The impact of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on Ontario and B.C. property and casualty insurers' reserves in 2009 -- estimated to be $268 million -- is equivalent to that of a large catastrophic loss, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).
Barbara Sulzenko-Laurie, IBC's vice president of policy, noted the effects of the HST in slides she presented at the 2010 Swiss Re Breakfast in Toronto.
Her remarks were part of a wide-ranging discussion on the broader state of the Canadian P&C insurance industry in 2009.
One IBC slide showed a number of projected effects of the HST on Ontario and B.C. insurers between 2010 and 2015.
For example, retail sales tax (RST) on claims and operating costs for Ontario and B.C. insurers in 2010 is projected to total $436 million.
But add an additional $34 million in operating expenses due to the HST, as well as an extra $83 million in claims costs due to the HST, IBC figures show.
Sixteen months after it shelved Bill 40, an act to amend B.C.'s dated Insurance Act, the B.C. legislature is now pressing ahead with insurance reform in Bill 6, the Insurance Amendment Act, 2009, introduced on Sept. 15, 2009.
"The proposed amendments will improve coverage for consumers, ensure better access to documents, and enhance dispute-resolution mechanisms," B.C. Finance Minister Colin Hansen said in a press release. "They are the result of ongoing review and consultation with consumers, insurance companies, insurance brokers and members of the legal community."
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) failed to prove an insured tried to defraud the corporation by faking the theft of his minivan, and B.C.'s provincial court ordered the public insurer to allow the claim.
In Brummitt vs. ICBC, Michael Brummitt filed a claim in June 2005 with ICBC that his 1999 Dodge Caravan was stolen from his driveway. A day or two later, the vehicle was recovered by police; the interior was extensively damaged by a fire that appeared to be deliberately set.
The theft occurred only days before the vehicle's insurance was due for renewal.
ICBC denied liability, alleging Brummitt took the mini-van or arranged with others to simulate a theft.
If a claimant asserts under oath that the vehicle was taken without his or her consent, the claimant does not have to prove that he or she did not participate in the loss, wrote Provincial Court of British Columbia Justice Ross Tweedale.
If the insurer alleges the claimant participated in the theft, that is an allegation of fraud the insurer must prove.
Fraud is a quasi-criminal allegation; accordingly, an insurer must prove fraud on a more stringent standard than simply a balance of probabilities, the judge wrote.
"Despite some aspects of Mr. Brummitt's evidence, his claim that his minivan was stolen is not highly unlikely," Tweedale found. He added that the evidence presented provided a basis for the conclusion that there were a number of ways for the Dodge to have been taken without Brummitt's knowledge.
"ICBC has not proven that Mr. Brummitt tried to defraud the corporation."
A post-remembrance day windstorm has served as a reminder that the British Columbia winter storm season is underway, and residents should be prepared for future severe storms, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) warns.
Roughly 90,000 B.C. Hydro customers were without power on Nov. 12, after the first windstorm of the season first made waves on the night of Nov. 11. The storm strengthened Nov. 12 and knocked down trees and hydro lines in its wake, CBC.ca reports.
At the height of the storm, roughly 196,000 customers were without power, a BC Hydro spokesperson told the CBC.ca. Many major ferry routes were cancelled during the storm.
ICBC representatives are on site in Prince Rupert, B.C. to aid ferry passengers and expedite the handling of all vehicle-related claims related to the sinking of the Queen of the North.
According to the Vancouver Sun, a Canadian Coast Guard vessel remained off B.C.'s north coast, scouring the choppy waters for fear there could yet be a missing passenger from a ferry that hit a rock and sank in the dead of night.
ICBC has been in contact with BC Ferries and has agreed to handle all vehicle-related claims. This will include expedited payments for the loss of the vehicle, as well as coverage for a replacement vehicle if required.
ICBC said in a release that its goal "is to have cheques in the customers' hands as soon as possible - immediately, or certainly within 24 hours."
The Sun reported the Queen of the North, sailing south on a 450-km overnight trip from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy along what's known as B.C.'s Inside Passage, hit the rock in choppy seas and high winds. It took about an hour for the boat to sink, allowing those aboard the ferry to get on the lifeboats and giving rescuers time to reach them.
The orderly rescue of dozens of people from the ferry's lifeboats â€“ 42 crew members and 59 passengers â€“ and the fact that no one was seriously injured is nothing short of miraculous, the president of B.C. Ferries, David Hahn, told the Sun.
The Use of Anti-theft Devices in BC
Auto crime continues to be a major concern for BC drivers. Over the past few years, ICBC has encouraged the use of anti-theft devices to deter theft of vehicles, theft from vehicles, and damage caused by vandalism. Corporate Research has tracked the use of anti-theft devices and has researched driver attitudes towards auto crime.
How Big is the Auto Crime Problem?
British Columbians received a wake-up call in 1996, when it was revealed that the theft rate of vehicles in our province was 60% higher than the national average. As well as a high financial cost attached to these statistics, there was a high personal cost in terms of inconvenience and trauma to more than 22,000 victims. ICBC responded to the problem, and developed the Auto Crime Strategies Program aimed at encouraging people to reduce their risk. Since 1996, the number of auto crime claims has decreased. However, crime still costs policyholders a lot. The total claims paid out for auto crime in 1999 amounted to $134 million.