenders for the remainder of their driving lives.
  • There is a minimum 120 day jail sentence for third-time offenders.
  • First-time offenders will have their license suspended for one year. Third-time offenders may have their license suspended for the remainder of their lifetime.

How do I protect myself from an Impaired Driving charge?

Protect yourself, your friends and family, and your fellow drivers on the road this New Year. Drive sober! And have a Happy New Year!

Why should I complete a home inventory form?

Imagine: You’ve spent a lifetime building a happy and healthy home. You’ve filled it with family, friends, laughter, and memories. But one day you get a call saying your home is on fire, or you come home to messy remains of a break in, and all those things which reminded you every day of how lucky you are were gone. No one can imagine the devastation of losing one’s home and possessions.

Unfortunately we can never predict a loss and should you fall victim to a fire, theft, or other event, it can be incredibly difficult to remember all of your possessions and their approximate values. You shouldn’t need the added stress of trying to remember every little detail of your home, but instead should be focusing on picking up the pieces and healing. This is why it is important to create and maintain a home inventory form. Your form documents all the possessions in your home and their replacement value for the event of this very scenario, which you can provide your insurer.

What is the list and how do I make one?

The list is a document which outlines everything in your home with a brief description of each item including its value. This takes a huge step out of filing a claim. We have created a handy form which you can download and print as many times as you need.

What should I include in my list?

Everything! Go through each room in your home and record each possession. Don’t skip closets, cabinets and drawers, sheds, your garage, or your attic. If you are able, use a camera or video camera to record each room.

I’ve completed the form. What now?

  • Put it in a safe place like a safety deposit box. Do not keep it in your home! Should your home and possessions be lost in a fire, for example, your form will also be lost.
  • Make copies of important documents like the deed to your home, birth certificates and passports, car ownership, insurance documents, bank account and credit card numbers, and tax returns for at least the past 5 years. Keep these copies with your form in your safety deposit box.
  • Don’t just make the list and never think of it again. Review and edit it accordingly each year.

What else should I know?

Your standard home insurance policy will cover the value of your possessions for up to 70-80% of the value of your home. As you fill out your form and calculate the value of your possessions be aware of the value of your home. If your possessions exceed 70-80% of the value of your home it may be a good time to donate the excess or have a yard sale. Speak with your broker to be absolutely sure of your coverage and for more advice regarding how to protect yourself in the event of a loss.

5 tips to take the stress out of winter driving

October was car safety month, and over the past 31 days we’ve been sharing tips on Facebook and Twitter to help you prepare for the stressful winter driving season. Now it’s time to review! No, there will not be a test, but consider a safe winter your A+.

5 Tips to stay safe

  1. Use snow tires. Four of them. And check the pressure at least once a month. As the outside temperature drops your tire pressure will as well, and you won’t get very far on flat tires. Also be sure the tread is more than sufficient to get you through the winter. Worn out snow tires will do you no good.
  2. Check your windshield regularly for dings and cracks. Cold temperatures can turn that small crack into a serious problem, and let’s face the fact that you can’t drive without a windshield let alone without a windshield in winter!
  3. Before every trip be sure you have enough gas. No one will be willing to walk for gas in sub-zero temperatures, so this is an important one if you’d like to reach your destination before April. Keeping your tank half full also keeps it happy and healthy.
  4. Have a flashlight, first aid kit, thermal blanket, and road map.  In the event you are stranded or lost these things can keep you warm and on-track. And remember: your smartphone is not a map that does you any good with a dead battery.
  5. Check the weather. If you don’t need to drive, don’t! This is the most important and easiest tip to follow. Besides, there is more warmth by the fire and hot chocolate indoors than there are on the roads.

How else can I prepare?

If you don’t have one already, we recommend a survival kit to compliment the essentials listed in tip #4. The Insurance Bureau of Canada has a great list of items to include in your kit such as a folding shovel, cat litter, a tow chain, a compass (for your map, not your smartphone), flares, emergency food, booster cables, an ice scraper, extra windshield-wiper fluid, and antifreeze.

Remember that winter weather can be inconsistent and unexpected. Your best bet to stay safe is to stay home. If you absolutely have to drive, however, we hope these tips keep you safe on the roads this winter.