Minister responds to home insurance debate
GLACE BAY — Nova Scotia Finance Minister Graham Steele says the government isn’t in the business of regulating home insurance.
“There’s not going to be a regulatory response to the issue in Glace Bay and surrounding communities,” said Steele. “I’m confident as the minister for the Insurance Act that there is not a broad based issue in a complete lack of available insurance.”
Residents in Glace Bay are upset that their insurance policies which they have had for 25-30 years with the Co-operators General Insurance Company have been cancelled.
Officials with the Co-operators have stated 1,600 homeowners in communities including Glace Bay, New Waterford and North Sydney, have or will soon receive notices stating they must reapply and qual- ify for insurance with the company.
Re-qualification could require electrical and wood heat inspections, building valuations and/or limited coverage and deductible options.
During a recent editorial meeting at the Cape Breton Post, Steele acknowledged there has been a problem with fires in Glace Bay and surrounding communities. He said the basic premise of insurance is to predict such things as fires, but in Glace Bay the number of fires are ‘way up’ from predictions.
Part of the solution is for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, fire service, provincial fire marshal and insurance companies to form a task force to deal with the issue head on, he added.
"I think if they can show that there was a concerted community effort to deal with the issue that would provide some reassurance to the insurers that they needn’t fear unusually high losses if they stayed in the community.”
Glace Bay MLA Dave Wilson met with the minister over this issue.
Wilson said the minister’s main concern is ensuring residents have house insurance.
“The minister has been assured by the insurance brokers association there will be insurance available in Glace Bay.”
Wilson said bottom line, home insurance is not regulated.
“It is not covered in the Insurance Act. In order to drive a car you have to have insurance, but you can own a house and you don’t have to insure it.”
The Glace Bay Volunteer Fire Department responded to approximately 60 structure fires in 2009.