CALGARY - Some homeowners are banding together in an attempt to name and shame insurance companies that have rejected their claims for sewer backup damage following recent floods.

Residents of the Elbow Park neighbourhood in Calgary say some insurance companies are approving claims while others are not — despite similar policy wording.

That just doesn't make sense to Tom Carter, who is exhausted after spending the last week gutting his finished basement of contents that were ruined by two metres of smelly sewer water.

"It is disappointing. I was sick to my stomach. You think you are covered and then you find out that you are not," Carter said Tuesday after his claim was rejected by AMA Insurance.

"The houses on either side of us are covered through other companies."

Carter, his wife Julia and two sons now must manage without their living room, spare bedroom, furnace, washer and dryer, TV and the children's toys. The basement also needs structural and electrical repairs.

The inconsistency in insurance assessments is making people angry and frustrated, he said.

They wonder why an insurance adjuster from one company approves a claim for sewer backup in one home, while another adjuster from another company says no in a house next door, blaming the sewer backup on flooding?

Some people whose claims have been rejected have put up signs on their property chiding their insurance companies for not stepping up to help them.

Two that have been singled out for denying claims include AMA Insurance and RBC Insurance.

Troy Bourassa, director of claims for AMA Insurance, said it all comes down to the precise wording of a policy.

"Each insurer has different language that responds to sewer backup and our particular language is very clear," he said.

"Ours excludes damage caused by flood and excludes sewer backup damage when that sewer backup was caused directly or indirectly by flood."

Bourassa said the quick ruling by the adjuster will help Carter, because it will provide him with paperwork he will need to file a disaster recovery claim with the Alberta government.

RBC Insurance did not address why some claims were being denied.

"During this very difficult time for Albertans we have increased the number of teams on the ground to review each homeowner’s situation individually and process claim payments quickly," the company said in an email to The Canadian Press late Tuesday afternoon.

"We are reviewing each case individually to look for ways to help our clients. We are also assisting in other ways including deferring payments for auto and home insurance."

Steve Kee, a spokesman for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said such disputes are strictly between policyholders and their insurance companies.

He said every policy and house is different. It's up to trained professionals to make the call.

"These are sewer backup situations. Adjusters are going to determine what the situation is," Kee said.

Paul Smith, Carter's neighbour, said the insurance industry is going to suffer a public-relations black eye if it doesn't sort the mess out.

Smith, whose insurance claim was approved by Aviva Canada, said it is incredible that companies can treat people differently when they've all suffered property losses under the same circumstances.

"I think it is an unacceptable position for the insurance industry to find themselves in, and if the insurance companies are not very careful, they are going to find themselves in a very prolonged public-relations campaign," said Smith, who is chief financial officer of Calgary-based Talisman Energy.

"I think insurance companies should reflect and look at some of their competitors who are taking the high road and ruling on the side of the insured rather than on the side of small print."

People who have uninsured property damage can apply to the Alberta government for disaster recovery money to make some household repairs and to replace some essential items, but there are restrictions on what people can claim.

Joanne Aime, another Elbow Park resident, is upset with RBC Insurance for denying her claim.

Aime said it is great that RBC has donated money to Alberta flood relief and that some company employees have volunteered to help during the crisis, but that isn't what she needs from the company.

"When we purchased our insurance from RBC, we trusted them as a company that would do the right thing in a situation such as this," she said. "To get a blanket denial for our claim left us both surprised and deeply disappointed."

Carter said he believes some insurance companies are counting on governments and taxpayers to pick up the tab for some claims that really should be covered by insurance.

He said he hopes to appeal the rejection of his claim with AMA Insurance, but has been told he must wait until company managers return from vacation later this month.

The Alberta government regulates the insurance industry in the province, but doesn't get directly involved in adjudicating disputes between consumers and private businesses.

Chris Bourdeau, a spokesman with Alberta Finance, said a dispute can be appealed to a national body called the General Insurance Ombudservice.

He said the government expects companies to honour their contacts and hopes they keep the best interests of their clients in mind, especially in light of the recent devastation suffered by people in southern Alberta.

"We are seeing many Albertans and Alberta companies really step up and go that extra mile to help their neighbours, their friends, their communities, their clients deal with this incredible situation we have down there," he said. "The insurance industry is no different."

— By John Cotter in Edmonton

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • A washed out foot bridge lies on the creek bed in Canmore, Alta. Friday, June 21, 2013.

  • Flood waters surround the hospital in Canmore, Alta. on Friday, June 21, 2013.

  • Flood waters surround buildings in Canmore, Alta. Friday, June 21, 2013.

  • Cougar Creek runs through the Trans Canada Highway during heavy floods in Canmore, Alta. Friday, June 21, 2013.

  • Cougar Creek runs through the Trans Canada Highway during heavy floods in Canmore, Alta. Friday, June 21, 2013.

  • Road damaged is shown looking west along the Trans-Canada Highway in Canmore, Alberta on Friday June 21, 2013.

  • Heavy equipment operators work to keep up with debris, as Cougar Creek pours over the Trans-Canada Highway near Canmore, Alberta on Friday June 21, 2013.

  • Cougar Creek runs through the Trans Canada Highway during heavy floods in Canmore, Alta. Friday, June 21, 2013.

  • Cougar Creek runs through the Trans Canada Highway during heavy floods in Canmore, Alta. Friday, June 21, 2013.

  • Cars and trucks sit on the road looking east along the Trans-Canada Highway from Canmore, Alberta on Friday June 21, 2013.

  • The Calgary Stampede grounds are immersed in water during heavy flooding in Calgary, Saturday, June 22, 2013.

  • The Calgary Stampede grounds are immersed in water during heavy flooding in Calgary, Saturday, June 22, 2013.

  • The Calgary Stampede grounds are immersed in water during heavy flooding in Calgary, Saturday, June 22, 2013.

  • A flooded downtown Calgary is seen from a aerial view of the city Saturday, June 22, 2013.

  • A flooded downtown Calgary is seen from a aerial view of the city Saturday, June 22, 2013.

  • A flooded downtown Calgary is seen from a aerial view of the city Saturday, June 22, 2013.

  • A flooded Calgary is seen from a aerial view of the city Saturday, June 22, 2013.

  • A flooded downtown Calgary is seen from a aerial view of the city Saturday, June 22, 2013.

  • A flooded downtown Calgary is seen from a aerial view of the city Saturday, June 22, 2013.

  • 04625957

    A flooded Calgary is seen from a aerial view of the city Saturday, June 22, 2013.

  • A flooded Calgary is seen from above, June 22, 2013.

  • The Calgary Stampede grounds are immersed in water during heavy flooding in Calgary, Saturday, June 22, 2013.

  • In this aerial photo, the flooded Cougar Creek runs through Canmore, Alberta, on Friday June 21, 2013. Communities throughout southern Alberta are dealing with overflowing rivers that have washed out roads and bridges, inundated homes and turned streets into dirt-brown tributaries. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

  • A man rides his bike as another picks his up in the flooded streets of Calgary, Alberta on Friday June 21, 2013. Alberta's largest city was swamped Friday by floodwaters that submerged much of the lower bowl of the Saddledome hockey arena, displaced tens of thousands of people and forced the evacuation of the downtown core. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

  • PM tours floods in Alberta

  • Calgary Flooding: Stephen Harper Visits A Submerged Alberta

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, walks to a waiting helicopter with Alberta Premier Alison Redford, right, and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, for an aerial tour of flooding in Calgary, Alta.

  • A wall is reserved for messages and missing people at the arena in Blackie, Alberta on Friday June 21, 2013 after the Highwood River, overflowed its banks Thursday. The Red Cross is using the arena to house evacuees of the High River flood. Floodwaters that devastated much of southern Alberta left at least two people dead and forced officials in the western Canadian city of Calgary on Friday to order the evacuation of its entire downtown, as the waters reached the 10th row of the city's hockey arena. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jordan Verlage)

  • Displaced residents sleep on cots at the arena in Blackie, Alberta on Friday June 21, 2013 after the Highwood River, overflowed its banks Thursday. The Red Cross is using the arena to house evacuees of the High River flood. Floodwaters that devastated much of southern Alberta left at least two people dead and forced officials in the western Canadian city of Calgary on Friday to order the evacuation of its entire downtown, as the waters reached the 10th row of the city's hockey arena. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jordan Verlage)

  • Water rushes through what is left of Lions Park as the Sheep River flows through Okotoks, Alberta on Friday June 21, 2013 after the river overflowed its banks Thursday. The town remains on a flood watch. Floodwaters that devastated much of southern Alberta left at least two people dead and forced officials in the western Canadian city of Calgary on Friday to order the evacuation of its entire downtown, as the waters reached the 10th row of the city's hockey arena. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jordan Verlage)

  • A home in the community of Bowness is flooded as up to 100,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in Calgary, Alberta, on Friday, June 21, 2013. Floodwaters that devastated much of southern Alberta left at least two people dead and forced officials in the western Canadian city of Calgary on Friday to order the evacuation of its entire downtown, as the waters reached the 10th row of the city's hockey arena. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

  • Cody Chatfield

    Resident Cody Chatfield drives his lifted 4x4 through his neighborhood looking at the flooded homes in the community of Bowness as up to 100,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in Calgary, Alberta, on Friday, June 21, 2013. Floodwaters that devastated much of southern Alberta left at least two people dead and forced officials in the western Canadian city of Calgary on Friday to order the evacuation of its entire downtown, as the waters reached the 10th row of the city's hockey arena. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

  • Water flows past flooded vehicles in the community of Bowness as up to 100,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in Calgary, Alberta, on Friday, June 21, 2013. Floodwaters that devastated much of southern Alberta left at least two people dead and forced officials in the western Canadian city of Calgary on Friday to order the evacuation of its entire downtown, as the waters reached the 10th row of the city's hockey arena. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

  • Vehicles are stranded in the flooded streets of Calgary, Alberta on Friday June 21, 2013. Alberta's largest city was swamped Friday by floodwaters that submerged much of the lower bowl of the Saddledome hockey arena, displaced tens of thousands of people and forced the evacuation of the downtown core. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

  • This aerial photo shows the closed Trans-Canada Highway in Canmore, Alberta, on Friday June 21, 2013. Flooding forced the western Canadian city of Calgary to order the evacuation of the entire downtown area on Friday, as the waters reached the 10th row of the city’s hockey arena. Communities throughout southern Alberta are dealing with overflowing rivers that have washed out roads and bridges, inundated homes and turned streets into dirt-brown tributaries. About 350,000 people work in downtown Calgary on a typical day. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

  • Residents in the Eagle Terrace neighborhood of Canmore, Alberta, look out over what was the only road into the area on Friday June 21, 2013, after Cougar Creek flooded. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Rocky Mountain Outlook, Craig Douce)

  • Heavy equipment operators work to keep up with debris, as Cougar Creek pours over the Trans-Canada Highway near Canmore, Alberta on Friday June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Rocky Mountain Outlook, Craig Douce)

  • Calgary Flooding: Stephen Harper Visits A Submerged Alberta

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper, centre, walks to a waiting helicopter with Alberta Premier Alison Redford, second from right, and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, for an an aerial tour of flooding in Calgary, Alta. Heavy rains have caused flooding, closed roads, and forced evacuation in Calgary, Alta., Friday, June 21, 2013.

  • Calgary Flooding: Stephen Harper Visits A Submerged Alberta

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper, centre, boards a helicopter with Alberta Premier Alison Redford, and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, for an aerial tour of flooding in Calgary, Alta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

  • Calgary Flooding: Stephen Harper Visits A Submerged Alberta

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper, far right, looks at a map of the flooded areas of Calgary with Alberta Premier Alison Redford, centre, and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, as fire chief Bruce Burrell points out problem sites. Heavy rains have caused flooding, closed roads, and forced evacuation in Calgary, Alta., Friday, June 21, 2013.

  • Calgary Flooding: Stephen Harper Visits A Submerged Alberta

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper, centre, with Alberta Premier Alison Redford, left, and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, speak to the media with the Calgary skyline and the flooded Bow river behind them on Friday June 21, 2013. Heavy rains have caused flooding, closed roads, and forced evacuation in Calgary.

  • Emergency Declared In Southern Alberta After Heavy Flooding

    Houses damaged along the edge of Cougar Creek are shown June 20, 2013 in Canmore, Alta. Widespread flooding caused by torrential rains washed out bridges and roads prompting the evacuation of thousands.

  • Emergency Declared In Southern Alberta After Heavy Flooding

    Residents watch flooding along Cougar Creek June 20, 2013 in Canmore, Alta. Widespread flooding caused by torrential rains washed out bridges and roads prompting the evacuation of thousands.

  • Emergency Declared In Southern Alberta After Heavy Flooding

    Residents watch the flooding Cougar Creek as it takes out Eagle Terrace Road and nears the top of the Elk Run Blvd Bridge June 20, 2013 in Canmore, Alta. Widespread flooding caused by torrential rains washed out bridges and roads prompting the evacuation of thousands.

  • Emergency Declared In Southern Alberta After Heavy Flooding

    Houses damaged along the edge of Cougar Creek.

  • A lone truck sits submerged in the flood waters near downtown High River, Alta. on Thursday.

  • Homes along Cougar Creek in Canmore, Alta. barely hang on as the town struggles to deal with flooding Thursday.

  • A front end loader carries residents after they were rescued from the flood waters in High River, Alberta.

  • A kayaker paddles down a flooded street in High River, Alberta on Thursday.

  • Cars are submerged by the flood waters in High River, Alberta on Thursday.

  • Kevan Yaets swims after his cat Momo to safety as the flood waters sweep him downstream after submerging his truck in High River, Alberta on Thursday.

  • A woman is rescued from the flood waters in High River, Alta. on Thursday.