AMA puts brakes on recreational auto insurance following Fort McMurray wildfire

An Alberta insurer says it’s not offering recreational vehicle insurance to any new clients in Fort McMurray after the wildfire.

'We are focusing on those individuals in Fort McMurray who are our customers and have suffered losses'

The AMA is one of the few insurers with a walk-in office in Fort McMurray. Months after the wildfire, it's still not signing up new customers who want to insure recreational vehicles. (David Thurton/ CBC)

An Alberta automotive insurer says it's not offering recreational auto insurance to any new clients in Fort McMurray in the wake of the wildfire, including for motorcycles and ATVs.

Mathew Wesolowski, chief operating officer at the Alberta Motor Association Insurance Company, said Monday the insurer has not provided any new clients with recreational coverage since the May wildfire.

"Right now we are focusing on those individuals in Fort McMurray who are our customers and have suffered losses and damages as a result of the fire," Wesolowski said.

Wesolowski couldn't say when AMA would resume offering new recreational vehicle coverage, but said it would not happen until after nearly all other insurance claims were settled.

AMA customers with existing recreational insurance are able to renew their policies, he said.

Wesolowski said AMA has received over 8,000 wildfire insurance claims and has settled more than 7,000.

'Just disappointed'

Fort McMurray resident Steve Hale complained to AMA when he could not insure his two motorcycles in March because of the insurer's new policy.

He had allowed his previous AMA insurance to lapse in September and wanted to reinstate his policies in time to hit the road this spring, he said.

"I called them and they put me on a long hold as soon as I told them I was from Fort McMurray," Hale said. "When the (AMA representative) came back he said that for our region that they could not insure me."

"I'm mostly just disappointed," he added.

Steve Kee, a spokesperson with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said in an email to the CBC that he has not seen a trend among insurers of rolling back their coverage in the Fort McMurray region.

Kee said insurance buyers in Alberta have many choices for recreational insurance and he encouraged anyone to shop around for the right coverage.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada considers May's forest fire one of Canada's costliest insured disasters.

Follow David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on FacebookTwitter or contact him via email.