Because Insurance Companies and their adjusters often aren't legally required to tell you about important aspects of your claim.
Esau v. Co-operators Life Insurance Co.and Pekarek v. Manufacturers Life Insurance Co., were companion decisions issued at the same time by the BC Court of Appal. Both cases related to disability insurance. In Esau, the insurer was resisting the claim and, in Pekarek, the insurer terminated payments after initially accepting the claim. Both actions were commenced after the expiration of the limitation period. In upholding the dismissal of the actions as being statute-barred, the Court held that the insurers were not required to advise insured's as to the existence of limitation periods.
In Hamilton v. Chris Marion Holdings Ltd., the plaintiff's house suffered water damage. The insurance agent who had placed the insurance assigned the claim to the defendant as an independent insurance adjuster. During a meeting to discuss the repairs to the house, the defendant suggested to the insured that a gun collection in the house be removed for cleaning and safekeeping. The gun collection was taken to the premises of the contractor hired to restore the house, and it was stolen from those premises. The insured sued the independent insurance adjuster for failing to advise that her household insurance would not cover a theft of the gun collection if it was not located inside the house.
In dismissing the claim, the court held that there was not a special relationship imposing a duty on the independent insurance adjuster and that the adjuster was equivalent to a good Samaritan.
The upside to this is the McIvenna v ICBC case in which our BC Court of Appeal says an insurer may owe a duty of care in advising a claimant about benefits and limitations to those benefits.
So, you can't rely on your insurance company or your adjuster to tell you important things about your case, if you do and later want to sue them for bad advice, no advice or bad conduct, you may not be able to. Remember that adjusters work for the insurance company, not you. Promptly consult a lawyer knowledgeable in the area to advise you about your case.
In Branco v American Home Insurance, Zurich Insurace was order to pay $3 Million in punitive damages and AIG was ordered to pay $1.5 Million in punitive damages and $450,000 in aggravated damages. The Plaintiff was injured and his disability insurers failed to honor their contracts in paying the Plaintiff temporary total disability benefits and long term disability benfits. Disability insurance is know as a "peace of mind" contract. When one is injured, you are supposed to have peace of mind because you have insurance for income replacement. In this case, Zurich insurance waited 10 years before making a disability payment.
There was, in the insurer's file, a memo that said:
"I called the claimant and he did not accept our offer and said that he was going to get an attorney. I hope he re-considers because he lives in Portugal and he will have to go back to Canada to get an attorney and this whole process is going to take years to settle. Here we go CANADA!!!!!"
In their reasons the Court alluded to the fact that insurance iindustry practice of not paying disability benefits is all to common, and only a few people have the ability to fight the insurance companies, wondering how many others there are out there. The Court said:
197 The goal of punitive damages is deterrence. Insurers must discontinue exploiting the vulnerability of insureds in times of disaster. The court must also consider the fact that previous awards such as $60,000 in Sarchukand and $1,000,000 in Whiten appear to have done little or nothing to deter insurance companies from their actions.
208 The words of Binnie J. quoted previously in the Whiten case at para. 131 are most appropriate and a perfect summation of the actions of Zurich wherein he states at paragraph 131 The respondent also argues that at the end of the day, it did not profit financially from its misbehaviour. This may also be true, but if so, that result was not for want of trying. The respondent clearly hoped to starve the appellant into a cheap settlement. ... That it failed to do so is due in no small part to appellant's counsel who took a hotly contested claim into an eight-week jury trial on behalf of a client who was effectively without resources of her own; and who obviously could have been starved into submission but for his firm's intervention on her behalf.
215 Although Canadian courts may have believed that the $1 million award in the Whiten case would catch the attention of the insurance industry and the court's disapproval of such actions, it is apparent that the $1 million was not sufficient. These decisions were rendered during the same time period that AIG and Zurich were continuing their pattern of aggressive non-activity on the claim of Branco.
216 The court is cognizant of the fact that a punitive damages award of $3 million may not be particularly significant to the financial bottom line of a successful worldwide insurance company. It is hoped that this award will gain the attention of the insurance industry. The industry must recognize the destruction and devastation that their actions cause in failing to honour their contractual policy commitments to the individuals insured.
217 Both AIG and Zurich failed to deal with Branco's claim in good faith. Each tried to take advantage of Branco's economic vulnerability to gain leverage in negotiating a settlement. The fact that Branco was able to continue to withstand this pressure for so many years from two different fronts is truly remarkable and almost superhuman, even though his resistence may have resulted in irreparable mental distress which may last for the remainder of his lifetime.
218 The court has grave concerns as to how often this type of action occurs in dealing with insurance claims. The court is only cognizant of the cases such as Sarchuk, Whiten and Branco which come before them. If Whiten (in the Whiten case) and Branco, in this case, had not been able to withstand the unbelievable pressure to settle on the terms and conditions originally offered these cases would not have received the attention of the courts either. The question remains: how many individuals have been unable to withstand the financial and psychological pressure of these tactics?
219 The court has earlier quoted extensively from the decision of Binnie J. in the Whiten decision. It is noted that the discussion of the Whiten circumstances and his eloquent statements show an eerily stark similarity to the current situation but to a much lesser degree and over a shorter period of time than the Branco situation.
It is bicycle season and drivers must be on the lookout for cyclists. Cyclists have the same rights and duties as the driver of a vehicle. Cyclists are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk, must not ride in crosswalks, must ride as near as practicable to the right side of the road. There are other duties of cyclists and they are set out in Section 183 of the Motor Vehicle Act. Cyclists must wear helmets.
Cars and Trucks have the same duties in overtaking a cyclist as they do in overtaking any other vehicle. They must pass only when it is safe to do so. Section 157 of the Motor Vehicle Act sets out that an overtaking vehicle must pass to the left at a safe distance and not return to their own lane until they are safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. While cylists must keep to the right hand side of the road, many drivers do not realize that cyclists often have to move to the left to avoid obstacles on the road such as glass, gravel, drains and debris which could cause the cyclist to go down. Cyclists are vulnerable. Cars and trucks often pass cyclists far too closely, not thinking about the cyclists vulnerable position. Drivers must give cyclists proper room and pass, and return to their own lane, only when it is safe to do so; driver's must not endanger a cyclist by passing too soon and too closely. A Driver will be liable for a cyclists injuries if the driver passes unsafely and causes a cyclist to fall and be injured. No contact between the car and the bicycle is required for a driver to be held responsible. Think safety before you pass a cyclist, and give the cyclist room when you do pass.
Please share the road this summer.
The Nova Scotia government is poised to scrap a controversial $2,500 cap on damages for minor injuries suffered in highway crashes; a restriction that is unfair to accident victims but insurers insist is keeping premiums affordable.
That province's Office of the Superintendent of Insurance has launched a review of the cap, seeking public input on alternative ways to control damage awards for pain and suffering. A discussion paper accompanying the call for submissions suggests changes to the six-year-old cap could be applied retroactively.
New Democrat Premier Darrell Dexter says the cap — imposed by the former Conservative government in 2003 — is preventing people who have been seriously injured from pursing compensation, and will not survive in its present form.
The definition of a minor injury is so restrictive that 'unless you've got very severe injuries, just about every case is affected by this. The Lawyer's Weekly interviewed Halifax Lawyer Janus Siebrits who said that he has clients who suffered spinal injuries and broken bones that are not considered serious injuries under the cap, which excludes injuries that don't result in 'serious impairment of an important bodily function' beyond the first year after an accident.
The insurance industry has made a tremendous amount of money on the backs of accident victims, and that needs to change.
Alberta has a similar cap of $4000 for so called minor injuries.
Insurance Companies try to justify this by arguing that it keeps premiums down. What it does is provide huge profits for insurance companies at the expense of injured people.
Starting Monday, Feb. 1, fully licensed drivers caught talking on a hand-held phone or electronic device will face a $167 fine, while those found texting or emailing, or programming their IPOD or GPS will also receive a ticiet that attracts three penalty points.
Police have been stopping drivers throughout January to give them warnings about talking on a cellphone, and people seem to be getting the message and changing their behaviour.
Changes to the Motor Vehicle Act that ban or restrict the use of many electronic devices by drivers came into effect Jan. 1, 2010. Since then, police in many communities have conducted targeted enforcement, issuing warning tickets to drivers seen violating the new rules. According to the Ministry of Solicitor General Website, in the span of one hour, police on Vancouver Island spotted 27 drivers on the Trans-Canada Highway talking on a hand-held phone, resulting in 13 warning tickets. Aparently one driver who was pulled over continued to talk on the phone as the police officer approached the vehicle.
Fully licensed drivers are restricted to using only hands-free cellphones and other electronic devices, and cannot text or email while driving. New drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program face a full ban on using cellphones and electronic devices, including hands-free units, and will receive both the fine and penalty points for any infraction.
Happy New Year!
On Jan. 1, 2010, police will begin enforcing changes to the Motor Vehicle Act that mean drivers can only use hands-free cellphones and devices that require just one touch to activate. Fines will begin on Feb. 1, 2010 when a driver talking on a hand-held phone or electronic device will face a fine of $167. Drivers caught texting or emailing will be subject to 3 penalty points in addition to the $167 fine.
To comply with the new law, fully licensed drivers can use hands-free technology that is activated by a single touch to a button, or when it is safe to do so, pull over to a legal parking place and stop their vehicle before they talk or email.
New drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP - Class 7 and 7L) are fully banned on all cellphone and electronic devices, including hands-free. A recent report entitled 'Teens and Distracted Driving' by Washington D.C.-based Pew Research found that of those teens 16 to 17 years of age who own a cellphone or text regularly, more than half have talked on a cellphone while driving, and one in three has texted while driving. GLP drivers face a $167 fine and 3 pentaly points.
For a detailed summary on what is permitted and what is prohibited under the legislation, provided by the office of the superintendent of motor vehicles click the link below:
So, buy yourself a bluetooth headset. A top of the line Jawbone Prime Bluetooth Headset is about $130 at Costco, or about $37 less than your first fine. You can get a decent bluetooth starting at around $40 - $60. If you are in a collision and you are not using a headset, the Insurance Company will use this against you.
Check and see if your Chiropractor has opted into this agreemnt with ICBC. It may not be a good deal for you. While ICBC is saying this is good for their customers because of the streamlined payment process, that comes at a cost to you the patient. ICBC should be paying your chiropractic benefits under your Part 7 claim anyway, so any benefit to you is illusory
For chiropractors who opt-in, the agreement guarantees a lump-sum payment upon treating a patient three times and also compels them to disclose the entire private health records of their patients upon request from ICBC. Under the ICBC agreement, chiropractors get a $900 lump-sum payment whether they treat a patient suffering chronic problems 3 times or 30 times. ICBC calls the BC Chiropractic Association its "partner." It is wrong for health care professionals to compromise the rights of patients. A chiropractor's obligation should be to their patient, not to an insurance company. This agreement creates a conflict of interest for Chiropractor's opting in.
ICBC's agreement has all the potential to pervert the doctor-patient relationship. It is an attempt by ICBC to get chiropractors to declare patients cured after three visits. This contract does nothing to make patients better. The requirement to disclose the entire private and confidential health records of individuals may well lead Chiropractors to breach their duty to patients.
Public confidence and trust in ICBC has been tested by a number of recent scandals.
In May 2009, ICBC was criticized for seriously breaching the privacy of its customers after the Crown corporation admitted staff had been providing the claim histories of jurors to outside lawyers representing ICBC during court proceedings. This was clearly done to gain an unfair advantage in the trials.
In February 2008, an ICBC facility was closed when it was learned that 98 repaired vehicles had been sold without full disclosure of their accident history. Some 22 of the 98 wrecked vehicles were bought by ICBC managers at rigged auctions an internal investigation revealed.