The B.C. NDP government is hearing stories of huge jumps in strata condominium insurance costs, and calls from the opposition B.C. Liberals to provide assistance.
B.C. Liberal housing critic Todd Stone called on the province Tuesday to deal with “massive spikes in strata insurance premiums, deductibles and fees.” He proposed legislation that would require more disclosure from strata councils on their insurance and notice of when insurance is coming up for renewal.
He noted that there are 30,000 strata corporations in B.C. and nearly half of Metro Vancouver residents live in strata housing.
“One strata has informed me that their premium has gone up by 335 per cent year over year,” Stone told the B.C. legislature. “Their deductible for water damage has gone up from $5,000 to $250,000. What this means for he folks who live in this strata building is that there is going to be a one-time assessment of $1,000 per strata unit owner, and their monthly strata fees are going to go up $100 per month.”
Finance Minister Carole James said strata corporations across the country are affected, and the province is working with strata associations and the insurance industry. Part of it is the soaring values of urban properties, and part of it is the effects of climate change, she said.
Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C., gave a statement supporting Stone’s proposed legislation.
“This isnt’ just about large corporate interests and risks,” Gioventu said. “The individual homeowners are feeling the effects deep in their pocketbooks and increased exposure to high rates and deductibles.”
Stone also urged the government to create an assistance program for water protection projects.
“This would be a program that would provide incentives for retrofits that would help mitigate the risk of extensive and costly water damage,” Stone said. “This would help to prevent the water damage from happening in the first place, but it would also have the effect of being taken into account by the insurance underwriters in bringing insurance costs down.”
The so-called “leaky condo crisis” that swept through coastal B.C. from buildings constructed from 1980s to the early 2000s was related to the design and construction of building envelopes. In B.C. it caused an estimated $4 billion in repair costs and a public inquiry headed by former premier Dave Barrett.