The current situation with strata insurance in BC has seen a huge hike, not only in strata insurance premiums but also in the amount of deductibles now payable by strata corporations in the event of a claim. It is not unheard of to have a deductible that was previously $10,000 rise to $100,000 for claims such as flooding/water damage. It is the responsibility of the strata corporation to find the funds to pay for the rise in premiums, but it is up to the individual strata lot owner to ensure they are insured to cover the deductible amounts in the event of a claim.

When you purchase a strata property you should ask for a copy of the strata “Summary of Coverage’ and take this to your insurance broker. They will be able to take a look at the coverage and deductible amounts for the strata corporation and quote for your personal insurance accordingly.

If you already live in a strata, make yourself aware of when your insurance is renewed each year and be sure to reach out to your strata manager for a copy of the summary at least a week before renewal. That way, you can be adequately prepared if there is any adjustment to the previous years policy. Be pro-active, do not rely on your strata corporation to reach out to you.

It is not only deductibles that need to be covered, you should also consider purchasing insurance for items below.

  • Personal Property – Although the common property and limited common property is covered by strata insurance, the interior of your strata lot is not and it is your responsibility to get personal insurance to cover household contents such as furniture, clothing, household goods, electronics, etc.
  • Personal liability – for any bodily injury or property damage unintentionally caused to others whilst on your strata lot.
  • Improvements (“betterments”). If you make improvements to your strata lot, such as new flooring, finishing a basement etc. you need to let your insurance company know. These are considered ‘betterments’ and may need additional coverage. If you don not and you make an insurance claim, you run the risk of only being covered for original fixtures and all your improvements will not be covered.
  • Additional living expenses. If there were an event such as a flood in your strata lot and it becomes uninhabitable for a period of time, you would need to be covered for expenses such as alternative accommodation and living expenses.
  • Additional coverage (deductibles) In the past year we have seen deductibles rise to as much as $100,000. What this means is, if you have a flood or other damage to your property, or an event originates in your strata lot and damages another strata lot, the deductible would be charged back to you. If you do not have adequate coverage for strata deductibles you could be liable to pay 10’s of thousands of dollars.
  • Fixtures installed by the owner-developer if, as per Strata Property Regulation 9.1 (1), these can be moved without damaging the building such as fridges, ovens, microwaves and other items.
  • Losses to common property or other owners’ units – As with deductibles, if an event that causes damage to another strata lot, originates in your strata lot, you may be liable for the costs of repairs to the other damaged unit.

Recent court cases have determined that responsibility for an insurance claim does not mean that the strata owner must be at fault in order to be responsible for paying the corporation’s insurance deductible.

For example, a dishwasher overflows in a strata unit and causes water damage to common property and other strata lots. The strata owner is responsible and the strata corporation can sue the strata owner for the cost of the strata corporation’s insurance deductible even if the strata owner was not “at fault.”

Stay informed, be pro-active in knowing what changes there are, each year to your strata corporation’s insurance. Talk to your insurance broker and be sure you are fully covered for every eventuality.