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Staying InTouch Fall/Winter 2017

Tips, strategies, and advice to help you choose the right insurance coverage from your insurance broker


As a Canadian homeowner, you know all too well the damage harsh weather can have on the exterior of your home.

More often than not, however, you focus your snow and ice removal efforts on the areas of your home that are at eyesight level–like your driveway, porch and windows. But, have you ever thought to look up and see how your roof is faring under the weight of all that snow and ice?

If you are like the average homeowner, you may not think of your roof as vulnerable to cold weather  conditions.  However,  even the best roofing materials have a  load capacity that can be compromised by the weight of heavy snow and ice. Left to linger on your shingles, heavy snow and ice can take years off the life of your roof, create damaging leaks, and in the worst case, collapse  your roof.

By following these surefire winter maintenance tips, you can avoid costly roof  repairs:

  1. Assess the situation using binoculars:Climbing up  onto  your  roof  after  a heavy snowfall or ice  storm  is  not  in your best interest. To get a good look at what is going on up there, pull out your binoculars  instead.  More   than   likely, you will be able to see any  issues and address them before they become problems.
  2. Take out your rake: In most single and 1 ½  story  homes,  a  long-handled  rake is effective in removing  snow  and  ice from the shingles along the perimeter of your
  3. Call a  professional  when  necessary: If you live in a two-story home, clearing heavy snow from your roof will require skills and tools the average homeowner does not have. Be safe and  smart  by hiring a company that specializes  in  snow removal.
  4. Install a radiant heat system before winter arrives: Installing an ice melting system beneath the shingles  of  your roof is a smart way to keep your roof from freezing and accumulating heavy snow loads.Armed with these winter savvy  tips,  you are in the best position to help your roof survive winter in tiptop shape.


Most fleet owners are aware that distracted driving is the primary cause of accidents involving commercial truck drivers. Despite high fines of up to $1,000 for distracted driving, commercial drivers continue  to pay attention to their gadgets–whether cellphone, GPS, or the radio–while on the road. To turn up the heat on this potentially life-threatening behavior, in recent years, Saskatchewan authorities  have  resorted to impounding vehicles for a week to help drivers feel the gravity of their actions. This precedent has left some trucking industry insiders wondering if Ontario will follow suit.

In Saskatchewan, the controversial impoundment law gives authorities the right to hold a vehicle for a week no matter who owns it. While the loss of one truck for a week may not be catastrophic for logistics companies with large fleets, it can be extremely problematic for small companies that rely on every truck being operational.

Educating Your Drivers About Distracted Driving

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, driving while distracted increases the risk of an auto accident or other road hazard by 23.2 times. That alarming statistic reveals why it is critical for logistics companies to continually  stress  to  their  truck drivers the importance of not using banned devices while on the road. Check the Ontario Government  Highway  Traffic  Act for a complete listing of the display screens and hand-held devices that should never be used while driving and make sure your  drivers know the latest rules in Ontario and the other areas they travel through.

Are Tougher Laws on the Horizon in Ontario?

For now,  logistics  companies  in  Ontario are not subject to impoundment. However, the fact that the Ministry of Transportation nearly doubled the  fines  for  distracted driving in 2015 is a sign that officials are looking   to   impose   tougher   penalties.   It is best not to wait for stiffer penalties  to launch an internal campaign against using cellphones or other devices while driving. Consistently communicating the  dangers with your drivers is a smart risk  aversion plan  year round.

Know the Rules Beyond Your Borders

If you cross into other provinces or into the United States, it is important to  educate  your drivers about the distracted driving regulations and unique issues they may encounter there.  Several  areas  still  have not banned the use of devices while driving, which means even though your drivers may not be distracting themselves with devices they will be on the road with other drivers who are. Training drivers to be on alert for distracted drivers in other areas can help keep them and your cargo  safe.

For more tips on implementing a strong campaign against distracted driving, talk to your Merit Insurance broker.