Gertrude Landreville of Langley City says she went nearly nine years without using a cell phone and had no problems until she tried to get a deal on car insurance. Black Press Media photo

Senior denied insurance for lack of a smart phone

Langley woman discovers a deal requires an app

It’s not that Gertrude Landreville doesn’t know how to use a cell phone.

She just doesn’t have much use for one.

“I’ve lived all my life without being connected 24-7 to the hip,’ said Landreville, an 83-year old retired medical clinic manager who lives in Langley City.

“It’s a choice that I make.”

Landreville said she hasn’t really missed having a smart phone in the eight or nine years since she stopped using them.

She has a wireless land line phone and an internet connection.

Normally, Landreville would get her auto insurance from the Aldergrove Credit Union, but after a few years without a car, she was planning to get back on the road.

When she saw some ads from belairdirect, an insurance company that was promising a deal on topping-up basic ICBC coverage, it sounded interesting.

But when she phoned, she was surprised to hear that without a cell phone, specifically a smart phone that can download an app, she was out of luck.

“They said, if you don’t have a smart phone, we can’t deal with you,” she recalled.

“I just think it’s unfair.”

A spokesperson for belairdirect, Jennifer Beck, confirmed that the “automerit” program that Landreville was interested in “has to be accessed through the belairdirect app.”

In B.C., where ICBC has a lock on basic coverage, belairdirect only supplies optional coverage, Beck added.

READ MORE: ICBC’s interim 6.3% rate hike approved

In an email to Black Press, Beck said using the app allows customers to be rewarded for their safe driving behaviour and to receive a personalized insurance discount based on their actual driving skills.

“In order to monitor the person’s driving, the automerit app relies on your smartphone’s GPS, accelerometer and gyroscope, so participants are required to have a smartphone, Beck said.

A news release from the company said the app requires a recent iPhone or Android device to operate.

Landreville has no plans to get a smart phone.

“I’ve sat in a restaurant and watched four family members eat while looking at their phones,” Landreville said.

“They don’t talk. It’s the most ridiculous thing.”

She will go back to the Aldergrove Credit Union for her auto insurance.

“It’s an issue for [belairdirect], not me, because they won’t get my business,” she said.

“I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”

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