POLITICS

Cancer patient, 84, learns insurance company will now pay for flood damage

04/21/2015 01:30 EDT | Updated 07/14/2015 03:59 EDT
Anxiety turned to relief Tuesday for an 84-year-old Ontario woman whose insurance company had refused to cover flood damage to her home incurred while she was receiving chemotherapy.

Ivy Scotland said Grey Power Insurance has done a complete about-face after a senior adjuster visited her home earlier in the day.

The company said Tuesday it will cover the $11,000 claim it had previously declined to pay for the damage to Scotland's Pembroke, Ont. home.

Grey Power originally ruled that the extensive water damage caused when a pipe burst in January could not be covered under Scotland's long-held policy.

The company argued that Scotland had failed to put someone in place to make daily checks inside her home after the first four days of her extended absence for cancer treatment.

But the adjuster's visit yielded a very different decision, Scotland said.

In addition to shouldering all costs and beginning repair work next week, Scotland said the company has now waived the $2,000 deductible, reimbursed her for the price of a contractor she hired in the aftermath of the flood, committed to either reupholstering or replacing certain items of furniture, and even offered to take on a minor repair that was unrelated to the original claim.

"He went to see the place and was convinced that they should do something about it. I'm happy with whatever he did," Scotland said in a telephone interview from Ottawa. "I'm so happy. They're going to start ... right away."

Scotland's ordeal began last November when she was told that numerous chemotherapy treatments would be required to combat the multiple myeloma, or cancer of the plasma cells, that has now spread throughout her body.

Fearing that the 150-kilometre round trip from Pembroke would be too much in her condition, Scotland opted to follow her doctor's advice and temporarily relocate to Ottawa during her treatment, which is still ongoing.

She enlisted a neighbour to collect mail, shovel sidewalks and attend to other routine maintenance outside the house, assuming those precautions were all she'd need.

"When I left my house everything was perfectly OK," Scotland said. "I hadn't the slightest idea that the weather was going to be what it was, and I never thought of getting someone to babysit the house."

Six weeks after her treatments began, a prolonged cold snap that lasted through much of the winter caused one of Scotland's pipes to freeze and ultimately burst.

Scotland didn't have an opportunity to view the damage first-hand until weeks after the early January flood, by which time the furnace had been damaged beyond repair.

Shivering in the wreckage of her home, she said, was a shocking experience.

"From the top floor, the water came through down to the kitchen," she said. "The ceiling in the kitchen collapsed, part of it, and the water got from there down to the basement."

Scotland, who had made monthly payments to maintain a policy with Grey Power for years, approached the insurance company feeling confident that the flood damage would be covered.

Grey Power offered a preliminary damage estimate of $11,000, but informed her that she was not eligible for compensation because she had not engaged anyone to check inside the home after the first four days of her extended absence. Scotland asserts Grey Power never informed her of the terms of this clause when she acquired the policy.

Grey Power spokeswoman Stephanie Sorensen hinted at Tuesday's developments by saying the company was willing to consider Scotland's unusual situation and take the reason for her extended absence into account.

"Given the exceptional circumstances, we are working directly with our customer to resolve the matter as quickly as possible," Sorensen said in an email. "We appreciate this is very important to our customer and we are committed to taking the necessary steps to repair her home."

Scotland said Grey Power's actions will get her one step closer to her ultimate goal of returning to her home once her cancer treatment is completed.

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