COVID-19: What Drivers and Homeowners Need to Know

The COVID-19 pandemic has had much more far-reaching impact than possibly any outbreak in our lifetimes. Physical distancing requirements have disrupted businesses across the board including auto insurance and home insurance. While almost all insurers have an infrastructure in place to enable a remote workforce, some processes still demand face-to-face contact.

Traffic is lighter than usual in most cities. And we’re apparently becoming better drivers — collisions have been trending downward steadily in Canada over the past 20 years — but collisions still happen, and must be reported. If there are injuries or substantial damage (over $2,000), the police will investigate. If not, it’s your responsibility (and the other driver’s) to make sure the accident is properly reported.

How to Report a Collision During the COVID-19 Crisis

According to Accident Support Services International, which is the national reporting service manager for police services across Canada, COVID-19 precautions are in place at all collision reporting centres:

  • Operating hours of collision centres may be restricted
  • Those reporting an accident at a collision centre may face screening for fever with a point-and-click thermometer
  • The number of occupants in the centre, and who is allowed to enter, may be limited
  • Sanitary measures will be increased, and workers will not handle customer documents

To find out about the status of your nearest collision centre, phone Accident Support Services at 1-877-895-9111 or visit accsupport.com before reporting. As a precaution, you can download the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s accident reporting form — a simple checklist for recording the details of an accident.

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Getting a Home Inspection During the COVID-19 Crisis

On the home insurance coverage and real estate fronts, the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) has determined that the provincial government hasn’t specifically listed inspections as an essential service. Although a home inspection is not mandatory in Ontario or Alberta, since they support “the safe operations of residences and essential businesses”, OAHI says home inspections are essential.

OAHI has recommended protocols for home inspectors that may affect your inspection:

  • Inspectors will refuse visits if they feel unsafe or unwell. Realtors must report any at-risk occupants of the building
  • Inspectors will enhance their sanitary practices, including frequent use of hand sanitizer and fresh disposable gloves, masks and shoe covers for each visit
  • Attendance for inspections will be kept to a minimum. Report reviews are to be handled by teleconference or phone whenever possible

The Real Estate Council of Alberta has advised members to “remain vigilant” and discuss options with clients to mitigate the risk of transmission. Home buyers and sellers are advised to screen prospective buyers for health, restrict in-person visits to serious buyers only, and substitute a video tour of homes for open houses.

At this time, the pandemic situation in Canada is still fluid, with significant changes unfolding daily. Stay home and stay safe remains the order of the day.

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