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Client dogged by $1,277 uninsured water damage remediation bill


April 14, 2021   by Greg Meckbach


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A British Columbia client who runs a dog kennel business out of her home is liable for some water damage remediation costs that her insurer did not cover because they relate to business and not personal use of the property.

Coast Wide Flood & Fire Restorations Ltd. took Jillianne Smith and her company, Castle Rock Kennels, to the province’s Civil Resolution Tribunal. Coast Wide argued Smith or her company owes the restoration firm $1,276.63 plus interest.

CRT member Micah Carmody sided with the restoration company in Coast Wide Flood & Fire Restorations Ltd. v. Smith, released Apr. 12.

It all began in 2019 with a water leak at Smith’s home. Her insurer told her it would only cover the damage for Smith’s personal property and private use of her home. The insurer would not cover remediation costs related to Castle Rock Kennels, the business she was operating.

The insurer (which is not named in the CRT ruling) did agree to cover the cost of moving and reconnecting the washer and dryer in the room that Smith uses for grooming customer’s dogs. This is because the washer and dryer were also used for personal laundry.

But the insurer did not agree to cover costs associated with the dog bath, which the insurer considered a business item. The insurer is not a party in the CRT dispute.

In August and September 2019, Coast Wide Flood & Fire Restorations did the water damage remediation work. The firm invoiced Smith $1,776.63 for the work not covered under insurance. That $1,776.63 included a $500 deductible, which Smith paid. But Smith did not initially pay the $1,276.63, which is why she was taken to the CRT.

In the Apr. 12, 2021 ruling, the CRT dismissed the claim against the dog kennel firm, but ordered Smith to pay the $1,276.63 claimed by the restoration firm plus $31.87 in interest.

The work included $827.61 to disconnect and reconnect plumbing for the dog tub and $236.25 to move the dog tub eight inches. Some work was subcontracted by Coast to a plumber.

One of Smith’s arguments before the CRT was that if she had known that she had to pay for the work herself, she would have hired her own plumber to do it. But the CRT found that by signing a work authorization form, Smith agreed to pay “the actual cost of the said work” if not covered by insurance.

“The ‘said work’ can only be understood to be a reference to the work described in the second paragraph, which says the customer authorizes Coast to proceed with ‘its recommended procedures’ including contents manipulation, drying of contents and structure, rebuild and repairs to restore the structure, and securing the property from further damage,” Carmody wrote.

Smith also argued she was not given a complete breakdown of the invoices from the subcontractor hired by the restoration firm.

Carmody agreed that the subcontractor’s invoices lacked details, such as the time it took to complete the work.  But Carmody did find that those invoices contain enough information to verify the services provided and the cost. Carmody also ruled that a lack of detail in the invoices did not negate Smith’s obligation to pay for the work.

Feature image via iStock.com/SolStock