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Hope on the insurance front

Insurance remains a hot topic these days. Rates continue to spiral, in some cases it seems, almost out of control. I had a small operator call me and basically conclude that he will go out of business...

Insurance remains a hot topic these days. Rates continue to spiral, in some cases it seems, almost out of control. I had a small operator call me and basically conclude that he will go out of business with the quotes that have come back on renewal. Did I have any ideas?

One possibility to consider, which has reduced overall insurance costs to some carriers, is to implement or beef-up a separate employee benefit package that covers accident benefits; those types of events that the motor vehicle insurance would normally cover. Now I’m not an insurance broker and am unaware of the cost differences between disability/accident benefit plans versus motor vehicle policies, but I have heard this enough to assume it may work in terms of cost for some carriers.

But there is some good news to share on the insurance front. For my own policy, I received from State Farm the other day, a rebate cheque in the amount of $0.51 cents for an overpayment. So there is hope?

While on the topic of insurance, I had another call from an irate owner about Workers Comp coming back on him for premiums for an owner-operator. It was the same not-so-unusual story. The owner-operator did not want coverage as he had his own private disability plan. But his private insurance lapsed because of non-payment of premium; he gets hurt, and then declares he is really an employee of sorts. Workers Comp agrees, and goes after the carrier for back premiums etc.

For what it’s worth, here’s my view: I can’t understand why Workers Comp insists on private coverage. While it should be available, I will bet dollars to donuts that those with private coverage are probably the single biggest loss to the Workers Comp program. And here’s why in a nutshell. For every person with WCB private coverage who falls off their backyard deck and gets laid up for a couple of months, you can bet there will be some who will claim that they actually fell down the stairs en-route to their home office, or out of their truck while retrieving paperwork.

Moving on to another favorite topic, CVOR, a client called me several weeks ago with an interesting case. He was pleased that in exchange for a guilty plea to a particular charge that the Crown agreed to have the CVOR points struck from the record. The presiding Justice of the Peace made the appropriate endorsement on the offence notice. Having this done at court is not new. In fact the practice goes way back but has largely been restricted to very specific courts. About a year or so ago, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation took an initiative to stop the practice, and while I have not seen a copy, a letter was sent to the MTO Crown Attorneys throughout the province that they are not to agree to this practice. In this particular case to which I refer, the Crown was prosecuting a police rather than an MTO matter. So it’s my guess that the possibility still exists to have the CVOR points struck where you or your driver have been charged by police rather than Ministry enforcement personnel.

I should also add the possibility for what is known as “diversion”. This is a neat little approach where, in exchange for dropping the charge(s), proof of payment usually to a local charity or hospital is given to the Crown. But again, this will generally not be acceptable for charges laid by MTO. My own experience with this option was a few years back in Niagara Falls. I was at a hockey tournament and properly received a ticket for no seat belt, and minor speeding. In exchange to have the matters dropped, I attended a quick safety counseling session, and paid $50 bucks to some other fund. Nice angle to avoid demerit points, but I must confess the practice likely doesn’t do much to improve safety or a safety-minded attitude.

We had a matter recently where a vehicle was impounded at the scales under the critical defect regulation for brake adjustment. All four brakes on the trailer were out by over 1/4″. This was the sole defect. In this case, the trailer had received a complete overall of the braking system and had traveled less than 200 kms before the impound occurred. There are varied opinions from the braking experts, but as a general rule, the recommendation is that in these types of instances, new brakes should be re-adjusted around 500 km down the road. I did advise this particular carrier that there would be a good defence to this charge, particularly as it is their policy to indeed re-adjust the brakes within 500 kms.

Not just with respect to charges but also in any instance where a carrier is held to account for their actions, it goes a long way in any defence to be able to demonstrate that all reasonable actions were taken as a result of adhered-to policies and procedures.

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