November 1, 2000 by Canadian Underwriter
Kingsway Financial Services has stepped to the plate as the first insurer to offer financial support for the Metro Toronto Police helicopter project. A pilot project to test the use of a helicopter in cases ranging from tracking suspects to locating missing persons has been under way since the summer. Already the program has been successful, helping to nab two suspected car thieves on the run along the Humber River, and rescue a stranded boater on Lake Ontario. Police are asking the insurance industry to help fund the $1.25 million pilot project, which involves a six-month trial of two helicopters. “We think the insurance industry as a group has more to gain from this than anybody else”, because of the potential for fighting car theft and reducing liabilities from high-speed chases, notes Deputy Chief Steve Reesor. Bill Starr, president of Kingsway, agrees. Three of Kingsway’s companies donated $10,000 to the campaign, and he is encouraging other insurers to do the same. “The direct savings to insurance companies” as a result of the helicopter program are clear, he says, “with one car, one injury, you’ve recouped that money.”
In explaining the rationale behind the use of helicopters in policing, Deputy Chief Reesor points out that as the largest police force in the country, covering a broad territory, Toronto is a prime candidate for the project. Already York and Durham Region police are using helicopters, and in Los Angeles, 17 helicopters are presently in use, covering an area much smaller than that of Toronto.
Insurers interested in learning more about the project, can contact Deputy Chief Reesor at 416-808-8001, or at the Toronto Police Service, 40 College St., Toronto, ON, M5G 2J3.
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