Canadian Underwriter

Vacancy permit doesn’t require daily attendance for eight months during repairs

June 10, 2022   by David Gambrill

Flood in a house with furniture floating

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Belair does not have to pay a condo claimant more than $1,500 in daily mileage costs accrued over almost eight months, during which time flood damage in the insured’s unit was being repaired.

Belair Insurance Company insured a condominium owned by Akram Seyed Parsa before she passed away. Parsa’s daughter, Parvin Yavari, the executor of her mother’s estate, made a claim against Belair for $1,500.96 in mileage costs resulting from a flood in Parsa’s condominium unit.

On May 5, 2020, Parsa’s condo flooded. Belair required her to vacate the unit for the repairs, which took approximately eight months and were completed in January 2021. None of this is disputed.

Parsa’s daughter and estate say Belair placed a “vacancy permit” on the unit, which required them to attend at the condo every day to maintain valid insurance. Pointing to an email received from Belair, Yavari says that since attending the condo was mandatory, they should be reimbursed for mileage for attending every day. She claimed $1,500.96 in mileage costs based on 240 days of visiting the unit, a 10.6-km round trip from Yavari’s home to the condo, at a rate of $0.59 per km.

To prove her claim, Yavari submitted an undated email received from a Belair claims representative. In the email, the rep said they spoke to “BelairDirect sales and service” and understood a vacancy permit was added to Ms. Parsa’s policy, and that “one of the requirements in having this on your policy is that you are to attend daily as per the wording.”

Belair said the vacancy permit does not require daily attendance of the condo. Nor did the policy make any reference to reimbursing the insured’s mileage costs to do so.

B.C.’s Civil Rules Tribunal, the province’s small claims court, sided with Belair, making particular note of the fact that the email sent to Yavari was undated.

“First, the ‘Vacancy Permit Endorsement’ submitted in evidence by Belair states that the land or buildings must be inspected by a competent person ‘at least every 72 hours’ during the vacancy, and all doors and windows must be securely locked, or the policy is null and void,” the CRT wrote in its decision. “Ms. Yavari denies ever receiving a copy of this endorsement, and says the email above proves daily attendance was required.

“I note the email above is not dated, but based on the wording of the email discussing out-of-pocket expenses that had been incurred during renovation, I find it was likely sent after repairs had been completed. Therefore, I find the email does not prove that [Parsa’s daughter and the estate] were told they had to have someone attend the property daily before repairs were completed….

“I find nothing in the endorsement or the insurance policy requires that Belair compensate an insured to comply with that term.”


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