Homeowners blame insurer for rodent disaster

Homeowners blame insurer for rodent disaster | Insurance Business Canada

Homeowners blame insurer for rodent disaster
A routine claim on damage to a home turned into a disaster, as a BC family argues that their insurer had delayed repairs to their property, in turn allowing the house to fall into disrepair.

The house in question has fallen into such disrepair that the property eventually attracted rodents. Efforts to curb the infestation led to rotting rat corpses that befouled the property and prevented anyone from entering the affected portions of the building without a hazmat suit.

In August 2015, a tree crashed through the roof of the Gough residence, damaging a section of the roof. Estimates pegged the repair costs for the roof at $78,000.

The Goughs contacted their insurer Wawanesa, which then offered the option to either go with a contractor the insurer recommended or to choose one of their own.

"We felt we have a claim, they have good people, what they call preferred vendors, that's good for us," Paul Gough told CBC News.

The repair job started on the wrong foot when replacement tiles for the damaged section of the roof could not be found. The Gough’s then claimed that their insurer chose to delay repairs for eight months instead of paying to replace the entire roof to decide on what to do about the missing tiles. While Wawanesa was still considering its options, the contractor responsible for the job covered the hole in the roof with a nylon tarp.

That tarp led to even bigger problems for the Goughs.

"One morning we woke up to a squirrel sitting on our rafter and again we were like, 'Guys, you need to get in here and deal with the animals that are getting into our house,'" Paul Gough said.

"We had no idea at that time that it wasn't just squirrels and birds. It was rats. So again they [Wawanesa] stalled, they waited, then ... used one of their preferred vendors again — pest control company," he added.

The pest control company, however, used poison instead of traps to deal with the rodents, which led to the rats perishing behind the drywall. Before the exterminator could remove the carcasses, the repair contractor sealed the hole in the roof, which enclosed the bodies inside the walls and the ceiling. The rat carcasses eventually began to rot, attracting flies and tainting the attic area of the house. Anyone entering said area must now wear a hazmat suit and a mask to avoid spreading the contamination.

The Goughs have also complained that the contractor for the repair job damaged the stucco on the outside of their home, as well as broke four windows.

The couple, their teenage son, and their three dogs eventually moved into a 300-square-foot trailer when they determined they could no longer live in their infested home; they have lived in a trailer for the past eight months.

Paul Gough now acts as a contractor to manage the cleanup of his home, while his wife Sharon has to work two jobs.

Wawanesa Insurance declined to answer questions when pressed by CBC News regarding the Gough case. It also refused to answer on how it chooses preferred vendors for home repairs.

The Goughs have now found contractors of their own who are not a part of their previous insurer’s preferred list, CBC News reported.

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