Consumers Unhappy with Insurance Company Performance in Fort McMurray

Published: June 14, 2016

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



In the midst of the Fort McMurray wildfire (The Beast) last month, many major insurance carriers in Canada descended on the northern Alberta area with loss teams to help customers who had lost property. A month later, the planned 15 day plan to move the 85,000 displaced residents back into the town has two days left and tensions are mounting between policyholders and insurance providers.

A report in the Globe and Mail last week suggests that many customers are unhappy with their providers and feel that companies are not paying out the full amounts they should be getting. With so much damage, the insurance industry is taking its biggest ever single event loss in Canadian history, with the total claims set to cost over $4.5 billion.

However, disgruntled customers who are trying to rebuild their lives are displeased with having to go through the hoops of the claims process. Worse yet, evacuees are saying it is tough to get stingy insurance providers to pay out what the full value of the property and possessions.

On the other side of the fence, the insurance industry is dealing with an unprecedented and historic amount of claims. Processing all of the claims flooding in is no easy task and even fully staffed companies are likely to be overworked. Customers say they can handle long waits for the claims process to be completed, but are not happy with being underpaid.

The Globe and Mail points to Bruce Thompson, a 57-year old heavy equipment operator who says his property is worth $180,000, but the insurance company has only paid $60,000. Thompson is pursuing a legal path to get what he thinks he deserves and it seems in Fort McMurray he is not alone and the lawsuits could mount up.

The provider handling Thompson’s claim says "a property loss is determined by the type of policy the homeowner has purchased and a policy can provide replacement coverage or cash at the time of the loss, with depreciation factored in."

This statement suggests Thompson did not have a policy that would cover for full replacement payments, which if true should serve as a warning that having the correct home insurance is essential.