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Amid rising strata insurance costs, one East Vancouver building faces enormous bill

Another strata insurance premium horror story surfaces in East Vancouver.
In order to get coverage for another year, strata owners at the East Vancouver condo says they will have to pay a premium that's more than their annual operating budget. Aaron McArthur reports.

A group of East Vancouver condo owners are facing a huge increase in strata premiums.

Residents will have to foot an enormous bill, about five times what they currently pay, to get insurance.

“I’ve had a few sleepless nights,” strata council member Lynn Wilson told Global News. “I’m worried about the people living here in the building.”

READ MORE: ‘Government needs to get involved’: B.C. strata’s plea after insurance bill with 780% hike

Only one insurance company agreed to provide insurance to the building’s 47 owners, but at a huge increase in cost.

The building’s previous insurance bill was $32,000.

The new estimate is $160,000.

On top of the staggering bill, the insurance company is mandating a complete rewiring of the whole building. This means hundreds of thousands in extra costs, despite the fact most of the wiring meets building code.

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“We are being asked to replace all of the aluminum wiring in the building, which is far beyond B.C. building code,” strata council member Gregor Reid told Global News.

“And in our minds totally unnecessary.”

READ MORE: B.C. condo owners brace for sticker shock as insurance rates surge by up to 300%

The insurance issue facing strata councils has become a crisis.

Nearly 30 per cent of British Columbians live in a strata and it doesn’t seem to matter to the insurance industry what the real risk is, whether it’s new buildings, older structures, or councils that fund regular maintenance or not.

Tony Gioventu of the Condo Home Owners Association says a lack of competition is driving premiums higher.

“There is a lack of capacity, a small number of underwriters and brokers who have basically cornered the market,” he said.

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The B.C. government is waiting on a report from the financial services authority, which has already concluded the market is unhealthy, but change to the market is likely not coming for months.