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Distracted Driving

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From offering you the right products to ensuring you remain informed, SurNet is here for all your needs!

 

In Ontario, deaths from collisions caused by distracted driving have doubled since 2000.  With texting and driving always in the news, we wanted to ensure our clients are aware of the current penalties are for distracted driving.

What counts as distracted driving

When you aren’t focused on the road, things can happen fast.  Using your phone to talk, text, check maps or choose a playlist while you’re behind the wheel all count as distracted driving – and they put you and others at risk.  Other activities like eating, reading or typing a destination into a GPS are also dangerous when you’re behind the wheel.  It doesn’t matter if you’re on a highway or stopped at a red light – distracted driving could cost you.

Penalties for distracted driving

The easiest way to avoid penalties for distracted driving is to not use a hand-held device when you’re behind the wheel.  It’s against the law to use hand-held communication (e.g. your phone) and electronic entertainment devices (e.g. DVD player, e-reader) while driving.  In fact, simply holding a phone or other device while driving is against the law.  Instead, use a hands-free device (e.g. Bluetooth) or securely mount your device to your dash.

If convicted, the penalty you face depends on the kind of licence you hold and how long you’ve been driving:

Drivers with A to G licences

  • a fine of $490, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
  • a fine of up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
  • three demerit points

Novice drivers (G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence)

If convicted of distracted driving, you will face the same fines as drivers with A to G licences. But you won’t receive any demerit points.  Instead of demerit points you’ll face:

  • a 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction
  • a 90-day licence suspension for a second conviction
  • cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for a third conviction

Distracted driving affects everyone.

If you have any questions, contact your dedicated SurNet broker today and please drive safe everyone!

NEW Home Protect Bundle

We are pleased to introduce Aviva’s Home Protect Bundle for home and condominium owners, a cost-saving, value-added package which includes Home Repair Assure, our new Claim Prevent endorsement and Halo Assist available August 1, 2016.

Prevent

“Claim Prevent” is NEW and provides up to $2,500 for the installation of an approved loss prevention
device to protect you from experiencing the same loss again.  Approved loss prevention devices include fire alarm systems, fire suppression systems, security systems, sump pumps, automatic water shut off devices, lightning suppression systems, back-up power systems and hail resistant roofing materials.

Fix

“Home Repair Assure” provides a home repair service program to repair minor issues before they create major damage.  It gives you easy access to local contractors and trade professionals to repair household issues common to many Canadian homes.  Home Repair Assure is ideal for homeowners who don’t have the time or expertise to select service vendors for their repair needs, and want to place one call to a trusted network of vendors to have their problem solved.

Assist

“Halo Assist” is also NEW and when purchased with “Claim Prevent” or bundled with all of the above, it provides access to a valuable selection of free and unlimited telephone assistance services including legal, health and mortgage assistance.

If you feel as though this would be ideal for you, contact your dedicated SurNet broker today for more information and find out if your eligible for this great coverage.

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Catch all the Pokeballs!

PokeballPokemon Go has officially launched in Canada…but it’s not all fun and games. Pokemon enthusiasts can potentially put themselves at risk for physical injury (to themselves or others), robbery and property damage. The Insurance Information Institute has this to say about the new phenomenon… “We think it’s great that people are getting outside and enjoying Pokemon Go,” said Loretta Worters, vice president of the Information Insurance Institute. “But it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and be sure you’re adequately protected against risk.” Contact your SurNet broker today to ensure you are adequately covered before you head out on your Pokemon Go quest for Pokeballs!

Ride-sharing Insurance is HERE!

SurNet is pleased to announce that effective February 1st, 2016, we are now able to offer our clients coverage for ride-sharing programs.Car pooling

 

This new, forward thinking solution provides drivers and passengers with absolute peace of mind that they have insurance coverage while ride-sharing from the moment the driver and passenger have been matched through an online platform to the moment the passenger is transported to their destination.

Certain conditions apply so contact your SurNet broker today before your next ride-share!

Keeping You and Rover Safe on Road Trips…

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Most people wouldn’t think twice about grabbing their pet and taking them for a ride in the car to run some errands or to visit friends and family. However, with an increased focus on distracted driving and overall driving safety, there is growing concern about pet safety in the car.

“Many people overlook the potential distraction that a pet can be, especially if they are loose in your vehicle. They can distract you from the road, impair your vision, and even attempt to climb on you while driving,” states Achiel Goossens, Senior Manager of Auto Claims with Aviva Canada. “This is why pet safety in cars is so important. Properly securing your pet will ensure both you and your pet are safe.”

There are a number tips that drivers can follow to ensure their pet is safe and secure when they go for a ride in the car. They include:

  • Don’t let your pets run loose in the car.
  • Don’t let your dog hang its head outside the window.
  • Secure your pets using a pet friendly seat belt or safety harness.
  • Small pets should be crated at all times.
  • Avoid letting your pets sit on your lap when driving.
  • Never leave your animal in the car unattended, especially in the summer months.
  • Consider installing a dog barrier in your vehicle if you have a hatchback, van or SUV.

Properly securing your pets and insuring they are safe in the car before you hit the road will give you one less distraction that you have to worry about on the road. There are already enough things that require your attention on the road, and you pet should not be one of them. This article is for general informational purposes only. More detailed information is available from your insurance broker.

Link to Aviva Article

Antiques In The Attic?

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It may seem like the most likely place to store your family heirlooms past down through the generations, but in fact, your attic may be the worse place.

Unwanted Guests

The attic is an ideal place for critters such as rodents, bats and squirrels to escape to from the elements.  Furniture will be greatly enjoyed in many ways except for the way it was originally intended.  In addition to these less than tolerable house guests ruining your prized possessions, you may find that they can cause extensive damage to electrical wiring and plumbing leading to even bigger problems such as electrical fires and burst pipes.

Mother Nature’s Mood Swings

Your attic’s temperature is probably not regulated…unless it is used as an additional living space such as a loft or studio.  Because of this, the items in your attic are subjected to freezing cold  temperatures in the winter and boiling hot in the summer.  This takes it’s toll on the priceless items you may have stored up there…especially porous items such as solid wood furniture that could absorb the moisture in the air on a very hot and humid day but freeze as the temperatures fall.  The expanding and contracting will leave your valuables worthless relics.  In addition to the varying changes in temperature comes roof leaks and mold.  These will leave you pushing your antiques to the curb instead of getting your 15 minutes of fame on The Antiques Roadshow when it comes to town.

What Can You Do?

In a perfect world, we would all have room to show off all of our beautiful belongings, but most time it’s just not realistic.  If you must store your items in your home, it would be best to use a part of your home that is less prone to all that nature has to offer.  Of course, sometimes this is not possible and your attic is the best option.  If so, it might just be worth your while to look into an alarm system that can alert you to changes in temperature, floods and smoke.  Regular inspections for animals will help to reduce the likelihood of them entering and damaging your home as well.

Car Hacking…the new Car Jacking!

Even though vehicle thefts have been greatly reduced over the past 10 years due to the many attempts by car manufactures to reduce the likelihood of their vehicles being stolen, many thieves still believe that luxury cars are worth the effort.  The more popular vehicles include the BMW X5 and Range Rovers.

So, with all the advanced anti-theft technology, how are they doing it?  They are literally hacking into the cars.  They will steal the codes from your key fob and trick the car into opening doors and starting 2011-land-rover-range-rover-4wd-4-door-hse-angular-front-exterior-view_100330812_sengines.

Today’s keys are equipped with a transponder in the plastic body of the key and the car will not operate unless the transponder is detected.  Thieves are able to clone these keys.

Cars that have a remote key-less ignition work a similar way but instead the car’s owner only has to have the key close to the vehicle in order to unlock the doors and push start the ignition.  Thieves have discovered a way to capture the signals from the key fobs and trick the car in to thinking the fob is close by.  They can then unlock and even start the car.

Another way thieves are utilizing their technology expertise is by interrupting the signal your key fob sends to lock the car.  They are also using small electro-magnetic devices to send a pulse to make the car think  it has been in an accident and unlock it’s doors.

Of course, cars are still being stolen by traditional methods; vehicles are left running, keys in the ignition, home break ins, etc…

What can you do to help reduce your risk?

  • Lock your car as soon as you get out and check the doors…don’t lock it as your walking away.
  • Never leave your car unattended while it is running.
  • Think about who you give your keys too.  Avoid valet parking…it is always wise to lock your car yourself.
  • Clean our your garage and park your car in it instead.
  • Don’t keep your keys hanging by the door in your house.  Instead, put them in a less conspicuous place and out of site.

Spotting Staged Accidents

St.-Louis-car-accident-lawyer5We are constantly hearing about those who are fraudulently claiming or padding a claim against an insurance policy to get more bang for their buck, but what about the people who are purposely putting innocent people in very dangerous situations in order to stage an accident that will be 100% your fault?

A few different ones have surfaced in the media recently in the hopes to put the public on alert that these fraudsters are out there and what are some of the signs to watch out for.

The Swoop and Squat

What is it?

While you are driving along the 401, or any other major highway, 2 cars pass you…one right after the other.  They then both quickly change lanes to in front of you and the second car slams their brakes on causing you to rear end them.  When confronted, the second car will explain that they had to slam their brakes on to avoid the first car but that car will be long gone.  This will be 100% your fault as you will appear to be following too close.

The Bullet and Target

What is it?

As you approach and signal for your left hand turn, a seemingly courteous driver will signal you to go ahead…that (s)he is “letting you in”.  As you go to make your left hand turn in front of them, they step on the gas and ram their car right into yours.  Again, this is 100% your fault because you turned in front of them and it will be your word against theirs…the scene of the accident will tell the story, but it might not be the right one.

The Drive Down

What is it?

Imagine yourself getting back to your car in a shopping mall parking lot.  You’ve loaded your purchases in to your trunk and are now in the driver’s seat ready to pull out of your spot.  It’s busy and there is someone with their signal on waiting for you to leave so they can have your spot.  As you pull out, they step on the gas and run into your car.  This, again, will be 100% your fault as you pulled out in front of them, crossing their right of way.  It will always be your word against their but it doesn’t look good…for you.

What do you do if you think you are the victim of an staged accident?

Please watch this short video which explains what and how to document after ANY accident.  Remember to stay calm…now that you’ve read about staged accidents, you know what just happened.  Use your SurNet iCompanion app to document the accident with pictures, GPS, and notes.  Send the info immediately to your broker via the app and call the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) anonymous help line to report any fraud at 1-877-IBC-TIPS (422-8477).

Buying a New Home?

House Hunting

10 things you need to keep in mind when you are house hunting:

 

Roof: Take some time to inspect the shingles.  A roof generally needs replacing after 20-25 years.  Look for signs of water leaks on the ceiling inside the home (top floor) and around the ceiling.  Outside, are the shingles curling?  Are any missing?

Brickwork (Chimneys): When looking at the brickwork on the outside of the chimney, do you see chipping or crumbling?  Is the brick turning to powder, or is the mortar starting to fall apart?  If so, it could be very expensive to have it repaired.

Decks and Porches: Take a look for signs of rotting wood.  Soft spots or places where the wood is splintered could be a sign of more widespread damage.  Don’t let a fresh coat of paint fool you!

Parking: Depending on where you’re looking, many older houses in large cities, such as Toronto, do not have a garage or driveway. Find out how many parking spots come with the house and where they are.  If the house does not have a driveway, you may need a parking permit from the city to park on the street or you may be able to get a permit to build one.

Electrical: It is very important to make sure your electrical panel has been updated to meet the demanding needs of all of the appliances the house requires on a daily basis.  If you are buying an older home, and discover it has an older panel with 60-100amp service, you may find that it is necessary to upgrade it to 200 amp.  Homes with fuses or knob and tube wiring will definitely need to be upgraded.

Heating: Natural gas is generally the least expensive option, but it is not available everywhere. Oil, propane and electricity are also common sources of energy but can be more expensive.  Oil tanks will have to be inspected as well as wood stoves.  Older furnaces may need to be replaced to a more efficient one which may save you money over time.

Plumbing: If you discover lead pipes in the house, this means that the plumbing is old and will need to be upgraded in the future to today’s standard copper pipes with copper soldering, or PVC piping.

Insulation: If the house has older plaster walls, it probably has little or no insulation. Hiring an insulation contractor to blow extra insulation behind the walls can be expensive, but it will save you money on your heating bills in the long run.

Windows:  New homes have energy efficient windows but older ones don’t.  If you buy an older home and do not replace the windows right away, you may find your heating budget soar.

Sewage and drains: A qualified inspector can determine if the sewer system and drains are working properly. You should also find out if the sewage service from the street has been upgraded recently.  If on a septic system, when was the last time it was pumped and when was it installed?  You’ll want to make sure it is the right size for your home and your family.

Multi-generational Households

More and more households are becoming multi-generational.  Based on a US study, the number of multi-generational households have doubled since the 1980’s.  How many actually have the right insurance coverage?
Specifically when elderly parents move in with their children, the following need to be taken into consideration:

  • antique jewelleryJewelry, furniture, art, antiques, electronics or musical instruments that need insuring.
  • Renovations may need to be made — turning a den into a bedroom, converting a closet into a bathroom, making a bathroom safer for an elderly inhabitant.
  • Additional and possibly, high risk drivers, which would affect your auto coverage and premiums.
  • In home care, for the ailing.

Be sure to contact your broker should your living arrangements change to ensure you and your family are properly covered.  If you don’t adjust your coverage to match your new living situation and suddenly face a calamity, you may find out the hard way that you are left without coverage.
 
A few words to the wise that could save you some grief:
 
Homeowner’s or Tenant’s Insurance
 
Do you have enough contents coverage? If your parent brought along anything of value, there’s a good chance you don’t.Antique_Chair

Homeowner’s policies calculate the contents coverage based on the replacement cost of the building, not the # of people residing in the home.  Fully furnished in-law suites will quickly
increase the value of contents in the home.  Not to mention if the contents include high valued jewelry or antiques which can be added by a separate floater and comes with its own deductible.
 
Take inventory of all the possessions you now have in your home by using SurNet’s free iCompanion app.  Make sure to customize it by visiting our broker directory for your broker’s unique code and by inputting your policy information.   Once you have inventoried your home, call your broker to make sure have enough coverage.

Disabled-Bathroom-ShowerIf having your parent(s) move in with you requires renovations to your home, you definitely need to discuss these renovations with your broker.  You may need to finish the basement, change a closet into a bathroom, add a second kitchen, or renovate an existing bathroom to allow increased safety.  Whatever it may be, your broker will be able to valuate your home to make sure you have enough coverage to cover the increased value your renovations bring to your house.

Keep in mind, if your elderly parent requires a live-in nurse, you will now be a “Domestic Employer”.  Be sure to discuss the insurance requirements you may now need with your insurance broker to adequately cover your new status.

 

Auto Insurance

Will you put your parent on your policy, or will they keep the one they had?  Do you even want them on your policy?  This would all depend on old-lady-drivingwhat type of driver they are and if they own their own car.  As people age, their cognitive abilities decline increasing the likelihood of an accident.  If you parent(s) have had a series of accidents, your premiums will be greatly affected if you add them to your policy.  Also, premiums naturally increase as a person ages.

Your individual circumstance will dictate how you have to handle your coverage…no two households will be the same.  Your SurNet broker will be able to help you prepare your policies so that your family is properly covered for the best price possible.