As residents begin to return home following the mysterious house explosion that destroyed swaths of a Mississauga street, uncertainty remains surrounding the blast’s cause.
Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada, says that’s the burning question for insurers and adjustors, many of whom are awaiting access to affected areas.
“Part of the question that has yet to be answered for the insurers and the community is the cause of the loss,” he says. “The impact and damages are due to an explosion - but explosions don’t just happen. What was the factor that triggered that, and might there be any liability for another third party as a result of that explosion?”
Suspicions of foul play behind the blast have arisen, as it was revealed one of the deceased residents of the house was convicted of murder in the city in the 1980s. Handwritten notes with troubling messages found at the scene are currently being analyzed as evidence by Peel Region Police. Should criminal actions be a factor, it will complicate any resulting claims, says Karageorgos.
“Like any insurance claim, if the cause of loss was due to the intentional actions of an insured, or criminal actions, then the property the insured was affiliated with will likely have its claim denied,” he says. “Neighbouring properties would be fine. But if it was determined that it was an intentional and criminal act, odds are the insurers will deny any coverage.
“If there are mortgages in place and lenders who may have a claim, that would be the next step in terms of assessing who may have a valid claim.”
The full extent of damage has yet to be determined by adjustors, as roughly 69 addresses remain uninhabitable. However, progress should move quickly, stated Mississauga Fire Marshal Tim Beckett to the media, now that response teams have entered the ‘recovery phase’. Sections of the site will be released to residents and insurers over the coming days, allowing adjustors to board up affected houses and being their assessments.
Karageorges adds the incident holds a valuable lesson for brokers, as many area residents, while knowledgeable about who their insurance was with, seemed in the dark concerning their specific policies. “It’s worthwhile for the broker community to note… this really highlights that events like this do happen, and it’s incumbent of those in the industry to continually eduate customers to help them understand what their policies have and cover,” he says.
“As an industry we have to do a better job of educating people because the types of coverages within a policy that people don’t understand such as coverage for the dwelling, the contents, the additional living expenses, there are various layers of the policy that people don’t understand and take for granted.”
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