An early, wet snowfall last month generated several damage claims against the Village of Warfield that council is seeking expert advice on how to deal with.
Three residents who suffered property damage from limbs falling from village trees during the snowstorm on Oct. 22-23 want the municipality to cover the deductibles on their insurance claims totaling $2,200. One of them has also suggested the village needs to pay closer attention to its trees.
Unlike many municipalities, Warfield has paid some past claims for deductibles, but council was undecided Tuesday whether this round of damage should be covered by the public purse.
Council voted to seek guidance on how to proceed from its insurer, the Municipal Insurance Association of B.C.
“Isn’t it an act of God?” wondered councilor Jim Nelson.
“If we move in this direction, all we have to do is look to the south of us. If we have a terrific storm (like the east coast) we could be overwhelmed by the number of claims.
“Do we want to have to go around and check every tree in the village? If those trees haven’t been reported to us before, I don’t think we have an obligation.”
Mayor Bert Crockett noted “we have paid the deductibles on sewer backups, but this is something new.”
The deductible on the village’s policy far exceeds the values of the homeowners’ claims, so it couldn’t get any money back from the MIA.
But the village needs to be careful the homeowners’ insurance companies don’t come after Warfield, arguing the municipality has admitted liability by paying the deductibles.
“ICBC could go after us for the full amount,” said councilor Tom Milne, who sits on the MIA’s board of directors.
The three claims against the village relate to:
•A truck and carport belonging to a Forrest Drive resident Mike Parsons that was damaged. He is seeking $1,500 to cover the claim deductibles in his homeowner and vehicle policies.
• On Kipling Street, Robert Johnson is seeking $500 to cover the balance on his insurance claim for “significant damage” to the siding on his house as well has heating and electrical systems resulting from a tree limb falling on an electrical pole.
• There was $4,500 in damage to a vehicle belonging to Murray Drive residents Ben Corbett and Nicole Danchuk when a branch fell on it. They want $200 to cover the deductible.
A list is maintained of suspect trees reported to the village and these are referred to its tree removal contractor each spring for review and possible action, administrator Vince Morelli told the Times.