Couple embarks on claim crusade
Published Wednesday, July 18, 2012 6:00PM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 19, 2012 1:24PM MDT
An Alberta couple is taking their fight with an insurance company cross country because they believed it was the only way to get the company's attention and hopefully get their fire-ravaged home repaired.
Annie Lok and Dave Bairnes are hardly radical but their fight with Cooperators Insurance has driven them to extremes.
The couple is on a cross country tour protesting at the insurance company’s offices to call attention to their plight.
“We couldn't do it the civil way so we thought let's do it this way and see what we can gain out of it,” said Lok.
Last October, their home caught fire when Bairnes heart condition caused him to pass out while cooking.
By the time he came to, their home was largely destroyed so they contacted their insurance company.
Cooperators hired a contractor to do the demolition and found asbestos in the home which had to be removed before repairs could be done,
The pair was allowed to re-enter their home after the asbestos remediation but they questioned why certain flooring and walls were left standing and hired their own expert to test for asbestos.
The results showed that high levels of asbestos remained in the home.
“It just made sense to us that we'd show them what we had and they'd be willing to come and talk to us about what we had,” said Bairnes.
The couple says they sent Cooperators their expert's report in March but since then, work on their house has stopped and attempts at communication with Cooperators have yielded no results.
"It just reaffirmed to me their callous disregard of things that mattered to people, real people and not institutions and corporations,” said Bairnes
CTV Calgary Consumer Specialist Lea Williams-Doherty contacted the Cooperators headquarters to ask what the delay was.
The company’s representative said Copperators had been waiting for a copy of the couples' asbestos report to decide how to proceed.
Lea sent him a copy of a letter which indicated that their lawyer sent Cooperators that report way back in March.
In an email, Cooperators representative conceded that the company should have had the report back in March.
Regarding the asbestos issue, he went on to state that:
"We now understand, based on [the clients] expert opinion, that not all the asbestos had been dealt with. We regret that this file has not been handled to our usual high standards. The vast majority of our claims are settled quickly and to the satisfaction of our clients, and it is unfortunate that was not the case in this instance."
In a letter sent to Lea from the Cooperators, a representative states that they feel they have enough information now to settle the claims and they would be sending an offer to the clients by the end of the day on Wednesday.
The representative went on to say that they want to settle the issues as soon as possible so Lok and Bairnes can return home.