Fire insurance payoff less than town expected
HUNTSVILLE – It was a contentious issue during the budget process.
But earlier this year Town of Huntsville councillors agreed to hire a company called Fire Marque to recoup expenses from the insurance companies of property owners who had the Huntsville Fire Department respond to fires.
And the preliminary results are in.
Chris Carrier of Fire Marque made a presentation to the town’s public infrastructure and protective services committee in September to give an update on how much the company has been able to recover from insurance companies so far this year. The result is about $3,150. Fire Marque’s commission is 20 per cent of whatever is recovered.
Kelly Pender, Huntsville’s chief executive officer, said the amount is less than the $25,000 the town had budgeted this year, but it is based on only three recoveries completed by Fire Marque. Seven other recoveries are still in progress.
“It’s a slow process,” said Pender. “And there are a couple of fairly large files that, if they come through, will make it OK.”
He said some of the outstanding files include a large fire that happened on the Victoria Day weekend and another in Port Sydney a week after that.
Councillors raised concerns when the partnership with Fire Marque was first being discussed. They were concerned that property owners without insurance would be at risk and suffer even greater hardship should the town start recouping part of the costs related to fire calls from them.
However, the Municipal Act allows municipalities to craft bylaws in such a way as to limit the fire call cost recovery only to property owners with insurance.
And they were told that as insurance companies account for fire call expenses in their premiums, insurance rates should not increase when Fire Marque collects.
Pender said any revenue recovered through the partnership goes into the fire department’s general revenue to offset the expense of operating the department.