Got a ticket for using your mobile phone while driving? It's going to cost you...

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Driver in a Mitsubishi Galant using a hand hel...Image via Wikipedia

It used to be that speeding tickets were the main concern for drivers. Times have changed, and with the rise in popularity of mobile devices we have new concerns on the road. Distracted motorists using their hand held devices have caused more accidents, because of this laws regarding their use have tightened. In Quebec, using a hand held device while driving has been prohibited since April 2008.

 

 

In  line with new stats released by Quebec's provincial police force's analysis of the state of traffic safety for 2011,  the number of violations for texting or using the phone while driving still seem to be a concern.  Our attachments to our phones are still creating road safety hazards, and despite the strict laws which prohibit the use of a hand held device while driving, the information indicates people are still texting, talking and driving using handheld devices.

The law is pretty specific, even if the person is not using the phone, simply having it in their hand is reason to get a ticket.

The big question some people have is:

Does this affect my insurance rate?

Insurance companies have not come up with "Mobile phone use discounts" but what many do have is a "Conviction Free" or "Safe driving" discount.

 

This type of discount reduces your car insurance premiums.  If you are no longer eligible, it can be removed.

So although we can not say we have a specific penalty for people who use mobile phones while driving, in a round about way, you risk being penalized because to have a violation in your driving record for any kind of ticket or conviction (barring a parking ticket) you lose the discount and your rates go up.

Besides an increase in insurance rate, you could also see higher premiums for renewing your drivers license - since the SAAQ also takes into account your driving record when determining your renewal rate.

So overall, when you look at the big picture, you will not only have to pay the ticket you get for driving while using a handheld device, you may also lose demerit points off your license, pay more for your license renewal and if you had a conviction free or safe driving discount before, you will see your insurance rate go up too.

Focusing on the road while driving and using the hands-free device in your car makes a lot more dollars and "sense" not only for your safety and those of others, but for your bank account too.  Don't pay more than you have to, be safe and hands- free.

Have you been stopped for using your mobile phone? What do you think of the law, leave a comment and join the conversation! 

 

 

 

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Winter Tires - Why Bother?

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Winter road
A couple of years ago the Quebec Government in Canada passed a law about winter tires:  From December 15th to March 15th, ALL tires mounted on a  passenger vehicle  must be specifically designed for winter driving.  

At the time, I , like many people who live in colder climates had used All Seasons for years. I didn't really think there was an issue, after all, years of driving with All Seasons, and no problems, right?

10am in a snowstormI can tell you from experience, and as someone who went into it very annoyed at the inconvenience of changing tires twice a year - it is well worth it.  I am a pretty strong winter driver, even on my previous All Seasons I always knew how to adjust my driving to deal with any conditions.  Safety was always important to me, yet I had never bothered with winter tires until the law passed.

Today,  I can't even imagine driving without them. You will feel safer, you will have better control of the road, you will be protecting yourself and your family so much better.

Our climate is changing, we are seeing major increases in the amounts of snow we see and ice storms.  When you drive in snow storms or in icy conditions, do you see people unable to manage the roads, stuck or struggling, driving at a turtles pace simply because they can't get their vehicle to move forward in the slush, snow and ice?  Or maybe, this person is you?

Don't end up on the side of the road because you are having problems controlling your vehicle.

Off the road - Winter TiresWherever you are, if you drive in a region that has snowfall or sees temperature drops, don't wait for it to become a regulation or mandated by law.  

Get your winter tires now, it will extend the life of your all seasons/summer tires, it will give you the control that you need on the road - beyond what you have ever experienced with All Seasons.  It will keep you on track.

Its an investment in your safety. Your regular tires will last twice as long, since they will be used in the conditions they were built for.  

I found the video below from the Insurance Bureau of Canada which shows road tests on an ice skating rink - really interesting.  Hope it helps convince any of you out there who don't see the value in snow tires to give it a second thought.

English: Severe snow rating symbol for car tiresImage via Wikipedia

 

How do you know a winter tire ?

  • Tires on which one of the following inscriptions appears: Alaska | Arctic | A/T or AT | Blizzard | Ice | LT | Nordic
  • Snow (but not Mud & Snow) | Stud | Ultratraction | Winter
  • Tires on which the mountain and snowflake icon appears.

From an insurance perspective, we are still seeing claims where people were driving without winter tires. At this time, the insurers are handling these case by case. From our experience with our insurers, which include Aviva, Chubb, Missisquoi, Guarantee Company of North America , and Intact, we have not seen any claims denied due to the violation of the law which requires winter tires.  However, in Quebec, it is a law and so everyone here should have them installed. We advise all our clients to have them installed and respect the law.

 

A real driver is interested in performance, equip your vehicle for winter, you'll enjoy the ride, you'll have better control and everyone will be safer.

Leave the skating on ice or sliding down slippery slopes for outdoor sports and gain control of the road.

Have you installed your winter tires yet? What's your experience? Please share in the comments below and join the conversation!

Screen Captures

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Cut Your Costs: There's always room for more discounts. Do you have all of yours?

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The easiest option to save money on insurance is making sure you get all the discounts you are entitled to.

Does your insurer have all the information they need to give you all the best discounts? Here are some items that many insurers will credit your policy for:

  • For automobile, Conviction Free Discount (haven't gotten a ticket in years? why not benefit?)
  • Credit Check - this is not a discount per se, however it results in favorable rates for many people. In our offices we have seen rate adjustments up to 50%. Make sure you have authorized your credit scoring - it could really help.
  • Non-Smoking discount. Yes, you heard it, insurers even give discounts for things like being a non-smoker. It does not apply with all insurance companies, but its worth an inquiry. Not smoking is not only good fro your health, its good for your insurance too ! Every bit counts!
  • Group membership discounts - many insurance companies have group discounts. Find our from your employer if you have a group insurance plan for home and auto. There are also group discounts for members of certain professions or organizations like CAA, as well as professional discounts, and even university degree discounts. We have one insurance company who even gives a discount if you work for a company with more than 5 employees. It doesn't hurt to ask. Not yet graduated? Students get discounts with some companies as well. Seniors and Retirees also have special plans with some companies. There is something for everyone somewhere.
  • Alarm system discounts. Often people upgrade or install alarms and then do not think to update the insurance company. The difference between different home alarm systems can be from 5% to 40% depending on the insurance company. Make sure they have all the information they need to give you the best rate.
  • Insurance to full value on homes. Depending on the insurer, sometimes they will allow you to "save money" by only insuring to 85% of the estimated reconstruction value of the home, however, some insurance companies will give a special discount to clients who recently allowed a review of their home reconstruction value and chose to insure to 100%. Your insurer has to indicate this in the policy to allow for the discount code. Make sure that if your insurer offer this advantage, you have that discount on your policy.
  • Renovations: There are also discounts with some insurers when there are recent upgrades on the heating, hot water, oil tanks. Inquire.
  • Multi Policy discounts. We have all heard about the idea that if you have all your insurance with one company, you will get discounts. You might be surprised at how this doesn't automatically get assigned every time. So make sure if you have your policies through different companies, you get quotes to see how much it would be to combine them, you will see savings. Then make sure once you have them all together, you see the discounts listed on your policy, or call to make sure they are there. This can save you up to 25% per policy. That's significant savings. 
  • Mortgage Free Discounts. People often forget to advise when they have paid off the mortgage. When you have no mortgage on your home, most insurers give a discount - don't forget to make sure you have this , if you are entitled.
  • Winter Storage - People often put a car away for the winter and do not drive it at all. Did you know that insurance companies can often add a clause to your policy to limit the coverage during that time and therefore give you money back for the time the car was not on the road? A lot of people delete the insurance on their cars to save that money, however this leaves you unprotected for liability, or theft as well as many other possibilities. Find out about the storage discount, it will save you money but keep you covered.

Remember the insurance companies are very competitive and they are constantly developing plans to offer value and savings. They know no one wants to pay more for insurance than they have to. Take a few moments, review your insurance with your representative and there is a good chance they will have ways to give you great coverage while still saving you some cost.

 

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Put money back in your pocket by making smart insurance choices. #insurance #savings

ChristmasThe holidays are a wonderful time of year where people from all over the world get to take some valued time off with the family, enjoy a few days off and plan for the year ahead.

Unfortunately this time of year can be very stressful for many as we increase our expenses on vacations, gifts and events. One of the things I try and do year round is find ways to save people money on their insurance while still providing them with high value products that offer good protection.

So here are some cost saving tip ideas to ask your insurance representative about, I hope it will help you save on your insurance, and maybe even get you a refund on your annual premium if you make the changes now:

Here are some areas to explore

Children in College - you are paying a great deal for their school, take advantage of any benefits your policy may allow.

People Walking at Rockefeller Center Holiday lights and angels

Exploring what coverages you can get for free -  ex:  Identity Theft, Legal Assistance, Roadside Assistance, Home Care. So many companies have come out with little mini plans to offer you these services, find out what you may already have in your policy, or what you could get at no cost, and save the cost off all your other plans (like credit card companies, banks, Roadside plans, etc).

Auto Insurance  - How to cut costs, get all the discounts you're entitled to

Travel Insurance  & Car Rental Insurance Learn About what is already covered on your home and auto policies so you do not have to pay more than you need when you go on vacation!

The Deductible
"I am not going to have a loss, so I don't want to pay a lot on insurance" - Great plan, so consider increasing your deductible. It can make a difference.

The easiest option to save money on insurance: Make sure you have all the discounts on your policy that you are entitled to.

Remember the insurance companies are very competitive and they are constantly developing plans to offer value and savings. They know no one wants to pay more for insurance than they have to. Take a few moments, review your insurance with your representative and there is a good chance they will have ways to give you great coverage while still saving you some cost.

You do not want to find cheap insurance and sacrifice value, you want to find good products, that respond to your needs and protect you.  Everyone is different, every situation varies. Make sure your insurance packages give you what you need to keep your home and family safe for the holidays and always!

If you are going away for a holiday vacation, don't forget to check out my vacation tips for safety, prevention and savings!

  Times Square Holiday Angels and snowflakes Christmas scene
Wishing you all the happiest of holidays and a year ahead full of success, health and all things good!



The Deductible - Increase it and save some money on your insurance.

The Deductible

  • You have probably heard about the option of increasing your deductible to pay less on your insurance. This works for all kinds of home, auto, watercraft insurance. Often people want the "lowest deductible" because they don't want to pay very much in the event of a loss. On the flip side, every time I sell an insurance policy people love to say "I am not going to have a loss, so I don't want to pay a lot".  Well, this is a great time to reflect on how much you are paying on insurance, and if you truly do not believe you are going to have a loss, then why not take on more of the risk yourself and increase your deductible.  Just ask yourself this first, if you have a loss are you able to come up with $500, $1000, $2500, $5000, etc right away to cover your part of it? If you are, and you aren't going to suffer in covering the first part yourself, then take the higher deductible and as long as you are comfortable with esentially self insuring for that first amount (the value of the deductible you choose) then you can pocket the savings on taking on the higher deductible. On home insurance for example, we often see people saving up to $500 per year for taking a $2500 or $5000 deductible. 

Something to consider.

However, please do not put yourself in a financial strain to increase your deductible. The possibility always exists that you can save $500 on your insurance premium this year, and then all of a sudden, three months down the line you have a loss and you end up paying out $2500 on a deductible - or worse yet, you have a $2000 claim, and you can't get any help from your insurance. Take the time to evaluate where you are really at and make the right decision for you.

  • Look for discount Opportunities or Policy packages that give you advantages you need at no additional cost.

Kids in college or away at school? You have some #insurance discounts you may be able to get!

Every year we speak to our clients about kids away at school and some of the concerns that come up as a result. There are often good ways to make sure your child is fully insured, while still saving money if you manage your policies properly.  Here are some common tips and things we have done to help save our clients money while keeping their kids safe. Remember that every insurance company is different, so make sure to have a discussion with your agent/broker or insurance company to find out what their policies are, they may even have more ideas to suggest!

Do they need coverage for their apartment or dorm?

Sometimes when you have kids in school you buy them tenant insurance for their apartment. Did you know that many insurance companies include coverage for dependants at additional locations? Find out if you can cover your dependents automatically through your home policy for liability and their contents without spending more!

Do you have your kids on your car insurance while they are away at school?

Many insurance companies have special codes they can put into your policy indicating that your occasional driver is away at school. Often if they are  100 miles away (for example) it is understood they will not have access to the car on a regular basis, they will only be in town for holidays, long weekends and summer, so we have insurance companies that add a 50% discount to the rates. Why not cash in on that? Speak to your insurer for ideas and details.

If your company does not offer this kind of accommodation/discount -  you should ask around, its fairly common.Not all companie shave the same products or protections, it is important to inform yourself. 

Finally, some insurers offer discounts when the parents and children have their own insurance, but keep it with the same company. Make sure to ask about this. Often an insurance company may forget to make the connection, why leave anything on the table?

Kids going away to school often bring up new issues with insurance, laptops to insure, liability for premises rented, how to insure roomates, travel insurance... All these things are worth discussing with your insurer. What kinds of needs have you encountered?


Is being with the wrong insurance company costing you money? Find out what companies will give you for free.

Insurance is competitive. As brokers we get the opportunity to compare products and advantages daily which allow us to try and give our clients the best options.

From the consumer side much of this information may not be evident especially if you are not dealing with a broker, or you do not have a specific agent representing your family.

Here are some tips to try and help you as you look at your own insurance needs, perhaps there are some ways by looking at these points and having a discussion with your insurance company or representative that you can save some money.

Look for discount opportunities or policy packages that give you advantages you need at no additional cost. All insurance companies and policies are not the same.  

Some examples of coverages that are often offered at no charge by some insurance companies - and charged for with others are:

  • CAA or Roadside assistance - we have one company that offers it for free - however it must be requested or offered. This saves our CAA members $75 per year, simply because they went with the insurance company that offered it. They could be with another insurance company all along and not even realize this option is available. Make sure you find out if you could have similar perks - all you have to do is ask.
  • No obligation to replace with full replacement value on your building, or contents. This can be a huge advantage.  Some insurers charge higher premiums to include this in your policy. it used to be that only VIP , expensive and high end policies offered this option. It has now become a competitive advantage point for many carriers. Some companies offer it for free if you insure your home and car with them or  if you are of a certain age (we have one company that gives it to anyone over 45, another who gives it only if you're retired, another who gives it if you are a CAA member) Just examples but something to think about.

One of our companies, Aviva Canada, for example offers their policy holders between 45 and 75 years old, who have their home and car insured with them (under their Connexion Plan) the following amazing advantages, which other insurers charge for individually:

  1.  Health assistance
  2. Telephone assistance services
  3. Legal assistance ~ever need to speak to a lawyer? This gives you access, included for free.
  4. Home assistance
  5. Support and home care (following a 5 day hospital stay) ~what a huge advantage!, 
  6. Replacement cost with no obligation to replace &   2-year guaranteed premiums

There are advantages with almost every insurance company, the key is finding out and asking about it.

  • We have another company that offers free legal assistance with every home policy.
  • Most companies are now offering some form of Identity theft coverage. Do you have this included now, are you paying for it and is there an opportunity to get it for free?
  • Another company that includes coverage for rental cars worldwide, as opposed to "limited to North America". This may be important to some who travel often to Europe or worldwide, and totally irrelevant to others. It is worth knowing about, and if it doesnt appeal to you, maybe this is one of those value added's that you don't really want to be paying for.
  • Some companies automatically extend your contents coverage to other properties that you may own or rent, others charge for this.  

Have a conversation with your insurance representative to make sure they really know you and what your needs are.

Often when you speak to a direct insurance company, there is no opportunity for the agent to really know you. Ask the questions and you may be surprised at how much you can save and benefit when you really look at the big picture.

As brokers, we do our best to do this all the time for our clients because it's not just insurance - its finding the best fit to protect your assets, save you money and serve your individual needs.

Do you have any tips to save on insurance that allow you to save and keep the coverage you really need in place? What have your experiences been?

 


12 Most Powerful Ways to Staff Your Company with Star Employees

Insurance Brokers are in high demand in Quebec. As the Boomer generation heads towards retirement, this profession is one that is definitely seeing a shortage. The regulations governing insurance broker licensing and the high demands of the position which combine customer service with a necessity to be able to navigate insurance proficiently for clients, make it even more challenging to find the right fit. Add to this the changing environment where skill sets have to not only respond to traditional service, but now have to integrate into Social Media channels as well, star employees are key ~ I wrote this article to highlight some of the strategy we have been using to engage employees and make sure that as we move forward we build a strong team and that as a company, we recognize that our employees are our most valuable assets.

This blog post was originally published on The 12 Most... Blog : Blog, Business, Education and training, Talent & Professional Development , Dec 12th, 2011

 

 

One of the biggest challenges facing organizations today is finding and retaining the right talent for the job. Businesses have to become more and more competitive to survive in challenging economic times, and a key to doing this is staffing your company with a great team. Management has to adapt to changing environments and take on new approaches to hiring and retention to ensure a superstar team.

Here are the 12 Most powerful ways to staff your company with star employees:

Star Employee Boat Cruise Ogilvy & Ogilvy Retention Development and Appreciation

 

1. Empower your company with great leaders.

Leaders who are engaged, committed and motivated to work as part of the team.

2. Encourage your leaders to interact with their team members on a day to day basis.

This ensures that they have a true sense of what is happening, and puts them in a position to always respond.

3. Know your environment.

Determine what behaviors in the environment will generate reward for employees. Hire people who are motivated by what you have to offer.

4. Be open and authentic in presenting your company to new candidates.

Give a thorough overview of what they can expect. Don’t just stick to job tasks, include environment, team behavior, and walk them through what a day looks like in your company. Be as open with them and as authentic as you would be with your existing employees. Have you heard about how being authentic in Social Media is the key to success? Well being authentic when you are interviewing is also a key.

5. Allow the potential candidate to meet existing team members.

Something that I do when hiring, is I have existing team members meet with the candidate. I encourage the candidate to ask existing employees any questions they may have. This gives them a chance to feel if it is going to be a good fit from the start. Don’t wait for the first weeks of work for things to come up when it is too late and you’ve already spent your time and energy on the hire.

6. Take the opinion of current employees into consideration in the hiring process.

Their perspectives are different than the hiring officer, or the manager. These are the people who will be working closest with the new employee. Let them conduct their own “interview”. Existing employees can often shed light on people from a different perspective. They will have special insight that will contribute to the long term success of the team. Let them have candid talks with the new hire. Get their feedback. This also gives current star employees a sense of value and ownership of their own team. People who feel valued and empowered stay.

7. Get continuous feedback from employees on how things are going

Services such as Rypple or Cleargears allow for this kind of feedback in an anonymous way that allows people to express what is really going on. Getting this kind of feedback gives you an opportunity for recognition, support and opportunities to identify potential issues in operations, morale or service. Addressing issues and being proactive keeps the environment positive and productive.

8. Recognize individuals and teams for their accomplishments regularly

Everyone feels good when something they do gets recognized. Organizations are machines. Star employees need to hear about how they are doing – machines can’t do this, but leaders and colleagues can. Create an environment where recognition on individual and team levels are part of the “routine”. Celebrate each others’ success, recognize both small and large accomplishments on a regular basis and people will thrive. (Rypple also provides an excellent, self managed tool for doing this easily).

9. Be trustworthy and reliable: listen and respond

Things go wrong, people have off days, humans have conflict – when this happens, listen. Listen to people and ensure that people know who they can talk to about issues. Clearly define and assign people to be there and resolve issues. Half of solving the problem is listening. Once you have heard the problem, be committed to respond, investigate and resolve issues. Part of being in a strong team is working together. Most importantly, however, is having someone for employees to rely on so they can focus on their work and do what they do best.

10. Create opportunities for people to be engaged

People who are happy in their positions are engaged. Hold meetings or activities that bring people together and use team communication to help everyone stay in the loop on an ongoing basis. Yammer is a great tool which I have used in my department to keep team communication active. Encourage idea sharing, value adding activities, and active participation. (Example: We have “Team Think” meetings and we also take our employees on activities like Dinner Cruises, Cocktail evenings, Bowling.) It is also important to have fun together.

11. Focus on strengths and give opportunity for development

Everyone may be doing the same job tasks, but every individual has their own strengths and special qualities. Managers should take the time to get to know each of their employees. be observant, ask questions and then develop an understanding of who they are, where their strengths are and what their goals are. Create opportunities in the team to use those strengths and reach those goals. Acknowledge these thing so people know they are valued and they matter as people to you. If you use the strengths of your people you will always have a winning team.

12. Do not lose your focus

Make a commitment to all of the above points and review yourself and your managers on a weekly or monthly basis. Are the employees of your firm happy? Do they feel recognized? Have you created touch points to stay in tuned with what is happening? Have you addressed issues and resolved problems? Have you created opportunities for people to use their strengths and develop their skills? Are people feeling fulfilled and rewarded? The importance of reviewing this regularly, and maintaining consistency is critical to ensuring you have created an environment where star employees can not only shine, but stay and drive the company forward. When people are happy, feel engaged, recognized and are given opportunities they will thrive at their careers and in their job. Like attracts like – keep your superstars happy and the environment will thrive. This kind of engagement makes for an exceptional team, and this is what lays behind any great company: great employees.

Mila Araujo

Mila Araujo is the Director of Personal Lines at Ogilvy & Ogilvy Inc. in Westmount, Quebec. A third generation, family owned financial services firm with offices in Toronto and Montreal. Mila has a diverse background in management, having held positions in restaurant management, public relations, non-profit organizations, and event management. Mila started her career having studied food service & restaurant management and owned her own catering company which specialized in French cuisine. After doing this for several years, Mila took her passion for service and events into Public Relations and worked in the field organizing international conferences on health care, as well as national events and programs to promote health. Mila has lived in Los Angeles, Paris, Hawaii and calls Montreal home. She loves traveling, food and connecting with people. As part of her role at Ogilvy & Ogilvy, Talent Development, Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Media are some of her focal points for 2012 . She is currently organizing the “State of Now” (#140Conf) Montreal for May 2012.

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An invitation to connect with us Nov 30th #140ConfMTL Meetup

Ogilvy & Ogilvy is pleased to invite you to the #140Conf Meetup - a Social Media event
November 30th, 2011
 
Join us at the beautiful Intercontinental Montreal for Cocktails from 5 to 7:30pm
Who should attend?

Anyone interested in the opportunities Social Media presents on both local and international scales. Enjoy the opportunity to connect with people in the community who are using social media and share ideas & conversation in a relaxed and warm environment.
We hope to see you there!

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Social Media is about relationships. We built our business on relationships.

Ogilvy & Ogilvy is proud to announce that we will be sponsoring the 140 Conference Montreal for 2012. The #140Conf is an exploration on the effects that Social Media is having on "The state of now". What does that mean? It means that Social Media, which includes Twitter, online games like Farmville,  Blogs, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Foursquare is changing the face of how we live, how we communicate and how we do business.

LogosWith O&O 140confMTL

Ogilvy & Ogilvy was built on relationships. We have not been active in advertising, we rely on word of mouth. Many of our clients are third generation clients, and as time has passed we have managed to maintain those relationships. As the world has changed we have realized we want to make sure that our clients and our community have a way to connect with us. Social media has presented options to find more ways to connect and be involved.

When the opportunity to support the #140Conf and bring this international conference to Montreal came up, it made sense that if Social Media is about relationships, and this is what Ogilvy has built a business on for over 85 years now, that sharing the power of communication and bringing the conference to Montreal was in perfect alignment with our values and goals. We want to support "making the world a smaller place", give back to our community and enhance communication and relationship building using these social tools.

Like many out there, as a business, we are just learning about the possibilities. We look forward to joining forces with other relationship conscious brands in sponsoring the event as we continue on our path to use Social Media to create new ways for our clients to communicate with us and engage with our community. The #140conf provides an opportunity for individuals and businesses alike to learn how to connect and share in the experiences others are having using these tools to improve service, reach out to their communities and strengthen relationships.

All part of our journey and commitment to continue to make ourselves accessible to our clients, and assure we maintain our personal service values.

We are proud to support this conference which is all about connecting and making sure that as the world grows, as business gets faster, as lives get busier - we always take that time to find ways of maintaining and building strong relationships one client at a time.

 

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