Residents of condos on the Semiahmoo Peninsula are not immune to insurance spikes that have been reported in communities including Langley and Abbotsford. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Strata building insurance spikes on Peninsula

Trend reported elsewhere also hitting White Rock/South Surrey, association ED says

With news of exponential increases to insurance costs for stratas starting to spread, the head of the Condominium Home Owners Association confirmed that residents of condos on the Semiahmoo Peninsula are not immune.

“We do have members in South Surrey White Rock in larger newer developments that are seeing the same increases,” Tony Gioventu, CHOA executive director, confirmed by email last week.

Older buildings with maintenance or (building) code issues are also affected, Gioventu said.

Black Press Media reported last week that residents of a three-year-old Langley building with no claims on its record saw its premiums jump 300 per cent this year, while in Abbotsford, owners in the Mahogany Tower were reeling from word that insurance on their building had jumped 780 per cent – to $588,000 from $66,000.

The latter means a one-time levy of $3,000 for each condo owner, as well as doubling of the monthly strata fee to $600.

READ MORE: Insurance skyrockets 780% for Abbotsford condo owners

The spike is being attributed to financial challenges in the insurance industry as a result of increasingly frequent and severe disaster claims.

Rob De Pruis, director of consumer and industry relations for the Insurance Bureau for Canada, said insurers used to pay $500 million annually for climate-related claims, but the payouts have doubled in the past few years.

In South Surrey, one strata council president said the impact at the 32-unit Gardens at Semiahmoo townhouse complex is simple: “If we still want insurance it’s going to cost more.”

Dan Miletich did not share dollar figures but said the 15099 28 Ave. complex’s building insurance has increased 65 per cent for 2020, “and some coverages have been reduced.”

“This increase in cost will have to be borne by the owners in their monthly maintenance fee,” he told Peace Arch News by email.

Miletich noted that annual budgets are carefully planned to ensure upkeep and potential problems are dealt with in a timely fashion, and that depreciation-report requirements have been consistently surpassed at the Gardens since the directive to prepare them was introduced by the provincial government in 2013. As well, the complex has “had no building insurance claims,” he said.

De Pruis said risk 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.

Mahogany Tower strata president Mike Pauls said it’s unreasonable for these costs to be shouldered by average property owners who live on a fixed income. He said his building’s strata has written a letter that it intends to send to the local, provincial and federal government.

He said the government needs to step in and investigate what exactly is driving the prices up.

A spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing told Black Press Media that insurance costs for stratas are increasing across country and the province is working with the private industry to ensure affordable coverage is available in the face of the climate challenge.

– with files from Patrick Penner



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

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