Friday, August 31, 2012

Short Takes: Insurance Companies Caught by Own Fine Print, Reduced Competition in Canadian Banking, and more

Here is an amusing story of a lawyer who found a way to make money exploiting the fine print in insurance contracts. The insurance companies are trying to sue the lawyer with the argument that they don’t understand their own contracts. There are no angels here, but I’m on the side of the lawyer in this story that kept me interested right to the end.

Scotiabank made a $3.13 billion offer to buy ING Canada. Online banks are an important part of maintaining a competitive marketplace in Canadian banking. Unfortunately for consumers, it looks like competition will be reduced in this case.

The Blunt Bean Counter had some fun describing CRA information requests from taxpayers that make little sense.

Boomer and Echo argues that Canada needs a fiduciary standard for investment advisors.

Canadian Couch Potato reports that a number of ETFs are closing shop.

Preet Banerjee answers the question of whether children have to pay the debts of their deceased parents.

Big Cajun Man muses about when is the right time to downsize your life when the children leave home.


  1. Musing is what I does goodest, me thinks...

    Enjoy the LOOOOONG weekend

  2. The Blunt Bean CounterAugust 31, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    Michael, thx for the link. I must say I enjoyed your interpretation of the language on the information requests when you said in your blog post "“We need to see documentation to make sure you’re not a lying deadbeat".

  3. Thanks for the mention. Have a great weekend!

  4. @Mark: It would be interesting to see how people would react to an information request letter that explained the reason for the letter plainly. Of course, I'd want to observe the reaction from a discreet distance.

  5. I read a good part of that lawyer's scheme. he's not robin hood, he's a schemer.

    He basically found one state that doesn't require by law that there be 'insurable interest' in a life insurance policy. There's a reason every other state has laws that do require this. Because the idea that I can take out a life insurance policy without your knowledge, permission or without suffering any loss upon your death (which is a basic premise of any kind of insurance) is bad. What happens generally if I'm allowed to take out life insurance on your life and I profit when, but not until, you die. See any potential issues there? Like I can hardly wait until you're dead?

    You may think that that this is no big deal, screw the insurance company. hey, I sympathize with the attitude. But removing insurable interest in the end screws the consumer most. In the U.S. Walmart has been a big purchaser of COLI policies - corporate owned life insurance policies. Not just on their execs, but on their low paying staff. They put $50,000 policies on all their greeters and cashiers. They have no real insurable interest. they just have enough staff that overall they make money from their staff's deaths.

    Does that not creep you out a bit? See how that can go wrong? think about whether Walmart is financially better off paying life insurance premiums (with Walmart as beneficiary) and just skipping the costs of your drug plan. Got cancer? Why, that's the best news your employer has heard all day. No health plan to increase your chances of recovery?

    In short, this guy isn't finding loopholes, he's perverting the system. And the results are NOT in consumers' best interests.

  6. @Life Insurance Canada: As I said, there are no angels in this story. If the lawyer is a schemer then the insurance companies executives were greedy fools.

    I do think it's a big deal to screw insurance companies. Insurance fraud is a major problem that ends up costing consumers a lot of money. However, where is the fraud here? The insurance companies need to ask themselves how they were taken so easily for so long by someone who didn't even do anything illegal.