Kevin Froese said insurance costs have skyrocketed at his condo building in Langley’s Willoughby neighbourhood, even though it is only three years old and has never had a claim. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: Insurance shock for Langley condo owners

New building with no claims sees costs triple

It’s a three-year-old condo that hasn’t had any insurance claims filed since it opened.

Smoking is not allowed, propane tanks are banned and no B and B rentals are permitted.

And despite that, insurance costs have skyrocketed at the Willoughby condo complex where Kevin Froese and Jacklyn Loewy live.

“If someone said my insurance would have gone up 300 per cent, I would have laughed at them, and yet, we’re the worst-case scenario,” Froese told the Langley Advance Times.

In December, residents of the 181-unit strata, one of several in the Yorkson Creek Complex in Langley near 208th Street and 80th Avenue, learned their insurance deductible would climb from $5,000 to $250,000 for water damage and sewer backup losses.

At the same time, they were told the strata’s insurance premium was going to rise from $97,000 to $371,000.

“We found out the day the policy renewed,” Loewy recalled.

“We were left scrambling.”

Froese and Loewy, and their fellow condo owners, had to find another insurer that would cover the difference in the deductible.

They did, but it will mean extra expense,including a $400 special assessment, plus another $135 to $140 a month in higher strata fees, Froese said.

Because they budget for unexpected costs, Froese and Loewy said they will get by, but they are concerned that some of their neighbours, who are retired people on fixed incomes, may not be able to afford the hikes.

And they are worried about what will happen if, as seems likely, there is another jump in insurance costs down the road.

“We’ve been told it could go up again. If it goes up again next year, who knows? ” Froese said.

While they have yet to get a clear explanation for their sudden hike, they know many insurance companies are getting out of the condo market, and those remaining are out to reduce their exposure to risk by raising premiums and hiking deductibles.

Froese predicted their condo won’t be the last to get hit.

“It has huge, far-reaching implications,” Froese commented.

“It’s going to be ugly.”

On Tuesday, residents of an even bigger condo project in Abbotsford revealed their insurance costs have also soared.

At Abbotsford’s tallest building, the brand-new 26-storey Mahogany Tower, the insurer has just raised premiums by 780 per cent.

Mike Pauls, the president of the building’s strata council, said the strata was shocked when they saw their insurer, BFL, had raised their rates from $66,000 to $588,000.

Pauls said covering the hike will require a one-time levy of $3,000 per unit, as well as doubling the monthly strata free to $600.

READ MORE: Insurance skyrockets 780% for Abbotsford condo owners

Rob de Pruis, director of consumer and industry relations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said assessments for insurance are based on individual buildings, and increases are determined from the potential for floods or earthquakes, but other factors, like vacancy rates, could also come into play.

De Pruis also noted that Canada’s insurance industry is facing financial challenges from increasingly frequent and severe disaster claims. He said insurers used to pay $500 million annually for climate-related claims, but the payouts have doubled in the past few years.

A spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said insurance costs for stratas are increasing across country and the province is working with the private industry to make ensure affordable coverage is available in the face of the climate challenge.

READ ALSO: ‘British Columbians are paying too much’: Eby directs ICBC to delay rate application

– with files from Black Press Media



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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