News

Federal Data Breach Regulations Take Effect Nov. 1, 2018

Posted on: November 5th, 2018

Starting Nov. 1, 2018, Canada’s federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) will require organizations that suffer a data breach involving personal information to:

  1. Report the breach to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
  2. Give notice of the breach to affected individuals.
  3. Maintain records of data breaches that affect personal information

In order to avoid fines and penalties, organizations will need to understand the basic requirements of PIPEDA.

Learn more and download the Compliance Bulletin today.


News

The State of Cyber Security in Canada

Posted on: October 26th, 2018

In today’s hyper connected business climate, cyber attacks are no longer a question of if, but when. This is especially true in Canada, which remains one of the most wired countries in the world.

In fact, according to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, 89 per cent of Canadian businesses use the internet, while nearly 100 per cent utilize some form of information technology (IT) in their daily operations. It’s no surprise that cyber security was ranked the third most important issue facing the property and casualty insurance industry today.

As technology develops, cyber threats will continue to evolve and become more advanced. When cyber attacks (such as data breaches and hacks) occur, they can result in devastating damage. The costs associated with business disruptions, revenue loss, legal fees, and customer or employee notifications caused by a cyber attack can cripple even financially sound organizations. It is important to remember that no organization is immune to the impact of cyber crime. As a result, cyber liability insurance has become an essential component to any risk management program.

In addition to arming yourself with adequate coverage, it’s critical to be aware of the cyber threat landscape, both on a global and national scale.

This report outlines the current state of cyber security in Canada by examining key indicators. If you would like to discuss cyber insurance for your organization, contact Megson FitzPatrick Insurance Services today.

 


News

B.C. Winter Driving Rules Are Now in Effect

Posted on: October 24th, 2018

As of Oct. 1, 2018, a number of winter driving rules are in effect in British Columbia for both passenger and commercial vehicles. Winter tires or chains are required on most routes in B.C. from Oct. 1 to March 31, and those who fail to comply may be issued significant fines.

This News Brief provides an overview of the requirements and a number of additional safety considerations to keep in mind.

Tire Requirements for Passenger Vehicles

In B.C., winter tires on passenger, four-wheel or all-wheel vehicles must have tread depths of at least 3.5 millimetres. Specifically, winter tires must be labelled with either of the following:

  1. The letters “M” and “S”, which signify the minimum legal requirements for all-season tires
  2. The three-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol

It should be noted that drivers must have two matching winter tires on their primary drive axle. For added safety, drivers should use four winter tires of equal tread type and depth.

Experts recommend that drivers install mountain snowflake tires for cold weather driving. Summer tires are not recommended for driving between Oct. 1 and March 31. Chains on summer tires are not an acceptable substitute for legal winter tires on B.C. highways.

If you are renting a vehicle and travelling outside the Greater Vancouver or Victoria areas, it’s a good idea to request a vehicle with winter tires.

Chains, Traction Devices and Safety Considerations for Passenger Vehicles

In addition to requiring a specific tread depth on winter tires, the B.C. government encourages drivers to keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Air pressure—The government recommends that drivers check the air pressure in their tires at least once a month. This is because maintaining proper air pressure extends the tread life of tires and improves overall safety.
  • Traction devices—Passenger vehicles may use alternative traction devices with their winter tires. However, you should only use these devices if they have been tested for performance in winter conditions. Traction devices to consider include:
    • Chains—When installed properly, chains can provide additional traction in snow and ice and minimize drifting. For the best results, chains should be placed on a vehicle’s primary drive axle.
    • Studded tires—While useful in improving traction, studded tires may only be used on B.C. highways from Oct. 1 to April 30. Additionally, studs should not protrude more than 2 millimeters from the tread or traction surface of the tire. If you are using studded tires, you should have them on all four wheels for even traction.
    • Textile tire cover—Similar to chains, a textile sheath placed over a winter tire can improve traction. However, these devices work best on snow and ice and degrade quickly when used on asphalt.

Tire Requirements for Commercial Vehicles

Commercial drivers who travel outside the Greater Vancouver and Victoria areas in the winter are required to:

  1. Use the appropriate tires. Commercial trucks weighing between 5,000 to 27,000 kilograms primarily use chains for additional traction, but may use tires with the three-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol or the “M” and “S” symbols if available for their vehicle class.
  2. Carry chains or be equipped with other traction devices, particularly if the vehicle weighs 27,000 kilograms or more.
  3. Obey winter tire and chain signs throughout the province from Oct. 1 to March 31. For select highways, including mountain passes and rural routes in high snowfall areas, the date is extended until April 30 to account for early spring snowfall.

Commercial drivers should keep chains on hand at all times and understand how to install them.

Chains, Traction Devices and Safety Considerations for Commercial Vehicles

Commercial drivers are encouraged to use alternative traction devices so long as they have been tested for performance in winter conditions. The following are some safety considerations to keep in mind for such devices:

  • Chains—Experts recommend that commercial vehicles use steel chains to improve traction and prevent lateral slippage. Cable-style chains are permitted if used in conjunction with steel-link chains. However, these chains do not provide adequate traction on roads with banked curves and can actually cause a vehicle to slide. Drivers may also install automatic tire chains, which are activated and retracted from the safety of the driver’s seat.
  • Studded tires—While useful in improving traction, studded tires may only be used on B.C. highways from Oct. 1 to April 30. Additionally, studs should not protrude more than 2 millimetres from the tread or traction surface of the tire. If you are using studded tires, you should have them on all four wheels for even traction.
  • Wheel sander systems—These systems can help add grit to tires, increasing overall traction.
  • Textile tire cover—Similar to chains, a textile sheath placed over a winter tire can improve traction. However, these devices work best on snow and ice and degrade quickly when used on asphalt.

Designated Winter Tire and Chain-up Routes and More Information

In B.C., routes that require winter tires and chains are designated by signage. For maps of these routes, as well as more general information on winter driving rules, click here.


News

Are You Prepared? Earthquakes

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018

The forces of plate tectonics have shaped the earth over many years, as the huge plates that form the earth’s surface slowly move over, under and past each other. Sometimes, the movement is gradual. At other times, the plates are locked together, unable to release accumulated energy. When the accumulated energy grows strong enough, the plates break free. If the earthquake occurs in a populated area, it can cause many deaths and injuries, as well as extensive property damage.

While earthquakes are widely believed to be only a West Coast occurrence, there are actually areas all throughout Canada that are at moderate to high risk for earthquakes.

Know the Terms

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify an earthquake hazard:

  • Aftershock – An earthquake of similar or lesser intensity that follows the main earthquake.
  • Earthquake – A sudden slipping or movement of a portion of the earth’s crust, causing a series of vibrations on the earth’s surface.
  • Epicentre – The place on the earth’s surface directly above the point on the fault where the earthquake began. Once fault slippage begins, it continues along the fault during the earthquake and can extend hundreds of kilometres before stopping.
  • Fault – A fracture in the earth’s surface where land slipped during an earthquake. The slippage may range from a couple of centimeters to more than 4 metres in a severe earthquake.
  • Magnitude – The amount of energy released during an earthquake. A magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter scale indicates an extremely strong earthquake. Each whole number on the scale represents an increase of about 30 times more energy released than the previous whole number represents. Therefore, an earthquake measuring 6.0 is about 30 times more powerful than one measuring 5.0.
  • Seismic waves – Vibrations that travel outward from the earthquake fault at speeds of several kilometres per second. Although fault slippage directly under a structure can cause considerable damage, the vibrations of seismic waves cause most of the destruction during earthquakes.

Before an Earthquake

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property in the event of an earthquake:

  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communication plan.
  • Fasten shelves securely to walls.
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
  • Fasten heavy items such as pictures and mirrors securely to walls and away from beds, couches and any other places people sit.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures and top-heavy objects.
  • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks. Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself.
  • Install flexible pipefittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.
  • Secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace and gas appliances by strapping them to the wall studs and bolting them to the floor. If your gas company recommends it, install an automatic gas shut-off valve that is triggered by strong vibrations.
  • Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
  • Be sure the residence is firmly anchored to its foundation.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides and flammable products securely on bottom shelves in closed cabinets with latches.
  • Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. Reinforce this information by moving to these places during each drill.
  • Hold earthquake drills with your family. Remember to drop, cover and hold on.

During an Earthquake

Drop, cover and hold on. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place.

If Indoors

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Do not use a doorway unless you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway and it is close to you. Many inside doorways are lightly constructed and do not offer protection.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Do not exit a building during the shaking. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.
  • Remember that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

If Outdoors

  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass and falling objects.

If in a Moving Vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If Trapped Under Debris

  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing, if available.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

After an Earthquake

  • When the shaking stops, look around to make sure it is safe to move. Then exit the building.
  • Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures. Aftershocks can occur in the first hours, days, weeks or even months after the quake.
  • Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, the elderly and people with access and functional needs. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
  • Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest emergency information.
  • Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. These are also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called “tidal waves”). When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Go to a designated public shelter if your home has been damaged and is no longer safe.
  • Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire or relief organizations. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages.
  • After it is safe to return, your safety should be your primary priority as you begin clean up and recovery.
  • Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that may fall off shelves.
  • Put on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes and work gloves to protect against injury from broken objects.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
  • Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
  • Inspect utilities.
    • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbour’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
    • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
    • Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.

In addition to insuring your home, we are committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact Megson FitzPatrick Insurance Services at (250) 595-5212 or www.megsonfitzpatrick.com today.


News

Employer Guide to Cannabis Legalization

Posted on: October 17th, 2018

Download the Employer’s Guide to Cannabis Legalization today.

Cannabis, often referred to as weed, pot or marijuana, is one of the most commonly used psychoactive drugs in the world. And while the medicinal use of marijuana has been permissible in Canada for some time, the Cannabis Act legalizes the drug for recreational use nationwide.

Among other things, the federal law, which has a target implementation date of summer 2018, allows provinces to create specific regulations for marijuana use related to impaired driving and workplace safety. While this may sound simple on paper, a 2017 survey of Human Resources Professionals Association members found that 45 per cent of respondents did not believe their current workplace policies effectively address issues that may arise with the legalization of marijuana.

How Will the Act Affect the Workplace?

While it is uncertain how much the legalization of recreational marijuana will impact the workplace, employers are concerned it will have a direct effect on:

  1. Workplace health and safety
  2. The use of motor vehicles for work purposes
  3. The scope and type of disciplinary procedures
  4. Work performance
  5. Work attendance

Once recreational marijuana is legalized, usage will no doubt increase across the country.

The increase in casual marijuana usage paired with the administrative burden and uncertainty of legalization is new ground for Canadian employers. As such, to adequately prepare, it’s crucial that businesses adopt clear policies on the use of drugs and alcohol to prevent workplace accidents, increases in sick claims and decreases in employee productivity. Now more than ever before, both employers and employees must know how to discuss and deal with marijuana and impairment.

This guide is designed to provide a general background on marijuana use in the workplace, specifically highlighting its uses and health effects, legislative requirements, and employer and employee obligations. This guide should not construed as legal advice, and employers will need to consult with their legal team before implementing workplace policies and procedures related to marijuana and drugs.


News

Employer Guide to Cannabis Legalization

Posted on: October 17th, 2018

Cannabis, often referred to as weed, pot or marijuana, is one of the most commonly used psychoactive drugs in the world. And while the medicinal use of marijuana has been permissible in Canada for some time, the Cannabis Act legalizes the drug for recreational use nationwide.

Among other things, the federal law, which has a target implementation date of summer 2018, allows provinces to create specific regulations for marijuana use related to impaired driving and workplace safety. While this may sound simple on paper, a 2017 survey of Human Resources Professionals Association members found that 45 per cent of respondents did not believe their current workplace policies effectively address issues that may arise with the legalization of marijuana.

How Will the Act Affect the Workplace?

While it is uncertain how much the legalization of recreational marijuana will impact the workplace, employers are concerned it will have a direct effect on:

  1. Workplace health and safety
  2. The use of motor vehicles for work purposes
  3. The scope and type of disciplinary procedures
  4. Work performance
  5. Work attendance

Once recreational marijuana is legalized, usage will no doubt increase across the country.

The increase in casual marijuana usage paired with the administrative burden and uncertainty of legalization is new ground for Canadian employers. As such, to adequately prepare, it’s crucial that businesses adopt clear policies on the use of drugs and alcohol to prevent workplace accidents, increases in sick claims and decreases in employee productivity. Now more than ever before, both employers and employees must know how to discuss and deal with marijuana and impairment.

This guide is designed to provide a general background on marijuana use in the workplace, specifically highlighting its uses and health effects, legislative requirements, and employer and employee obligations. This guide should not construed as legal advice, and employers will need to consult with their legal team before implementing workplace policies and procedures related to marijuana and drugs.

Download the Employer’s Guide to Cannabis Legalization today.


News

Cannabis Act is Now in Effect: What You Need to Know

Posted on: October 17th, 2018

While the medicinal use of marijuana has been permissible in Canada for some time, the Cannabis Act legalizes the drug for recreational use nationwide as of Oct. 17, 2018. Also known as Bill C-45, this federal law is designed to establish a regulatory framework, particularly as it relates to the production, distribution, sale, cultivation and possession of cannabis across Canada.

Cannabis Act Items of Note

The following are some of the major items of note regarding the Cannabis Act:

  • Usage and growing limits—Those who are 18 years of age or older will be allowed to buy and grow a limited quantity of marijuana for personal use. Specifically, those of age can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public, share up to 30 grams of dried marijuana with other adults, and buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer.
  • Criminal offences—The Cannabis Act will ticket individuals who exceed possession limits, enforce up to 14 years in jail for an illegal distribution or sale, and impose tough new penalties of up to 14 years in jail for those that give or sell marijuana to minors.
  • Provincial involvement—Under the Cannabis Act, the provinces and territories will authorize and oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis, which will be subject to minimum federal requirements. In areas where there is no regulated retail framework, individuals would be able to purchase cannabis online from a federally licensed producer via secure home delivery.

Recommendations for Employers

While it is uncertain how much the legalization of recreational marijuana will impact the workplace, it will likely have a direct effect on workplace health and safety, the use of motor vehicles for work purposes, the scope and type of disciplinary procedures, work performance and work attendance.

To appropriately respond to the Cannabis Act, employers should consider doing the following:

  1. Review and understand cannabis legislation and guidelines that apply to the provinces in which they operate.
  2. Review and amend existing workplace policies and procedures as needed. Provide copies of these policies to all employees.
  3. Conduct a hazard and job-safety assessment.
  4. Hold training sessions for all employees and managers.
  5. Train management on how to identify signs of impairment and how to respond appropriately.

Addressing substance use and impairment in the workplace is a complex process. Employers are expected to establish policies and procedures for managing impairment and to do so in a confidential and empathic manner. In addition, if accommodations are necessary, employers must work alongside employees and medical professionals to ensure a collaborative, safe and healthy workplace.

This is a lot of responsibility, and it can be difficult to know where to turn to for supplemental information and assistance. In addition to seeking the advice of qualified legal professionals, your insurance broker can be an invaluable resource. Contact Megson FitzPatrick Insurance Services today to learn more.

 


News

Ransomware Attacks on the Rise – Are You Covered?

Posted on: August 8th, 2017

With ransomware attacks on the rise, the role of insurance is becoming more robust. And, although ransomware coverage has been traditionally sublimited within cyber policies, stand-alone cyber policies that cover ransomware are becoming more necessary.

In an attempt to find additional coverage for ransomware, many businesses and carriers have turned to kidnap and ransom (K&R) policies. K&R policies have traditionally been used by organizations to protect their executives, not to protect against ransomware. Because K&R policies were not designed for ransomware, they may only provide a quick fix. K&R policies tend to be less suitable for ransomware than cyber policies and payouts tend to be lower.

Policy Definitions, Terms and Conditions

Since cyber insurance isn’t standardized, organizations should review all policy language with a broker before choosing a plan. Policies can vary significantly in their language and coverage options, so insurance experts recommend policies that—at the very least—provide coverage for extortion demands and payments as well as lost income resulting from an attack.

Organizations should also take a close look at the following definitions, terms and conditions when choosing a policy:

  • Sublimits and deductibles—Most policies set a sublimit for covering ransomware. It is important to review this limit carefully, considering that demands may start on the low side, but can increase quickly. Additionally, since making a ransom payment may make organizations a target for subsequent ransom demands within the policy year, the deductible amount should reflect that risk.
  • Payment terms—Most policies require prior written consent before the insured can pay any ransom. This can result in payment delays and increased demands by the hackers. If an organization pays a ransom in order to resume business, without prior written consent by the insurer, there’s a chance that it may not be reimbursed. Therefore, organizations need to be comfortable with a policy’s terms in order to avoid compromising coverage.
  • Definition of extortion—It is important for organizations to fully understand and agree with their insurance company’s definition of extortion, since the definition dictates the trigger for coverage. For example, although hackers may intend to sell or misuse information, the ransom demand may only involve a countdown timer and demand for money. While the combination of the two may seem like an obvious threat to the insured, a carrier could possibly deny coverage on the basis that there was no explicit threat to sell or misuse information—all because of its unique definition of extortion.

What to Look for in a Policy

Companies should look for ransomware coverage that uses broad terminology and protects against a wide range of threats, including threats to do the following:

  • Access, sell, disclose or misuse data stored on your network, including digital assets.
  • Alter, damage, or destroy software or programs.
  • Introduce malicious software, including viruses and self-propagating code.
  • Impair or restrict access. Look for policies with broad terms like, “threats to disrupt business operations.”
  • Impersonate the insured in order to gather protected information from its clients, also known as pharming or phishing.
  • Use your network to transmit malware.
  • Deface or interfere with your company’s website.

The Importance of Risk Management

Ransomware insurance is most effective when coupled with an effective risk management program, as there are many components in the fight against cyber crime. Risk managers should work with an insurance broker to review all applicable options before choosing cyber coverage.

Contact us today to learn more about available cyber policies and effective risk management techniques to protect your organization from ransomware attacks.


News

Exciting New Partnership!

Posted on: August 8th, 2017

We are very excited to announce a partnership that aligns our purpose, vision and values with the ability to gain national strength and stature, all while remaining strongly INDEPENDENT.

Effective May 5, 2017, Megson FitzPatrick partnered with Rogers Insurance Ltd. and the Inowest Group of Companies, out of Calgary, AB, making our combined organization one of the top five largest independent brokerages in Canada.

Our vision has always been to transform and expand Megson FitzPatrick into an even stronger independent broker, where decisions are ALWAYS based on delivering the best customer experience.  This new partnership is committed to our vision, and our clients are now able to benefit from the shared capabilities of each brokerage for more comprehensive expertise and service offerings, in addition to an expanded network of insurers to work with.

Our new partnership expands our reach to 14 offices across the country and over 500 employees.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this partnership, please contact Jay Tuson directly at jtuson@megsonfitzpatrick.com or 250-940-9029.

 

 


News

Short Term Rentals

Posted on: February 24th, 2017

With continued growth of the sharing economy, more media attention has been given to short term rental of condo units. We have linked to some articles and resources to provide information to managers and unit owners regardless of their position on short term rentals.

Airbnb taking 300 units out of Victoria’s rental pool, council told
Rental Restriction Bylaws
15 Risk Mitigation Tips for Airbnb Hosts
Risk Insights – Common Exposures All Airbnb Hosts Should Consider

News

Liabilities for the Board of Directors

Posted on: February 2nd, 2017

Non-profit organizations provide essential social services that benefit communities and their members. The vast majority of these organizations cannot survive without a volunteer board of directors assigned to elect officers, adopt policies and make major financial decisions for the organization. Although members of the board are volunteers, there is a certain amount of risk involved in holding one of these positions. Specifically, even when acting in good faith, board members are subject to personal liability, which may affect their personal financial status because of their management decisions.

It is imperative that your organization and board of directors understand the risks involved with their responsibilities as board members and the ways in which they can protect themselves from personal liability.

Risks and Responsibilities

To combat the chance of affecting the personal liability of board members, non-profit organizations should assess the risks involved with holding these positions. Your organization should first develop a volunteer risk management committee to identify all risks and pose solutions to minimize potential harm. In addition, you need to ensure that the board members understand their governance responsibilities. Your non-profit should educate its board on their legal duties, fiduciary duties and decision-making roles. Furthermore, the risk committee should ensure the following:

  • The organization is working within its stated mission.
  • Funds are spent according to the mission and spending decisions are known to donors.
  • The organization does not accept donations with conditions.
  • Individuals advancing personal agendas counter to the organization’s mission are not allowed to sit on the board.

Once the risks are assessed and the board of directors is aware of those risks, board members must also understand the responsibilities associated with the positions they hold. Legally, board members have three main duties:

  1. Duty of Care: The individual should act in the way that a reasonable person would act in a similar position and under similar circumstances. Acting under good faith is an essential part of the functions of the board.
  2. Duty of Loyalty: The individual should place the organization’s financial interests as the primary responsibility. As a board member, one should not use his or her position for personal gain, financially or otherwise. In addition, individuals should be honest about business ventures that pose a conflict of interest when acting as a representative of the organization.
  3. Duty of Obedience: The individual should try to further the mission of the non-profit by supporting board decisions and implementing policies as they are outlined.

Board members who fail to fulfill their duties as outlined above may be held liable for their actions or inactions.

Protections

Since there are risks involved with being part of a non-profit board of directors, there are several protections available to minimize personal liability. First, most non-profit organizations have indemnification provisions in their bylaws. These provisions explain that the organization will cover or reimburse the legal expenses accrued by board members in the event of a lawsuit. However, it should be noted that indemnification is only as good as an organization’s financial ability to pay it. If an organization does not have excess funds, it may not be able to support this provision.

Incorporated organizations are required by law to indemnify their directors for such losses. There is no such obligation imposed upon unincorporated groups, but most groups do offer indemnities because it is a good policy to do so.

Finally, non-profit organizations should strongly consider purchasing directors and officers (D&O) liability insurance to cover their board members in situations that fall outside of the indemnification provisions or in the event that their financial situation does not allow them to cover extensive legal expenses.

Beyond providing a financial backing to indemnification provision, D&O liability insurance is essential since most individuals will not volunteer on a board with the knowledge that they are risking their personal assets in the event of litigation.

More Information

Proper insurance coverage and other risk management strategies can help ensure that your organization and its board of directors is protected against liability. For more information about appropriate insurance coverage, contact Megson FitzPatrick Insurance Services at (250) 595-5212 today.


News

Tis the Season to Celebrate… Safely!

Posted on: November 24th, 2016

Cheering up

Promoting Safety and Sobriety at Company-sponsored Events

To promote the safety and sobriety of your employees and guests at company-sponsored events, review the following recommended control measures:

  • Serve drinks to guests rather than offering a self-serve bar.
  • Set up bar stations instead of having servers circulating the room; if offered, people are inclined to accept drinks they wouldn’t have otherwise ordered.
  • Place table tents at each bar reminding employees and guests to drink responsibly.
  • Don’t price alcohol too low, as it encourages over-consumption.
  • Offer a range of low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks at no charge.
  • Require servers to measure spirits.
  • Always serve food with alcohol.
  • Close the bar an hour before the scheduled end of the party.
  • Do not offer a “last call” as this promotes rapid consumption.
  • Never raffle alcohol or hold contests that involve buying or drinking alcohol.
  • Entice guests to take advantage of safe transportation options by subsidizing taxis or promoting a designated driver program.
  • If your event includes a program or speaker, schedule it for after dinner and drinks are served. This allows additional time for alcohol to wear off.

Before your company hosts its next event, contact Megson FitzPatrick Insurance Services. We can review your coverage and assist in developing a risk management plan that keeps safety a top priority at your company-sponsored events.

Limiting Social Host Liquor Liability

Liquor liability exposure is not limited to those whose primary business is the sale of alcoholic beverages. Know the law in your jurisdiction and take steps to control your risk.

A bartender is legally liable for serving alcohol to a patron who becomes intoxicated and then injures a third party. Does a business face a similar exposure when it hosts a social event where alcohol is served, such as an open house or employee picnic?

Anytime you provide alcohol to individuals in a non-commercial manner, you are considered a social host. After the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Childs v. Desormeaux, social hosts generally are not responsible for the acts of guests that consume alcohol.  However, a social host may become responsible for the acts of their guests if their conduct creates or exacerbates a risk to the public. It is important to take the appropriate steps to control your risk.

Create a Risk Management Program

An important first step in limiting your liquor liability is to implement a risk management program. The liquor liability program must have the support of management, be communicated to supervisors and employees, and include a policy advising employees to drink responsibly at company events.

It’s also important to have a program in place that includes the following recommendations when working with third-party vendors:

  • When working with a vendor, such as a caterer or bartender service, verify they are licensed and insured.
  • Stipulate in your vendor’s contract that only those who have received alcohol-awareness training should serve or sell alcohol at your event.
  • Require the vendor to provide Certificate of Liability Insurance to include events and liquor liability coverage naming your company as an additional insured.

The program should outline the procedures for handling intoxicated guests. This includes delegating who will assess the situation, such as hotel security or someone from your organization, and outlining appropriate actions for dealing with or removing a guest who has overindulged.

In the Event of an Incident

If an incident occurs, fill out a liquor liability incident report documenting measures taken to control the intoxicated person.

It’s also important to have a program in place that includes the following recommendations when working with third-party vendors:

  • When working with a vendor, such as a caterer or bartender service, verify they are licensed and insured.
  • Stipulate in your vendor’s contract that only those who have received alcohol-awareness training should serve or sell alcohol at your event.
  • Require the vendor to provide Certificate of Liability Insurance to include events and liquor liability coverage naming your company as an additional insured.

Liability Insurance

In addition to proper liquor liability planning and education, review your company’s current general liability insurance policy to determine your coverage in social-host situations.

Remember, even with the proper coverage, an events and liquor liability policy does not eliminate your exposure if alcohol service is in violation of a statute, a minor is served or an already intoxicated person is served.


News

Snow & Ice Removal

Posted on: November 23rd, 2015

Owners and managers of commercial property have an obligation to maintain safe conditions for employees and occupants. During the winter season, walkways, stairs, driveways, interior roadways and parking lots become slip and trip hazards as snow falls and ice forms. This is not only a safety hazard, it can also be an expensive legal issue for property owners, if an accident occurs.

To prevent injuries and minimize injury costs, commercial property owners should consider implementing a snow removal program using our checklist provided.

Download our free Snow and Ice Removal Checklist-2015


News

Host Liquor Liability- Know your risk exposure.

Posted on: November 23rd, 2015

A bartender is legally liable for serving alcohol to a patron who becomes intoxicated and then injures a third party. Does a business face a similar exposure when it hosts a social event where alcohol is served, such as an open house or holiday party?
Anytime you provide alcohol to individuals in a non-commercial manner, you are considered a social host. Social hosts generally are not responsible for the acts of guests that consume alcohol. However, a social host may become responsible for the acts of their guests if their conduct creates or exacerbates a risk to the public. It is important to take the appropriate steps to control your risk.

Download our free whitepaper: Limiting Social Host Liquor Liability-2015.


News

Quarterly HR Brief

Posted on: September 9th, 2015

Ever heard the saying “Culture eats strategy for lunch”? Having a healthy culture can drive your business to success and reduce the exposure to risks like the cost of high employee turnover.

With this concept in mind, Megson FitzPatrick is pleased to provide our HR Quarterly Brief. This simple brief is a great way to start thinking about your HR strategy and what your culture is doing for your business.

Here is the Quarter 3 Brief:

HR Brief – Q3

For Q1 & Q2 please see our earlier post.