New Brunswick

Tenant insurance hard to get in Saint John's north end

Some residents in Saint John's north end are struggling to get tenant insurance, due to high crime rates and frequent fires.

High crime rate and fires make neighbourhood unattractive to insurance companies

North end resident Carla Bigney says she tried to get apartment insurance from several different companies. (CBC)

Some residents in Saint John's north end are struggling to get tenant insurance, due to high crime rates and frequent fires.

Carla Bigney said she tried to get insurance from several different companies when she moved into her apartment in the neighbourhood seven years ago.

"Each time the scenario was, 'You live in the north end, there's a high crime rate,' and the chances of me getting insurance was nil," she said.

Community advocates say the problem is common, with several abandoned and boarded-up buildings in the neighbourhood, including one that has been targeted by arsonists four times in the past two months.

"I don't think it should matter where we live about tenant insurance — whether it's north end, south end, east side, west side — there's crime everywhere," said Bigney, who lives across the road from a fire department and a church.

Companies not obliged

This vacant building on Main Street has been targeted by arsonists four times in the past two months. (CBC)

Insurance companies do profile neighbourhoods, said Geordie Lamb, president of the Insurance Brokers Association of New Brunswick.

The higher the risk, the more expensive it can be to get insurance, he said.

The province's Consumer Advocate for Insurance, Ronald Godin, says neighbourhoods like the north end with old homes and high crime rates aren't attractive to insurance companies.

And unlike automobile insurance, there are no laws in Canada forcing them to provide tenant's insurance.

"Basically if a company does not want to take you on as a client, you have to try with another company and so on and so forth," said Godin.

"It is possible that a person will not be able to obtain insurance in those circumstances."