Multiple condo boards across Fort McMurray are finding it hard to get affordable insurance.
Prices are being raised exponentially since the Horse River wildfire with some boards being forced to pay 50 per cent more than previous years.
Kathy Bowers, Broker with Fort Management, believes insurers are taking advantage of the fact they were very giving in the aftermath of the fire.
“They were free with their money for the first month because they were under the limelight.”
Many condos are receiving only partial coverage offers. Insurers are allegedly shying away from buildings that have had water issues in the past.
Despite some struggling, others have had no trouble getting new affordable insurance.
“We’ve got one condo where we didn’t have to raise our fees because it wasn’t that much of a difference – then we have others that have doubled,” added Bowers.
Condo Fees Skyrocketing
The Winchester Greens Condo is one struggling to find a new insurance claim.
They were recently told by their insurer, Wawanesa, they wouldn’t be receiving any more coverage citing the wildfire and previous water damage.
The building survived the wildfire, however, it received around $246,000 in smoke damage.
“Most insurers recognize the difference between a once-in-a-lifetime event like a wildfire and smaller ongoing claims, so not sure why it’s being lumped together like this for us,” said David Thompson, Condo Board Member.
After receiving the news from Wawanesa, 18 other insurers were contacted. Out of the 18, only one offered a claim, however, it was 10 times more than their previous amount and for roughly a quarter of the coverage.
Their previous premium was around $20,000 with rougly $18 million in coverage. This offer would see the premium jump to $250,000 with only $5 million in coverage.
If accepted and the remaining percentage of the building covered at the same rate, Thompson says condo fees would skyrocket.
“Just to insure the one-quarter, the $250,000, is approximately a $500 increase a month for each.”
This would roughly add up to an additional $2,000.
In a statement, Wawanesa says every claim is different.
“Everyone’s insurance needs, risk tolerance and loss experience are different, that’s why we encourage everyone to work with a licensed independent insurance broker to get the insurance policy that is right for them.”
Not a One-Off
According to documents obtained by Mix News, Lougheed Estates, Wood Meadows Estates, and the Cedarwoods Condo Board are also in the same boat.
All three have struggled to find affordable full insurance.
In the case of Lougheed Estates, condo fees were set at over $1.1 million last year. In 2019, they’re estimated to be around $1.5 million.
“They’re struggling and we need to get in touch with our MLA’s and put it out there that something has to happen,” added Bowers.
Meanwhile, Thompson says he’s been in contact with Wood Buffalo council who plan to discuss the issue in the near future.