Whitlock insurance Prevent Losses From Hot Work – Welding Soldering

Prevent Losses From Hot Work – Welding, Soldering, and More

Among the most common reasons small to mid-size industrial properties make insurance claims? Losses from hot work.

“Hot work” refers to any work with ignition sources near flammable materials. Types of hot work involve welding, soldering, and cutting and often produce sparks. And the result of a “quick job” in an area not designed for welding or cutting is often fire.

One of the leading causes of fire in Canada for small to mid-size industrial and commercial operations and one of the top three causes of significant property losses? Hot work. A hot work management program, however, can help reduce the risk of fire hazards by welding, soldering, and other hot work.

Mitigate losses – a hot work management plan

When you take the time to design a hot work management plan, you help to reduce significantly or even eliminate hot work hazards and risks. Plans include policy development, procedures, and assigning responsibilities for all facets of hot work, including accountability. A management plan includes:

    1. Establish policies:
      • WHERE hot work can occur
      • WHEN hot work can’t occur
      • WHO performs, authorizes, and monitors hot work
    2. Identify procedures:
      • Assessments to perform before permitting/performing hot work
      • Preparation procedures for any hot work area
      • If you can’t avoid hot work, detail how to do it. Particularly in areas that might be hazardous
      • List required tools for hot work
      • Hot work permit – How to get one, when to get one, and who can administer it
    3. Train all relevant personnel – management and employees
      • Supervisors, employees, maintenance workers, individuals who work fire watch, fire crews, and contractors all have different roles, trained accordingly
    4. Communicating the management plan
      • Post procedures in a highly visible place
      • Post policies in a highly visible place
      • Post signage in areas where you do NOT permit hot work

Obtain a hot work permit

You can significantly reduce the hazards of hot work with a permit. A two-part tag system, the permit requires whoever performs hot work to complete a safety checklist before they begin any hot work in areas not designated for hot work. Attach one portion of the two-part tag near the work area until the fire watch is complete. Management keeps the other portion of the permit for records, audited by management.

The permit system ensures the individual performing the hot work follows the appropriate safety protocols. It requires they sign off on a checklist before working and after the fire watch is complete. A hot work permit is available for purchase from most retailers of safety supplies.

Best practices

To help prevent damage and losses from hot work, ensure that, in addition to your standard hot work procedures, ask the following questions before work begins:

  • Is all equipment in good operating order?
  • Are all appropriate personal protective devices readily available at the site?
  • Have you trained each worker properly on how to use, clean, and store protective equipment properly?
  • Has someone thoroughly inspected the work area? Are there combustible materials in nearby structures (walls, ceilings, partitions)?
  • Has someone moved all flammable and combustible materials away from the work area?
  • Can you move combustibles? If not, can you cover them with fire-resistant blankets or shields?
  • Have you protected gas lines from hot materials, falling sparks, and other objects?
  • Have combustible materials such as sawdust been swept clean around the work zone? If the floors are combustible, keep them wet or covered with fire-resistant blankets or damp sand.
  • Are the appropriate fire extinguishers (e.g., ABC fire extinguishers) available and easily accessible?
  • Find out more hot work best practices HERE.

Establish a fire watch schedule

A vital component of any hot work management plan is a fire watch. Once the hot work – welding, soldering, grinding, or any other activity that produces heat and sparks – is complete, you MUST conduct a fire watch.

Ensure that no hidden spark or fire has been left that might smoulder or ignite at some point after the hot work is complete. Potentially catastrophic consequences could occur if you miss or skip a fire inspection after the work is done. You might have to pay a properly trained employee to stay longer to inspect and watch the area. But, it’s a worthwhile expense, as many victims of hot work damages and losses will attest.

If you’re unable to afford the extra eyes for an after-hours fire watch, try to limit any hot work to earlier in the day. So, if there are sparks smouldering, they’re caught during the business day. It’s recommended that you keep an eye on the area for up to four hours after the work is complete.

Be sure that your hot work management plan includes ALL hot work activities no matter who performs them, your staff or third-party contractors. Look at your safety policies and be sure that they include hot work. It doesn’t need to be complicated! Simply a page or two will do, outlining specific safety policies and procedures required to conduct hot work.

Questions about a hot work area and your commercial insurance? Talk to us!

Whitlock Insurance Avoid Basement Flood – Your Preparation Checklist

Avoid Basement Flood – Your Preparation Checklist

Spring is a joyous and exhilarating time of year – until you have a basement flood! Protect yourself from possible disaster!

What do you love about springtime? Is it the longer days? The warmer weather? Crocuses and other spring blooms breaking through the cold earth? All of the above? We agree! We are even at peace with the increased rainfall that will help turn everything a vibrant green.

Unless all that rain combined with retreating snow and spring runoff fills our yards and seeps into our basements, causing costly basement flood. If we aren’t properly prepared.

Take stock of the condition of your basement and its contents. If you have a fully finished basement, there’s a lot at stake in the event of a basement flood. Damage or ruin – furnishings, flooring, drywall, valuable mementoes, keepsakes, and documents.

Save yourself a lot of time, work, money, and anguish over lost valuables. Get out ahead of the rain and spring thaw to help keep your property safe.

PREVENT a costly and inconvenient basement flood

If we keep an eye on and maintain just four elements, we increase our chances to prevent a springtime disaster:

  1. Basement flood protection and maintenance – ideally, two times per year

    • Check nearby storm drains and remove any debris
    • Clean out eavestroughs and downspouts of dirt, debris, ice
    • Test your sump pump. Don’t forget the backup power source!
    • Ensure your backwater valve is clear of debris
    • Maintain all plumbing, fixtures, and appliances
    • Test flood alarms
  2. Keep water out of your basement

    • Examine the foundation of your home, indoors and out. Check basement walls and floors for cracks.
    • With a caulking gun, fill cracks with the appropriate crack filler for masonry concrete.
    • Differentiate larger, problematic cracks from the tiny shrinkage cracks visible on homes old and new. You might have to hire an experienced contractor to help you identify the difference.
    • Direct the water from your downspouts at least three feet away from your foundation
    • Extend downspouts and sump discharge pipes to direct water at least 2m away from your foundation or to the nearest drainage swale
    • Install window well covers. Ensure they are 10-15cm above ground level and are properly sealed at the foundation
    • Install water-resistant basement windows
    • Install a backwater valve (work with a plumber and get required permits)
  3. Protect your personal belongings in your basement

    • Store valuables and documents in watertight containers or move elsewhere
    • Store hazardous materials (paints, chemicals) in watertight containers or remove
    • Raise electronics off the floor
    • Select removable area rugs and furnishings that have wooden or metal legs
  4. Water in your basement? Remove as quickly as possible!

    • Take away obstructions to the basement floor drain
    • Remove all water. If you don’t remove it promptly after flooding, the damage can be quite extensive and costly – mould!
    • Install a backup sump pump with a power source
    • With the water removed, dry everything thoroughly. Ensure plenty of ventilation to minimize the potential for mould. Open windows and doors and turn on fans to increase air circulation.

    • Soaked porous items will need to be thrown out – paper documents, newspapers, cardboard boxes. They can be a breeding ground for mould.

    • Dry out your carpets quickly, and you may be able to keep them. If they can’t be thoroughly dried, they may have to be torn up and thrown away.

    • If large portions of drywall are saturated, cut out the damaged areas and replace them.

Review your home insurance coverage

Make sure that you protect your property in case of a basement flood. Review your homeowner’s policy and consider additional coverage if you feel your home is vulnerable to flood. Especially if you have a fully finished basement.

Questions about flood protection for your home? Talk to us!

Whitlock Insurance All You Need to Know About Getting a BC Drivers License

All You Need to Know About Getting a BC Driver’s License

Spring is on the way! And that means a rush on kids getting a new BC driver’s license. Here’s what you need to know:

Spring will be here before we know it and, inevitably, that will mean a whole lot of new, fresh-faced youngsters eager to get behind the wheel with a new BC driver’s license – Learners and New permits – throughout the region.

The pandemic has had an impact on the scheduling of BC drivers license exams and road tests. In answer, ICBC has implemented an efficient online booking system so that our kids and other new drivers can easily book their testing sessions. Be sure to get out ahead, mind you, as the appointments book fast. As with everything these days, anticipate and plan for potential restrictions, which may include masks and physical distancing. Plan ahead to ensure the best possible experience for the excited new driver!

In preparation for getting out on the road with a BC driver’s license, we’ve outlined all the important things to know, from preparation to practice to planning for a test. Read on and fasten your seatbelt… it’s going to be an exciting ride!


They’re ready to jump in and hit the road with their new BC driver’s license. And, of course, you want them to do so. But with confidence and safety. This is an exciting – and scary! – time for young drivers and parents alike. All that freedom and independence; no more relying on rides from mom and dad. It’s a wonderful time in a young person’s life, but it also comes with tremendous responsibility.

What the eager young driver-to-be may not anticipate is how much preparation will be required before they get behind the wheel on their own with a brand new BC drivers license. There are tests, both theory and on the road, but there’s also the expense of a first car insurance policy.

Let’s break things down with a brief outline to help you know what to expect. We’ll also give you let you know where you can find all the information you and the new driver in your life will need:

Pass the knowledge test before driving – the BC Learner’s Permit

To become a legal driver in our province, a knowledge test is the first mandatory step. The first stage in the process to receive a valid BC driver’s license is the Learner’s permit.

With a Learner’s permit, the new driver is able to get real-world practice behind the wheel WITH a licensed adult driver. This is their opportunity to get safe and guided practice. LOTS OF PRACTICE!

To receive the Learners, or “L”, in this, the first step, a first-time driver must achieve a score of, at minimum, 40 out of 50 questions correct on a multiple-choice knowledge test. In order to pass this test they’ll prove that they understand not only the rules of the road, but that they have an awareness about what it means to drive safely. To pass this phase the aspiring driver will:

  • Pay a fee to take the Knowledge test.
  • Take the test from a computer terminal at a registered testing office.
  • Answer questions that include road sign knowledge, driving laws and safe driving practices.
  • Once completed successfully, the new driver will receive a BC Learner’s driving permit and an “L” magnet to display clearly on the back of the vehicle. This magnet indicates the driver’s status to others on the road, including law enforcement and other authorities.
  • Understand that this Learner’s Permit IS NOT a full BC driver’s license. They are restricted to driving with a licensed adult, not on their own. It is required to progress to the further required exams and advanced, independent, licensing.
  • Be authorized to practice driving on the road legally with a fully licensed family member or friend or recognized driving school.

Learner’s (Knowledge) tests are available by appointment only. Book an appointment using ICBC’s online scheduling service.

Graduated Licensing Program

No matter the aspiring driver’s age, every first-time driver in British Columbia must achieve their full BC driver’s license through the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP).

The GLP process provides new drivers with all the information, skills, and perspectives to help make them better, safer drivers who are more competent and confident on the road. Through the GLP, inexperienced drivers gradually become more comfortable as they prepare to become independent drivers. This is achieved first with experienced and trusted supervision and then, eventually, on their own.

To help new drivers make their way through the GLP successfully and receive their BC Drivers License with confidence, there are three tests: a multiple-choice, followed by two on the road. When the new driver proves a level of mastery over the required knowledge and that they can drive safely, the process is typically completed in three years. It’s the years driving as a Learner and New driver that allow ample preparation and practice to develop and reinforce the necessary knowledge, skills, comfort, and confidence they need to drive safely with the rest of us.

The required phases to achieve a full BC driver’s licence – the GLP ‘Learner’ and ‘Novice’ permits:

Phase 1: Learner’s (L) Permit

At any time on or after their 16th birthday, a new driver can receive their L.

The L driving permit – steps:

Knowledge tests are available by appointment only. Book an appointment using ICBC’s online scheduling service.

Learn more about the BC Learner’s licence

Phase 2: Novice (N) Driver Permit

The driver must practice with their N permit for a minimum of a year under the supervision of an experienced, licensed driver. Upon completion of a year of practice, the Learner can take their first road test.

Getting the N permit:

  • Plan ahead and BOOK the CLASS 7 road test
  • Plan that the road test session — including time to review driving performance — will last approximately 45 minutes. The assigned examiner sits beside the driver and decides the route that will test your driving skills best.

Learn more about the Novice licence

Phase 3: Full Driver’s License

The final step! When you complete phase 3, you will be allowed complete independence on the road. The end of mandatory supervision as you drive. When you achieve this phase of the process, you can remove the magnet from your vehicle.

Phase 3 can be completed only after at least two years of safe driving as an N. The requirements for a full driver’s license include:

  • You have driven suspension-free for the previous year as an L driver.
  • The Class 5 road test – booked in advance.
  • Successful completion of the advanced road test. As the driver is more experienced, there will be more difficult and challenging driving environments presented during the road test than was completed for the N. The test along with examination feedback will take approximately 45 minutes.

Learn more about getting the full BC driver’s licence


Protecting the new, young driver – auto insurance coverage

When it comes to insuring young drivers, different factors will determine what you will pay for car insurance. Your insurance agent will identify the insurance rate using the following factors:

  • For the purposes of auto insurance, a young driver is defined by anyone under the age of 25.
  • Multiple risk factors influence the rates for auto insurance, including the increased likelihood of an accident with young drivers.
  • In Canada, young drivers make up about 10 per cent of drivers. The fact is, young drivers are more at risk for auto accidents. They account for about 25 per cent of all accidents resulting in serious injury or death.
  • Drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 are simply assumed to be at higher risk.

If you have questions about auto insurance for young or new drivers or any other insurance information, CONTACT US!

home preparation tips before you winter vacation

9 Home Preparation Tips – Winter Vacation With Peace of Mind

Before you leave on your long-awaited winter vacation follow these 10 home preparation tips so you can travel with peace of mind.

It’s likely been a very long time since you prepared for an extended vacation – we’ve all been staying so close to home! Consequently, you might be a little rusty when it comes to taking everything into consideration as you head out the door. There’s a lot to think about in your home preparation, particularly if you’re leaving for the entire winter season.

Winter, in fact, can be one of the most problematic of seasons. Between the sub-zero temperatures and the heavy, wet precipitation – a mixed bag sometimes with sleet, snow, and ice wreaking havoc. Without the proper home preparation and supervision, there’s a lot that can go wrong over the course of a couple of months.

It’s very easy to overlook some basic home preparations and safety precautions as you’re trying to get everything together to get out the door. So as you prepare to leave for, what we presume is an idyllic – warm and sunny – destination, or even an extended long weekend, keep in mind the following tips.

Why It’s Important to Prepare your Home Before Vacation

You’ve been anticipating this moment for almost two years! You deserve to have a relaxing vacation without worry. And, when you know that you have done a thoughtful and thorough home preparation before you leave, it will go a long way to help ease your mind.

You’ll have enough to think about on your travels, the home you left shouldn’t be one of them. Good home preparation will ensure that your home is safe, sound, and secure while you’re away. After all, there are many surprises that are most definitely not welcome – like learning that your house is damaged by the weather or burglarized.

So, how do you properly prepare a home to be vacant for several months? To start with, there are three primary concerns when you leave your home for an extended period of time. They include protection against intruders or burglars, protection from pests, and the most likely during winter months, protection against Mother Nature – often completely unforgiving!

9 easy tips to prepare your house

  1. Stop your newspaper and mail delivery. Visit Canada Post for more information.
  2. Have a trusted neighbour keep an eye on your home – let your neighbours know you’re leaving.
  3. Unplug all of your small appliances – blender, toaster, space heaters, etc.
  4. Be sure to lock all of your windows and doors.
  5. Hire a service or a neighbourhood kid to shovel while you’re away – the walks and driveway. In the summer, the same goes for mowing the lawn.
  6. Just assume there aren’t any safe places to hide a key outside your home. Give it to a trusted neighbour.
  7. Set timers on the lights indoors and install a motion-activated sensor for the floodlights outside.
  8. Depending on how long you plan to be away, consider shutting off the water.
  9. Be wary of sharing your vacation activity on social media. Save sharing all those great photos until you get back.

BONUS TIP: Upon your return, you want to know that food left in your freezer is still safe for consumption. As part of your home preparation, freeze a container of water. Place a coin on top of the frozen water. When you get back back, if the coin is still sitting on top, you know your freezer has been in good operation while you’ve been away. If the coin is at the bottom, that means there’s likely been a power outage and your food may have defrosted at some point during your time away.

Home insurance considerations

Thoughtful home preparation can make all the difference between a fun, relaxing vacation and a stressful, or shortened, trip due to a crisis at home. But, the fact is, accidents still happen. That’s why it’s vital that you have the appropriate home insurance coverage.

Do you have questions about an upcoming trip and leaving your home unattended? Let us help provide you with peace of mind knowing your home and property are adequately covered. TALK TO US!

firesmart your home in the fall

Prepare for Wildfire Season 2022 – FireSmart Your Home This Fall!

Don’t tempt fate next summer during another crazy wildfire season. FireSmart your home this fall!

We may have survived another wildfire season, but we shouldn’t stop thinking about it just because winter is on the way. In fact, fall and winter are among the best and easiest times to get out ahead and prepare. There are a variety of measures you can take right now to ensure that you FireSmart your home well in advance of a wildfire crisis next year or beyond.

How easily a wildfire can spread

To grow and expand, from the surrounding trees to your home, wildfires need fuel. This includes the vegetation around your home – trees, shrubs, and other surrounding vegetation. It also includes the home itself, if it’s not protected. Some trees pose a greater danger than others. Coniferous trees, for example, such as fir and juniper, are highly flammable. If you have deciduous, or leafy, trees around your home they are far less flammable and don’t pose the same degree of danger.

Did you know? The wind, or even the energy of the fire, can cast embers and other burning debris up to two kilometres ahead of the wildfire’s path. The airborne embers easily fall and ignite the ground and any structures they land upon – including your home.

Just the embers can cause significant damage. And once a building starts to burn, it too can expel embers further onto the property and into your surrounding community.

How to FireSmart your home

Over the past thirty years or so, Natural Resources Canada (NRC) estimates that forest and wildfires have destroyed approximately 2.5 million hectares (the equivalent to 6 million football fields) in Canada each year. The cost in fire suppression resources alone runs about $500 million to $1 billion per year.

That’s why it’s so very important to do what you can to protect your home and property. And when you FireSmart your home, you can increase your property’s fire resistance significantly, helping to reduce the likelihood of wildfire damage and loss.

Given the increasing number of destructive wildfires we can expect throughout BC and our region, there is a need for education. To help inform people about what they can do, FireSmart Canada offers a FREE online course. FireSmart 101 is only one hour of your time and provides a good introduction to the program. It shows us how homeowners and communities can take steps to protect our homes.

Take the FREE FireSmart 101 course!

In addition to the course, read on for steps you can take this fall and winter to better prepare and protect your property well in advance of what could very well be another record-breaking season for wildfires.firesmart bc tips to firesmart your home

FireSmart your yard – 1.5 – 10 metres from your home

To FireSmart your yard, you begin to explore better choices of grass, plants, shrubs, and other landscaping materials such as mulch. You want to choose those plants and landscape materials that are fire-resistant.

When you have a FireSmart yard, it contains mainly low-profile, fire-resistant plants and shrubs with adequate space between them. Don’t keep wood debris close by and understand that mulch can provide an inviting starting place for a fire.

Try to maintain a ‘non-combustible zone’ around your house that is about 1.5-metres wide of rock, stone, or soil with few or, ideally, no plants or debris.

What are your surroundings?
Examine the vegetation that surrounds your home. Is it fire-resistant or flammable?

What makes a flammable plant?

  • aromatic needles or leaves
  • oils or resin
  • loose, papery or flaky bark
  • fine, dry, dead material accumulation

What makes a plant fire-resistant?

  • supple, moist leaves
  • sap that is water-like and has minimal odour
  • doesn’t accumulate a lot of dead or dry vegetation
  • minimal sap or resin material

Take a look at your grass? When you keep your lawn short and frequently mowed, it is fire-resistant – shorter than 10 centimetres – and is far less likely to burn with any significant intensity. Dry grass is more flammable, so during water season, keep it well watered. Where ever you can in your yard, reduce the need for irrigation – keep drought-resistant plants.

Do you have a lot of pine needles or bark mulch? Try to keep these materials no closer than 10 metres to your home. They’re very combustible. Rather, choose crushed rock or gravel mulch to reduce the risk of wildfire dramatically.

Also, keep your firewood well away from your home – it’s a serious fire hazard. Keep it tidy and free of bark bits and debris as much as possible.

Examine your trees and shrubs
We all love a treed yard – we want to be surrounded by nature. And a yard with trees can be a FireSmart yard! What kind of trees do you have?  Enjoy a green, lush and green yard that is also fire resistant. Here’s how:
Plant leafy (deciduous) trees, such as:

  • maple
  • poplar
  • aspen
  • birch
  • cottonwood
  • alder
  • cherry
  • ash

Our area is full of coniferous trees and so are many of our yards. But as much as possible, try to keep them no closer than 10 metres to your home. These trees include:

  • pine
  • fir
  • spruce
  • cedar

When coniferous trees ignite as close as 10 metres to your house, the flames but also simply the intensity of the heat can ignite your home.
Be sure that any coniferous trees are well-spaced – at least three metres apart. If a fire moves through the tops of trees, it can easily advance into neighbouring trees. As it moves, it intensifies.

Throughout the fall, clean up any debris thoroughly around your home – highly flammable materials such as branches, dry leaves, and twigs. Remove smaller coniferous trees as they’re highly combustible. In fact, they can offer a ‘ladder’ and allow a fire to move up to the tops of trees.

Prune your trees. Fire moves from the ground and climbs quickly. So also keep debris and dried material cleared from below them. It’s recommended that you prune coniferous trees while they’re dormant, in late winter. Remove any dead branches at the trunk of the tree.

Find out MORE about how you can prepare and protect your home BEFORE wildfire season. Learn how your home and your community can be FireSmart!

Whitlock Insurance - The End of Best Terms Pricing Strata Insurance in BC

The End of ‘Best Terms Pricing’ Strata Insurance in BC

In the BC insurance world, 2020 began with breaking news about crazy-high strata insurance premiums.

There was a little good news in 2020!

At the beginning of last year, the news finally broke about the outrageous strata insurance premiums for strata developments in BC. It was found that strata insurance and deductibles had been increasing significantly year-to-year. The increases were attributed to the challenge by insurers to make a profit in BC’s strata insurance market as a result of the rising costs of claims. What’s more, insurance providers considered the market as “high risk” due to steadily increasing property values as well as the excessive risk of earthquake.

In answer, the provincial government turned to the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) – the agency that regulates the private insurance sector in British Columbia – to investigate the issue and help identify possible solutions.

By early summer, the BCFSA’s report found that a practice referred to as ‘best terms pricing’ was a significant contributor to the increase in premiums by, on average, 50 per cent in Metro Vancouver. The report that followed shortly thereafter identified that as many as 94 per cent of sample properties had been impacted negatively by best terms pricing.

According to Canadian Underwriter, best terms pricing refers to the final premium paid by owners of strata properties on an insurance subscription policy that is based on the highest of various insurance companies’ bids, even if the majority of insurance quotes are lower. Essentially, it’s a process where brokers gather quotes from various insurers, and when the insurer quotes on a strata property, it identifies the level of risk it’s prepared to accept along with a rate charge.

The quotes are conditional and based on all the insurers accepting the same terms. And, instead of the premium being set by the quote of each individual insurer, or by taking the average of all the quotes collected, under best terms pricing the final premium cost is set by the highest rate quoted by any of the insurers on the policy.

The amendment of Bill 14

Effective November 1, 2020, Bill 14 – 2020: Municipal Affairs and Housing Statutes Amendment Act (No. 2), 2020, amends insurance-related provisions of the Strata Property Act (SPA) and the Financial Institutions Act introducing regulatory changes. It addresses best terms pricing and the rising costs of strata insurance.

The costly practice will officially end this month, January 2021.

As a result of the inquiry and the amendment of Bill 14, insurers and agents are required to provide one month’s (30 days) notice directly to strata corporations of their plans to not renew an insurance policy, or if they’re making any material changes to the policy. This notice assures that strata corporations will be properly notified in advance of any increases in premiums, giving them time to explore other options for insurance coverage.

Insurance providers are now also required to disclose the amount of their commission to strata corporations or risk a substantial penalty – potential fines up to $50,000 for a corporation or $25,000 for an individual agent. Additionally, referral fees paid to strata property managers from strata insurance transactions is entirely prohibited.

For more information on the Bill, read the full government press release.

The bottom line is the amendments to the Bill should now better provide strata corporations with the necessary information to make better decisions regarding their insurance needs.

Read more detailed information about Bill 14.

If you’d like more information about how these changes impact you, please contact us!

Whitlock off-road vehicle insurance

Off-Road Vehicle Insurance. Don’t Be Caught Uncovered!

We know how popular our BC outdoors are for enthusiasts of off-road vehicles (ORV). Just be sure you know before you go!

We can’t overstate the importance of purchasing of road vehicle insurance. When you’re out enjoying your off-road vehicles – includes your all-terrain vehicle, dirt bike, and snowmobile or motor sled – it’s vital that you have appropriate insurance coverage. There are too many ways things can go sideways off road to not properly protect yourself and your off-road vehicle. 

And, insurance can be confusing enough for your primary properties let alone the vehicles you use only occasionally off-road. To help get a better understanding, below are the essentials so that you can make informed decisions – and not jeopardize your fun off-road! 

ICBC Basic Insurance for off-road vehicles – plate and licence

Even if you’re simply loading or unloading your ORV in a parking lot, but certainly if you operate a registered ORV on or across a highway, you must:

  • license and insure the vehicle, and
  • attach a validation decal to the ORV number plate or number sticker plate

ICBC Basic insurance doesn’t apply:

  • to operation on the highway beyond what is permitted by regulation (see operation restrictions below), or
  • while operating on
    • Crown land
    • forest service roads
    • private property
    • other resource roads on Crown land, or highway that is not permitted, as outlined:

Operation restrictions

A vehicle that displays an ORV plate with a validation decal may be operated on a highway without an Operation Permit to:

  • cross the highway at an intersection controlled by a stop sign or traffic light, and be loaded/unloaded to or from another vehicle in a parking lot

Off-Road Program – Legal Age to operate an ATV, Dirt Bike or Snowmobile ON PUBLIC ROADS:

Prohibited use by Insured

c) while he or she is under the age of 16 years or under such other age as is prescribed by the law of the province in which he or she resides at the time this contract is made as being the minimum age at which a licence or permit to drive an automobile may be issued to him or her.*

Prohibited use by others

(i) unless that person is for the time being either authorized by law or qualified to drive or operate the automobile, or

(ii) while that person is under the age of 16 years or under such other age as is prescribed by the law of the province in which he or she resides at the time this contract is made as being the minimum age at which a licence or permit to drive an automobile may be issued to him or her.*

*Page 6 of wording MGH571 Ed. 2811

For those who DO NOT have a valid Drivers License (any age) and who wish to operate your off-road vehicle OFF A PUBLIC HIGHWAY

7) It is understood and agreed that while the vehicle is being operated off a public highway the Insurer waives compliance with that portion of the Statutory Condition dealing with prohibited uses which prohibits the Insured from driving or operating the vehicle or permitting the use of the vehicle when the operator is not authorized by law or qualified to drive the vehicle or while he is under the age prescribed by law for the operation of a vehicle on a highway

Liability insurance

Did you know? If you operate your ATV or other ORV on a Forest Service Road or Crown land in British Columbia, it is required by law that you carry liability insurance. It’s also required that you carry liability insurance with your snowmobile if you cross a ploughed Forestry Road. 

Think you won’t be travelling BC Forestry Roads or Crown land? Think again! If you’re operating your ORV on road in the backcountry of BC, chances are almost guaranteed that your travels will include BC Forestry Roads as well as Crown land. Regulations set by the Ministry of Forests require you to carry registration and evidence that you have purchased liability insurance for your ORV.

Be warned, that if a Conservation Officer or the RCMP stops you, you’ll be asked to produce proof of liability insurance for your off-road vehicle – the fine can be $200.00 or more if you’re unable to do so. 

Liability insurance for your off-road vehicle provides vital coverage for you in the event of the unexpected – if you damage another person’s property or injure someone. Talk to your representative for liability coverage designed to meet the legal requirements for operating your ORV on B.C. Forest Service Roads. 

It is critical that you know that you’re off-road vehicles are NOT covered by your home policy. It’s not merely part of the contents of your garage, which are covered by your homeowner’s insurance. The policy for your home doesn’t cover vehicles, outside of only limited exceptions which DO NOT include ATV’s, side-by-sides, snowmobiles, and the like.

Belong to an ATV club or organization such as  ATV/BC? Have you successfully completed a relevant safety course? Be sure to ask for potential discounts associated with club membership or safety certifications. 

Accident protection

As a driver of a car or truck in British Columbia, your insurance coverage provides accident benefits coverage – if you happen to get into an accident, no matter whose fault, insurance covers injury and any associated costs. You can purchase similar coverage for an ORV – if you’re injured while riding, there is some accident protection.

ORV operators may also want to consider collision and comprehensive insurance to protect against theft. It’s an unfortunate fact that ORVs are vulnerable to both being stolen as well as accidents. 

Important considerations

As you think about your insurance, and before you talk to an insurance agent, there a couple of factors to be clear about: 

  • You must disclose how the vehicle will be used — exclusively recreation, farm or business use, for example.
  • Be sure to consider the value of your ORV. New models can qualify for cost coverage for its replacement. 

No doubt, you’ll have questions! Don’t be afraid to bring questions to your insurance representative. Insurance helps to provide preparedness and protection as well as peace of mind. And this includes the coverage of your off road vehicles.

Do you have a new, or new-to-you off-road vehicle you need to insure? We can help! Contact us today to discuss your insurance needs or get a FREE QUOTE!

Whitlock Insurance understand your policy

How Well Do You Understand Your Insurance? Rest Easy – Here’s a Quick Guide!

How well do you understand your insurance? Pages of policy can be overwhelming – here’s a quick guide to what, and why, you have to know what you’ve purchased.

Peace of mind is so valuable. When you purchase insurance, it’s really peace of mind that you’re buying so you can rest easier knowing that you and your family will be taken care of in the event of a crisis.

As we’ve seen in recent days, life can be disrupted very easily. And where we can be prepared, where we can be proactive to maintain the wellbeing of ourselves and our loved ones, we have to be.

Whether it’s burst water pipes due to a sudden cold snap, a tree down due to a windstorm, a car collision, or damage to your business by vandals – insurance helps you to be prepared. Day-to-day can be a roller coaster in the event of an accident or loss but protecting yourself in the aftermath with the appropriate insurance can help you better manage.

The unexpected can be costly, and the right insurance policy provides the necessary protection to help mitigate those expenses incurred by the automobile accident, those heinous vandals, or the burst water pipes. Understand the basics of insurance, and you’ll be far more educated and prepared to make the necessary informed decisions about the coverage you’ll need.

If you don’t have insurance, you’ll be unable to get a mortgage on your home or drive a car. Travel, too, becomes a risk that could be very, very costly.

    1. What exactly is insurance and how does it help? Along with the many other people buying insurance, your purchase adds funds to a premium pool. These are the funds that get distributed to help you or another contributor to the pool in the event of the unexpected – an accident or loss during that calendar year. The payouts are referred to as ‘claims’. It is that law that insurers always have sufficient funds to cover all claims filed.
    2.  Why is insurance a MUST? If you don’t have insurance, driving a car, buying a home, launching your own business, or even just traveling out of the province, pose an unaffordable risk, if you’re able to do it all. In the event of a crisis – a loss or accident – you would be left on the hook to cover all of the costs, often thousands and thousands of dollars if not much, much more.
    3. Why do I pay for insurance yearly?  Aside from only the rarest exception, an insurance policy is purchased on an annual contract basis and renewed each year. The premium pools operate one year at a time and the insurance company uses a formula to predict the funds necessary to pay the claims for the coming year. After one year, everyone’s contract renews and premiums do not carry over or build up year to year. Calculating insurance premiums is somewhat complicated and involves a risk assessment that draws on actuarial science. Based on informed predictions about what funds will be needed to pay future claims, the premiums are calculated. Insurance providers collect the information and, in addition to what they understand from their experience, they set a fair and accurate premium price.
    4. What will my insurance cover? Regardless of what happens, in every case, your policy will only pay for those insured losses outlined in your coverage contract. It is important that you take the necessary time to review your policy and be sure to understand exactly what’s detailed within. If you have any questions, your insurance representative will be more than happy to answer them so that everyone is on the same page. Keep in mind, it’s not just what’s in the policy – it’s what isn’t covered as well.  Be very clear about both aspects of your policy – talk to your insurance agent to get a full understanding.

The 4 steps of buying insurance

  1. Your insurance company estimates an annual premium to accept the risk involved to cover your home, vehicle, business, or travels.
  2. You will pay that premium to your insurance provider on an annual, or monthly, basis.
  3. The insurance company adds all premiums paid into one large pool, operating as a contract on a yearly basis.
  4. Your insurance provider will use that pool to pay for the losses identified by claims made that calendar year.

We want to feel as care-free as possible in our daily lives. However, there are many things we do each year that pose some degree of inherent risk – driving a car, owning a home, traveling – where additional protection is essential, even mandatory in many cases.

Insurance is the one tool that helps to provide the preparedness, the protection, and the invaluable peace of mind to do it all!

If you have any questions about an existing or new policy, we want to help! Contact us today to discuss your insurance needs or get a FREE QUOTE!

Whitlock Insurance why you need coverage for a cruise

Taking an Ocean Cruise? 8 Reasons to Purchase Travel Insurance Before You Go

Anything can happen even on an idyllic ocean cruise. Don’t sail unprepared, purchase travel insurance to ensure your well-being and peace of mind.

With all the news surrounding the recent outbreak of Coronavirus and its impact on cruise ship passengers, people excited about their upcoming ocean cruise may be experiencing a dampening of spirits, if not outright fear.

The fact is, outbreaks of viruses aside, anything can happen as you set sail to paradise. The list of potentialities is a long one, but if you’re prepared, the chances of coming home from the high seas with great memories rather than a horror story are greatly increased.

Here’s why including travel insurance should be included in your planning:

1. Trip cancellation

It’s not unusual to book your ocean cruise well in advance – weeks or months – of your departure date. But, of course, anything can happen between the time you book and the day you leave. You could hurt yourself, get sick, have a family or business crisis, among the many possibilities.

How do you avoid the penalties associated with cancellation? Travel insurance. Insurance will cover you in the event of trip cancellation, including the fines and costs that go along with having to change your plans, so you can take of your emergency.

2. To cover medical emergencies

Again, you never know what might happen after you set off on vacation, even somewhere fairly insulated and safe as a cruise ship. You may be traveling with a medical condition (diabetes, for instance), or something may befall you once you’re on board. Perhaps you’ve forgotten your insulin at home and require an injection. It would cost you a lot in handling and logistics to have your treatment delivered and administered.

Imagine a fall down the stairs and breaking a bone. Your cruise isn’t going to cover an accident that is the result of your personal negligence.

Fortunately, travel insurance may provide for medical emergencies onboard your cruise ship. This may include transportation to get the required treatment on the mainland. It will cover hospital bills and possibly include travel home if needed as well.

Additionally, insurance could compensate for any expenses incurred in treating your wounds onboard the ship.

3. Trip interruption

Again, the only thing we can count on is that there are no certainties in life. There are a variety of things that can happen to you between the time you board and your arrival to your destination or back at your original port. An emergency at home such as a sick child or parent, for instance.

Do you choose to continue with your travels or head back home? Most choose to tend to their family emergency and head home. This decision will result in additional expenses, of course, such as possible hotel fees and changes to your flight.

In some cases, there are problems with the cruise ship itself that requires a costly change of plans.

Preparing yourself with travel insurance for your ocean cruise makes sure these incidentals are covered. It will allow you to change your flight and help settle any other associated costs.

4. Issues with the cruise line

Being prepared with travel insurance can help to mitigate any unexpected costs associated with problems that befall your cruise line. For example, you may have a long-standing reservation but your cruise company has gone bankrupt and your plans are suddenly canceled through no fault of your own.

Financial crises faced by your travel provider can affect your travel plans. Travel insurance helps cover you in these situations. The insurance companies can often cover any financial default on the part of the cruise company.

Given the volatility and unpredictability of the global economy, additional thought and preparations as you plan your travels are necessary to avoid being let down to the tune of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

5. Loss of baggage

Losing luggage is a common complaint no matter how you choose to travel commercially. It is particularly common with cruise ships where there are hundreds, sometimes thousands of travelers with their bags. And, despite your best efforts to prevent the loss or misplacing of your luggage, it’s always still very much a possibility.

Travel insurance provides a safety net that, while it doesn’t prevent the loss of your belongings, it can help replace them if you need. In the event of a loss, insurance coverage includes follow-up with ship management and the handling of communication and any necessary investigation. If your bags cannot be located, you’ll likely be compensated for the lost items.

6. You Miss Your Ship

We know this probably isn’t you – you’re always on time! BUT… sometimes things happen. No matter how proudly prompt you always are, there could be any number of circumstances outside your control that make you late for the launch of your cruise.

A good travel insurance policy will provide for this situation. For instance, it may allow you to travel to a destination stop to join your cruise.

You may end up a little late, but you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the rest of your time aboard.

7. Threats to security at your destination

Terrorism and the fear of terrorist activity is an ever-present threat to those traveling to many destinations worldwide. Given this threat and the political unrest that often accompanies it, it isn’t that unusual for there to be occasional disruption to ocean cruising travel plans. Occasionally, a desired cruise destination is subject to terror attacks that impact foreigners.

If you’ve already booked and paid for your ticket, who pays for the canceled plans? Travel insurance takes these kinds of scenarios into consideration.

8. Emergency evacuation

While you want to look forward to sunny, blue skies and great weather throughout your cruise vacation, of course, there’s never any hard-and-fast assurances of fair conditions. In the event of a terrible weather event, an emergency evacuation from your location may be necessary. Such evacuations require significant resources and your cruise line likely won’t be covering the costs.

If you’re traveling to a destination prone to extreme weather events you can compare travel insurance plans for a policy that ensures you’ll be covered in the event of an emergency evacuation. A change of plans may be necessary, including a change in air travel arrangements to return home which should be covered by your travel insurance coverage.

In the worst-case scenario, some policies also offer evacuation services for fatalities onboard or at a destination. This coverage will ensure an easier time for your loved ones recovering the victim in the event of a fatal accident at sea. It’s a particularly dark type of insurance coverage, but as we’ve already determined not to mention what we see every day on the news, anything can happen.

BONUS: Valuable Peace Of Mind

No matter where you go, including your next cruise, travel insurance will provide you with valuable peace of mind as you make your plans. Cruise trips are expensive and you want to freely enjoy your time aboard and at wonderful destinations without worrying about what might go wrong.

Your ocean cruise is your time to decompress, relax, and fill your cup. Enjoy the sun, the different ports, and meeting new friends – your travel insurance will handle the rest.

Don’t forget your travel insurance for your next ocean cruise!

Not having insurance isn’t worth the stress or the tremendous risk and cost. There is any number of things that could crop up and ruin this special getaway – you want to leave expecting the best but prepared for the worst.

Questions? Contact us  about your travel plans and the best travel insurance coverage for your trip.

whitlock insurance be prepared with travel insurance

Escape Winter Prepared – Purchase Travel Insurance!

Purchase travel insurance before you leave to ensure your vacation isn’t ruined by a mishap or accident – it could be extremely costly without it!

Why is it important to include travel insurance in your travel plans? Purchasing travel coverage ensures you and your loved ones are protected if, when you’re out of the country or the province, an accident or mishap occurs.

Many of us are traveling, escaping the cold, ice, and snow to warmer climes, at this time of year. Don’t forget, as you’re planning your flights, deciding on an itinerary, renting a car, and laying out clothes to pack, to make sure you’ve purchased adequate travel insurance, too.

Be prepared for the possibility of the unexpected. Even if it’s just a quick weekend trip to the United States!

In a recent report from Allianz Global Assistance Canada (AGAC), it’s suggested that we Canadians are choosing to go without travel insurance when we head off for quick getaways. Without realizing that, for only tiny savings, the risks can actually be quite significant.

The information in the report identifies that less than 1.4% of single-trip policies purchased by Canadians were for trips lasting a couple of days. A staggering statistic considering that Statistics Canada reports that, last year, over 12.5 million Canadians traveled across the border for at least one night.

That’s a huge number of Canadians traveling largely uninsured, particularly with the exorbitant costs associated with medical care in the United States.

Given the proximity for many of us to the border, quick trips across occur quite frequently. As a result, travelers often don’t consider purchasing travel insurance for their quick getaways leaving them painfully vulnerable in the event of the unexpected.

And while your provincial health plan coves a small percentage of medical expenses south of the border, it won’t be nearly adequate considering the possibility of thousands of dollars that can be incurred. Even just a few stitches in an American hospital can cost upwards of $3000, or a sprained ankle, approximately $2000. Let’s not even think about the costs associated with a serious injury requiring a hospital stay, or what might be sustained in the event of an auto accident.

To ensure you’re protected from expensive medical charges abroad or beyond the borders of British Columbia, we can help you get the coverage you need.  As a broker, we’re able to access packages offered by a range of different insurance companies, through whom we can provide you with different types of travel insurance coverage:

Emergency Medical Insurance: A more comprehensive option that includes everything from licensed ambulance to emergency medical transport to emergency dental expenses to prescription drug reimbursement to family transportation expenses as well as board and lodging for the insured person(s) or the traveling companion while confined to a hospital, and escort home of insured children and more.

All-Inclusive Holiday Package: Emergency Medical Insurance – Worldwide, Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance, Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption, Baggage Insurance.

Non-Medical Package: Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance, Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance, Baggage Insurance.

Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance: Unexpected sickness, injury and/or death of the insured traveler or traveling companion, the insured traveler’s immediate family or the traveling companion’s immediate family; natural disaster, travel advisory, subpoena, involuntary job loss, missed connection, the non-issuance of a travel visa.

Additionally, Emergency Hospital, Annual Multi-trip Insurance, and others, as well as various trip lengths are available to choose from.

We can also provide insurance that allows you to travel around the world as often as you want or need, provided that the duration of your travel does not exceed the maximum number of days selected.

Relying on insurance provided by your credit card?

It’s important to note that credit card plans can often have limits to benefits and coverage. We know we can provide travel insurance to give you the most appropriate coverage for your needs. Questions? Ask us!

Your travels are meant to be enjoyed – you’ve worked hard to take the time for a trip!  But, it’s impossible to anticipate what might happen while you’re on the road or abroad. As such, it’s imperative that you consider all potential risks, no matter how short the trip.

Insurance to protect beyond that of your provincial medical plan

You may be planning a quick road trip south of the border. Perhaps it’s a more extensive trip to enjoy several months in the sun during the depths of our Canadian winter. No matter where you’re going beyond provincial borders, protecting yourself with travel insurance must be part of your travel preparations.

It’s very important that you understand that most provincial health plans will only cover you for expenses within your home province or territory. When you buy travel coverage, you protect yourself regardless of where you travel.

For instance, the provincial health plan we enjoy here in British Columbia will likely only cover a fraction of any healthcare expenses incurred outside of BC or Canada. Your plan’s coverage will be limited when traveling to another province and medical expenses outside of BC could be financially overwhelming.

The additional types of coverage you can purchase include Emergency Hospital and Medical Single trip Insurance, Snowbird coverage, Family Plans, Visitors to Canada, and non-medical plans including Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption, Flight Accident, Baggage coverage and more.

Planning to travel, out of Canada or British Columbia? Contact us or call 250-368-9188 for more information. Or get a FREE QUOTE.