E-bikes can prove costly when it comes to insurance claims

Although both motorists and cyclists don't seem to crazy about them, electronic bicycles (e-bikes) are flying off the shelves these days. They're cheap to buy, cheap to run and don't leave much of a carbon footprint. They are, however, subject to provincial traffic laws; that is, they can ride in traffic with motor vehicles, like scooters, and their operators mustn’t drive recklessly or under the influence of alcohol. Here's a good summary of the existing rules. More importantly, they also don't need a license or insurance, according to a recent Ontario Court of Justice ruling. But taking that latter option at face value might be shortsighted, warns My Insurance Shopper. Like any motorized vehicle, there is a liability risk attached with owning this type of vehicle. If you're an owner of this type of motorized vehicle you need to know that you may have no liability coverage if you get into an accident, and you could find yourself without coverage if you cause property damage or worse, injure another person. Normal car insurance contains liability coverage but homeowners policies are structured a bit differently and generally exclude motorized vehicles except for lawn mowers, other gardening equipment, snow blowers, wheelchairs and motorized golf carts on the golf premises. But a good number of policies exclude e-bikes as well. No insurance required doesn't mean you're not at risk. It’s important to educate yourself on your policy and exercise caution when purchasing and using these types of vehicles, MIS warns. Do you drive an e-bike? Do you worry about what might happen in an

Rather than downsize, retiring boomers hope to stay put

If you read the headlines, just about every urban boomer is leaving the suburbs behind and moving into condos or lofts in a trendy downtown area. Yet there's little evidence that most Canadians are actually that open to the idea of moving into a smaller residence as they grow older. A majority of Canadians aged 50 and over – 83 percent – said staying in their own homes and paying for home care is the most appealing option for them, according to Royal Bank research. Even then, while the majority of us want to ''age-in-place'', this doesn't necessarily mean that we expect to stay in the same house. Most people are attached less to a particular pile of bricks and mortar than to a local area – to a network of friends, services and familiar places. Among those who were already retired, a decision to move out of their home was most often due to a change in their health – 66 per cent – rather than to cash in on their home equity or get closer to restaurants. Remaining in familiar surroundings – in a home of their own, in their current neighbourhood and close to family and friends – is definitely how Canadian Boomers wish to live when future health changes occur,” says RBC head of retirement and aging strategies Amalia Costa. Then there's the emotional pain of scaling back. Many empty nesters find they lack the stomach or stamina to dismantle their lives. They'd rather hang on. They struggle with sorting through all those boxes in the basement or dread listening to adult children who want to keep the house where they grew up.And isn't always the financial bonanza they expect. With fewer square feet to heat, low and pay property taxes on, many downsizers assume they'll slash their monthly expenses. But unless you're willing to move to a part of the country with a lower cost of living, the savings may prove fairly modest.Do you plan on downsizing in the future or have you already made the move? How are things working out so

Are extended warranties ever worth the money?

You buy some high-end television or smartphone after mulling it over for weeks, and then you have about 15 seconds to consider buying what amounts to an overpriced insurance policy on it. When prompted, do you usually sign up for an extended warranty? Many do, of course, even though consumer experts have long recommended against buying extended warranties, a high-margin profit centre for retailers. Most products don't break down within the warranty period and even when they do, repair fees generally end up costing the same as money you shelled out, they maintain. As well, sales staff regularly mislead customers when they sell extended warranties, according to a recent BBC report. And, if these folks are to be believed, the same thing happens on this side of the ocean. Truth is, buying a warranty his isn't really a financial decision at all -- it's about regret, which is a very uncomfortable feeling that we all try to avoid, says Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational. And because we want to prevent that feeling, we're all too willing to do something that's actually not that financially wise. Most of us simply want to know that we won't have to worry about this down the road.  And as a consequence, we often pay too much money for that solace, he maintains. If you're the type that might sleep easier thanks to the additional peace of mind an extended warranty might offer, go right ahead. But at least understand why, he suggests. Do you generally buy extended warranties? Using what criteria? How have things worked

Consumer confidence hits a record low

No surprise that the latest measures show consumer confidence in Canada is at the lowest ebb since the recession of 1981-82. According to the Conference Board of Canada, we feel that we are now worse off than we were six months ago. And we expect to be even worse off six months from now. People cite uncertainty about their employment prospects, which feeds directly into their ability to manage their current debt load and their willingness to spend a nickel that's not necessary. But arguably, the political games, the search for scapegoats and the general absence of leadership is exacerbating the lack of confidence. The fragile political balance, means that compromise and deal-making trump bold action. On the corporate front, multinational ownership and offshore head offices have also heightened the sense of a lack of control. And on top of that, the witch hunting, finger pointing and blaming has begun. Economists say that lack of confidence will translate into the need for an even bigger government stimulus initiative to kick start the economy. Effective leadership is never cheap, but for once we may actually be able to put a pricetag on