As a homeowner, it’s important that you protect your rights under your policy of home warranty insurance.
Protect your rights
First, you should make sure that you have filed any claim in writing with both your warranty provider and your builder before the expiry of the applicable home warranty insurance coverage.
Our Home Warranty Insurance on New Homes page gives more information on the applicable timeframes for coverage, allowable exclusions and policy limits.
Concerns about claims decisions
It’s the responsibility of the warranty provider that provided the insurance, or their agent, to evaluate any claims made under a policy of home warranty insurance.
Claims disputes are contractual matters. They are usually disputes over what is covered or the value of what is covered — or sometimes both. What is or is not covered depends on the terms of the contract — in this case the home warranty insurance policy — and the facts that give rise to the claim. These are interpretive issues, which, if they cannot be resolved between the parties themselves, are subject to resolution through civil processes such as mediation, arbitration or the civil courts.
Our Residential Construction Performance Guide can help you work out if a construction defect might be covered by home warranty insurance. The Guide also explains how warranty providers may evaluate claims on new homes.
The insurance industry has developed a five-step approach for handling complaints:
- Try to resolve the matter with the claims case manager.
- If that does not work, ask to speak with the manager of the business unit involved.
- If that’s not possible or it’s unresolved, contact the company’s ombudsperson.
- If you’re still not satisfied once the company’s ombudsperson has dealt with the case and the company has issued its final position letter on the matter, you can then go to an independent ombudservice. In the case of home warranty insurance, you can contact the General Insurance OmbudService.
- If the situation still isn’t resolved to your satisfaction, then you can proceed to mediation, arbitration or go to court.
Although these steps are the usual sequence for resolving an insurance claims dispute, you must decide if you want to go ahead with any of them. Each warranty provider will have a complaints-handling process and information on how to contact their ombudsperson on their website.
BC Housing does not have the authority to determine the validity of a claim made under a policy of home warranty insurance. Nor can we adjudicate appeals on decisions given by warranty providers.
However, we encourage warranty providers to review individual decisions that we feel are not in keeping with their obligations under our legislation. We also help owners understand the minimum warranty standards and their rights as policy holders.
Where a warranty provider has given a decision about a home warranty insurance claim and the owner does not agree, mediation becomes an option. Our Options for Resolving Residential Construction Disputes Guide gives greater detail on this area, as well as negotiation, arbitration and litigation.
For more information around warranty insurance for homeowners, take a look at our New Homes section.
Concerns about claims handling
The Homeowner Protection Act and Regulation set out requirements for how a home warranty provider must respond to a properly filed claim. For instance, a warranty provider must:
- Try to contact the owner promptly to arrange for inspection and required repairs
- Provide notice in writing, including reasons for the decision, if a claim is not covered
- Arrange for repairs, which conform to the BC Building Code and industry standards, to be made in a timely manner
- Ensure that repairs and replacements made under the policy are warranted against defects
Our Home Warranty Insurance Claims page gives more detailed information about the requirements for claims handling.
The Regulation is often not specific in terms of how quickly a warranty provider must respond. Most B.C. home warranty insurance providers have agreed to a set of guidelines and targets with respect to their obligations in responding to claim. For more information, consult the Warranty Requirements section of our Residential Construction Performance Guide.
Although BC Housing does not regulate home warranty insurance providers, our Licensing & Consumer Services Branch is responsible for administering the Act and Regulations. When a warranty provider does not seem to be fulfilling their claims-handling responsibilities under the Act and Regulations, we’ll work with the warranty provider and the homeowner to try to resolve the situation.
Contact us for help
Our Licensing & Consumer Services Branch can help homeowners:
- Determine when various warranty insurance coverages expire
- Understand the terms and conditions of their home warranty insurance policy and how to file a claim
- Understand options regarding the various alternatives for dispute resolution (such as mediation, arbitration or litigation)
- Determine next steps when the warranty provider does not appear to be acting in keeping with the Act and Regulation regarding claims decisions
- Determine next steps when claims do not seem to be handled according to the Act and Regulation (such as unexplained delays in investigation or repair of a claim, or decisions not given in writing)
If you have questions about your home warranty insurance policy or need help filing a claim, please contact us. Call our Licensing & Consumer Services Branch at 604-646-7050 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a complaint about your home warranty insurance, email our Licensing & Consumer Services Branch at the address above. Your email should explain the details of your complaint and include the full address of the home. If you have already filed your claim in writing, please include a copy of the written claim plus any written response from the warranty provider.
Who regulates home warranty insurance companies?
The Financial Institutions Commission (FICOM) authorizes certain insurance companies to act as warranty providers. Some of those providers carry out their business through an agreement with an insurance broker. Insurance brokers are licensed by the Insurance Council of B.C.
FICOM and the Council have the right to investigate the business practices of insurance companies and brokers. They can also take action if they feel that they have not conducted themselves appropriately.