Storm Season Tips:

Protecting your home and vehicles from hail

Summer storm season is upon us and, as your best Red Deer insurance broker, we have put together a list actions that you can take to protect your home from hail damage. We encourage you to chat with your insurance broker to discuss specific strategies for upgrading your home to hail resistance. If you are renovating, replacing your roof or replacing siding, make it a priority to call us first for advice on what grade and product to consider. Various Insurance companies offer policy discounts for upgraded siding and shingles that are rated for higher impact resistance.

EASY:

The simplest and most common form of risk mitigation for your vehicle during a storm is to park it in a protected structure, such as a garage. If this isn’t possible, the use of car covers or blankets is recommended. Several car cover manufacturers make covers and blankets that are hail resistant.

Use window safety films to protect windows, doors, and skylights.

MEDIUM:

When re-roofing, install a ice and water shield underlay (preferably self-adhering and waterproof).

Use a roofing product that has Underwriters Laboratories UL2218 Class 4 impact resistance rating. And remember, some insurance companies will offer a discount on your premiums when your home has higher rated shingles.

ADVANCED:

Consider using cement board (Hardie Board or fiber) in place of aluminum or vinyl siding for your home – especially if you are in a high risk hail zone.

Purchase a home with steeper sloping roofs. Flatter roofs are more susceptible to hail damage.

What are we doing for you?

Insurers are working hard to prevent hail damage. Have you noticed the planes that fly into the clouds when there is a hail or thunderstorm warning? Cloud seeding disperses silver iodide into the developing clouds to change the physical properties of the cloud, which changes the type of precipitation the cloud forms. Seeding doesn’t eliminate hail, but it does reduce the size of hail the cloud creates.

Take our Quiz

Want to know your hail damage risk score? Hop over to our Facebook or Instagram and measure your risk.

COVID-19 Return to Work Toolkit

As we step into another new and uncharted season of COVID-19, we have a COVID-19 Return to Work Toolkit for our businesses. Flexibility is key as the situation evolves, but we advise our businesses to use the utmost cautious as they chose to re-open. Please create a plan for the health and safety of your staff and clients. Also, remember that employees will have higher expectations of you, so continued, open and honest communication with your teams/staff is
critical.

The Return to Work Tool Includes:

1. Communication sample templates

Workplace Coronavirus Infection Email to Employees, Essential Worker Employee Communications Letter, Letter Recalling Furloughed Employee, Communication Letter to Employees Re: Temperature Testing at Worksite, and a Survey Questions to Gauge Return To Work Concerns of Employees.

2. Preventative Measures Checklists

Preventative Measures Cloth Mask Information and Care Instructions, Sample Standard Operation Procedure Plan –Temperature Checks, Sample Health Screening Form for Visitors, 10 Steps All Workplaces Can Take to Reduce Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus (OSHA), and a Stop the Spread of Germs at Work (SHRM) tip sheet.

Please connect with us if these are resources you think will be helpful for your business as you navigate re-opening and bringing staff back into your spaces.

As we continue to navigate the changing guidelines in our community and province regarding re-opening, we also want to share this resource published by a Comparative Immunologist and Professor of Biology (specializing in Immunology) at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

https://www.erinbromage.com/…/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

Beyond Insurance will continue to practice social distancing in our office. We will continue to operate in a digital manner with our clients (via phone, email, text, video conferencing, and Docusign). Our office will remain closed to the public and walk-in traffic as we continue to respect the safety and health of our staff and their families.

We look forward to seeing everyone face to face soon, and will likely be doing this via an appointment only format. If you have questions or want help organizing a safe reopening strategy for your business, as your Red Deer insurance professionals, we are here to help you navigate and manage those risks.

Welcome our new Associate Partner!

We are thrilled to introduce you to our newest team member and broker, Greg Weik. Greg has been an insurance professional since 2000, with significant experience as a proud partner in a successful Central Alberta insurance brokerage. More recently, Greg established a residential construction company, Homes By Taylor Ltd. and is excited to be returning to his insurance roots, providing innovative solutions to friends, family, and new clientele. Greg takes great pride in his communication, accessible personalized service, and believes holistic customer service is the key to a long term relationship. As an associate partner with Excel Beyond Insurance, Greg is eager to develop meaningful client relationships providing customers with experienced knowledgeable advice and exceptional market access.

Want to know a bit more about Greg? He was born and raised in Red Deer and loves and supports his community. Over the years he has volunteered with numerous events and boards, such as the Young Guns Hockey Tournament and Sylvan Lake Chamber. Greg’s greatest achievement and love is his daughter, Taylor. Both Greg and Taylor are very active, and Greg is proud to have coached ringette, hockey, and in-line hockey along with supporting everything from basketball, badminton, golf, ping pong, and especially wake surfing behind a boat. They have even taken up Pickleball together!

We are honored to have someone of Greg’s capacity, knowledge and expertise on our team. He joins us as a small business and personal lines insurance portfolio broker. Please join us in welcoming him! You can connect with Greg via email at gweik@excelrisk.ca or direct by phone or text at 587-680-0840.

Growth is so important to a small business and we are so lucky to continue to grow with amazing people on our team. Watch for a full staff introduction in the coming days. Happy May and happy weekend, everyone!

Flood prevention resources

We have compiled some flood prevention resources from Intact Insurance.

Canadians as a whole, are coping with the impacts and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. With warmer temperatures in the forecast, it’s important to keep another challenge in mind – spring floods. Melted snow and extreme weather events, such as torrential rain, are among the main causes of spring flooding. For many of us, having our home or business flood in the current environment would be an additional financial and emotional burden.

We are sharing an excellent resources from Intact Insurance to help you with Spring thaw and flood prevention at your home. Take their virtual home check-up and receive a customized assessment of your home. This assessment provides you with site-specific guidance to help achieve practical, cost-effective means to reduce your household flood risk: Home Flood Protection Check Up.

At a time where there are so many unknowns, there are some easy ways you can take control of protecting your own home. Here are some helpful resources developed by the Intact Centre:

Steps to Cost-Effective Basement Flooding Protection: This guide provides a summary of actions that residents can take to reduce the threat of a basement flood. While some actions require a specialist, many items can be completed by the homeowner.

Seasonal Flood Protection Maintenance Checklist: This checklist offers steps a customer can complete both inside and outside the home that can help minimize their flood risk and the cost of cleaning up after a flood.

Enhanced protection for water damage
As a reminder, Intact offers an Enhanced Water Damage Package (EWDP). Depending on your risk type, you may be eligible to up to four components of coverage: Sewer Back-up, Water & Sewer Lines, Overland Water, and Ground Water (optional). For more information, connect with us at Beyond Insurance, your Red Deer Insurance Broker. We are always happy to review existing coverage with you and offer our expert risk assessment.

COVID-19 and your Auto Commute

Many insurance companies are pivoting and offering solutions for COVID-19 and your auto commute. We continue to compile resources from every company that we represent to ensure we are keeping you up to date on how to best manage your insurance policies during the COVID-19 social distancing and isolation.

You are no longer commuting to work

If you still require use of your vehicle, but you are no longer using it to commute to work/school during the pandemic, or if your vehicle is driving significantly fewer kilometers over this period, we can adjust the applicable policy information. For example, if your vehicle was used for business purposes or driving to and from work or school, we can determine if you now qualify to modify your policy to pleasure use.

As a quick disclaimer, it is important to note that, in order to avoid potential risk of being under-insured, you are responsible for calling us to have the use and/or mileage adjusted once your situation changes. 

You are no longer driving your vehicle at all during the COVID-19 pandemic

It’s important that you understand the options available. If you are not using your vehicle at all during the pandemic, there are two options:

1. You can chat with us about reducing liability coverage as well as your comprehensive and collision deductibles.

2. You can choose to park the vehicle and completely remove road coverage. This is something we will chat with you about on a case-to-case basis and help you determine your risk vs. reward for amending coverage in this way.

Please note – if the vehicle is leased or has a lien holder, we can’t reduce to Comprehensive only without written confirmation from the lessor or lien holder.

 

Paying your Premiums

We are proud of the insurance companies we represent as many of them are offering flexible payment options or even payment deferral options. If you feel you can not pay your insurance premium, please contact us and we can navigate this with you and the insurance company.

Distracted Driving in Alberta

False information is circulating regarding Distracted Driving in Alberta. There is no new law coming into effect for February 1 and there will be no changes to the existing law. The rumors around new laws or stricter penalties are false. But, please know that distracted driving penalties are still very serious. With insurance companies cracking down on their underwriting, a distracted driving ticket could mean loss of coverage, a $287 fine, and 3 demerits.

Here’s an overview from the Government of Alberta on what is restricted.

“Alberta’s distracted driving law applies to all vehicles as defined by the Traffic Safety Act and all roads in Alberta. It restricts drivers from doing any of the following, even while stopped at red lights:

  • using hand-held cell phones
  • texting or e-mailing
  • using electronic devices such as laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays, and programming portable audio players such as MP3 players
  • entering information on GPS units
  • reading printed materials in the vehicle
  • writing, printing or sketching
  • personal grooming such as brushing and flossing teeth, putting on makeup, curling hair, clipping nails or shaving

You can be charged with distracted driving, even if your driving performance does not appear to be affected. If you commit a moving violation while distracted, you could receive two tickets — one for distracted driving and one for the moving violation.
Under the Traffic Safety Act police also have the discretion to lay charges if you are engaging in other activities while driving that impair your ability to drive safely.
For example, you can be charged with distracted driving if you are distracted by your pet while driving. Police can also charge you if you permit anything to:

  • occupy the front seat of your vehicle that interferes with your access to the vehicle controls and the safe operation of the vehicle
  • obstruct your clear vision in any direction

Activities that are not specifically restricted under the law are:

  • using a cell phone in hands-free mode – the device is not held in the driver’s hand and is activated by voice or a single touch to the device
  • using an earphone – if it is used in a hands-free or voice-activated manner
  • drinking beverages – coffee, water or pop
  • eating a snack
  • smoking
  • talking with passengers
  • listening to a portable audio player – as long as it is set up before you begin driving
  • calling emergency services such as 9-1-1 with a hand-held cell phone
  • using two-way radios or hand-held radios (also known as CB radios) when a driver is required to remain in contact with one’s employer, such as when escorting oversized vehicles or when participating in search, rescue and emergency management situations
  • permitting the display screen of the following:
    • a GPS navigation system – as long as the system is affixed to the vehicle and programmed before you begin driving or the system is voice-activated. You cannot hold the unit or manually enter information while driving
    • a collision-avoidance system
    • a gauge, instrument, device or system that provides information about the vehicle’s systems or the vehicle’s location
    • a dispatch system for transporting passengers
    • a logistical transportation tracking system that tracks vehicle location, driver status or the delivery of goods for commercial purposes
    • an alcohol ignition interlock device

Under the Traffic Safety Act, emergency vehicles include police service vehicles, fire response units, ambulances and gas disconnection units. Drivers of emergency vehicles are able to use hand-held communication devices or other electronic devices only when acting within the scope of their employment.

Behind the Scenes of Red Deer Insurance brokerage.

Who’s behind the scenes of all this Red Deer Insurance nonsense? ?It’s me, Andy!
I have my broker license, but my passion is so connected to marketing and communications. I love love love love love my community of Red Deer and can get pretty riled up (I admit, sometimes to a fault) about my community and it’s local small businesses. When I’m not doing marketing and social media for Beyond, I’m strategizing for our business growth, helping our employees be the best they can be for our clients and finding spaces to support them in their growth.
Events are another passion of mine, I come from a pro audio background and love the adrenaline and details that come from the execution of a successful event. I’m currently a co-race director for The Secret Marathon Secret 3k which is coming to Downtown Red Deer March 4th! Can’t wait!
Want to know “my crazy”? I’ve been doing photography for 15 years! I have traveled to Sri Lanka and India (among other places of course), I have my Bachelors of Applied Communications from Royal Roads University (my fav place in the world!), I love to dance and I come alive when I’m around live music, and, I am a serious fluid thinker and jack of all trades. Give me a task and I’ll figure it out ??. Oh, and current obsession is the gin and soda on tap at Troubled Monk. Yes, please! ??
Ok, back to business…..
As our business grows, I am excited to grow with it and continue to hone my skills and expand them in the way our company demands. We’re at the forefront of social media when it comes to other brokerages, and I am very proud of the accessibility and service we offer to our clients through this.
Thanks for hanging out with us on our platforms! We absolutely value your support and interaction. Bye! ?? #ShowMeBeyond#insurancereddeer #marketing #insurancebroker #yqf #reddeer#headshots #reddeerinsurancebroker #thisisandy

 

First Time Home Insurance

What you need to know about first time home insurance. As your Red Deer insurance broker, we’re happy to walk you through this exciting, and sometimes stressful, milestone in your life. Buying home insurance for the first time should be empowering and educational and we take pride in the time we spend to review your policy and ensure you have the right coverage for your risk.

Know your coverage.
We pride ourselves in taking time with your policy. We’re a little nosy too. Why? We want to know everything about your house so that you have the most accurate home insurance. Home insurance policies can be overwhelming and confusing,  and we are committed to educating you about your home insurance policy so that you know what’s covered and what your best options are moving forward.

Discounts, Discounts.
There are lots of homeowners discounts that we can help you take advantage of. The dual policy discount is a big one (combining your home and auto insurance with the same insurance company). Many companies offer a Non-smoker discount and alarm discounts, for this reason, we help you navigate these and make sure you maximize your discounts.

Find out how much coverage you need.
Determining the replacement cost on your new home is something we can walk you through. And remember, the replacement cost is different from your purchase price. It’s based on your square footage, your finishes, and current industry construction costs. Replacement cost is something we continually revisit and ensure it is up to date.

Take a video inventory of your contents.
Contents coverage is another important area of your homeowner’s policy. Because many items like jewelry, art, or wine may need extra coverage, we help you determine what items to schedule and which items are covered under your existing policy wording. Take a walk through your home and take a video of your possessions. Do this every year to keep it current.

 

Thanks to Sable Creative for the lovely photo.

Condo Regulation

Condo regulation rules have changed as of January 1 2020. Over the past 10 years, we have seen a steady increase to deductibles in condo insurance policies and deductibles can range anywhere from $5000 up to $250,000 for larger properties. The insurance market for condos has been one of the most unstable markets in the province due to environmental loss, huge property limits and owner occupied claims. As of January 1, 2020 an amendment to the Condo Act in Alberta requires Condo Corporations to insure a condo building for the full appraised replacement value, which in turn drives up the deductible in order to mediate the overall premium cost of the policy. Applying a higher deductible helps to manage insurance premium costs (which have tripled now that Condo Corporations are required to insure to full replacement value).

The important part to note about this regulatory change is that, if you own a condo unit and your unit causes a claim, Condo Corporations can now more easily pass along deductible expenses – up to a $50,000 maximum. This essentially helps share the burden of insurance costs with the unit owners insurance policy. Many standard condo insurance policies only include $25,000 for deductible expenses, so it is crucial to review your condo policy and coverage.

As your insurance broker, we have already been addressing this industry change and are reviewing and adjusting each of our condo policies to hold increased coverage of $50,000 for deductible expenses. The cost to the policy holder is minimal – in some cases only $50 to better protect you as the individual condo owner in the case of a claim. If you have any questions on this change, please don’t hesitate to connect with us, whether you are an existing client or not. We are always happy to answer questions.

You can review the condominium rules on the Alberta Governments website.

Insurance Rate Increases

What’s the real inside scoop on the insurance rate increases? As your local insurance broker, we have some answers for you. We have been getting a lot of inquiries as to why the insurance cap has been removed, and why rates are increasing so substantially. Here’s the inside scoop!

Auto insurance has always been regulated in our province and the rate board monitors all requests for rate increases from insurance companies. When the former provincial government imposed the maximum 5% rate cap on increases it put insurers in a position where automobile policies became extremely unprofitable. Paying out anywhere from $1.25-$1.70 for every $1.0 premium dollar collected. Certainly, insurers are in a position to absorb some of this but over a period of 3 years, the insurance companies began to implement aggressive underwriting strategies, limiting payment plans, collision coverage, and other features that the majority of drivers rely upon.

There are a lot of reasons for the unprofitable atmosphere, but in general terms, claims are costing way more than they ever have with new technology in vehicles, a more litigious community, and higher medical costs. It is a classic example of government engaging in an industry without a full understanding of the unintended consequences, that ultimately get passed along to consumers in the market. Now we are seeing the cap expiry and larger rate increases being approved by the rate board. This will certainly impact most policy holders, but will allow insurance companies to actually underwrite and target high-risk clients with the most aggressive increases. The good news is that the market is slowly returning to a competitive atmosphere, and auto insurance now has a panel of professionals reviewing some of the mandated components to find efficiencies and cost savings. In general, the cap actually hurt the industry, consumers, and competition, so seeing it go is a good band-aid to rip off. Had the cap stayed in place we likely would’ve seen insurance companies leaving the province, canceling brokers, and positioning towards a traditionally more expensive provincial model like BC and Saskatchewan.

In a tough insurance market, we are proactive, prepared, and capable to offer competitive insurance solutions for your family and business. If you are a current Beyond client, you have already been benefiting from our proactive approach to insurance renewals. Each renewal is personally reviewed and we take great care in making sure your coverages and policy information is up to date and that your rates are competitive. We actively go to market for you when a policy has a large increase on renewal, and share the market results of numerous insurers. As we navigate the changing insurance marketplace together, you can rest assured our team is working diligently to provide the service you deserve for your insurance needs.

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