A com­pen­sat­ing de­bate over Igor

The Compass - - OPINION -

We are near­ing the one-month an­niver­sary of the dev­as­ta­tion caused by Hur­ri­cane Igor, and de­spite a rapid re­sponse by gov­ern­ments and com­mu­ni­ties at ev­ery level, the lives of many peo­ple caught in the path of the storm re­main un­cer­tain and in turmoil.

Many have said the im­pact of Igor will be felt for many years to come, and some es­ti­mates put the re­pair bill at about $100 mil­lion to re­place bridges, roads and other in­fra­struc­ture.

In­cluded in this amount is com­pen­sa­tion the prov­ince will pay to home­own­ers who had their prop­er­ties dam­aged by floods caused by the tor­ren­tial rains and pow­er­ful winds. Like it did in past dis­as­ters in places such as Badger and Stephenville, the govern­ment has de­cided to use tax­pay­ers’ money to cover these costs be­cause home­own­ers’ in­surance do not usu­ally pro­tect against this type of flood­ing.

We be­lieve that’s noble and the right thing to do, as long as it’s man­aged prop­erly and abuse is kept to a min­i­mum.

But prop­erty own­ers who sus­tained dam­age not re­lated to flood­ing will not be com­pen­sated by the govern­ment, since these are con­sid­ered “in­sur­able,” and the in­surance com­pa­nies are ex­pected to pick up the bill.

This pol­icy, in our view, makes sense. But it’s put a cou­ple from Vic­to­ria — Wal­lace and Ros­alee Dean — in a very pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion. Their mo­bile home was, for all in­tents and pur­poses, de­stroyed in the hur­ri­cane. Most of the roof was ripped off, the chim­ney was dis­lodged and the in­te­rior was drenched with wa­ter. A con­trac­tor has told the cou­ple their home is not sal­vage­able.

The Dean’s went to the prov­ince’s dis­as­ter re­lief of­fi­cials, look­ing for com­pen­sa­tion to re­build. But they were de­nied last week. Of­fi­cials de­ter­mined the dam­age was “in­sur­able,” so their claim was turned down. Un­for­tu­nately, the Dean’s did not have in­surance. They say they were turned down for cov­er­age years ago be­cause they use a wood stove to heat their home, and never both­ered with in­surance ever since.

This raises some in­ter­est­ing ques­tions. Should tax­pay­ers’ be ex­pected to foot the bill for a new home for the Dean’s? Or should the Dean’s have been ex­pected to have in­surance, like the vast ma­jor­ity of home­own­ers in Canada?

It’s com­mon knowl­edge that many home­own­ers in New­found­land — es­pe­cially ru­ral ar­eas — take the chance of not hav­ing in­surance, and of­ten point to steep premi­ums re­lated to wood stoves as the main rea­son.

With that be­ing said, it ap­pears the Deans’ luck may have run out. For­tu­nately, we’re a very giv­ing peo­ple in this prov­ince, and there’s no doubt that fam­ily, friends and the com­mu­nity will rally to help the cou­ple.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.