Skyrocketing insurance bills shock, anger Chatham homeowners

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Some Chatham homeowners are in shock after getting their new insurance bill and finding out their premiums have doubled.

Kathie Shoemaker lives on Park Avenue West and told Blackburn News her premium from Trillium Mutual Insurance Company has gone up from $840 a year to $1,656 because the insurance company said her home is in a high risk area for flooding. Shoemaker said she doesn’t understand why it has jumped so much because she lives so far from large bodies of water like Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, and even the Thames River. She added while her premium has nearly doubled, her flooding coverage has dropped to $25,000.

“The insurance companies are going to rape [the] citizens of Chatham-Kent because of Erie Shore Drive,” said Shoemaker. “How is this right, to penalize the citizens of the whole community because of one area. When has there ever been a flood on Park Avenue?”

Erie Shore Drive has flooded several times over the years.

Shoemaker said she is taking her insurance needs elsewhere and is calling other brokers.

A Trillium Mutual letter to Shoemaker dated April 7, 2020 stated the company’s new mapping technology indicates her 100 year old home is at high risk for flooding due to excessive rain and surface water from an overflowing water body.

A company manager, who wished to remain anonymous, told Blackburn News that Trillium Mutual is a small insurance company and was slow to react to flooding losses. He added the flooding coverage is optional and Shoemaker can opt out of the coverage if she feels strongly enough her home is not at risk of flooding.

The manager added Trillium Mutual rates are middle of the pack when compared to other insurance companies.

Shoemaker’s letter gave an Insurance Bureau of Canada quote from 2018 saying the average cost to repair a flooded basement is $43,000.

“Climate change, aging infrastructure, less green space in urban areas, and a lack of household mitigation measures results in million of dollars of insurance losses each year,” the letter read.