The Sea to Sky Gondola has launched a lawsuit claiming its insurance brokers “failed to procure adequate insurance” in the time between two acts of vandalism that decimated the popular tourist attraction’s business last year.
The notice of civil claim, filed Dec. 7 in B.C. Supreme Court, alleges two insurance agents for Marsh and McLennan Canada declined to fully renew the company’s insurance policy in January 2020 — forcing it to seek short-term extensions on “unfavourable terms.”
The gondola’s cable had been cut five months earlier, in August 2019, forcing the business to shut down for repairs until February 2020.
The suit also alleges the insurance agents did not give proper notice that the policy would not be renewed for the remainder of the year, causing the business to scramble for a new policy.
Later that year, in September 2020, the gondola cable was cut for a second time.
The lawsuit seeks damages as a result of alleged negligence, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and negligent misrepresentation.
According to the claim, the company’s policy up until January 2020 — which had been signed with the two insurance agents under a different company later absorbed by Marsh and McLennan — calculated the maximum business interruption coverage at just under $11.4 million.
The company argues that limit was based on “outdated financial information” that did not reflect the growing business and resulting increase in profit, and that it had told the defendants the attraction “had a low tolerance for risk” and should be over-insured.
Not only was the business interruption limit not changed, the suit alleges, but the gondola only received 70 per cent of that limit after it filed a claim for the first act of vandalism in 2019.
The lawsuit claims the defendants told the company in early January 2020 that its insurance policy “may not be renewed.” With no new long-term policy, the business argues it was forced to obtain two short-term extensions of the existing policy to the end of January.
According to the claim, the defendants told the company on the day the last extension was to expire that the policy would not be renewed.
“As a result, (the company) was required to further extend the policy on unfavourable terms while it procured a new property insurance policy for the Sea to Sky Gondola for the balance of the 2020 year,” the suit reads.
The suit also alleges a pair of oral contracts with the two insurance agents — one through Jardine Lloyd Thompson, the company originally responsible for the policy, and the other with Marsh and McLennan — guaranteed the defendants would “put into place appropriate and adequate insurance coverage” for the gondola.
None of the allegations has been proven in court and a statement of defense has not yet been filed.
A spokesperson for the Sea to Sky Gondola told Global News it was ultimately able to secure a new insurance policy with a different brokerage before the second act of vandalism occurred.
Marsh and McLennan declined to comment on the lawsuit.