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The Benefits of Purchasing Commercial Auto Insurance

Transportation is an essential part of doing business in Alberta, but you need to make sure your business is properly covered. 

What are the advantages of buying Commercial Auto Insurance?
Whether you are an owner-operator with a single vehicle or a large enterprise with a commercial fleet, there are many benefits to Commercial Auto Insurance.

It helps your business avoid unnecessary costs and provides extra protection when transporting materials and tools to and from worksites, hauling goods for deliveries or driving to meet clients.

Why do you need it? 

  1. Sometimes accidents happen, so make sure you’re prepared with third-party liability coverage. Third-party liability coverage provides a range of protection, if and when you damage another person’s vehicle or property in an accident. Also, if a collision results in bodily harm or expensive medical costs, for either you or those involved in a crash, commercial auto policies cover: medical costs, lost wages and even legal expenses.
  2. Physical damage and collision coverage. After an accident, your employees might have to pay for expensive repairs to your organization’s vehicles. With this type of coverage, we can reimburse you for the cost of repairs following the crash, regardless of who is at fault.
  3. Remember that Commercial Auto Insurance isn’t just for large vehicle fleets. Any car, truck or vehicle used as part of your operations should be covered properly with Commercial Auto Insurance. 
  4. Peace of mind for costs of non-traffic related incidents. Commercial Auto Insurance can provide comprehensive protection for damages that are unrelated to a traffic accident (i.e. losses from theft, vandalism, floods and fires).
  5. More comprehensive coverage than just Personal Auto Insurance policy. If you’re using your Personal Auto Insurance for business then you might not be properly covered, which could lead to devastating consequences. Without Commercial Auto coverage, companies may have to pay out-of-pocket if employees get in an accident while making deliveries or picking up supplies.

Still have questions about Commercial Auto Insurance?

Contact us today for a Commercial Auto Insurance quote, so we can explore your coverage options and customize policies with the exact limits and deductibles you need.

 

Background Screening Potential Tenants

Choosing the wrong tenant can lead to lost income, litigation costs and damage to your property. Conducting a background check on prospective tenants is a wise way to ensure a mutually successful experience for you and the applicant, and it’s an effective risk management tool. Although background checks do have some costs, taking on tenants without performing a screening carries a significant risk — costing you more money in the long run.

Why Pre-screen?

Many applicants have criminal records, but they do not disclose this information. Therefore, consider these advantages of pre-screening:

  • Discourages applicants from hiding a criminal background or falsifying their credentials.
  • Eliminates any uncertainties about applicants.
  • Encourages honesty while going through the leasing process.

Extent of Background Checks

At a minimum, it is advisable to review an applicant’s criminal history, as it may be a factor to consider when allowing him or her to become a tenant. Searches for criminal records might include federal, provincial and area records.

Besides the basic criminal background check, take a risk-focused approach to determine additional levels of screening, which might include identity verification, employment verification and professional license verification.

Credit Check

An additional level of verification that is essential for a background screening of a potential tenant is a credit check. This can provide further verification of Social Insurance Number and employment information and can reveal crucial information about the applicant’s ability to make payments responsibly.

Rental Applications

The background check will be more valuable and less costly if the application contains these elements: A statement that all information is accurate and a statement that any untruthfulness or omissions are legal grounds for termination of the lease. A standardized format that consistently collects all necessary information will also speed up the background screening process. Some other helpful elements include:

  • Detailed contact information for references, including contact information for past landlords
  • Any other names used by the tenant

Using a Background Screening Provider

To simplify the task, you may find it helpful to outsource the process to a background screening service provider. For many screening tasks, such as criminal background checks, outside providers can be faster and more thorough. It is important that when selecting a provider, you consider its financial health, its hiring and employment processes, identity theft safeguards, and, of course, its service offerings.

One way to streamline the process is to use an online application that requires certain fields necessary for the screening to be completed. The completed fields can be linked directly to the screening provider’s website, which will extract the necessary information for the background check. When a need for revision arises, the form can be easily modified.

Contact Access Insurance Group Ltd. if you need more information about protecting yourself from liabilities associated with tenants. Our insurance professionals can keep you covered and give you peace of mind!

 

Liquor Liability and You

Whenever you provide alcohol to individuals in a non-commercial manner, you are considered a social host. Social hosts generally are not responsible for the acts of guests that consume alcohol. However, a social host may become accountable for the actions of their guests if their conduct creates or exacerbates a risk to the public. It is essential to take the appropriate steps to control your risk.

An important first step in limiting your liquor liability is to implement a risk management program. The liquor liability program must have the support of management, be communicated to supervisors and employees, and include a policy advising employees to drink responsibly at company events.

The program should outline the procedures for handling intoxicated guests. The procedures may include: delegating who will assess the situation (such as hotel security or someone from your organization) and outlining appropriate actions for dealing with (or removing) a guest who has overindulged. 

In the Event of an Incident

If an incident occurs, fill out a liquor liability incident report documenting measures taken to control the intoxicated person.

Liability Insurance

In addition to proper liquor liability planning and education, review your company’s current general liability insurance policy to determine your coverage in social-host situations.

Remember that, even with the proper coverage, an events and liquor liability policy does not eliminate your exposure. If alcohol service is in violation of a statute, a minor is served, or an already intoxicated person is served, you can be at risk. 

It’s also important to have a program in place that includes the following recommendations when working with third-party vendors:

  • When working with a vendor, such as a caterer or a bartender service, verify they are licensed and insured.
  • Stipulate in your vendor’s contract that only those who have received alcohol-awareness training should serve or sell alcohol at your event.
  • Require the vendor to provide Certificate of Liability Insurance to include events and liquor liability coverage naming your company as an additional insured.

To promote the safety and sobriety of your employees and guests at company-sponsored events, review the following recommended control measures:

  • Serve drinks to guests rather than offering a self-serve bar.
  • Set up bar stations instead of having servers circulating the room; if offered, people are inclined to accept drinks they wouldn’t have otherwise ordered.
  • Place table tents at each bar reminding employees and guests to drink responsibly.
  • Don’t price alcohol too low, as it encourages over-consumption.
  • Offer a range of low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks at no charge.
  • Require servers to measure spirits.
  • Always serve food with alcohol.
  • Close the bar an hour before the scheduled end of the party.
  • Do not offer a “last call” as this promotes rapid consumption.
  • Never raffle alcohol or hold contests that involve buying or drinking alcohol.
  • Entice guests to take advantage of safe transportation options by subsidizing taxis or promoting a designated driver program.
  • If your event includes a program or speaker, schedule it for after dinner and drinks are served. This allows additional time for alcohol to wear off.

Before your company hosts its next event, contact Access Insurance Group Ltd. We can review your coverage and assist in developing a risk management plan that keeps safety a top priority at your company-sponsored events!

Pesticide Safety

Administering and working around pesticides is an integral part of working in agriculture. However, while these products are very effective in protecting crops from pests, they can also cause health problems for those who are constantly exposed to them.

Short-term effects of pesticide exposure can range from the relatively mild (stinging eyes, rashes and blisters) to more severe conditions such as blindness, falling into a coma and even death. Similarly, long-term effects—or those that may not become apparent until later in life—can include infertility, neurological disorders and cancer.

Because many symptoms of pesticide exposure resemble the common flu, workers may not even realize they have been exposed until symptoms worsen—which makes medical treatment much more difficult. However, simply washing with soap and water immediately after an exposure event can reduce the chances of suffering these effects, underscoring the need for a quick response after exposure.

Other safety tips that should always be observed to protect from adverse health effects include the following:

  • Follow directions on the label for the attended use and application.
  • Note first-aid instructions in case of accidental poisoning.
  • Follow directions on the label for proper storage or disposal after use.
  • Do not smoke, eat, drink, apply cosmetics or use the washroom directly following the use of pesticides.
  • Do not use pesticides in winds stronger than 16 km/h.

Additionally, wearing protective gear is one of the best lines of defence against exposure to chemicals. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, non-absorbent gloves, rubber boots, hats, eye protection, masks, aprons, face respirators and dust mist filters are all beneficial while applying pesticides. Clothing should also be checked beforehand for defects or holes that may allow pesticides to reach the wearer.

To learn more, contact Access Insurance Group Ltd today.

Wedding Insurance

Even when love is in the air, accidents can still happen. Learn how purchasing wedding insurance helps you to eliminate wedding day worries!

Plan Ahead for Peace of Mind

Though you may not want to think that disaster could strike on your wedding day, there is always the chance of a mishap or two. From a sudden vendor cancellation or damage to your treasured white gown, wedding insurance can protect against unforeseen problems, while also giving loving couples peace of mind.

Other Considerations

In addition to purchasing a wedding insurance policy, remember these precautions to avoid a wedding-day mishap:

  • Do extensive research on the vendors you select.
  • Keep your deposits small as most are non-refundable. By limiting your deposit amounts, you will protect against a large loss if you need to reschedule or cancel your wedding.
  • Use a credit card versus a personal check to pay for services, as it is easier to dispute charges when using a credit card.

What Does a Typical Policy Cover?

Wedding insurance protects an engaged couple’s investment in the event of circumstances out of their control and provides reimbursement for incurred expenses. 

  • Commercial General Liability: including Host Liquor Liability for three (3) 24-hour periods.  Includes coverage for rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception and gift opening.
    Extra 24-hour periods available upon request.
  • Wedding Cancellation: Reimbursement of deposits paid, or contracted to be paid, because of an unexpected cancellation of the wedding.
  • Honeymoon Cancellation: Will reimburse if the insured suffers a loss of pre-paid, non-refundable cost of travel due to the cancellation of the wedding.
  • Loss deposits: Will pay for non-refundable deposits made to providers of any booked goods or services if they suffer financial failure.
  • Wedding photos and video: Payment of the extra expenses necessary to retake the photos if they cannot be reproduced for any reason including non-appearance of the photographer. 
  • Bridal attire: Coverage for physical loss or damage to the bridal attire once the property is in the care of the insured. 
  • Wedding Gifts: Insurance for direct physical loss of or damage to wedding presents (24 hours prior to and after the wedding) while the property is at the couples’ home or reception location or in transit between the two. 
  • Rings: Covers physical loss or damage to wedding bands. Coverage starts 7 days prior to wedding.
  • Wedding Cake and Flowers: Direct physical damage or loss to the wedding cake or flowers seven days prior to the wedding.
  • Wedding Stationery: Physical damage or loss of the wedding stationery prior to the wedding; this includes invitations, RSVP cards, menus and name cards.
  • Rented Property: Reimbursement of direct and physical damage to rented property used during the wedding reception. It includes, but is not limited to, temporary outdoor shelters, such as tents or marquees, tables and chairs, stages, audio and visual equipment.

Examples of Damages Covered Under a Typical Policy

  • A limo driver does not show up on the day of the wedding, forcing the couple to hire a different company in a crunch for double the price.
  • The bride’s custom-made veil is lost in the airport so she must purchase a new one the day before the wedding.
  • The reception hall goes out of business a month before the wedding, causing the couple to lose their deposit and book a new venue last-minute.

Count on Us!

Contact Access Insurance Group Ltd at (780) 435-2400 to learn more about how this coverage can help you to eliminate one less wedding day worry!

Firework Safety

Summer is the season of exciting events and celebrations and, with these festivities, come fireworks and sparklers!

While the excitement and spectacle of fiery summer displays is common enough, it’s also important to remember that they can be dangerous if not treated with care. Even something as harmless as a sparkler can get hot enough to burn through clothing. So, to prevent burn injuries, exercise extreme caution when lighting and holding fireworks, and be sure to monitor your children closely while celebrating.

Safety Recommendations:

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions and warnings.
  • Do not try to make your own fireworks; use only those that are commercially manufactured.
  • Only light fireworks outside in an open space.
  • Obey local ordinances regarding private fireworks usage.
  • Have a bucket of water handy in case of emergencies.
  • If a firework does not go off, do not try to relight it. Instead, wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Never light a firework in a glass or metal container.
  • Do not drink alcohol while lighting fireworks—they can pose burning hazards if you are not careful.

Protection for Your Pets:

Like thunderstorms or the vacuum cleaner, fireworks may frighten your family pets. To protect your pets from the stresses resulting from the loud noises of fireworks:

  • Keep pets indoors, away from loud noises, in a place that is comfortable to them.
  • Allow pets to go to the bathroom before beginning your fireworks show to prevent accidents.

And Remember: Sparkler fireworks are especially fun for children. Once children are old enough, allow them to hold a sparkler under your guidance. Those who are younger than 12 years old should not hold sparklers and should remain spectators only.

To learn more, contact Access Insurance Group Ltd today.

Cyber Risks & Liabilities

Cyber attacks are a major issue for businesses and organizations that can lead to millions of dollars in lost sales or damages. At Access Insurance Group Ltd, we offer the proper coverage to protect your company against losses from computer intrusions. But just how serious is the problem? And what can you do to protect your digital assets?  

Last year, an alarming majority of Canadian organizations reported falling victim to multiple cyber attacks, according to a recent report by cyber security company Carbon Black. These breaches are not only incredibly costly to these organizations and encouraging to their perpetrators, but are, in many cases, preventable through basic diligence of cyber security maintenance.

Increased Frequency and Complexity

The report found that a staggering 83% of surveyed organizations reported suffering a cyber security breach in the last year, with 22% reporting five or more breaches in that time. This high number of breaches per organization is also supported by the 76% of Canadian organizations that reported an increase in cyber attacks in the last year. Furthermore, 25% of organizations reported that the number of attacks had increased by half since the previous year.

Cyber attacks on Canadian businesses haven’t only grown in frequency, but they’ve also grown in complexity, with 81% of surveyed organizations reporting that the attacks they had experienced in the last year were more complex than those of previous years.

Who Is Affected

While no organization is completely immune to cyber attacks, the survey showed that 83% of larger organizations (over 5,000 employees) reported increased attacks, while only 65% of small businesses (under 250 employees) reported an increase in cyber attacks.

Understanding and Preparing for the Threat

Of the different types of cyber attacks, malware is the most prolific, with 30% of people surveyed reporting that malware was the most commonly encountered attack. However, phishing was the cause of successful breaches at 20% of organizations, and “watering hole” tactics were reported to be the most effective and destructive of cyber attacks by 30% of respondents.

Outdated security technology and processes accounted for 20% of breaches, indicating that routine maintenance and updating of cyber security technology and policies could greatly benefit many organizations. In fact, 86% of respondents reported that threat-hunting strengthened their defence.

In response to the destructive nature and increasing prevalence of threats, 85% of surveyed organizations reported plans to increase their cyber defence budgets.

Now that you know the facts about the frequency, complexity and severity of cyber attacks, how can you protect yourself, your business or your organization?

Cyber Security Tools for Your Business

If your organization falls victim to a cyber attack, your valuable digital assets could be compromised. There are several precautions you can take to limit the possibility for criminals to break into your organization’s systems and wreak havoc.

Firewalls—Firewalls are software that control the incoming and outgoing network traffic on a computer system and determine what should and should not be allowed through. Most computer operating systems now come with a pre-installed firewall for basic but reliable security; however, it may be beneficial to compare alternatives in order to find a firewall that fits your organization’s unique needs.

Routers—Routers are hardware that keep unwanted traffic out of a computer system. They differ from firewalls in that they are stand-alone devices that must be bought separately—they are not included in an operating system. Look for routers with advanced security protocols.

Antivirus programs—As their name implies, antivirus programs are designed to catch and eliminate or quarantine viruses before they can harm a computer system. Antivirus programs run in the background to ensure your computer is protected at all times. While they are updated frequently, they may not catch the newest viruses that are floating around.

Cloud—A cloud is a data centre available to many users that is hosted in a centralized, often off-site server that is accessible via an internet connection. Clouds are especially beneficial for cyber security simply because it is much easier to secure a single cloud structure than to secure hundreds of individual employee computers.

Education—Every company, no matter its size, should educate employees on the dangers of computer intrusions and how to prevent them. For example, make sure your employees know not to open, click on or download anything inside emails from untrusted sources, and to disregard emails with subject lines and attachments that seem bogus or too good to be true. Employees with an intimate knowledge of the company’s computer network should also be alerted of the potential consequences of hacking into the system.

Review your risks and coverage options—A computer intrusion could cripple your company, costing you thousands or millions of dollars in lost sales and/or damages. Contact Access Insurance Group Ltd today. We have the tools necessary to ensure you have the proper coverage to protect your company against losses from computer intrusions.

Contact Access Insurance

Make sure that your company is properly protected. Review insurance coverages with a specialist at Access Insurance Group. Get advice, a quote or make a change from anywhere or in person at one of our locations in Edmonton, Lacombe, Lloydminster, Red Deer, and Stony Plain. Get a quote today. 

 

 

Landscaping Insurance

Landscaping can be a competitive and rewarding field, and years of hard work can help businesses establish a strong customer base and reputation. However, many business owners don’t realize how many insurance exposures they must address to keep their business operating smoothly.

Depending on the complexity of your landscaping company, there are a number of exposures to consider, including risks related to property, worker injuries and even the environment. The list below provides an overview of these industry risks—helping you identify potential blind spots in your risk management and insurance programs.

Property

Property—including your tools, equipment, supplies, signage and similar items—plays a key role for your organization. And, in the event of a loss caused by fires, theft or vandalism, your landscaping firm can suffer major financial damages. For instance, should a fire break out in your storage area, your firm could lose thousands of dollars’ worth of lawn care equipment in an instant. What’s more, a single incident can affect multiple aspects of your property, compounding costs and downtime for your business.

Equipment

Landscapers depend on functioning equipment to service their customers effectively. In the face of an equipment breakdown (e.g., a lawnmower stops working), landscaping operations can experience business interruptions or even prolonged closures. Specifically, a business owner’s mowers, blowers, chainsaws and tillers all have the potential to break down, causing major disruptions that can impact your reputation and bottom line.

Automobile Exposure

Depending on the services your landscaping company provides, employees may be required to operate a vehicle on behalf of your business, creating automobile exposures in the process. While important for daily operations (e.g., driving from job site to job site or transporting tools), the use of a vehicle can lead to potential accidents and major insurance claims. Also, if you allow employees to use their own vehicles for work, standard commercial auto policies are often not enough.

Environment Liability 

During the course of their work, landscapers also open themselves up to serious environmental liability. Specifically, pesticides, herbicides and other fertilizers have the potential to pollute the environment. Environmental incidents are particularly concerning for businesses because they can cause harm to the surrounding community, involve costly cleanup and often cause damage to a business’s reputation.

Crime

Crime can be a challenge for landscapers as well. Not only do they have to worry about expensive equipment and materials stored on the job site, but employee dishonesty is a primary concern. Your business can become the victim of crime in a variety of scenarios, including when making orders, billing customers and leaving job sites unattended.

While the proper risk management practices can reduce certain exposures, no system is 100 per cent effective in ensuring an incident-free workplace. As a result, it’s all the more crucial to work with a qualified insurance broker to not only assess your exposures but secure the appropriate coverage as well. To learn more, contact Access Insurance Group Ltd today.

Being an Uber Driver in Edmonton

While becoming an Uber driver may seem like a simple way to gain some cash, there are a number of requirements and considerations that need to be taken into account before signing up. On top of that, personal auto insurance policies typically don’t cover ride-share driving. While the process to becoming an Uber driver may seem daunting at first, it can still be a rewarding experience for those willing and able to meet the requirements.

Vehicle Requirements

Uber vehicles in Edmonton must meet the following requirements:

  • Four independently opening doors
  • Five seatbelts
  • No more than 10 years old
  • Not salvaged or rebuilt
  • Doesn’t have commercial branding
  • Passes a vehicle inspection

Additionally, to qualify for a specific type of Uber service, such as UberXL, the vehicle must meet certain requirements specific to that service. All Uber drivers in Edmonton must have two Uber stickers displayed on their vehicle when it is online—one on the front windshield, passenger side, and one on the rear windshield, driver side.

Vehicle Inspections

Uber vehicles in Edmonton must pass an annual inspection, and the completed form must be kept inside the vehicle at all times. To apply, simply download the inspection form from the Uber website, bring it to a preferred partner mechanic, and upload a photo of the completed inspection form to your profile once the inspection is complete. Keep the original form in your vehicle at all times.

License Requirements

Uber drivers in Edmonton must have a valid Class 1, 2 or 4 licence. Obtaining a Class 4 licence requires a complete background screen, medical exam, and completion of a knowledge and road test.

Vehicle Registration

Uber drivers in Edmonton must carry a Class 1-55 vehicle registration, which is a type of registration distributed by the province to individuals providing ride-share services. This will require a visit to a registry in Alberta, a small fee and a new licence plate (included in the fee).

Driver Abstract

Uber drivers in Edmonton need to add their three-year driver abstract to their Uber profile, which is a driving record summary that includes merit and demerit points, convictions and suspensions. Requirements for the abstract are as follows:

  • The driver abstract must be approved for a minimum three-year period and must be obtained within the last 30 days.
  • Drivers cannot have a single major conviction on their abstract (four or more demerit points), and no more than two minor convictions (three demerit points or fewer).
  • Drivers cannot have any licence suspensions or “driving without insurance” convictions.
  • Merit courses have no impact on abstract eligibility.
  • Driver abstracts are obtained at Service Alberta registries. Simply bring an accepted form of ID to a Service Alberta registry, fill out an application and bring the driver abstract to the Uber Greenlight Hub in Edmonton once you receive it.

Background Check

Uber drivers in Edmonton must complete an in-person background screening at the Edmonton Greenlight Hub. To complete this background check, drivers must bring their driver’s licence, driver abstract and a secondary form of identification. Drivers must also reside in Edmonton or the following surrounding areas:

  • Beaumont
  • Sherwood Park
  • St. Albert
  • Morinville
  • Fort Saskatchewan
  • Leduc
  • Spruce Grove
  • Stony Plain

Under most standard personal auto policies in Canada, drivers are prohibited from engaging in commercial activities (e.g., renting or leasing out a vehicle, or transporting passengers for pay). For those considering becoming an Uber driver, let your insurer know of any changes in how you use your personal vehicle to avoid gaps in insurance coverage. While Uber may provide some coverage in the event of an accident, you need to consider specialized insurance to ensure you are fully insured.

Contact Access Insurance

For more information about becoming an Uber driver, to make sure your vehicles are properly protected, or to review insurance coverages with a specialist—contact Access Insurance Group Ltd. to talk about your insurance options today.

Get advice, a quote or make a change from anywhere or in person at one of our locations in Edmonton, Lacombe, Lloydminster, Red Deer, and Stony Plain.

General Liability Insurance

ERRORS & OMISSIONS (E&O) INSURANCE FOR CONTRACTORS

As a contractor, you work hard to create a quality product and satisfy customer expectations while building a profitable business. However, no matter how careful you and your employees are while working, mistakes do happen. In today’s business environment, small disputes with customers can quickly escalate into costly legal disputes.

Almost every contractor carries some form of general liability coverage. While these policies provide contractors much-needed protection for bodily injury and property damage claims, they typically don’t account for all forms of negligence.

That’s where Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance, specifically designed for contractors, comes into play. This Coverage Insight provides a brief overview of E&O insurance and outlines why it is a critical component to a contractor’s overall risk management program.

Why E&O?

Simply put, general liability policies aren’t adequate to protect against E&O claims, necessitating additional coverage. In fact, most general liability policies exclude claims related to your work, your products and impaired property, creating significant insurance gaps.

Contractors are particularly vulnerable to claims of negligence following unintentional damage to an insured party, impairment of property, damage to products or similar, unexpected incidents. This makes E&O insurance even more crucial as simple complaints have the potential to escalate into costly legal disputes.

What’s more, courts often rule against contractors in claims related to errors and omissions and, without the proper protection, general contractors would have to cover the damages out of pocket.

E&O policies can help contractors close the gaps in their insurance coverages, providing coverage for claims related to the following:

  • Failing to complete projects according to specifications
  • Negligence in providing professional services
  • Poor, incorrect or incomplete work
  • Errors and oversights

Strong E&O policies can protect you and your business following a claim, helping you cover expenses related to court costs, lawyer fees and settlements. It should be noted that E&O insurance may not extend to your subcontractors, and you should encourage them to secure their own policies.

Securing the Policy That’s Right for You

As a contractor, there are a variety of insurance products to consider. To ensure you are accounting for all of your unique risks—and to secure a policy that is tailored to meet your specific business needs—it’s important to work with a qualified insurance broker.

Make sure that your business is properly protected. Review your insurance coverages with a specialist at Access Insurance Group. Get advice, a quote or make a change from anywhere online or in person at one of our locations in Edmonton, Lacombe, Lloydminster, Red Deer, and Stony Plain.

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