When A Claim Goes Right12/1/2022
This BCAA Home Insurance good-news story is no exception – the vast majority of claims are covered without a hitch.
By Janet Gyenes
Imagine finding out your condo has flooded while you’re hundreds of kilometres – and a ferry ride – away from home. That’s what happened to George and Elizabeth Bryce last June, while they were away from their Vancouver condo at their second home on the Island.
During the height of BC’s 2021 heat dome, a pipe that feeds their building’s fire-suppression sprinkler on the sixth floor burst. Water flowed down the fire escape and into the bedroom of the couple’s first-floor apartment, damaging walls and buckling their bedroom’s engineered wood flooring. Their strata caretaker called to share the soggy story. The couple’s daughter, who lives in Vancouver, went over to check out the damage first-hand.
“We wanted eyes on it because we didn’t experience it directly,” says George. “And then it took us a couple of days to wrap up what we were doing on the Island before we could come back.”
During BC's 2021 heat dome, water from a burst sprinkler pipe damaged George and Elizabeth Bryce's Vancouver condo, soaking the bedroom wall and buckling wood flooring.
The coverage-denial myth
When the worst happens at home – flood, fire, theft – it’s a stressful situation. And it can feel even more fraught if you’re uncertain whether your insurance claim will be fully covered. We seem to hear anecdotes about denied coverage time and again. But they simply aren’t the norm. For instance, between 2019 and 2020, BCAA Home Insurance paid out on an average 95 per cent of claims related to fire, water, weather and theft.*
So, where does this “claim gone wrong” myth come from?
“People tend to talk about the negative experiences more than they talk about the positive ones, because of the heavy financial impact, and the disappointment of being caught in that situation,” says BCAA Claims Director Shana Johnston. “At BCAA, we look at every claim individually and address it on its own merits to see what can be covered. We are in the business to pay claims, so we start off from a place of, what’s being presented to us? And what can we cover?”
A “claim gone right” often comes down to having the right coverage and understanding what is covered in your policy, she adds. “At BCAA, we pride ourselves in having simple, straightforward packages that are easy to understand for our customers.”
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Managing the moving pieces
Claims can be more complicated when a strata council is involved, as in the Bryces’ situation, where the pipe rupture affected the whole building. George had called BCAA Insurance right away. A BCAA adjuster then coordinated with the condo’s insurance company. “I think it really helps to have somebody at the other end of the line when you call in distress, who is calm, knows what they’re doing, and gives you good advice at the front end,” he says.
The couple, who have been BCAA Home Insurance policyholders for 29 years, had gone through another condo flood just 10 months prior, so they knew to take swift action.
“We were lucky because parts of our apartment have a raised tile floor. So that basically created a barrier to the water getting any farther into the apartment,” says George. “There was nothing in the ceiling, thank goodness.”
They returned from the Island and quickly began moving their furniture and other “worldly belongings” out of the bedroom. “I just didn’t want to wait for somebody to come in to do it,” he says.
From there, the remediation team opened up the affected walls and removed the damaged bedroom floor to begin the drying process. “They really want to dry it out to avoid black mould,” he adds.
Water had also seeped into the condo’s bathroom. Baseboards had to be pulled off in both rooms, as well as the couple’s walk-in closets. “I was absolutely thrilled that the folks hired to replace the floor could find the same batch at a warehouse in Coquitlam,” says George. The baseboards, which had to be special-ordered, caused an unexpected delay, which the Bryces took in stride, moving back into the condo during the final phase of repairs (they had decamped to their Vancouver Island property for the majority).
“Knowing about the status of the repairs and being given an explanation for any delays allowed us to make timely adjustments to our own plans, and reduced our stress and anxiety about getting back into our apartment,” he says.
When homeowners understand the scope of work, it’s easier for them to make informed decisions and keep the momentum going, adds Johnston. “We’re not doing anything inside someone’s home without their permission, so we need homeowners to be partners in the process,” she says.
However, be sure to keep in touch with your adjuster from the claim’s outset to conclusion, she says – even when repair work is underway with the contractor. And if things do veer off course, escalate the issue with BCAA: “It’s a problem we want to solve.” ■
TIMELINE OF A BCAA HOME-INSURANCE CLAIM
Whether it’s a pipe burst, a collapsed roof or a dryer fire, every home-insurance claim is unique. But if everything goes well, the claims process typically takes about 60 days on average, from start to finish, says BCAA Claims Director Shana Johnston. “It can go much more quickly than that, however, and it can take longer, depending on the situation.” This is a typical course of events for a BCAA Home Insurance claim:
- Call BCAA
- Review your home insurance policy
THE FIRST 24-48 HOURS
- An adjuster assesses the damage and discusses needed repairs and coverage
- Once coverage is confirmed, BCAA pays for packing, storage and reasonable hotel costs (or a stipend if staying with family or friends), depending on the situation
- If there is water damage, high-powered fans are used for drying
- Restoration contractors selected by the homeowner (though BCAA can supply recommendations) gather estimates for the repair, including replacement value of any lost property
2-8 WEEKS (OR LONGER)
- Repairs get underway
- BCAA confirms repairs are completed
*From 2019 to 2020, BCAA paid out on average 95% of home insurance claims related to fire, water, weather and theft. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Home Insurance is sold through B.C.A.A. Holdings Ltd. dba BCAA Insurance Agency, a licensed insurance agency, and underwritten by BCAA Insurance Corporation.
First published in the Fall/Winter 2022 BCAA Magazine. Read more from BCAA Magazine.
Photo Credit: Robert Karpa, George Bryce