Insurance companies misleading overland flood policyholders warns expert

Published: May 29, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Despite overland coverage being made available in Quebec, some insurance companies and adjustors are failing to properly inform policyholders on how they can protect their homes from flood damage. Additionally, Mark Sibthorpe says insurers are not directing customers denied flood claims to the government.

Sibthorpe is the owner of a Montreal-based cast calculator called Pogo.Pro, who suggests insurance companies are misleading customers. His website gives users a tool to calculate the cost of replacing or repairing homes damaged by floods.

“Insurance companies don’t know the procedure they should be following,” he said. “For example, for homeowners to clean out the debris in their home urgently, they need to get any wet walls, any wet insulation and any wet floors disposed of and out of the house and dried. If they don’t do that there’s going to be mold issues.

“Any insurance company that gets a call from a claimant, whether or not they’re going to cover them, should advise them immediately that they should take these actions. Because if they don’t take these actions, a problem that might cost $20,000, $30,000 to repair could destroy a whole house.”

With the Pogo.Pro website, Sibthorpe believes customers and insurance companies get a level of transparency that is otherwise unavailable. He adds that companies are treating overland flooding policyholders poorly:

“One customer has very detailed coverage,” Sibthorpe said as an example. “They’ve been paying $40 for overland water coverage and also $100 per month for sewer back up. The claims adjuster has said specifically that the damage cannot be traced to one particular source, so the customer is not covered.

“Then the actual broker said the water came in through the windows and therefore there’s no coverage. But the truth of the matter is I have photographic evidence that on the highest day of the flood the water did not reach the house, it was actually several metres away from the house. Most of the water came from the sewer backup.”

“These insurance companies don’t have the right information for them (policyholders),” he said. “They don’t know the procedures they should follow. They don’t know what they should be doing to help them establish a claim and they don’t know the information on whether or not the claim is going to be covered.

“There’s actual aggression and misinformation from some insurance companies – and other insurance companies just don’t know what’s going on.”