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Important Auto Benefits Available To You

A number of years ago the Accident Benefits portion of your Auto policy changed in Ontario. You have a number of options. Most people just want the lowest cost coverage, but we encourage you to talk to your Broker about available options that could be important if you have an accident.

  • Death benefits, enhanced accident benefits and psychological injury coverage will be extended to same-sex partners and their children.

  • To qualify as a spouse, the same-sex partners must have been together for three years, or earlier if there are children.

  • Volunteer drivers will be able to accept payment for reasonable expenses and still be covered under an ordinary policy.

  • Partners and employees, and not just owners, will be covered under the owner’s policy while at work selling, repairing, servicing, storing or parking cars.  Exclusions for illegal activity, such as being impaired by alcohol, will apply to operating a car as they do to driving a car.

  • Basic loss or damage coverage will only apply to factory-installed equipment in a car or trailer, apart from $1,500 for aftermarket electronic equipment and up to $25 for recording tapes or discs held in a player.

The entire policy can be viewed on the Internet at in the section on insurance.  Call your insurer for a copy or to ask questions.

Excerpt from “Money Talk” by James Daw in the Toronto Star

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Auto Theft a Thriving Business

Stealing autos in Toronto has become a $500 million business annually.  Why?  Because the profits are good, potential punishment is minimal, and Toronto has only an 8-person squad attempting to curtail this activity.  With an average of about 1,000 autos stolen each month, this qualifies as a major crime, and difficult to control.

Stolen autos offer great savings to buyers, and great profits for the auto theft ring.  A $45,000 sale of a stolen luxury auto can represent savings of about $15,000 to $20,000 to the buyer, and still provide profits to the theft ring of about $35,000 to $40,000.  The rest goes towards costs to alter the VIN number, cosmetics for appearance changes and payment to the thief.  This is why auto theft has attracted such attention from organized crime, street gangs, traditional B&E thieves, independent car jackers and even groups from other countries.

There may not be an “ultimate” defense against auto theft, but your insurance agent might be able to provide some advice on how to best protect your auto.  As for avoiding the risks of buying a stolen car, check the “Tips For Buying A Used Vehicle”.

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Claiming Forgiveness

Do you know what insurance companies mean when they say they have "claims forgiveness"? Here's how it works. If you've been driving six or more years without having a claim, you receive the best insurance rates. Most insurers call this a "6*" (six star) rating. If your insurance company doesn't offer claims forgiveness, and you have an accident where you're at fault, your rating will he changed to reflect that you've been driving zero years claims free - a "0*" (zero star). Consequently, your premium will be significantly affected. However, if you're insured with a company that has claims forgiveness, they'll only change your rating to a "5*" (five star) or less, depending on the company involved.

It's important to find out if your insurance company offers claims forgiveness. Even if there's a small charge necessary to get this coverage, it's well worth paying a few dollars extra each year, rather than have your premiums jump dramatically after an accident. So check with your insurance broker to see if claims forgiveness is available to you.

Excerpt from CARP News, Fifty Plus, April 2000

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Drive Well, Drive Right

What causes traffic accidents? A recent General Motors survey found that almost half of all accidents could be traced to mistakes like running a stop sign.

We all know the cost of accidents -- in repairs, fines, rising insurance premiums and injuries. What can you do to avoid an accident? Some of Canada's top driving professionals offer these tips:

  •  Inspect your vehicle before heading out. Are your mirrors, windows and outside lights clean? Do your signals work? Is your windshield washer tank full? Are your tires inflated properly?

  •  On the highways, collisions are often caused by differences in speed. If you're too fast, you tend to change lanes often. If you're too slow, others may take risks to pass you. Stick to the speed limit and remember that on multi-lane highways, slower traffic should always keep to the right.

Excerpt from CARP News, Fifty Plus, April 2000

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Ask an expert

My sister comes to visit me each summer. We each have our own car insurance. Is there any problem with me lending her my car?

When you lend your sister your car, you're also lending your insurance policy. If she has an accident, it'll be claimed under your insurance policy and will stay on your record, even though she has her own policy. Always keep this in mind when lending someone else your car.

Excerpt from CARP News, Fifty Plus, April 2000

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Did You Know?

If you’re an individual vehicle registrant, your plate validation sticker expires on your birthday, not at the end of the month on your sticker.  The fine for driving with an expired validation sticker is $90, so make sure your licence plate sticker is renewed on or before your birth date.

Excerpt from MTO "Centreline"

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Don’t Risk Vehicle Impoundment

Vehicles driven by persons apprehended for driving while their licence is suspended for a Criminal Code conviction will be impounded for a minimum of 45 days.

Vehicles will be impounded, regardless of whether the vehicle is borrowed from a friend or family member, used for business or employment purposes, rented or leased.  All vehicle owners have a greater responsibility to ensure that suspended drivers do not drive their vehicles.

Check for a valid driver’s licence by:

  • Calling 1-900-565-6555 using a touch-tone phone ($2.50 per driver licence check will be charged to your phone bill).

  • Accessing the Ministry of Transportation’s website at:  ($2.50 per driver licence number check, payable by Visa or MasterCard).

For more information, call 1-800-387-3445 or 416-235-2999 in the Greater Toronto area, or access the Ministry of Transportation’s website at:

Excerpt from MTO "Centreline"

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Seat Belts Save

Seat belts and child restraints save lives.  Buckle up your seat belt for each and every trip, and make sure you use child safety seats correctly.  There is a $90 fine plus a $15 victim surcharge and two demerit points for anyone caught not wearing a seat belt.

Excerpt from MTO "Centreline"

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Tips For Buying A Used Vehicle

Avoid any seller who:

  • Pressures you to make a hurried decision.

  • Discourages you from checking facts.

  • Private sellers who avoid having you view the vehicle at their home or if they are a dealer, have no office, lot and sign.

  • Suggest that you can avoid paying tax.  They want to ensure that you won’t go to the authorities if there’s a problem.

Ask to see the Used Vehicle Information Package if you’re buying from a private seller (they’re required, by law, to provide it) to verify:

  • Approximate retail value.

  • Registrant history (to determine if the vehicle is registered in the name of the seller and to see how much experience the seller has with the vehicle).

  • That date of first registration is close to year of vehicle (vehicle may have previous history in another jurisdiction).

  • If there are liens registered against the vehicle.

If buying from a dealer, ask to see the dealer’s and salesperson’s registration certificate issued by the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry council.  All motor vehicle dealers and salespersons must be registered.  You can claim against the Motor Vehicle Dealer’s Compensation Fund if you suffer a financial loss in purchasing a vehicle from a registered dealer.

For more information about buying or selling a used vehicle call 1-800-267-8847, Telephone Device for Deaf 1-800-461-8866.

Excerpt from MTO "Centreline"

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Winners of The Annual Stella Awards

The Stella's are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonalds. That case inspired the Stella Awards for the most frivolous successful lawsuits in the United States. 

5th place (Tied)
Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $780,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving toddler was Ms.Robertson's Son.

5th place (Tied)
19-year-old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbour ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman apparently did not notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal the hubcaps.

5th place (Tied)
Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania was leaving a house he had just finished robbing by way of the garage door. He was not able to get the garage door to go up since the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He could not reenter the house because the door connecting the house and garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation and Mr. Dickson found himself locked in the garage for 8 days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found and a large bag of dry dog food. He sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The Jury agreed to the tune of $500,000.

4th Place
Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas was was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbour's Beagle dog. The Beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. The award was less than sought because the jury felt the dog might have been a little provoked at the time as Mr. Williams, who had climbed over the fence into the yard, was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun.

3rd place
A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania$113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink and broke her coccyx (tailbone). The beverage was on the floor because Ms.Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.

2nd Place
Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a nightclub in a neighbouring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out two of her front teeth. This occurred whilst Ms.Walton was trying to crawl in through the window of the Ladies Room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.

1st Place
This year's runaway winner was Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mr. Grazinski purchased a new Winnebago motorhome. On his trip home from an OU football game, having driven onto the freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers seat to go into the back and make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly, the RV left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising him in the owner's manual that he could not actually do this. The jury awarded him $1,750,000 plus a new Winnebago Motor Home. The company actually changed their manuals on the basis of this suit just in case there were any other complete morons buying their recreation vehicles.

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