Tuesday, April 7, 2020

April 6 Council Meeting: Strata insurance changes needed. Businesses call for tax relief.

Yesterday afternoon, Langley City council met virtually over a video conferencing solution. This is the second council meeting held virtually since the introduction of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Langley City council and staff meet virtually. Select image to enlarge.

The council meeting was brief.

The first item on the agenda was a motion by Councillor Albrecht relating to the rapid increase in strata insurance rates. I know most stratas are seeing significant increases in their insurance premiums. Some stratas are seeing insurance deductibles so high that they essentially need to self-insure. There are even some stratas that can’t get insurance. In the strata I’m a part of, we saw a massive increase in our premiums and deductibles.

The Insurance Brokers Association of BC is calling on the province to put a $50,000 cap on loss assessment coverage for each strata unit owner. Currently, some stratas are seeing deductibles of $250,000 or higher. If a loss higher than the deductible occurs, and it is caused by one unit, that owner would be on the hook for $250,000. Many individual owner insurance plans do not provide loss assessment coverage that high. By putting a cap on loss assessment coverage, it would protect strata owners and allow them to be fully covered.

The second recommendation by the association is for the province to create a standard definition of a strata unit. This would remove confusion about what is a strata corporation’s responsibility for insurance compared to an individual owner.

Langley City council passed the following motion:

THAT City of Langley write to Premier John Horgan and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson to urge them to take immediate action to consider the two reform proposals put forward by the Insurance Brokers Association of BC (IBABC) to provide stability for the strata insurance market in BC and protect millions of strata owners by mitigating insurance market cycles.

Council also received letters from the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business calling for reductions in property tax, for moving property tax and municipal utility payment due dates to the fall instead of summer, and on the province to expand its property tax deferral program.

As reducing or changing the tax due date would have significant implications to the City’s cash-flow and ability to provide services, these letters were referred by council to City staff for followup.

This virtual council meeting will be posted to Langley City’s website for viewing.

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