In our age of two-factor authentication, your cellphone number may be your most important and sensitive number to protect.
Text messages are often used by financial institutions, payment services, businesses to verify yourself. Text messages are also used as ways to verify identity when recovering passwords for shopping sites, social media and more.
The problem? It is surprisingly simple for scammers to hijack your cellphone number through a porting-out scam.
A phone port scam scenario:
You receive a text message from your cellphone company saying your phone number is going to be ported in 10-minutes unless you call to cease it. If you are fortunate to be looking at your phone at this point, you may call confused but you are more likely to delete the text thinking THAT is the scam.
You go back to your normal routine and two hours later your phone loses cellular connectivity.
You call to learn your phone number has been transferred (ported) to another phone. To remedy the issue, you are asked to visit a local cellphone provider store to prove it is you. This process could take hours to complete and get your number back.
By this point it is already too late. The scammers were able to access your phone and use it to verify you on sites like Amazon and others. They were also likely able to use the two-factor authentication to reset the password on your email account and more.
Before you can patch up the holes, the scammers have successfully made significant online purchases and scrapped all email data they could find. They could also aim to drain your bank account or hold your sensitive and personal information (like photos, email account access, social media page access) hostage.
How does the phone porting scam happen?
For the most part, scammers need to discover your cellphone company pin number to port your number. To do this, scammers will go after your personal information (name, address, birth date, etc.), the last digits of your social security number, answers to common security questions (mom’s maiden name, pet name, school name, favourite sport) and more to uncover information that may lead to discovering your pin or being able to reset it. They may start collecting this information by searching social media, calling you and pretending to be a trusted professional business (like your bank) with the goal of having you slowly leak more information. They also search the dark web to find out what information about you may already be for sale.
These scammers then call your phone company and pretend to be you. If successful, the number is ported. Sadly, it is this easy. Canadian phone carriers are required to follow this legislation. It was initiated to help consumers move to a different carrier but now scammers are exposing the vulnerability.
Ways to mitigate risk and protect yourself from phone porting:
- Have a pin: Make sure you have a phone pin with your cellphone provider. Call and confirm you have one set up.
- Be unique: Make your cellphone company pin code unique from other pin or common numbers (like your debit card pin, year of birth, year of child’s birth).
- Stay aware: if you see suspicious text and/or email verification requests, contact the company associated immediately to confirm it is not you making that request.
- Don’t communicate: if a company calls or texts you requesting personal information, do NOT give it to them. If you are not sure if the call is legitimate, search online for the company number, hang up the call and call back the company directly.
- Keep private: Do not share answers to common security questions on your social media, write out any part of your social security number or provide any information publicly that allows someone to gather more necessary information to con the phone companies.
Victim of a phone port scam?
The first sign you have fallen victim to the phone porting scam is that your phone is now only allowing 911 emergency calls. If this happens to you take these three steps immediately.
- Contact your phone provider.
- Call your financial institutions and credit cards to put them on watch for fraudulent activity.
- File a police report.
Winter is coming… properly preparing your RV for winters in Canada can drastically extend the life of your home on wheels. Unless you are part of the lucky few RVers in Canada who spend their winter touring warmer climates, then ensuring your RV is properly winterized is a top priority.
If you want to get into action preparing your RV for winter, you can also take a look at GoRVing’s Winterizing Your RV Checklist.
We will go into a little more detail on some of the main focus areas to consider when winterizing and storing your RV over the winter season:
Seek out tears, openings or cracks in the body or roof
Properly sealed external breaches are little more than minor aesthetic issues. Untreated external breaches can lead to a world of trouble and cost. Even the smallest opening can lead to water leaks and, through the winter, mildew formation.
Give the exterior of your RV a solid clean and wax
This is more advice to maintain the appearance and value of your RV over the long-term. Rubber and vinyl can be damaged in the sunlight, causing unnecessary repair or fading. Sunlight can also have negative effects on the paint job. If you decide to store your RV outside and uncovered for the winter, you will definitely want to make sure you take this step.
Manage pest control by covering external vent and pipe openings
Brrr…. winter is cold for rodents too. In their search to survive the winter, they will be looking for anywhere warm. Your RV is a perfect winter getaway. Take the time to properly cover any external access points.
Give a quick tire pressure check
Inflated tires minimize tires weakening during storage season. An even better step is to jack your RV up to reduce pressure on the wheels through the winter, but this is an optional step. If your tires are going to be resting on asphalt, drive the RV wheels onto wooden planks instead. Surface oils on the asphalt can wear on your tires, causing blowouts during your next adventure in the Spring.
Make your vehicle unattractive to thieves
A special lock designed for your RV is a smart investment. It is a good investment both for storage season and while you and your family are out on day-trips, away from your RV. Thieves prefer easy targets so making your RV a challenge will have them looking elsewhere quickly.
If you are choosing a storage facility, ask the manager to show the security features that will keep your RV safe over the winter. Cameras, outdoor lighting and onsite security are ideal.
And, of course, ensure you keep appropriate insurance in case anything does happen while your RV is stored away.
Wash the interior fully and thoroughly
First, it is great feeling to walk into a clean RV at the start of next season. Beyond that, cleaning your RV limits potential for mould and odours from growing through the winter. It is also a good way to find any cracks or holes you do not know about.
Keep the cabinet, closets and fridge doors open
This step minimizes moisture and mould build-up while the RV is stored away. Place a box of baking soda inside the fridge as well to limit odour.
Clear the RV or items that shouldn’t freeze
Things like liquid soap, water bottles, pop, and RV cleaning items and others can easily freeze. These items can burst and thaw, leading to an unfortunate mess when returning.
Remove anything that pests may like as food or nesting material
Little rodents spend their winter season trying to stay warm and fed. They will look for anything and anything that can fulfill these needs. They’ll look for any type of food, toilet paper, soaps, rags, newspapers, towels, blankets and more. Ensure these items are packed up and moved out for the winter.
Remove batteries from the RV
Keeping your primary battery from freezing will prolong the life of the battery and save you money in the long run. Store the battery in a dry place that does not freeze. It is also a good idea to remove other batteries as well from things like your radio and other appliances.
Use antifreeze in your RV’s piping system
It is a good idea to run antifreeze through your RV’s pipes, valves and drain traps. This is primarily important if you are storing your RV outside for the winter, but it is also good practice for indoor storage as well.
Shut off the liquid propane gas supply valve
This is a pretty simple step and a good precaution. While you are doing this, it is also good practice to turn off all the appliances and pull out any fuses.
Plan some fun visits through the winter!
Even though you’re not adventuring in your RV through the winter doesn’t mean you can’t go say “hi” to it! Going to check on your RV every once and awhile ensures everything is in order. This is especially important if you are storing your RV outdoors.
By being proactive with your end of year RV maintenance, you will be good to go when adventure season rolls around again. While you’re waiting for the warmer weather to come back, take a minute to find out if you have the best insurance for your RV with our instant quoting tool.
When it comes to determining the price for car insurance, there are many considerations. Here is a look under the hood at what impacts the insurance premium you pay in Ontario.
Quote note - the reason why the price differs from one insurance company to the next is that each insurance company factors these considerations differently in their decision making. Working with an insurance broker like Bryson Insurance ensures you are finding an insurance carrier best suited to your unique situation.
Here is what impacts the premium you pay for car insurance
Your age and how long you have been driving
Generally speaking, insurance premium rates decrease as you get older (until about 75 years old). More important than age is how many years you have been driving. Insurance companies care more about duration of driving than your age.
Studies show that teens are two and a half times more likely to be involved in a car crash than 20-to-24-year-olds. Compared with more experienced drivers, the risk of teens being involved in a crash is even greater.
In most cases, the best solution for a teenage driver is to be part of their parents’ auto insurance policy. This will impact the cost of insurance, but not to the same extent as if that teenager had their own auto insurance policy.
Tickets and Driving Infractions
Recent tickets for speeding and traffic violations have the potential to impact your car insurance premium. Minor violations or one speeding ticket will have less chance of impacting your insurance premium, but an accumulation of tickets in a short period of time can change the narrative quickly.
The positive news is that the increase is not permanent. Tickets generally fall off our driving record after a few years.
*Bonus note* We receive many questions about the impact of parking tickets on your insurance premium. While annoying to pay, parking tickets do not impact your car insurance premium.
Insurance carriers do consider recent claims history when offering terms for insurance. At-fault claims impact your premium. The longer you have been at-fault claims free, the more positive effect it will have on your premium.
To protect your claims history, some insurance carriers also offer an optional First Claim Forgiveness Waiver that will protect your insurance premium following your first claim. Make sure you check out this option to determine if adding this extension is appropriate for you.
Accidents – at-fault and not-at-fault
Even the best drivers have bad days.
Recent at-fault accidents have a negative impact on your insurance premium.
Not-at-fault accidents should not have a negative impact on your insurance premium.
Car accidents and insurance could be a piece to itself. If you have a history of at-fault or not-at-fault accidents, it is best to consult your insurance broker. Vehicle usage
How do you use your vehicle? People who primarily use their vehicle for pleasure purposes enjoy lower insurance rates.
If you use your vehicle for large commutes to work or for money-earning purposes, like ridesharing services or for your business, insurance companies will charge more. Depending on the situation and the exact use of your vehicle, you may be required to get a commercial policy.
Location, location, location
Insurance is largely based on actuarial data. Actuarial science is applying statistics and mathematics to determining insurance premium. One of the biggest and most reliable data points in determining how likely you are to have an insurance incident is your postal code.
More densely populated areas have higher risk of theft, collisions and harm to your car.
Certain postal codes are likely to pay more for the comprehensive and collision portion of your auto insurance policy.
How you choose to pay
When selecting monthly payments, many insurance companies charge a minimal service fee. If you pay annually in advance this fee is waived. While this service fee does not directly impact your insurance premium, it does make a difference in how much money is in your pocket at the end of the day.
Accident benefit coverage selection
In Ontario, there is a basic minimum coverage for certain accident benefit coverage. Accident benefits include potential costs that could occur in the case you are injured in a car accident. These are things like replacing your income, catastrophic injury payment coverage, caregiver support and other costs.
In general, the basic minimum will be the most affordable while maxing out the benefit coverage will be most expensive.
Each individual situation is different. It is important to partner with an insurance brokerage who understands accident benefits and can have a conversation with you to see if you are adequately protected.
This may be an obvious one as well. The higher your deductible, the lower your insurance premium. Your deductible is basically how much you will be contributing to a claim.
If your deductible is high and you have a minor single car accident (example is bump into a pole) you may be more inclined to cover the expense yourself instead of making a formal claim. This saves the insurance company money. Said another way, their risk for paying for more minor claims is reduced.
This matters more to some insurance companies than others. It does make sense. The more your car is on the road and the more you’re behind the wheel, the greater the chance of being in an accident or having some other claim-related incident.
Engine size, type and age of vehicle
Smaller engine sizes traditionally provide lower insurance rates. Other factors that impact the premium include theft rates, design of vehicle (performance or family) and cost to repair.
A history of continuous insurance
Insurance companies really like drivers that do not have gaps or cancellations in their insurance history. Those that have not had gaps or cancellations (due to non-pay or other factors) will typically receive a lower premium. The longer you have been insured the better.
What else will save me money on my insurance premium?
Check with our team of professional home & auto insurance specialists to find out other methods to reduce your cost of insurance or enhance your overall value of your insurance.
Bundling insurance is another way to provide great savings on your insurance. Bundling is when you combine your home and car insurance with the same insurance carrier. Actions like this can provide substantial savings on your insurance premium.
Whether it is saving money or maximizing the value of your insurance, we believe knowing what you are paying for, understanding your coverage and making informed decisions will give you peace of mind and comfort while on the road.
As you prepare your spring-cleaning checklist, ensure the HVAC system is on your list.
The average Ontario household spends over $2,300 on energy costs in their home throughout the year. Approximately half that cost is associated with heating and cooling the home. With rising energy costs, hotter summers and colder winters, staying on top of this household budget line is ever more important.
Beyond keeping immediate household costs down, maintaining your HVAC system helps reduce long-term replacement costs and is beneficial to the health and well-being of your family.
1. Change the filter in your furnace.
This is first because it is easy, quick and effective. A clean air filter is a big benefit to the health of your entire HVAC system and the health of your family. It’s reported a clean air filter can save up to 15% of the heating and cooling costs for your home.
For the HVAC system, a dirty filter means the HVAC motor must work harder to deliver air throughout your home. This wears on the motor while also pulling more energy to push the air through. A clean filter reduces current expense while also prolonging the entire system.
A clean filter also benefits your family with cleaner air. Pet dander is an all-year issue for pet owners but Spring is the season of pollination! With the beauty of blossoming around us comes the suffering of allergies for many. A clean air filter can keep your home as a safe spot for relief from allergies which keeps medical costs down as well.
2. Clean up the outside air conditioning unit.
Many AC units have a very tiny drainage hole located near the cabinet’s base. For the AC unit to work effectively, the hole must remain clear. You can use something small like a bobby pin, screw driver or paperclip to ensure the hole is clear.
While you’re doing that take a couple moments to ensure the space around the AC unit is clear. Clean any debris from the winter season. For garden planning, it is recommended that vegetation be at least two feet away from the unit.
3. Consider a smart thermostat.
Smart thermostats are not only the cool new thing to have in your home. A properly programmed thermostat can also save a good chunk on energy costs throughout the year while keeping your home cozy and comfortable.
A smart thermostat can program your home to be warmer (during the spring and summer) while you are not home and cooler while you are. With additional assistance from the user, these systems can also be programmed to get the most out of mid-peak and off-peak energy hours.
If I loan my car to a friend and they get into an accident does it affect my insurance?
"When you loan your car, you loan your insurance." What do we mean by this? Matthew Leyland, Bryson's Director of Personal Insurance, shares liability concerns car owners need to consider before letting other people drive their vehicle.
If you still decide to loan your vehicle to someone, please confirm they have a valid driver's license in place and that they have active car insurance.
*You may be wondering if this changes when using a designated driving service to get your car home safely at the end of the evening. Unfortunately, like this Toronto woman found out post-accident, you are also loaning your insurance to the driver in a scenario like this too.*
For us, we see our purpose as your insurance broker as much more than ensuring you have the lowest price on your personal insurance (though we routinely save individuals and families a significant amount on their personal insurance). We believe in knowledge and in sharing that knowledge.
If you value authentic advice, a sense of partnership and personalized interactions, then it is time to see if the Bryson Experience is right for you.
One question we often receive from classic car owners that we insure is "If my classic car suffers a total loss will I get it back?"
We have good news to share...
For many classic car enthusiasts the vehicle means much more than a device to get from point A to point B. There is deep pride in the restoration of a classic vehicle and memories created from the many hours working on and in the vehicle. For many classic car owners, the most painful day is when that classic car is lost forever.
One of the common reasons we have forced to say goodbye to our classic vehicles is when the car suffers a covered total loss. A covered total loss is when something happens to the vehicle - vandalism, accident, natural event - and the vehicle is deemed non-salvageable. What usually happens when a classic vehicle can't be salvaged the insurance company takes possession of the vehicle and provides the vehicle owner with a cheque for the guaranteed value.
That is not how it has to be anymore! We know many classic car owners that would love their vehicle back regardless of the condition. It gives you the opportunity to rebuild the vehicle, up-cycle for a future project, or even simply take off a piece to retain as a memory.
By adding the Cherished Salvage coverage to your existing classic vehicle insurance policy, you will be able to keep your vehicle to restore it or use the parts for another project and STILL receive the full guaranteed value of the vehicle. Either way, the car you love lives on!
It is time to get a quote from Bryson Insurance for your classic vehicle.
The legalization of recreational cannabis on October 17, 2018 will allow individuals of legal age to buy, consume, possess and grow cannabis across Canada. In Ontario, like most other provinces, the legal limit will include the purchase and possession of up to 30 grams of dried recreational cannabis. Beyond this, people will be able to grow up to 4 cannabis plants per household. To get the facts on cannabis in Canada check out the federal government's site here.
How will legalized cannabis impact my insurance?
Each insurance company is approaching the legalization of Cannabis differently. Many are updating their policy wordings to reflect the changes but what each company is putting into their policy differs. Here are some of the major areas insurance carriers are focused on:
How does legal cannabis impact my home insurance?
Because you will be able to grow and store cannabis plants at home, some insurers are altering their policy wordings and are adding a special limit of insurance that will pay up to a certain amount for any cannabis-related loss. If the insurer is updating their wording, it is mostly likely automatic, so it will be important to check your updated policy wordings. If your insurance company is updating their wordings it will most likely also reflect the legal limits outlined in the legislation, specifically growing up to a maximum of 4 plants per household. Alternatively, some companies are currently waiting to see if any changes to the policy wording is necessary. It may be that their current wording is adequate to cover cannabis-related losses up to stated maximums in the policy already.
How does legal cannabis impact my car insurance?
The Federal legalization of cannabis also included the introduction of three new impaired driving conditions. These outline the maximum blood-drug concentration levels a person can have while driving. These drug-impaired convictions will be rated and treated in the same manner as we do today for alcohol-related impaired convictions.
As the legislation comes into effect, we will keep you updated on any information that may impact you or your insurance concerns. We do not anticipate any major changes to your insurance experience as a result of this legislation.
If you have any questions about the information above, please contact our team at Bryson Insurance.
*For business owners you may be interested in how legal cannabis will impact your business check out our webinar on The Impact of Cannabis on Your Workplace.
For us living in Ontario and Canada the fall is also the kickoff to winter tire season. For those who have had the opportunity to compare winter driving with all-season tires versus winter tires you know the added security and grip provided by winter tires. Not only do winter tires keep you and your family safer but having them installed on your vehicle throughout the winter also saves you money on your auto insurance.
Below are common questions about winter tires and the discount Ontario drivers receive for having winter tires installed on their vehicle.
To get the winter tire discount on my insurance, how long do I need to keep the winter tires on my vehicle?
To get the winter tire discount on your insurance premium, winter tires need to be installed on your vehicle throughout the winter. Some insurance companies require the tires to be on your vehicle starting November 1st while others do not require the tires to be installed until December 1st. In general, it is recommended to keep the tires installed until April 30th.
How many winter tires do I need installed on my vehicle to get the winter tire discount on my insurance premium?
You are required to have all four tires on your vehicle rated for winter driving conditions.
How do winter tires work in winter weather?
Winter tire technology is unique from all other tires. Winter tires have a soft rubber compound that remains flexible in cold weather. This allows the tire to conform to the road for more controlled handling during cold days. Winter tires also sport wider grooves to enhance traction on snow and ice and have deep sipes (small slits in the tread) that help cut through slush and water. The result of these features means winter tires deliver as much as 25 to 50% greater traction over all-season tires.
How do we know if it is a winter tire?
The severe service winter tire designation looks like a peaked mountain with a snowflake in the middle.
When you see a tire with the mountain snowflake pictograph on the sidewall, you know it meets specific snow traction performance requirements set by the Rubber Association of Canada.
Do all-season tires qualify for the winter tire insurance discount?
Well, all-season tires are worlds better than summer tires for winter driving. They do not replace the grip and reliability of winter tires. Some insurance carriers may recognize a discount for having all-season tires installed during the winter months but that is rare. As well, during our harsher winter driving weather, all-season tires are simply not as safe for yourself or others on the road.
Do I have to notify my insurance broker again this year to get the winter tire discount?
If you notified your insurance broker last year, then the winter tire discount will automatically be applied again this year.
What if I just say I have winter tires on but do not actually have them installed? Will I still get the discount?
The winter tire discount is based on an honour system. When you tell your insurance broker that you have winter tires installed on your vehicle, it acts as a legal confirmation of your action. It is also a sign to your broker and your insurance carrier that you are taking actions to be safer on the roads in the winter. If you do have an accident and are caught lying about having winter tires on your vehicle, your insurance carrier can refuse your claim. It is much better to be honest and safe on the roads than to risk everything to save a few dollars.
As always, we are here to serve your needs. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Bryson Insurance broker.
Warmer weather is coming and with it the time to change our winter tires! The question we hear the most during this time of year is “When can I switch off my winter tires?”
There are two answers to this question – one is to ensure you are entitled to your discount with the insurance carrier and the other is purely for your safety. We recommend satisfying both answers before you make the switch.
When do the insurance companies say I can switch my winter tires?
In Ontario, most drivers who put winter tires on their vehicle for the winter are entitled to a discount on their auto insurance premium. However, to make sure this discount is realized winter tires must stay on the vehicle until April 1st. While this is all the is required to satisfy the insurance company requirement we also recommend considering the temperature outside.
How does temperature affect my tires for driving?
Instead of going by the calendar we suggest going by the temperature outside. The industry norm is to wait until the temperature is consistently above 7 degrees Celsius. To receive the maximum safety benefit of winter tires, this may mean waiting until mid-April to have your warmer weather tires installed. Which prompts a final question we receive…
Why can’t I just leave my winter tires on throughout the year?
As someone who puts winter tires on my family’s vehicles every year, I can’t recommend them enough. The softer rubber compound in a good set of winter tires offers enhanced performance and safety during our cold Ontario winters. Warm weather is a different story.
In the warmer weather the softer tire wears faster and sees a drastic decline in performance. In extreme heat winter tires can disintegrate and cause other serious problems for yourself and others around you on the road. But before extreme heat even comes into play there are other reasons, as highlighted in testing by CAA, to have your winter tires changed with the warmer weather.