FORT MAC 97% of wildfire insurance claims have been settled
Wood Buffalo resident says lots of people like her felt pressure to finalize process
Around 97 per cent of insurance claims resulting from the Fort McMurray wildfire have been settled, with 900 yet to be resolved.
Alberta’s Insurance Act sets out a two-year deadline for property claims to be settled, but Finance Minister Joe Ceci said Wednesday insurance companies have agreed to extend that deadline on a caseby-case basis.
“This is a significant result that will help the residents of Wood Buffalo to recover. We won’t let up in our efforts to support the victims of the wildfire,” he said.
Lisa Nichols’ claim was one of those finalized, but she feels it was never adequately resolved.
Her frustration was evident in a telephone interview Wednesday as she explained how she felt backed into a corner by her insurance company.
They gave her a final position letter just before Christmas — prior to the extension being announced.
“Taking them to court would have cost $40,000 and it would have been five years down the road — and we just couldn’t afford to do that,” she said.
“There were a lot of people rushing to settle at the 19th hour, because they didn’t feel like they had a choice.”
There were a lot of people rushing to settle at the 19th hour, because they didn’t feel like they had a choice.
Nichols, her partner and daughter are still living in their basement suite as they work to make the upstairs of their home livable — and paying for a lot of the fixes out of pocket.
She estimates another $20,000 of work is yet to come.
“I don’t want anyone to go through what we did,” she said.
The insurance industry is expecting to pay out $3.7 billion to policyholders in the Wood Buffalo region.
Bill Adams of the Insurance Bureau of Canada said industry’s focus isn’t on the work done so far, but on working with Albertans who have outstanding claims to help them finalize the process.
Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson visited the region last month.
“Homes are being rebuilt, businesses are growing, and life is getting back to how it was before,” he told reporters Wednesday.
By late last month, he said, more than 2,000 development permits and 520 occupancy permits had been approved.
“Confidence is growing ... and I firmly believe we are all moving in the right direction together,” he said.
The fire resulted in 25,499 residential, 4,151 commercial and 14,444 automobile insurance claims.
Bill Adams of the Insurance Bureau of Canada says the industry’s focus is on working to help Albertans finalize claims from the Fort McMurray wildfire. Insurance firms have agreed to extend the two-year deadline for settling property claims on a case-by-case basis.