Rob Parker, strata council president at the Prestwick townhouse development, seen here outside his home on Saturday, March 4th, was told the insurance premium shared by all owners would triple. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Insurance shock for B.C. condo owners

Claim-free two-year-old townhouse complex told premium will nearly triple

Rob Parker said there wasn’t much advance notice of a big insurance premium hike at the 95-unit Prestwick townhouse complex in Langley’s Willoughby Heights area where he lives.

On Friday, March 20th, three days before the insurance was due to be renewed, Parker, the strata council president, learned the premium would nearly triple, rising from $88,000, to $250,000.

“Monday (March 23rd), that was the deadline,” Parker related.

Shared among the owners, it could work out to hikes as high $2,900, for the larger townhouses.

Parker said the strata council managed to get a 30-day extension to try and find a different insurer, but the search hasn’t been going well, and he is worried if the increase goes through, it will be too much for certain owners.

“Some of the people won’t be able to afford it,” Parker predicted.

Prestwick is about two years old, and has never filed a claim, Parker told Black Press Media.

“We’re a brand-new building.”

When he contacted BFL Canada Insurance Services Inc., Parker said he was given several reasons for the premium hike.

He said among other things, the BFL staffer he spoke to cited the risk of earthquakes, the fact the townhouses are wood frame, and the risk of fire.

Parker replied that the buildings were in the same location, and made of the same material as they were the previous year, when the premium was substantially lower.

“We didn’t change from a concrete building to a wood building,” Parker remarked.

He said another broker did propose a lower premium hike, but then withdrew its offer.

Searching for a better deal has been complicated by the restrictions on large gatherings during the COVID-19 crisis, which means the 95 owners will have to be consulted by a telephone conference call.

A spokesperson for BFL, Vital Adam, said they are not an insurance company, they are a broker that doesn’t set insurance rates.

“We are independent insurance brokers, we don’t fix the price or set the premium,” said Adam, BFL vice-president, communications.

“The insurance companies who we work with on behalf of our clients determine the price / premium, not us.”

Several other condo projects have seen sudden jumps in their insurance costs in Langley and elsewhere.

In December, residents of a three-year-old 181-unit strata in the Yorkson Creek Complex 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.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Insurance shock for Langley condo owners

At Abbotsford’s tallest building, the brand-new 26-storey Mahogany Tower, the insurer 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

READ ALSO: LETTER: Province must take action on condo insurance

Langley realtor Corbin Chivers called the rise in premiums a “strata insurance crisis” that will drastically change the future of condo and apartment real estate in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver.

Chivers who is with Stonehaus Realty, predicted rising insurance premiums could drive up strata fees by 20 percent or more, which is creating uncertainty that could discourage buyers.

“In a market which can already prove tricky to navigate, especially for first-time homebuyers, it is worrisome to see what is happening with strata insurance,” Chivers said.

Chivers said there is no “cut-and-dry-rule” that can used to assess the risk of insurance hikes, though he noted older high-rises that have made insurance claims tend to have bigger premiums than lower-rise buildings and townhouses.

His advice to buyers is to have a realtor take a close look at the condo documents — especially the insurance — before closing a deal to buy.

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.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CondosLangleyLangley Township

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Rob Parker, strata council president at the Prestwick townhouse development, seen here in his home on Saturday, March 4th, was told the insurance premium shared by all owners would triple. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Just Posted

Mission could lose $2 million in revenue

COVID-19 having a big financial impact on residents and the district

HISTORY: How did Mission cope with the Spanish flu

In 1918, a different world-wide pandemic was being dealt with

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak declared over

Dr. Bonnie Henry hails work done to halt outbreak, which saw more than 130 people contract COVID-19

Man who broke into Abbotsford post office receives four more months in jail

Gary Patrick Richard sentenced for break-in and mail theft from April 20

Chilliwack teachers and EAs concerned with health and safety plans

As schools get ready to open, many worry measures won’t be enough to protect students from COVID-19

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The importance of accurate, ethical reporting is critical – perhaps as never before

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

LETTER: Growing Mission’s economy should be a pressing issue

The previous election had no focus on sustainable economic development

VIDEO: Police look for suspect seen tripping elderly woman in Burnaby

The elderly woman was walking near the SkyTrain station when she was randomly tripped

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

Most Read