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The Condo Insurance Crisis, Rising Deductibles, and Available Coverages

January 14, 2021

As strata buildings in B.C. experience a spike in insurance rates between 50 to 300%, condo and townhouse unit owners are reeling from rising deductibles.  Many owners are often facing deductibles over $100,000. Between 8,000 to 10,000 strata corporations are expected to fall victim to these increases.

How Unit Owners are Taking the Hit

Strata title refers to the joint ownership of the building and common property, as well as individual ownership of the units. As building costs are shared among all owners, claims that originate in one unit are carrying over to several units, and are causing major increases to the maintenance and insurance costs for strata corporations. Presently, nearly 300 strata buildings are seeing the worst of it, according to The Condominium Homeowners Association of BC. The most apparent consequences will be a hike in strata fees of over 20%, or special assessments to all unit owners.

Couple frustrated over to increase in strata insurance prices

Owners might also observe a surge in personal condominium insurance policy rates as they are required to increase coverage for the potential strata deductible assessments.

Many strata corporations avoid making claims against building insurance, risking costly damages on owner-contributed contingency funds or special levies on lots. Currently, there is no ceiling on strata policy deductibles and not enough insurance providers that can offer coverage.

Why Rates Are Spiking

Strata corporations were faced with steep increases as they began renewing their strata policies back in October of 2019. Rates have been gradually intensifying over the last three to five years.

Crowd from above forming a growth graph

An increase in property values, fewer insurers, strata building rating methods, and overall increasing costs of claims for insurers is the catalyst for this ongoing crisis. Though B.C. is rife with at least sixty-five insurance companies, few provide strata insurance policies. In fact, the Insurance Bureau of Canada predicts that this number is only at six or seven.

For the condominium unit owner’s deductible coverage, primary markets typically have a maximum policy limit of $100,000. With many condominium owners needing limits of $150,000 – $250,000 on, there are specialty markets who can facilitate a policy to cover these higher amounts above and beyond what the primary carrier provides.  However, we have seen Strata policies with $750,000 and even $1,000,000 deductibles, and there is little available in the market to address these limits.

How Owners Can Handle Rising Rates

Owners are attempting to ensure that the number of claims its building faces stays low. To do so, owners can implement risk-prevention measures regarding smoking, noting any fire hazards on balconies, and ensuring fire sprinklers are equipped with protective cages.

Furthermore, homeowners can outsource cost-effective risk identification and mitigation services to evaluate the state of the building. Most agencies will also cover monetary dangers impacted by economic changes, inflation, and other fluctuations.

Risk indentify crossword blocks on table. Top view.

After familiarizing yourself with all possible hazards, you can identify areas to focus on. Depending on your location and the building’s current state, some risks might be more likely to occur than others.

If you are considering a purchase, buyer beware.  Ask for a copy of the strata minutes, claims history details and strata insurance policies to review.  Look at the claims history for the likelihood of a claim’s repercussions, maintenance reports and recommendations for claims mitigation that have and will be done, and know ahead of time the deductible limits you will be dealing with.

Some risks are impossible to predict or eliminate, but anticipating and mitigating them is a great start to managing exposures.

Conclusion

With MacDonald-Gill Insurance Services, our expertise and comprehensive products can protect unit owners from property damage, improvements, liability, and deductible exposures.

Our insurance products do not just blanket your most pressing issues—they are tailor-fit to your specific needs and incorporate the right balance of automation and efficiency.

Contact our Coquitlam based agency for a free consultation!