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Ottawa’s Kevin Carruthers Explains Some Of The Biggest Changes To Your Insurance This Year

There have been major changes to home, auto and business insurance in Canada.

Ottawa’s Kevin Carruthers, Desjardins Insurance Agent, shares why reviewing your insurance coverage now is the best policy.

Kevin Carruthers has always prized the personal. After all, it was a scarring experience with an indifferent home insurance broker that inspired the Desjardins agent to go into the industry himself, specifically to import the much-needed human touch. He’s been a success ever since, managing an office space as welcoming as a Starbucks while offering his sizeable clientele an invaluable one-on-one experience.  

Recognized as a straight shooter, Carruthers prides himself on imparting important information rooted in the latest industry developments. These days, that entails advice on how to deal with the mounting costs of auto and home coverage, particularly in Ontario. Changes are afoot that are directly attributable to recent crises—namely, the scourge of COVID and the tangible effects of climate change. Those relying on their current policies might well be leaving their most valuable assets effectively unprotected. Clauses buried therein are veritable booby traps, passing unforeseen costs on to policyholders in the short term and offering them limited to no protection for the long.  


Major Changes To Insurance In Canada

“Over the past eighteen months,” Carruthers elucidates, “every company offering home and auto insurance in this province has had to make adjustments. We have seen a radical increase in the average payout or cost per claim. The supply chain issues spawned by COVID have brought higher prices that are now, unfortunately, the norm.” 

Carruthers is quick to add that the problem is not solely attributable to the parts and labour shortage. Car theft is another key contributor. The problem has gotten so bad, the Official Opposition is even making an election issue out of it. To hear Carruthers tell it, the greater Ottawa area has been especially vulnerable:


How Ottawa’s Car Theft Problem Affects You

“My agency is seeing ten to twelve thefts a month. That used to be what we’d see per year. Theft is covered under the comprehensive coverage of your policy and carries a typical deductible of $500, meaning the amount you pay before we pay in a claim. But most companies are now pushing this standard deductible up to $1,000 to help contain future rates. Many companies are even moving to a policy that requires you to have a tracking system to combat the rising theft rate or hitting people with a hefty surcharge to offset risk.”

The provincial government is aware of this situation, of course, which is why it’s allowing Ontario drivers to opt out of direct compensation for damage coverage in order to save money. But as a cost-cutting measure, this is a suspect solution.  

At a time when the insurance industry is growing increasingly impersonal, Kevin Carruthers is taking the opposite tack. “You can buy insurance anywhere,” the approachable Carruthers philosophizes, “but when you actually need it, you’ll wish you were able to reach someone who knew you by name and had given you a personalized experience.”


New Ontario Opt-Out Program Puts Drivers At Risk

“Direct compensation is the ‘No Fault’ part of a policy, which covers damage to your vehicle involved in an accident for which you weren’t responsible,” Carruthers explains. “People are removing it to save money but don’t fully understand what they are actually losing by doing this. The issue is what other kinds of coverage become voided in the process. I caution my clients, ‘When you call me because you’ve been involved in an accident and you are stuck on the side of the road, do you want me to tell you that you had the cheapest coverage in place, or that you had the best?’”

Property insurance is a tricky matter, too—again, particularly in Ottawa. Climate change has made the city a veritable epicentre for floods, hail, and tornadoes. Most policies, however, have yet to play catch-up. In addition, the vagaries of modern weather are sending the cost of claims soaring. Much of this has to do with the rising costs of repairing or rebuilding a house. Most policies take care of this matter by way of an inflation index, which increases limits at a rate of 3% a year. According to the concerned Carruthers, though, that model is no longer applicable. His advice?  Pay the proper premium in monthly installments. It’s easier in the end than having to take large lump sums out of your pocket or to remortgage your home to cover an unforeseen disaster.

While it’s all good advice, the best single solution to asset protection in this rapidly changing world of ours is an in-person appointment with a trusted broker. Electronic correspondence isn’t conducive to the kind of forensic policy review required to ensure that vulnerable policyholders are exempt from the newer forms of unforeseen victimhood. The famously personal Carruthers touch, however, offers the kind of constructive consultation that allows visitors to rest easy.   

“Your biggest assets deserve to be reviewed and re-explained,” says Carruthers. “Our agency was built with this in mind. We make it convenient and enjoyable for clients to visit us. We encourage them to come in and try our coffee of the month, a snack, and give us forty-five minutes to make sure they fully understand what they have. This is the one thing that deserves a personal more focused approach.”  

So, anyone up for coffee?

Photography by Nicolai Gregory


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