Insurance claims soar after Vancouver riot
Darcy Wintonyk, ctvbc.ca
Published Friday, June 17, 2011 11:08AM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 2:06AM PDT
More than 100 cars were smashed, flipped over or set on fire during Wednesday night's Stanley Cup riot in downtown Vancouver, according to B.C. insurers who are now dealing with the claims from angry owners.
Adam Grossman of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia said the company had received 102 claims for vehicle damage by late Thursday night.
Damage to the cars includes broken windshields and smashed windows to cars flipped over onto their roofs. Others were lit on fire, with just the car frame remaining by the time it was extinguished.
While some claims will be minor, Grossman expects several to be total write-offs.
"When a car is flipped over or set on fire that's typically a total loss. The sheer weight of a car falling onto itself is devastating. It's more damage that's worth repairing," he told ctvbc.ca in a telephone interview.
So far, all of the affected car owners have comprehensive coverage and their claims will be paid out, he added.
"Comprehensive insurance covers those unforeseen circumstances like riots, earthquakes or fires – things you don't think are going to happen. Things you hope never happen really," he said.
It is believed that 15 cars were set on fire, including two Vancouver Police Department cruisers sitting side-by-side in a downtown parking lot.
ICBC is promising to expedite the claims from the riot to minimize what is already an upsetting situation. The company expects many more claims in coming days.
About 50 businesses in the downtown core suffered more than $2-million in damages from vandalism and looting.
Lindsay Olsen of the Insurance Bureau of Canada said most will likely be covered through their insurance policies, even though police read the Riot Act to the troublemakers roaming downtown streets.
"Riots are a risk that is covered, generally or typically speaking," she said.
While it's up to each individual business to choose what type of optional insurance coverage they hold on their business, most owners would be expected to have coverage for fires, riots and vandalism.
Looting falls under the banner of theft damages, but again, most business owners would have to choose whether or not it's worth it for them to buy into the additional coverage.
Olsen said businesses that may not have expensive or valuable items, like a dollar store, may not expect that large quantities of their goods would be stolen and not bother opting into the pricier coverage.
"You might think ‘maybe it's not worth it,' but then again no one really thought something this large was going to happen," Olsen said.
Charles Gauthier of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association said businesses are waiting for results of an official inquiry before deciding if they'll ask for damages from the city.
"I think it's a bit early to look at those things when a review should be happening first thing, or as soon as possible," Gauthier told CTV News on Friday.
Gauthier said although many business owners are still shocked and angry about the events of the riot, everyone is hopeful things will be back to normal soon.
"I've gotten messages from my colleagues around the world saying they'll come patronize us in upcoming months," he said. "I think the rebound is going to happen extremely quickly."
Thousands of volunteers helped sweep broken glass and collect garbage as part of an effort that included removing the hazardous hulks of burned-out cars and replacing smashed windows.
A movement is growing online to identify the people responsible for the damage and looting. Click here to see a photo gallery of the rioters.