Drivers on 2 Wheels

You see the hale and hearty bikers on the road each day whizzing their way into work and think, that could be you. Two wheels and the open road sound great, but how do you make sure that you’re bike safe?

Bike senseBefore you strap on your helmet make sure that you and your bike are ready for the journey.

  • practice cycling in a straight line – about the width of a bike lane – while doing a shoulder check, left or right.
  • nearly 60% of motorist-cyclist collisions occur at intersections, clearly signal your direction then position yourself directly ahead or behind the vehicle in the lane that you plan to proceed in.
  • if you’re not confident in the drivers or the intersection around you, walk your bike across at the intersection or crosswalk.
  • just like you’d do with any vehicle, make sure that you’re doing an annual check-up: brakes, reflectors, helmet, tire pressure, etc.
  • know the rules of the road. As a cyclist, you are prohibited by law to ride side by side – or abreast – of another cyclist, which goes hand in hand with the stricture to ride as close to the right side of the highway as practical.
  • light it up – make sure that your bike has a strong front light, and a back light that are approved by the Insurance Corporation of BC. Check to make sure that they’re visible for at least 150 metres. Although not currently part of the Motor Vehicle Act, making sure that you can be seen from the side by adding a few reflectors, just makes sense.
  • like other drivers on the road, you need to stay alert. It is important to watch out for distracted drivers, wandering pedestrians and unexpected road obstacles like debris or suddenly opening car doors.
  • Being seen is a great offense, although an all black outfit may be chic it can be deadly.

Make sure you take the time to teach the next generation the rules of the road as well with this great guide from ICBC on bike smarts. Riding your bike is a great way to look after your health and the environment as long as you apply a little every day bike sense to the journey.

Find more about cycling safety through the Insurance Bureau of Canada

Damage Beyond Your Control

There is nothing natural about facing down a natural catastrophe or the damage in the aftermath of an “Act of God”. Due to circumstance beyond your control you’re now looking at a golf ball-sized hail crack in your windshield or half your shingles in your neighbour’s yard.

But all catastrophes are not created equal and it is important to check your policy to confirm that you’re covered.

Auto policy

Look to confirm that you have Comprehensive Coverage. Comprehensive covers loss or damage to your vehicle from:

  • Theft and vandalism
  • Fire, earthquake, explosion
  • Falling or flying objects such as a rock or gravel hitting your windshield
  • Hitting a domestic or wild animal
  • Weather—lightning, windstorm, hail, rising water

Best of all comprehensive claims will not affect your current safe-driving discount level.

Home Insurance

You’ll often hear or see insurance issues called “perils”. This can mean anything from vandalism to a plane hitting your home or even the more garden variety mother nature perils of weather. When reviewing your policy, look to confirm that you have things like guaranteed replacement costs so you don’t end up with less than you started. Check your policy to see which perils you have coverage for:

  • Aircraft or vehicle impact
  • Electrical current
  • Explosion
  • Falling object (excluding objects propelled by snowslide or earth movement)
  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Riot
  • Smoke (released suddenly from malfunctioning cooking or heating devices, but not from fireplaces)
  • Theft
  • Transportation (of personal property while it is temporarily away from your home, including fixtures and fittings being repaired or in seasonal storage)
  • Vandalism (where building is normally occupied)
  • Water damage (usually includes damage arising from sudden and accidental escape of water from an indoor plumbing, heating, sprinkler or air conditioning system; or from an indoor or outdoor “domestic appliance” on your premises; or from a water main.) If you have a swimming pool or hot tub, inquire about policy options to adequately insure it.
  • Wind and hail (applies to the exterior of the building excluding antennas and satellite dishes; interior of building is covered if the storm has first created an opening)
  • Window breakage (in a building that is normally occupied)

Keep in mind that although shingles blown off in a storm would be covered, rotted shingles due to disrepair would not.

For more details on what is or isn’t covered – like your home-based business equipment – call your advisor. They can best help you navigate the perils of everyday life.

Information courtesy of ICBC and IBC

Insurance Myths – Fact or Fiction

For a lot of people insurance is like banking, important to have but hard to understand. There are a lot of insurance myths out there on how fees are paid and what is and isn’t covered.

Do you know which of these insurance questions are fact or fiction?

  • The colour of my car can impact my auto rates. False. Auto insurance premiums are made up of a variety of factors, including make, model and age of the vehicle but colour isn’t part of that formula.
  • If you’re in a car accident but don’t file a claim your premiums remain the same. False. An accident can affect your rates even if you don’t report it to your agent.
  • Where you live and work has a bearing on your rates. True. Rates can vary dramatically in areas with notoriously high accident corridors. Make sure you update your agent as soon as you move.
  • Any medical expenses related to an auto accident are paid by the province. False. Auto insurers actually pay more for medical rehabilitation costs in Canada than the government, WCB or private health-care plans combined.
  • Seatbelt tickets will affect my insurance premiums. True. If you’re in a collision and not wearing a seatbelt you are more likely to sustain injuries. And injuries resulting from being thrown from a car is a costly problem for both you and the insurer. On the bright side, those pesky parking tickets won’t affect your premiums.
  • Any accident, ticket or demerit point is on your permanent record when it comes to insurance rates. False. Actually they only affect your rates for three years, as long as you maintain a clean driving record after that you should see a reduction in rates.
  • If you lend your car to another insured driver, it is covered by the other driver. False. If it is your car involved in the accident, it is your insurance policy that covers the damages.
  • The cheaper the car, the less expensive the rates. False. Although the value of the car is taken into consideration, it’s the history of the model that counts when calculating rates – such as theft rate and accident history, etc.

If you’ve heard some insurance “fact” from a neighbour or cousin, take a moment to ask the professionals – your insurance broker – about just what is fact and fiction about your insurance.

Find more insurance myths at the Insurance Bureau of Canada


Holiday Cheer on the Roads

So much of the holidays involves good friends and good times. But too much eggnog and problems can occur. Victoria currently ranks as the fourth highest region in the country for alcohol and drug impaired driving.

The good news is that means that our local police are doing a great job getting drivers under the influence off the road. The bad news is that we all need to plan better to stay safe and not take the wheel after partaking of a little holiday cheer.

BC has some of the toughest impaired driving laws in Canada. Blowing at even .05 can result in roadside suspensions, and that can happen after a single glass of scotch or even a glass or two of wine.

Get home safely this holiday by planning ahead:

Impaired Drivers ICBC stat 2014• Choose a designated driver who won’t be drinking

• Have a sober friend or family member pick you up

• Contact a cab company (#TAXI on your cell) or one of these services:
Call Mom (250-507-6515). Service available 24 hours.
Drive Smart Victoria (250-661-0181). Service available 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
➣ Call My Driver in Victoria (250-516-9199). Service available everyday 12pm – 6 am.
Dial a Driver Victoria (250-580-8801). Service available everyday from 6pm – 5am.

We look forward to seeing you in the new year, drive safe and happy holidays. For more tips on safe driving click on ICBC.

Give or Take an Hour – Daylight Savings style

Twice a year as we change the clocks for Daylight Savings time we willing give ourselves a little mini-jetlag without the great vacation photos. Stats show that this time change is challenging to deal with and in the days directly following there is a spike in accidents and oddly enough heart attacks.

Here are some tips for helping your body to adjust as quickly as your iphone does:clock-1295034_640

  • Exercise early in the day and ideally outdoors catching some natural light
  • Catch an early dinner to avoid digesting right before bedtime and reduce the caffeine
  • Cut back on the naps – talk a brisk walk around the block to shake out the cobwebs instead. If you do nap 20 – 30 mins should be the max.
  • Increase your light during the day and keep the night dark – using nightlights for late night wanderings
  • Turn off your electronics at least an hour before bed instead create relaxing pre-sleep rituals like a warm bath or meditation
  • Keep the bedroom cool and dark at night
  • Start adjusting early, making gradual changes over a couple of days works for most adults. If you’re a parent, ideally start adjusting bedtimes by 15 mins about four days prior

It is all about rebalancing. Your internal clock or circadian rhythm is heavily influenced by patterns, behaviours, environment and drugs. You can make sure that your rhythm is dancing to a new beat simply by taking a few easy steps.

And until you adjust, take that extra second of caution and that second cup of coffee in the morning to make sure you’re ready to roll.


Just Like Riding A Bike

Getting the kids back to school is just like riding a bike. You’ve figured out what to pack for lunches, you’ve bought the last of the “must have” items and everyone is finally settling into back to school routines. Unfortunately routines too often mean that kids will get lax about safety.

Simple things that you can reinforce with your kids will make all the difference. Things like making sure shoelaces are tied so you don’t trip entering or exiting the bus, waiting until the bus stops moving before standing up to exit, and just like when mom and dad are driving – keeping the noise down so the driver can concentrate on the road.

Give your kids a great foundation by learning the rules of the road early and it will put them on a safe path for success.

Back to School Safety Tips

Safety First on the Water

Greater Victoria offers a world of choices for avid boaters. Waterways abound as to do ways in which to power through the waves. Whether your boat is self-propelled, sail-driven or motorized or a combination of all three, safety at sea has to be the first concern.

Before you head out plan to succeed with these key safeguards:sailboat

  • check the weather and tide charts, make sure both will allow clear sailing
  • confirm sufficient lifejackets or PFDs for everyone on board – including Rover
  • plot your course and make sure someone still on shore knows where you’re going and when you’ll return
  • stock up – gas, supplies, food, water, tools, flares, spare paddles and first aid – make sure everything is where it is needed
  • and boat sober, you’re operating a powerful tool

For more tips on how to stay safe on the water from the Lifesaving Society, click here.

Protect your financial investment too with the right insurance, because a pleasure craft isn’t any fun when it isn’t sea worthy. Your coverage for your boat (under 26′) or yacht (over 27′) can extend beyond the hull and machinery of the boat to include coverage in case of accidents with other craft, people or marine damage – even medical coverage. Talk with your insurance broker to chart a course for smooth sailing.

Information courtesy of the Insurance Bureau of Canada

Home Sweet Recreational or Seasonal Home

Warmer weather is finally around the corner and what could be better than an adirondack chair, a chilled beverage and a good book? If you’re doing the above in a waterfront recreational getaway of your own it’s even just a little sweeter. But getting away from it all is even more relaxing with the right coverage.

recreational seasonal home insuranceWhether you have a secondary or seasonal home for your getaway you’ll need to truly assess what you have and how you use it. Think about how often you are at the property, the most likely risks and the real value before choosing.

If a demanding lifestyle means you are an infrequent user of the property a named perils policy might be the best option. It is less expensive but only covers specific risks such as fire, explosion or smoke damage.

If you or a neighbor or property manager are checking up on it every few days, a comprehensive or all risks policy is an option, but that means you can’t leave the house untended for a week or two and hope for the best. Regardless of which you choose most policies exclude sewer backups, fences, food in the freezer, garden equipment and outdoor plants.

Take a look inside and out and decide if you need additional coverage. Detached private structures like sheds, boathouses or even garages may not be covered unless you reviewed this with your agent and the same applies to watercraft. And although contents – like clothes or dishes – that travel back and forth are covered under your primary house insurance; if most of your stuff stays put year round, you may need additional coverage.

And whether you have bare land or a pretty little cabin, don’t forget third party liability coverage. This will keep you covered in case your late night s’mores attack leads to accidental damage to a neighbour’s property or someone hurts themselves on your property.

Don’t be tempted by a couple of extra dollars. Before you think about posting it for rent anywhere including Airbnb, check with your Thunderbird Insurance agent on how that affects your coverage. Now that you’ve done the hard work, sit back, relax and work on your summer tan.

Information courtesy of the Insurance Bureau of Canada

Oil Tanks Hidden Challenges

Spring is finally in the air and you’re starting to rely less on your heating system and more on mother nature to keep your home comfortable. Don’t forget about your heating when you turn down the thermostat, this is a good time to take a good look at your systems and do maintenance – particularly if you’re using oil for heat. Spills and leaks originating from your property could be a costly mistake.

Mitigate your risks with a little check list on your oil tank including:


  • Oil tanks inspection should be done regularly by a licensed professional with a comprehensive inspection every 3 – 5 years
  • To prevent bacteria, avoid letting the tank empty during the off-season
  • Supervise when the tank is filled to reduce chances of a spill and ensure that the tank is inspected by your supplier prior to being refilled
  • Check the release barrier (drip tray) that’s in place for any issues
  • Do a visual check of your tank regularly to check for corrosion or moisture on the tank. If either of those exist or there is an odour of oil, contact a professional to fix or replace the tank
  • If replacing, ensure that the tank is certified, meets your insurers’ minimum requirements, and review placement for the new tank. An indoor or sheltered tank will have a longer lifespan and avoid in-ground installation.
  • Never buy a used tank and never transfer oil from your old tank to your new tank
  • If you’re replacing your oil tank with a new heating system, have it professionally removed and the filler pipe welded closed or removed. Let your insurance agent know about this important change for your home policy.

Whether you’re heating with oil or doing the geothermal thing, make sure your insurance agent knows so they can assist you in knowing your policy details and how it applies to your home coverage.

Information courtesy of the Insurance Bureau of Canada

Heart Healthy Habits

Valentine’s Day isn’t the only reason to wear red in February. February is national Heart Month in Canada. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death for Canadian men and women, but there are things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Heart Healthy Habits

  • be physically active
  • achieve and maintain a healthy weight through a healthy diet
  • reduce stress and increase breathing and meditation exercises
  • limit alcohol use
  • be smoke free
  • control exacerbating issues such as blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

It is quite a list, but don’t worry there’s an app for that. Click here to see some of the best heart-focused apps released in the last year. Prefer pen and paper to touch type? The Heart & Stroke Foundation has a Healthy Action Plan for you whether you prefer to track your efforts old school or digitally.

Take care of your heart, it belongs to someone you love.