630,000 Canadians surprised by big cheques – it's not a scam
The holidays came early for 630,000 Canadians this month. Cheques worth thousands of dollars have started showing up in mailboxes across the country. Understandably, many folks have been skeptical, but it's the real deal.
One of Canada's leading insurance companies has gone public. The change to the corporate structure means policyholders with Economical Mutual Insurance Company come out on the winning end.
"It is an early Christmas present," said Bel Bishop of North Vancouver, who received a $1,285 cheque last week.
Claire Wilson and her husband in Victoria got one too.
"Who sends an $1,800 cheque?" she asked.
And Beverly McKenzie in Burnaby got one for $1,413.
"It was kind of a shock at first," McKenzie said.
They started calling their financial planner, who then called McLaughlin On Your Side.
We looked into it and yes, folks, it all adds up.
It's called demutualization. As Economical Mutual Insurance celebrates 150 years in Canada, it has gone public, completing initial public share offering on Nov. 23. The new parent company is called Definity and policyholders of Economical are not only customers, they are beneficial owners in the old mutual company. That means they get a slice of the profits.
CTV News received an email statement from Economical Insurance confirming that the cheques that have gone out are authentic. The company states: “We recently issued payments of financial benefits as part of the conclusion of a government-regulated demutualization process for Economical Mutual Insurance. Demutualization means Economical Mutual changed from a mutual company into a company with shares. As a result of that transaction, the company was required by law to distribute financial benefits to eligible policyholders."
"I'm still mystified, because I still can't remember what policy it must have come from back in our past," said Wilson.
The company has set up a special webpage for frequently asked questions. Part of its explanation of the situation reads as follows:
"There are two types of eligible policyholders: eligible mutual policyholders and eligible non-mutual policyholders.
An eligible mutual policyholder is a person who holds an Economical mutual policy, if he or she held it on Nov. 3, 2015 (the date the Economical Board of Directors decided to proceed with demutualization).
An eligible non-mutual policyholder is a person who holds an Economical non-mutual policy and has done so for the 12-month period ending on Nov. 3, 2015, or meets the special circumstances defined below."
The webpage goes on to list other special circumstances.
Regardless, the folks we talked to were thrilled that after viewing their letters and statements along with their cheques, it appears to be real money, and just in time for the holidays.
"We’re pleased to have been able to distribute these benefits, and we know that they may be a welcome surprise for many recipients during the holiday season," said Economical.
"It's a gift and it goes right into my husband’s tool budget," said Bishop while chuckling to herself.
McKenzie said she wasted no time depositing it after learning that it was not a scam.
"It is a Christmas present," she added.
"I'm thinking, wow it's Christmas and you know there's an awful lot of people out there who need help right now, so this is going to go into our charity giving," said Wilson. "Merry Christmas to you and Merry Christmas to 630,000 other Canadians."
Economical says that those who received a cheque can also review its website joininourfuture.com, which has more detail as well as an FAQ section, or reach out to email@example.com if they have further questions.
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