Stop the unfair and unprecedented increase to BC strata insurance premiums
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This summary was released April, 2020 and contains recommendations and comments from strata owners in BC participating in this initiative.
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If you own or live in a strata residence in BC, you need to sign this petition asking all levels of government to intervene immediately to protect strata owners from unfair and unmanageable increases to insurance premiums.
Currently, regulatory bodies and insurance associations have been providing information as to why the increases have happened and what strata owners are responsible for and have to pay. Strata building insurance premiums are going up 50-300% and the water damage deductible has gone up to at least $100K. At least one other building’s premiums went up 780%.
This is an increase in one year with warnings of further increases. Costs will ultimately have to be absorbed by individual strata owners though levies and increased monthly maintenance fees.
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For more details, keep reading:
Information about this increase has been ongoing for at least a year, the reality is far worse than the headlines.
Strata owners need protection from unfair and unmanageable increases to insurance premiums; less personal liability for no-fault claims; more protection over poor construction standards resulting in claims (beyond new home warranty insurance); options to protect home ownership for those on fixed and low income; a regulatory body advocating for and protecting the insured (not the insurance agents, brokers, developers); inclusion of these in the Strata Act and Insurance Act; transparency, plain language outlining details and liability for the insured written in insurance policies, options when private insurance companies refuse to insure strata buildings, maintenance, lack of claims, and long term CRF planning to be taken into consideration when strata premiums are determined, consistency in coverage criteria, include this in overall housing strategy and cost of living/affordability equations when looking at benefits for low income and disability,transparency/clarity on the cause of these increases, any avenues to regulate private insurance companies operating in BC since having strata insurance is essential.
Regulation and Accountability for the strata owners:
There are a number of organizations connected to this issue. These include the Condo Homeowners Association, Insurance Brokers Association of BC, the Insurance Council of BC, the BC Financial Services Authority, BC Office of the Ombudsperson, Insurance Bureau of Canada, Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.
It is unclear who, if anyone, is responsible for regulating the unfair business practice strata owners are being subjected to by some insurance companies operating in BC. The current position is: 'it's shocking, but it is what it is and you just have to pay". The following explanations for the increases have been offered by the Condo Homeowners Association and the Insurance Brokers of BC literature:
- high rise buildings and low rise wood frame buildings are a higher risk for multiple claims due to water and fire
- worldwide climate change / catastrophic weather related events
- BC is a high risk earthquake zone
- several major building claims in the province
- reduced number of insurance companies covering strata insurance in BC
- increase in claims from individual units
- higher property values
- higher construction costs
- technological advances to better predict high risk areas
- high demand for insurance, low supply allows the few insurance companies willing to insure strata properties the opportunity to charge what they want
Higher Risk for some residents:
The hardest hit areas are high-density areas and large multi-unit dwellings. This reflects many urban areas where development is ongoing. Older buildings are particularly vulnerable.
Some residents have reported their insurance companies are unable or unwilling to insure these units for the required amount, or even at all.
Unfair and unmanageable increase:
Strata buildings and individual units are required by law to carry insurance covering their unit and building, whatever the cost.
For owners, this means
a) individual unit insurance increases to cover the required deductible ($100k plus);
b) owners will have to cover all or a portion of the increase in premiums through levies and/or increased maintenance fees. The increase in fees could be more than 100%;
c) increased responsibility for damage in common areas outside of their unit;
d) responsibility for pursuing financial damages from other owners for multi unit damage (without the management of the strata or property manager).
This leaves the owners financially vulnerable and ultimately could make many existing and new residential areas unaffordable. The current insurance premium increases and shift of responsibility to the strata owner is detrimental to strata ownership. Several real estate agents and mortgage brokers have indicated the current situation around strata insurance has already negatively impacted sales.
We are currently left with no fair or safe options for recourse and ask that you, as our elected officials intervene and advocate for a solution. Insurance companies should not be allowed to target specific strata buildings and impose such unreasonable premiums and risk on owners. Owners, particularly ones with financial hardships, need to have more options. It is in everyone’s interest to keep the communities in BC thriving and socially and economically viable, diverse, inclusive and livable.
Recent media coverage:
Warning of collapse in BC condo market - https://beta.ctvnews.ca/local/british-columbia/2020/2/6/1_4800633.html
Experts react to sky- rocketing increases- https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/ca/news/breaking-news/experts-react-to-skyrocketing-condo-insurance-rates-208826.aspx
What you need to know about rising condo strata rates across BC - https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-strata-insurance-hike-1.5393035
Langley condo owners reeling after strata insurance deductible jumps from $5K to $250K - https://globalnews.ca/news/6363104/langley-condo-owners-strata-insurance-deductible/
Insurance sticker shock for condo owners - https://bc.ctvnews.ca/insurance-sticker-shock-for-condo-owners-1.4732916
'Government needs to get involved': B.C. strata's plea after insurance bill with 780% hike - https://q107.com/news/6374159/abbotsford-strata-insurance-hike/
Other links of interest:
Condominium Home Owners Association
Government of BC - Strata Legislation
Insurance Company Act Canada
BC Financial Services Authority
BC Strata Property Act
BC Insurance Act
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