BC Liberals introduce legislation to address skyrocketing strata insurance rates

BC Liberals MLAs Joan Isaacs and Todd Stone alongside Aaron Aerts from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses speak to reporters in Victoria. Richard Zussman/Global News

The BC Liberals have introduced legislation the party says would address skyrocketing insurance rates that strata corporations are being required to pay.

Liberal MLA Todd Stone introduced private member’s legislation on Tuesday that, if passed, would require insurance companies to provide strata corporations insurance renewal terms at least 30 days in advance.

Pressure has been mounting on the provincial government to act. While full building recovery insurance is mandated under the B.C. Strata Property Act, there is no mechanism in place to ensure private insurers will offer the coverage at an affordable cost.

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“Over the past few months an increasing number of strata corporations in British Columbia — particularly those in Metro Vancouver — have seen their insurance costs go through the roof, with skyrocketing increases to premiums, deductibles and monthly fees,” Stone said.

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“These costs are then downloaded onto residents, many of whom are now paying thousands of dollars more a year in fees. With over 30,000 strata corporations in B.C. — and nearly half of all residents in Metro Vancouver living in a strata unit — it is imperative that we take action to best mitigate the impacts of this growing crisis before it gets any worse.”

In one example, the premium for Anchor Pointe on Quayside Drive in North Vancouver climbed 300 per cent from $69,000 to $259,000 upon renewal this year. The reason the strata council has given — there were fewer insurance providers willing to provide the coverage. The companies that would, meanwhile, have dramatically increased the cost.

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Stone is suggesting amendments to the Strata Property Amendment Act that would add a new defined term “strata unit” to better ensure correct insurance-product pricing and greater clarity in the claims process and requires a strata corporation to provide a copy of proof of insurance.

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In addition, Stone is calling on the government to implement a water damage prevention program to provide financial incentives for preventative maintenance in strata buildings.

“I am happy to look at it and see if there are ideas we can add to the discussions we are having,” Finance Minister Carole James said.

“There are a range of opinions of what should be done. A range of opinions from strata owners themselves. A range of opinions from the insurance industry.”

Private member’s bills rarely pass in the legislature.

Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of BC, says this isn’t just about large corporate interests and risks.

“Individual homeowners are feeling the effects deep in their pocketbooks and increased exposure to high rates and deductibles,” he said.

–with files from John Hua

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