Wildfires are a frequent occurrence in summer throughout Canada, but some years can be far more devastating than others. There are some 8,000 wildfires that affect heavily forested areas in the country per year; both drought and dry conditions only increase the risk for potential fire activity, which is more frequent than ever in the summer months.
Alberta has experienced a string of destructive wildfires in recent years. In 2016, there was the Fort McMurray fire which engulfed roughly 590,000 hectares of land before it was deemed to be controlled. 2019 suffered a rough start to summer in Alberta when the Chuckegg Creek Fire started near a town called High Level, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate from their homes.
Wildfire smoke poses a huge and sometimes underestimated threat to the health of everyone in the province due to the large amount of land it can quickly encompass. Both Alberta and British Columbia have suffered some of the worst air quality conditions in recent years than ever thanks to wildfires.
How Wildfire Affects Your Health
While certain individuals are more susceptible to the effects of wildfire smoke than others, the threat is no less universal. Those who suffer from chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, lung or heart diseases are particularly sensitive, as well as people over sixty-five, smokers, infants or young children and pregnant women. Anyone who is at risk from wildfire smoke should seek medical care if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
Those with heart or lung conditions should ensure they have access to the appropriate, necessary care if there is any exposure to smoke. Wildfire smoke is particularly dangerous because it includes both carbon monoxide gasses and particles of building material and burning vegetation, and can cause issues or exacerbate pre-existing conditions when it enters the respiratory system.
Limiting Smoke Exposure
The best way to avoid being affected by wildfire smoke is to limit your exposure to it altogether. Here are a few ways to do so:
If you need to go anywhere, reduce your exposure to the smoke by sealing your windows in your car and using your air conditioning to circulate the air.
What is particulate matter?
Particulate matter is debris that was burnt by the wildfire which accumulates in smoke. It is what makes wildfire smoke so dangerous. The largest particles, greater than 10 micrometers, tend to aggravate the eyes, nose and throat. Particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers may possibly be inhaled into the lungs and induce symptoms like coughing – or even worsen pre-existing conditions.
What do I do if I’m having a medical emergency due to smoke exposure?
Call 911 immediately, or go to an emergency room if you can. Medical emergencies from smoke can include severe difficulties breathing or intense chest pain.
How do I know what the air quality is in my community?
Check the Air Quality Health Index for Alberta.
Protecting Your Home from Wildfire Damage
Wildfires expand by using vegetation and wilderness as their fuel source. When they cross into urban communities, manufactured structures become their source of fuel. Protecting your home is essentially about making it so that your home cannot be used as a fire fuel source. Here’s how:
For additional information regarding current provincial advisories for wildfires and other public health concerns, check Alberta Health Services. They will be able to provide further assistance when it comes to protecting yourself and your loved ones from the effects of wildfire smoke.
Between the cold, pricy winter holidays and the hot, busy summer vacations, the spring break week is possibly the best time for a family to experience an affordable holiday getaway. Even if your travel destination isn’t exactly very warm, there are still a lot of things to do and amazing places to visit that can make your family’s winter more enjoyable.
If you’re planning a short spring break vacation for your family this year, here are our top four travel tips that can help you and your family have tons of fun while sticking to a budget.
When you’re travelling with a family, it can be quite tempting to pack a bunch of unnecessary items, especially for the children. When you catch yourself doing that, try to remember two things:
Half our trip preparation time is usually spent on planning.
BUT! Did you know that booking flights and hotels is only the beginning of the planning process?
If you’re travelling with children, make sure to pre-book some fun activities for them at the hotel, resort, or city you’re visiting. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to come up with a last minute idea to entertain a bunch of bored kids on a family trip. Don’t worry! You’re not alone in this. We’ve all been there and know exactly how it feels!
Do your homework! Spend some time googling your vacation city, hotel, or resort and try to take advantage of all the activities that may appeal to your children and other family members. When you pre-book all the possible excursions, shows, and restaurants you will save quality time during the trip and spare your family the disappointment of arriving at a sold-out show or a fully-booked restaurant.
No one likes to plan for the worst, but when we’re vacationing away from home, we have to do just that.
Being a tourist in a foreign country (especially one whose language you don’t speak), can be quite intimidating even if you’re enjoying your time. Having an accident while there and not knowing what to do or where to go can result in a completely different level of stress that no one needs on their vacation.
We have two words for you: Travel Insurance.
A reliable travel insurance policy can help you predict the unpredictable. It can help you relax and have some peace of mind knowing that your children can get the medical attention they need in case of an accident.
Getting travel insurance doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. Once you’re done with your visit to the drugstore to load on all the trip necessary medications and to your family doctor to get your travel vaccinations (if necessary), you’ll probably want to take a minute to give us a call at Sharp Insurance to get your travel insurance quote. You can also get a quick quote by visiting the Travel Insurance page.
Remember: There are bad people out there who target the homes of travelers and snowbirds to break into while the homeowners are gone. It’s always a better idea to keep your travelling plans in your small circle of family and friends. Also, it’s crucial to have a responsible adult check on your home every three days while you’re gone in order for your home/tenant insurance policy to remain active.
For more tips on how to get your peace of mind and how to purchase coverage without boundaries, give your Home/Tenant Insurance broker at Sharp Insurance a call or visit our Home/Tenant Insurance page.
Now you’re all set for your big Spring Break adventure. Enjoy your vacation and don’t forget to charge your camera!
On October 17, 2018, the Government of Canada legalized and regulated access to cannabis.
This legislation will:
Should you choose to use cannabis on a recreational or medical basis, here are some important things you need to be aware of with regards to your insurance.
Car Insurance and Cannabis
In June of 2018, Alberta’s alcohol and drug impaired driving offences came into effect to align with new federal drug laws.
With the legalization of marijuana, cannabis use is being looked at the same way as alcohol use when it comes to getting behind the wheel. While legal, if you are driving under the influence of marijuana and are over the legal limit, even if it is intended for medicinal purposes, it will affect your insurance the same way an alcohol conviction would.
Whether it is from alcohol or illegal drugs, a DUI is a criminal code conviction that will stay on your record for five years from the date of conviction. You will also automatically have your license suspended. These things combined can affect the rates you pay for car insurance for several years. During the first three years, you are considered high risk and will be charged an extra free on top of your premiums. The next two years you are eligible to be placed in a regular insurance market but will also be charged an extra fee for a higher risk as well.
The hike in your rates comes as a direct result from insurance companies seeing you as a greater risk based on statistics and actuarial data.
According to data from Intact Insurance, drivers with a DUI conviction are 30-40% more likely to be involved in an accident. Data from MADD Canada says 30% of drivers with a DUI; get another DUI within 10 years.
Lastly, should you cause an accident while driving under the influence, you forfeit the right to claim for any damages and injuries to a third party.
Under the new drug-impaired driving offences, the maximum amount of THC blood concentration level a driver can have is 2 nanograms (ng) per millilitre (ml).
Note: Drivers under that Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program that are found to have any amount of cannabis or illegal drugs in their blood are now subject to the same provincial sanctions that apply to alcohol. These include:
For more information regarding the impaired driving law changes in Alberta, click here.
Cannabis and home insurance
When it comes to having medicinal cannabis, marijuana plants, or cannabis accouterments in your home, depending on which company your insurance is with, you will be provided coverage under the contents section of your home, condo and tenants insurance policy.
For more information on the legal amounts of cannabis possession under the new legislation, click here.
The above mentioned items related to cannabis can sometimes fall under what is called a special limit. A special limit on your insurance policy is essentially a limitation within the wording of your coverage that outlines the maximum that would be paid out for certain items in the event of a claim.
Please contact your Sharp Insurance broker to discuss special limits on your policy as every insurance company is different.
At Sharp, we understand the insurance can be complicated and confusion. As always, feel free to contact your Sharp Insurance broker with regards to any questions or concerns you may have with regards to the legalization of cannabis and your insurance.
If you were affected by the recent heavy snowfall in Calgary and the surrounding areas and need to begin a home or car insurance claim, please contact your insurance company directly.
• 24-hour emergency claims number: 1-844-929-2637
Let’s face it, we’re always looking for ways to have a little extra cash in our pocket. At Sharp, we’re committed to finding the insurance policy that works for you, at the best price. Why pay more for the same coverage, when you can pay less?
Here are our top 10, nearly foolproof, ways you can save on your car insurance.
If we told you we could guarantee you cheaper insurance rates for the same level of coverage, what would you say? On your next renewal, bring your insurance needs to Sharp and we will beat any new customer’s insurance premium by 5% – that’s the Sharp Guarantee. *Eligible policies must be with Intact, Aviva, RSA or additional participating markets. Get a free, no obligation quote today.
Insurance can sometimes be complicated, so why not simplify it and save money at the same time? By bundling multiple policies, like your home and car insurance, you pay only one premium, have one renewal date and in the event of a loss involving both your car and your home you only pay one deductible. Start your multi-product insurance quote here.
When it comes to the data on your phone or your lunch at the salad bar, you’re only paying for what you use. You can get that same benefit with your car insurance by enrolling in a usage-based insurance (UBI) or telematics program through participating insurance companies. This can save you up to 10% in the first year.
What is UBI or telematics?
Did you know your car is built for a device that can track and transmit information about your driving skills such as hard braking, speed, distance and the times of day you travel most? A small removable device that gathers data, can be installed in your vehicle to rate your insurance premium based on your driving skills rather than demographic generalizations. Inevitably, having this device track your good and bad driving habits will prompt you to be more aware on the road which will help increase safety precautions for you and others on the road. If you think you’re a fantastic driver, then this device could mean big savings for you. Additionally, should you make some not great driving choices, your premium cannot be increased.
Deductible – [dih-duhk-tuh-buh l]. $250, $500, $1,000 – no matter the amount, your deductible is the amount you are responsible for paying before your insurance coverage kicks in to pay for the remainder of the damage in the event of a claim. You can save money on your insurance by increasing your deductible amount. While this could save you money in the long-term, it’s important to be aware that you will be responsible for paying a higher amount towards claim costs and be financially prepared.
BONUS TIP: Consider saving your deductible amount in a high-interest e-savings account. Then you’ll have it on-hand should you need it, and you will be earning interest on it as well.
Many of us pay our insurance premiums monthly. However, some insurance companies – including several we work with – will offer discounts if you pay your premium up front. You could save up to 4% by paying your premium annually. Talk to your Sharp Insurance broker to determine if this is right for you.
From an insurance perspective, young or inexperienced drivers (less than 3 years’ experience) are more at risk of filing a claim- that is why their insurance costs are generally higher. By enrolling in driver training, you’re gaining experience that helps you become a better and safer driver – lowering the likelihood of having a claim – and ultimately lowering your premiums as well.
According to Statistics Canada, Alberta leads the country in vehicle thefts, with almost 23,000 vehicles stolen every year. That works out to roughly 60 vehicles per day.
Some insurance companies will provide discounts on your car insurance when you provide proof of installation. Furthermore, in the event your vehicle is stolen, the fact that you have an anti-theft device installed may result in your insurance company offering you a reduced deductible.
The three types of anti-theft devices on the market include:
Not all anti-theft devices are eligible for insurance discounts. Before you install anything in your vehicle, speak to your Sharp Insurance broker.
As of September 1, 2011, distracted driving became illegal in Alberta. In 2017 in Edmonton alone, police issued over 7,400 distracted driving tickets. That’s an average of 20 tickets per day. Across Alberta in 2017, there were over 24,000 distracted driving convictions, according to data from the provincial government.
Insurance companies take into account the number and type of traffic violations as well as the number of at fault collisions when determining your insurance premium. By keeping your eyes on the road, following traffic laws and going the speed limit, your likelihood of getting into a collision reduces significantly, and you may just be rewarded with insurance discounts.
If your employer or professional association is a member of Sharp’s Group Home and Auto Insurance program you’ll benefit from exclusive discounts on insurance, 24-7 insurance access and service, 24-7 claims support and payment flexibility. Learn more about our group insurance program and how to register your organization here.
Insurance can be confusing and complicated. Let us do the work for you! Whether you need to insure a single vehicle, or the whole family fleet, we’re ready to help you find the coverage to protect your ride.
Our team of experts will find you customizable coverage with a policy that fits your needs. We partner with the top insurance companies in Canada to provide you with excellent options at the best value.
A quote from Sharp Insurance is always fast and free. What are you waiting for? Start your wicked fast insurance quote today.
Whether you’re an established home buyer or you’re looking to enter the real estate market for the first time, leaving some room in your budget for home insurance is key.
The good news is, our insurance experts have compiled 10 ways that can help you save on your home insurance. Check out the list below, then contact your Sharp Insurance broker to see if you can take advantage of one (or all) of these discounts.
Insurance companies want your business, and they want you to consolidate all of your insurance needs in one place, on one policy. The good news is that by bundling your home, tenants or condo insurance with your other insurance needs like your car insurance, you could save up to 20%.
As an added benefit, your insurance becomes simplified with one premium, one renewal date, and in the event of an incident involving your home and car, you only pay one deductible.
There is lots of choice when it comes to direct writers and insurance brokers in the market today. That’s why at Sharp, we guarantee we can save you money on your insurance. On your next renewal, bring your policy to Sharp and we will beat your current premium price by up to 5% – guaranteed. Some conditions apply. Policy must be within participating markets. To learn more or get a quote, contact us today.
Newer homes, that are roughly ten years or younger, are more likely to have updated roofs, electrical and plumbing – making them less likely to have a claim. Many also come with sprinkler systems or water damage prevention devices. If you’re in a newer property, ask your Sharp Insurance broker if you are eligible for discounts.
Another thing insurance companies will look at when determining your premium is the location of your property. They will often ask how many meters or kms to the nearest fire station or fire hydrant. Being near emergency services is more likely to save you money on your home insurance. On the flip side, if you are looking at a property close to the river or areas that are prone to flooding, don’t anticipate saving any money on your premium, as you’re at a higher risk of making a water damage claim.
Whether you’re buying a new home or simply giving your current property some much needed renovations, it’s important to let your broker know. Certain renovations and upgrades can save you money on your home insurance. These include:
Many of the insurance companies we work with will offer discounts if you pay your premium annually in one lump sum, as opposed to paying your premium monthly. You could save up to 4% by paying your premium annually. Talk to your Sharp Insurance broker to determine if this is right for you.
BONUS TIP: Some insurance companies will also offer a discount to homeowners that are mortgage free.
By installing devices that protect your home, belongings and loved ones you are not only more prepared in the event of a break-in or fire, but you may qualify for savings on your home insurance.
Houses alarms, sprinkler systems, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are all great additions to help keep your home happy and safe. Talk to your Sharp Insurance broker about how they could help you save up to 20% on your premium.
Your credit score measures your financial health. More than half of Canadian insurance companies utilize your credit score as a way of calculating the likelihood of you making a claim. If you have good credit, you could be rewarded with preferred pricing on your policy.
If you have made several claims in the past it could show that there are underlying issues with your home, or that you live in an area more likely to result in a claim. The longer you maintain a claims free status, the less risk you present to the insurance company. Many insurance companies will offer discounts on your home insurance when you have been claims free for several years.
At Sharp, we’re not like the other guys. Since we’re not owned by an insurance company you know that we are working to find the policy that meets your needs at a great price. Great coverage, a low price, unbiased advice – what more can you ask for? Talk to a Sharp Insurance broker and start your home insurance quote today.
BONUS TIP: By increasing your deductible you can save on your annual premium. Did you know that many companies will let you place a deductible on specific types of losses – like water or wind and hail. You can choose to increase those deductibles to save money – great thing to do if you are in a higher risk area.