Driving up the Costs - Vancouver Sun - December 15, 2018
Dec 19, 2018
ICBC has applied to increase the BASIC rate of insurance by 6.3 per cent. An article outlining why rates need to increase and changes that are coming for 2019.
David Eby Op Ed article - Reducing Legal Costs - December 10, 2018
Dec 11, 2018
An Op Ed article by the Attorney General David Eby explaining why changes are necessary at ICBC and sympathizing with the Trial Lawyers Association.
Combating Cyber Fraud Begins At The End User
Nov 05, 2018
Consumers need to understand how to protect themselves, says Jeff Wong.
Vancouver Sun20 Oct 2018 Jeff Wong is chief business transformation officer at Coast Capital Savings.
Safe online behaviours are the first line of defence in thwarting multibillion-dollar cyber scams, writes Jeff Wong.
Six hundred billion dollars. That is how much was lost last year to cybercrime, according to a recent report by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
October is Cyber-security Awareness Month, a good reminder to brush up on how to protect ourselves from the risks posed by online criminals.
Fighting cybercrime requires both human and artificial intelligence. This is where credit unions and banks can help by ensuring that technology is complemented by talented teams of cyber-security strategists, professionals involved in systems development and testing, and experts in threat response and cyber forensics, among others.
While financial institutions make significant investments at the back end to thwart cyber crooks, consumers at the front end remain a “soft target” of opportunity for fraudsters and are therefore a primary focus of fraudulent activity. Cyber fraudsters know they are more likely to succeed by exploiting any lax protections or practices by consumers.
One of the best ways to fight cybercrime is by empowering people with the information they need to serve on the front lines of cyber fraud prevention.
Financial institutions can help make the public less vulnerable by sharing education on the most common types of cyber fraud not only this month but all year, using every channel we can: websites, social media, email, mail, newspaper advertisements, face-to-face, and in-branch messages.
You might have heard about “spear phishing,” which is now one of the biggest threats to online and mobile banking security. This was among the top scams in Canada in 2017, according to the Better Business Bureau. In fact, RSA, a leading cyber-security company, lists Canada as the No. 1 country for phishing scams.
With spear phishing, criminals send a message claiming to be from a financial institution and ask the target to verify their online banking password or personal access code.
People need to be aware that no financial institution will ever ask them for sensitive financial information by email or text. If you receive a suspicious message, delete it without clicking on the links and report it to your financial institution.
Another growing area of cybercrime involves online and mobile purchases. It is estimated that Canadians lost more than $13 million to online purchase scams last year.
These cyber scams may include fake websites that look like those of reputable online retailers, websites that sell counterfeit goods, and fraudulent free trial schemes.
Credit unions and banks can help the public avoid online purchase scams by helping consumers identify common red flags of fraud. Fraudulent online stores sometimes target credit card users shopping on insecure sites, but the scammers usually like to request payment by money orders, pre-loaded credit cards, or wire transfers.
That’s because these payment channels make it more difficult for them to be tracked. Consumers should be skeptical about incredible sales or free offers. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Another quick tip: Make sure any site where you are making purchases has a URL that begins with “https:” as it indicates a secure site.
Finally, consumers can build a buffer against cyber threats by practising safe online behaviours and maintaining strong security software and systems on all of their computers, mobile devices, and networked home devices.
In an increasingly interconnected world, sub-optimum security on any device or technology connected to Wi-Fi or the internet — including intelligent home appliances and fixtures that make up the Internet of Things — could potentially serve as a back door for criminals bent on accessing valuable financial information.
Personal information indiscriminately shared on social media, like your birthday or home address, could also be used by criminals for identity theft.
For this reason, credit unions and banks must go beyond educating people about threats specific to financial transactions to promoting greater understanding of these associated risks.
So, what can you do? Start by being cautious with personal information posted on social media, use strong passwords, make sure your internet browsers are up to date, and invest in the latest virus and spyware protection. And then reach out to your credit union or bank for advice on how you help protect your financial wellbeing. After all, we are here to help.
Milking cows is a lot easier than ‘milking’ cockroaches, and given that some 1,000 roaches have to be sacrificed to get 100 grams of crystals, ‘cockroach milk’ does not appear to be an economical source of nutrients. Joe Schwarcz, McGill University While financial institutions make significant investments at the back end to thwart cyber crooks, consumers at the front end remain a ‘soft target’ of opportunity for fraudsters.
JEFF WONG, Coast Capital Savings
Discovering a work-life balance
Mar 26, 2018
Since its start in Pat Lodewijkx’s converted laundry room almost 13 years ago, Discovery Claims is proof that vision plus hard work can pay off for the risk-taking entrepreneur.
The Surrey, British Columbia-based independent adjusting firm has overcome hurdles and demonstrated the importance of flexibility for business success. For Pat, who started on his own and now runs the business in partnership with his wife, Jane Lodewijkx, it was a matter of adapting to create a balance between the work he loves and maintaining an active family life.
Pat started his career as an independent adjuster after several years working at the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) in various capacities from customer service to adjusting and ending up in the special investigations unit. He left the public insurer to work at a small firm in Vancouver, gaining exposure to the world of independent adjusting.
But after three years he was tired of the commute from the Lower Mainland where he lives and knew it was time to go into business for himself. “I decided to take a chance. When I was growing up my father was an entrepreneur as well, so I guess I had the bug to run my own business,” he says. “I always had the intention of opening up a branch office or doing something on my own.”
With the timing feeling right, Pat considers in hindsight that he took only a medium-sized risk in opening his own shop, out of his former laundry room. “It was in an industry that I was comfortable with,” he says, although there were aspects of running his own business that were new.
While he knew how to write a business plan, and sought the help of legal and financial professionals, it was a piece of advice from his accountant that he credits with a lasting impact on his success.
“When you start up your own business you’re going to be wearing lots of different hats,” he notes. “It’s a really good idea to be able to push back and focus on what you’re good at, and let other people—accountants, lawyers, bookkeepers—take care of that other stuff.”
That allowed him to focus on building the business and doing the work to maintain the cash flow that is “critical to any small business”.
Ups and downs
The company grew quickly, precipitating a move to a shared office, and then the addition of admin staff and more adjusters. Discovery Claims focuses on automotive claims, as well as working with several law firms.
The reliance on automotive meant the company suffered a setback when ICBC revamped its contracting processes. Discovery Claims shrank for a time, and Pat worked from home again, until he was able to rebuild the volume of files sufficiently to contract office space in Surrey.
During that time, Jane decided to return to work after having two kids, and joined the company as co-owner. Now Discovery Claims employs seven adjusters and two admin staff out of the Surrey office.
Business is definitely on the upswing. “We seem to be expanding at this time,” Pat says. “But who knows what the future is going to hold. The best thing we can do is be flexible.”
From the very beginning, when he sought to avoid the 40 to 50-minute commute to Vancouver, Pat’s objective with Discovery Claims has been to ensure a good work-life balance, while providing excellent service to his customers.
And balance is not always easy when you are running a small business. One of the challenges is separating the work from the personal, but it is key, Pat maintains. It was a particular challenge while he was taking his FCIP certification courses at night school.
And it’s especially important when you work with your spouse. Key to managing that relationship, he says, is being able to laugh. “First of all, have a sense of humor,” he chuckles. “That’s a big one. And love what you do, and be involved, and try to touch base regularly. Communication is very important.”
The Lodewijkxs reap the benefits of independence by being able to set their own calendars for vacations and getaways, not to mention the day-to-day challenge of managing an active family with two young boys and all their activities.
“The nice thing is we work close to where we live,” Pat says. “If we had to commute two hours every day I think that’d be much more challenging.”
The balance they’ve achieved extends to the staff. The company uses a secure document management system that allows all the adjusters to work remotely and whenever they need to.
Although there was a bit of a learning curve at first, the adjusters like it. “They enjoy working in that sort of environment,” Pat says. “In our job it’s very much results driven,” requiring work on evenings and weekends, which the IT set-up allows.
“The adjusters that work for us work more or less remotely throughout the lower mainland. They’re not in the office every day. It’s their schedule,” Pat notes.
Discovering the truth
The company got its name as a tribute to the investigative side of the business. The search for the facts, “finding the truth in the matter, is the reason the company exists,” Pat says. This informs its customer service ethos to this day.
“The people that we bring on board are people of high quality, and they all have strong work ethics,” he adds.
“We’re committed to doing a thorough job and finding out the facts and to assisting both the insurance company and the claimant. I think the name captures a lot.”
The big picture
While Discovery Claims is running smoothly, Pat is watching larger trends shaping the industry that may ultimately have an impact on his business. “One of the concerns moving forward is technological advances that are going to impact various industries,” he says. “One of the biggest ones I see is autonomous vehicles.”
He foresees a scenario where the dramatic reduction in motor vehicle collisions will “impact not only the insurance adjuster but the fireman, the policeman, the medical community.” As the automakers roll out better and better safety systems, it will be good for society as a whole, he says, but the set of people who deal with the aftermath of accidents will have to adapt somehow.
“The downside for our industry is for the people who are dealing with those issues. What do they do?” he asks.
Another concern relates to the nature of the auto insurance business in BC, dealing as a group with a public provider. This is where he sees the value of the CIAA, to provide a forum to represent the interests of independent adjusters.
To that end, he is strongly in favour of the association taking on an advocacy role to “promote the professionalism of the association.”
Pat says it’s important to develop a unified voice for the BC chapter. He believes it should “promote events that will foster that, and have annual meetings or quarterly meetings” to keep members informed about what’s going on in the province.
Joy in the job
Although affecting the big picture is clearly important, for Pat it’s the daily victories that create the joy in being an IA.
It can sometimes be a challenge to overcome communication barriers, he says. “But the ultimate goal is when you are on the same wavelength, on the same page then it’s euphoric. There’s a lot bonuses to that. If there weren’t the challenge, there wouldn’t be the reward at the end.”
“It’s human to want to assist,” he says. “I’m able to contribute to society and my community in a good way and at the same time provide for my family.”
Key to achieving that are the adaptability and life-long learning that let him grow and weather the challenges of running a business. Along the way he’s discovered the balance that gives him the greatest satisfaction.