Friday Fun: Big changes for Ontario insurance, New Jersey MSO goes solar and GM sales plunge

Branning Collision Centers, an MSO in New Jersey, is converting four of its five locations to solar power.
By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario — June 2, 2016 — We’re just about ready to wrap up another week! This time around we’ve seen big changes arrive in Ontario auto insurance, a new gasoline tax landed in Newfoundland and Labrador, and GM’s sales fell a remarkable 18 percent.
– Ontario drivers now live under a new insurance regime. In a bid to keep election promises the provincial Liberals brought in new laws that reduce the benefits paid out in terms of serious injuries. As well, accidents under $2,000 in value will no longer be considered at-fault. The laws took effect June 1. Individuals will come under the new regime when they renew their policy after that date. According to one report medical and rehabilitation care “will be combined with attendant care as a single benefit for both catastrophic and non-catastrophic claims.” Experts warn that, “people who are seriously injured might not have enough coverage for a lifetime of rehabilitation.”
A report on CBC.ca quotes Michael Brattman, VP of Erb and Erb Insurance and Chairm of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario as saying “In the event that you are in a catastrophic accident, we know that just in support services people would need, you’re looking at $6,000 a month. In a period of 13 years or so you’ve probably exhausted that million dollar limit.” 
Some of the other changes include a reduction of the extra fees insurers can charge for monthly, instead of annual insurance premium payments. That premium will be reduced from three per cent to 1.3 per cent. As well, “minor collisions, like a fender-bender, will no longer be considered an at-fault accident if damages are less than $2,000 and no one was hurt.” 
– Newfoundland is increasing its gasoline tax. Long lines formed Wednesday at gasoline stations as people filled up ahead of the new charges. The new tax will see an extra 18.65 cents added to the price of a litre of gasoline. For an average taxi cab driver this is going to add $40 a week to the cost of doing business. Thursday, the price of gas jumped from $1.14 per litre to nearly $1.33 per litre. The new tax is said to be temporary and was applied to deal with the effect that the falling price of crude oil (produced in the province) has had on the economy. 
– Stats for May cars sales came out this week. GM sales dropped a remarkable 18 percent in May. Sales at Ford were down 5.9  percent, while Fiat Chrysler were up 1.1 percent. General Motors dropped “sharply due to a combination of reduced fleet sales and production hitches at numerous plants which cut into supply of popular sellers,” according to a report. “Auto analysts and company officials expect the industry will end 2016 by selling more new cars and trucks than any other year,” according to the report. “The sky is not falling,” an analyst with Autotrader.com was quoted as saying. “The industry has been selling at an amazing rate for a long time … so we’re just not seeing the growth. But bear in mind sales remain at very lofty levels and we may well set another new record.” 
Reinforcing this idea, Fiat Chrysler Canada actually had a record sales month. The company sold 31,724 vehicles in Canada in May 2016, an increase over the 31,617 sold in May of last year. The company announced that it had sold 6,169 Windsor-built Dodge Caravans. That’s far more than the 3,285 sold in May 2015. The numbers represent the single best sales month in the company’s history. 
– Branning Collision Centers, a family-owned collision auto repair business in New Jersey, has tapped Momentum Solar to install rooftop solar projects at four of its locations. Momentum Solar has already completed three of the solar projects, and the fourth is currently under way. The installer says that all four locations will be able to offset 100 percent of their power needs with solar energy.
– A report released in the metal industry this week finds that “Global demand for flat rolled and extruded aluminium products is expected to rise by 5 to 6 percent … between 2016 and 2020, mostly due to increased demand from the transportation sector.” Demand for aluminum from the construction industry will remain weak as major economies continue to struggle, but demand will be supported by the increasing use of aluminum in the auto sector. New demand for automotive sheet will be the highest in North America, which will see demand rise by 25 to 30 percent annually. Long story short, it may be taking longer than originally anticipated, but you’re going to see more aluminum coming in the door. 
– According to a report on tech website BGR, last week a Telsa owner “got in a spat with the company”, with the owner blaming Tesla’s technology for an accident the car suffered. The driver was using the “Summon” feature on the car. This feature allows a car to park itself or to exit a parking spot before the driver is in the vehicle. An owner using this feature this week watched as his car drove into the side of a truck. According to the report, “Tesla blamed the owner for the accident and said there was nothing wrong with the Summon feature,” but Tesla did modify the software to “make sure it doesn’t happen again … Tesla has changed the Summon feature to require more human oversight. Drivers now have to explicitly confirm the path their Tesla is going to take to ensure it’s free of obstacles … previously, drivers would just press the park lever twice, and when they got out, their car would start parking itself.” 

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