By Bryant Vernon
To call Canada’s recent real estate market ‘feverish’ seems like an understatement. It’s intense, with many people on the move due to the freedom of remote work.
It’s ‘move mania.’ One study has suggested that at least 2 million Canadians have moved since COVID struck. Moving companies are booked solid. Competition for new real estate listings is fierce, on both the rental and for sale sides.
We recently issued our How We Live Report, which shows one in three Canadians are considering moving due to the pandemic. So if you haven’t moved yourself since the pandemic began, you probably know someone who has.
The problem? Even if you remembered to pack everything, you may have left the protection of your insurance coverage behind.
You could be left completely uninsured – without any coverage whatsoever – if you have a claim. In a worse-case scenario, you could be accused of insurance fraud.
That’s because living in one place, but being insured under a different address, ultimately has bad outcomes for consumers, even if it happens by accident.
Ontario-based credit reporting agency TransUnion reported recently that auto insurance rate evasion — and the misrepresentation of address information, in particular — is a growing problem in the Canadian auto insurance industry.
Aviva Canada data shows that, comparing to pre-COVID times (April 2019-March 2020) to the past year (April 2020-March 2021), there has been almost a 7% increase in address misrepresentation claims nationally. In Ontario, the number is 9.1%. And those are just the cases we know about.
Policy fraud occurs when a policyholder omits information or provides false information in their contract of insurance. The most common types are address misrepresentation and unlisted drivers.
For example, one customer recently purchased insurance for a vehicle and listed a Quebec address. A year later, the driver had an accident in British Columbia. The Quebec address, a condo, had been sold and the consumer had moved to B.C. without notifying the insurance company.
While some might think it’s not a big deal to list a different address in an attempt to reduce their auto premium, it is, in fact, a very big deal.
Insurance fraud costs us all. An estimated $2 billion in annual insurance fraud costs in Canada ultimately get passed along to honest, mostly claims-free drivers in the form of higher premiums.
And you definitely do not want to be mistaken for a fraudster when it comes to where you live.
The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) warns consumers that if they misrepresent their primary address, there could be several outcomes, including:
- Your coverage is invalidated;
- Your insurance policy may be cancelled;
- You may pay higher premiums in the future, and;
- You may be denied insurance in the future.
Year over year, Aviva's surveys of Canadian consumers show that the vast majority of Canadians see the direct relationship between insurance claims costs and the annual premiums they pay.
Another survey of almost 90% of Canadians said they wanted more time and money spent on policing and prosecuting fraudulent insurance claims.
So at Aviva, we listened and acted.
We have created a new online reporting hub that allows Canadian consumers, whether they are Aviva customers or not, to report if they think they have unintentionally become a victim of insurance fraud.
You could already be a victim and not know. The Aviva Fraud Protection Hub makes it easier to either report suspicious activity, or find out more information. For example, consumers are increasingly being telephoned by scammers who claim to work for Aviva, or some other financial institution, for the purpose of obtaining the kind of personal financial information that can lead to identity theft.
So if you’ve moved, or are planning to move, don’t forget to update your new address.
Better safe than sorry later.
Bryant Vernon is Chief Claims Officer of Aviva Canada.