As condominiums face rising insurance rates, some buildings try to keep their rates low by raising their insurance deductible – but that could leave condo owners on the hook if a claim is filed.
“My heart sank. That’s a lot of money, that’s serious money,” said Sandra Ricci who helps her mother Irene Ricci with her Etobicoke, Ont. condominium unit.
Irene Ricci’s condo unit flooded in March 2022. She thought everything would be looked after, but said she was told she would have to pay an additional $27,657 to cover the costs of the damage.
“My mom was away for the night and the supply line for the toilet burst off and there was a flood. As far as we were concerned it was a standard claim,” Sandra Ricci said.
Irene Ricci’s unit is on the fifth floor and water damage seeped through to the units below, all the way down to the first floor.
Irene Ricci did have condo insurance for her unit and her building had insurance to cover the common elements. But about two years ago, the building raised its deductible, which the Riccis said they weren’t aware of.
“My mom’s insurance covers up to $25,000 of the building’s deductible. But the deductible on the condo building is now $50,000. They want us to cover the difference,” Sandra Ricci said.
When the Riccis contacted their condominium building, they were told they had been notified of the insurance changes in paperwork that had been sent to the unit.
“In the case at hand, the Condominium Corporation bylaw section 12.3 allows the corporation to recoup expenses incurred for damages originating in a unit or caused by a unit owner,” Tom Womack, Director of Public Relations with Associa – the parent company for Wilson Blanchard Management that manages Ricci’s building – told CTV News Toronto in a statement.
“When living in a condominium, it is always important to undertake due diligence regarding your responsibilities as an owner and a neighbour. The charges are not retained by the managing agent, but rather are paid to the Condominium Corporation to cover the costs of damages.”
The Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO), which helps provide resources and information for condo owners and boards, said it’s important to pay close attention to all documents you have been sent – especially those that deal with insurance coverage.
“Any changes to the deductible or the insurance details must be sent to owners within 30 days. It’s important to make sure you go through all documents you receive,” said CAO CEO Robin Dafoe.
The Riccis feel more should have been done to ensure they were aware of the changes to the insurance deductible.
“It went up [by] $25,000. So, why wasn’t some extra effort made to let us know? I swear if I would have got that notice, a call would have been made to a broker the same day,” said Sandra Ricci.
“Make sure you know what you are covered for, because if this happens to you, you will get the bill, and you will have to pay for it.”