B.C. Liberals propose legislation aimed at easing strata insurance crisis

“Simple, easy-to-apply” measures would define insurance responsibility and let homeowners earn financial breaks, says MLA Todd Stone

With insurance premiums on strata buildings skyrocketing, especially in British Columbia, the B.C. Liberal opposition party proposed a private member’s bill of new measures aimed at easing the crisis.

Liberal MLA Todd Stone announced February 25 that he is proposing changes to the Strata Property Act that would define insurance responsibility, give insurance companies clarity on liability, and introduce a water-damage prevention program that would allow homeowners to earn breaks on their insurance premiums.

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Stone said in a statement, “Over the past few months an increasing number of strata corporations in British Columbia — particularly those in Metro Vancouver — have seen their insurance costs go through the roof, with sky-rocketing increases to premiums, deductibles and monthly fees. These costs are then downloaded onto residents, many of whom are now paying thousands of dollars more a year in fees. With over 30,000 strata corporations in B.C. … it is imperative that we take action to best mitigate the impacts of this growing crisis before it gets any worse.”

Stone said that he was disappointed that the B.C. NDP government was currently only monitoring the situation, rather than taking action, which was why he was introducing the “simple, easy-to-apply” measures in a private member’s bill.

According to the B.C. Liberal Caucus, the bill proposes that the Strata Property Act:
• adds new definitions to ensure correct insurance-product pricing and greater clarity in the claims process;
• requires a strata corporation to provide a copy of proof of insurance;
• requires that strata corporations be provided insurance renewal terms at least 30 days in advance; and
• requires an owner of a strata lot to obtain and maintain liability insurance.

Stone is also calling on the government to launch a water-damage prevention program, which would offer financial incentives to homeowners making upgrades to their plumbing and appliances.

Stone told media that while these measures would not be a cure-all for the strata insurance crisis, they would help strata corporations provide clarity on risk to their insurance providers, which may mitigate the increase in their premiums. “It’s not going to solve the problem in itself, but it is a step that can be taken that could apply some downward pressure on insurance premiums,” he said.

Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of BC, said in a statement, “While a private member’s bill is often met with a number of barriers, Todd Stone bringing the proposed changes to the Legislature for consideration will help raise the profile on the seriousness of this issue. This isn’t just about large corporate interests and risks, the individual homeowners are feeling the effects deep in their pocketbooks and increased exposure to high rates and deductibles.”

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