British Columbia

B.C. stratas, such as condos, told to minimize risks as insurance spikes 50 to 300%

Strata buildings across B.C. are being told to ‘evaluate the risks’ associated with their building to lower surging insurance policies.

Insurance Bureau of Canada says a lack of insurance providers is not behind strata insurance hikes

The Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C. warns the cost of insuring strata buildings across in B.C. has gone up significantly. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Strata buildings across B.C. are being told to "evaluate the risks" as condo owners grapple with a spike in insurance costs. 

A strata title allows individual ownership of part of a property or lot. It is generally either an apartment or townhouse with shared ownership in the remainder of the building: the "common property." 

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says strata corporations should address any risks that may result in a claim to help lower their rates. 

This comes after the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C. warned the cost of insuring strata buildings across the province had gone up between 50 and 300 per cent. 

The association also warned of an increase in deductibles, noting buildings that previously had a $10,000 or $25,000 deductible are now facing fees as high as $100,000 or more. 

"Insurance is really about evaluating risks," said Rob De Pruis, director of consumer and industry relations with the insurance Bureau of Canada on CBC's On The Coast. 

Insurance monopoly 

De Pruis said things such as geographical location, claims history and a building's age can affect strata insurance costs. But the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C. disagrees, saying a lack of insurance providers is mainly to blame. 

"Because there are so few of them, they can pretty much set the rates," said Tony Gioventu, executive director with the association. 

"At some point, what becomes unreasonable and requires government intervention is going to be a question that we're going to have to debate," he said. 

But the insurance bureau disagrees, adding stratas have access to "many different insurance providers."

De Pruis said an increase in severe weather has also played a role.

"British Columbia has been subject to some fairly massive wildfires and some very significant flooding events," he said. 

Strata vs personal insurance

A building's insurance covers all original structures, common property and any building fixtures, Gioventu explained, while an owner's home insurance would cover any personal liability, including coverage for any incidents that result in a claim from the strata. 

But sky-high deductibles put condo owners in a very expensive and tenuous place, Gioventu said.

"The problem is when we move up to $100,000, $250,000 or $500,000 deductibles, homeowners can't buy that type of insurance," he said. 

If the building's deductible is $250,000 but the damage caused by an owner is $100,000, the strata will be holding the owner responsible for the damage instead of going through the building's insurance, Gioventu added.

With files from On The Coast