Just-announced changes to strata insurance legislation won’t make much of a difference to Willoughby resident Kevin Froese, who saw the insurance costs on his Langley condo triple earlier this year.
“They don’t seem to have done much of anything,” Froese remarked, following the announcement of changes aimed at addressing rising insurance costs for strata owners in B.C.
Amendments introduced in the B.C. legislature on Tuesday, June 23, would require strata corporations to inform owners about insurance coverage, including increased deductibles, and allow strata councils to use their contingency funds to pay for unexpected insurance increases.
Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson and Finance Minister Carole James described the proposed changes as a “first step.”
Froese would prefer to see limits imposed on the amount insurance rates can rise, similar to limits on rent increases.
“They need to put a lock on it,” Froese told the Langley Advance Tines.
“There should be a control.”
A report by the B.C. Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) released on June 16 found minor claims, many from water damage in new construction or due to a lack of maintenance, have made strata insurance unprofitable for insurance companies.
That issue, Froese said, does not apply to the well-built 181-unit strata where he lives, one of several in the Yorkson Creek Complex in Langley near 208th Street and 80th Avenue
“I watched it being built,” said Froese, who works on repairing leaky condos.
He said his knows of a 30-year-old building that has almost daily visit by restoration companies, that saw its insurance rates rise less than a third, a fraction of the hike at his three-year-old condo, that hasn’t had any insurance claims filed since it opened.
In December, residents of Yorkson Creek 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.
Covering the surprise increase has meant a $400 special assessment, plus another $135 to $140 a month in higher strata fees.
People living in a new townhouse complex in Langley have had a similar experience.
Residents of the 95-unit Prestwick townhouse complex in Langley’s Willoughby Heights had to dig deeper to pay their insurance after a last-minute notice of a major rate hike sent them scrambling in search of a better deal.
Rob Parker, the strata council president, said they were given notice their premium would nearly triple just three days before the insurance was due to be renewed on Monday, March 23rd.
Parker said the strata council managed to get a 30-day extension to try and find a different insurer, but were unable to find a better deal.
Residents of an even bigger condo project in Abbotsford, the brand-new 26-storey Mahogany Tower saw their premiums rise 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.
Covering the hike will require a one-time levy of $3,000 per unit, as well as doubling the monthly strata free to $600.
– with files from Black Press Media