Insurer appeal from order of chambers judge granting summary judgment in favor of insureds for repairs to their property, loss of rent and cost of utilities. Cross-appeal by the insured against the application by the chambers judge of a negative contingency in the calculation of the lost rent. The insured’s residential property, occupied by tenants, was damaged by fire in November 2014. The insurer’s expert notified the limitation period the day after receipt of the insured’s claim. The insurer refused to pay rent and utilities lost after November 2015. Two umpire processes in 2017 awarded policyholders for repairs, lost rent and utilities until January 2017. As of December 2017 , the insured have presented a motion to institute summary judgment proceedings. The chambers judge upheld a decision of the master which extended the limitation period and awarded the insured $ 127,241 for the remaining repairs, a judgment of $ 45,787, the amounts determined in the umpire proceedings, and 60,900 $ for loss of rental income and $ 6,663 for utility costs from the date of the arbitrator to the date of the decision. The chambers judge imposed a negative contingency on some of the lost rent amounts.

DECISION: Appeal allowed in part; cross-appeal allowed. The objective of the Fair Practices Regulation was consumer protection. The insurer could give effective notice before its actual obligation to give notice arose. Appropriate notice could be provided by the claims adjuster. The chambers judge correctly concluded that the insurer’s opinion was insufficient since it did not clearly indicate what had to be done within two years. Their discretionary decision to extend the limitation period because the insurer’s advice was inadequate was reasonable. There were real questions to be judged regarding the arbitrator’s prices, which could only determine the amount, not the coverage. The chambers judge erred in rendering summary judgment on the arbitral awards. It was necessary to determine when the property should have been habitable before the issue of lost rental income and utilities could be addressed. The chambers judge erred in applying a negative contingency to the loss of rental income that had not been requested or contested.

Statt v. SGI Insurance Services Ltd., [2021] AJ No. 1010, Alberta Court of Appeal, FF Slatter, PA Rowbotham and J. Antonio JJ.A., July 26, 2021. Digest No. TLD-August232021002


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