Recap: PM Springfest and CCI-Toronto’s Twitter Chat

This past week, Normac had the pleasure of sponsoring and exhibiting at this year’s virtual PM Springfest. The 2-day event hosted educational seminars related to the property management industry with over 50 sponsors supporting the event.

PM Springfest is an educational conference specifically geared towards decision makers and influencers of the property management industry. The topics that were addressed included building envelopes, legal & regulatory issues, energy & sustainability, technology & innovation, and resiliency. Normac was proud to support this event and was delighted to connect with new and old faces within the industry.

We are optimistic that next year’s event will be hosted in person and look forward to once again supporting PM Springfest. Here is a snapshot of our virtual booth from the event:

 

Coinciding with day 1 of PM Springfest, our founder and president Cameron Carter was one of the panelists for a Twitter chat on Insurance hosted by CCI-Toronto alongside Tom Gallinger (VP, Atrens-Counsel Insurance Brokers) and Katherine Gow (RCM, Crossbridge Condominium Services). The expert panel covered topics such as condominium insurance rates & deductibles, insurance appraisals, role of the insurance broker, and the impact of COVID-19 on the insurance market.

 

Below are some highlights from the event!

On Insurance Appraisals

The event kicked off with a question about insurance appraisals and why/how often they should be obtained. The Ontario Condo Act states that “Subject to a reasonable deductible, the insurance required under this section shall cover the replacement cost of the property damaged by the perils to which the insurance applies.” The only reliable way to determine replacement cost is to have a 3rd party appraiser assess the property. The adequacy of your coverage should be reviewed on an annual basis which will ensure that your condominium is paying accurate premiums.

On Risk Mitigation

Risk mitigation, particularly water damage prevention was also addressed during the discussion. As 80% of all condo property losses are due to water damage, it is critical that your corporation take a proactive approach to minimizing any potential loss. Technological advances in leak detection now make it easier to catch unusual water levels at its source before it spreads to other units and common areas. A professional management company will be able to provide direction to the best preventative measures for your condo. Katherine Gow stated, “Your greatest tools for controlling risk will be 1. Standard unit bylaw 2. Deductible recovery bylaw 3. Inspections/programs to reduce water damage, slips and falls and risk of fire”.

On Standard Unit Bylaws (SUBL)

Standard unit bylaws (SUBL) can assist in faster claims processing by providing clarity as to what is covered when disputing a loss. Removing, adding, or modifying items in your SUBL will also have a direct correlation on your insurance premiums as it will either cause your premiums to go up or down according to the changes. When appraising a property, individual betterments and improvements are excluded from the valuation and a SUBL will help define what a condo’s standard finishes are. If a SUBL is not in place, the appraiser would make their best effort to determine the standard finishes. In an effort to save on premiums, we have seen cases of condos amending their SUBLs to a “bare-bone” to transfer some of the risk to their personal policies.

The discussion also touched on several other topics as it related to insurance such as rising lumber prices, charge backs/deductibles, and shared facilities to name a new. To catch up on the conversation, search #CondoChat on Twitter and scroll through the thread from April 21.

Thank you to the panel of professionals for sharing their insights!

  • Katherine Gow, Crossbridge Condominium Services – Tweeting from @KGowCondo
  • Tom Gallinger, Vice President, Atrens-Counsel Insurance Brokers – Tweeting from @CondosCovered
  • Cam Carter, President, Normac Appraisals – Tweeting from @NormacOfficial

How to Request an Insurance Appraisal From Normac

Video Transcription: 


Requesting an insurance appraisal proposal from Normac is simple with the Request a Quote form on our website. Simply head to normac.ca and click the Request a Quote button. 


Fill in all of your contact information and property details and click submit. You can also save and come back later if needed. This form is sent directly to our Client Services team who will provide you with a proposal within 24 business hours.


When you receive your proposal, open the fillable PDF, review the document and quote, and fill out the authorization section. We will need the following to proceed:


1) Your signature, 2) the current insurable value of the property, 3) the date you require the report by, which we recommend aligning with your insurance renewal date, 4) site contact information so we can schedule an on-site inspection, 5) and your insurance broker information, if you would like us to send them a copy of the report.


Sign and return the form to us, along with a copy of the building plans. We will confirm receipt of your authorization and begin working on your appraisal right away. And that’s it! Contact us today for a proposal for your insurance appraisal needs.

What is Actual Cash Value?

We have been receiving more and more inquiries for Actual Cash Value reports. While these are not new, there are many who are unfamiliar with what this report is, how we determine value, and why it is being requested. We hope to address all your questions about Actual Cash Value and some things to consider when requesting them from an appraisal firm.

What is Actual Cash Value?

Actual cash value (ACV) is the total cost of reconstruction for a like-for-like substitute minus its depreciation over time. If this value is being requested from an insurer, it may be because the property has been deemed a higher risk and is therefore not eligible for a full replacement cost valuation.

As an appraiser, how do we calculate ACV?

We would arrive at an ACV valuation by first completing a full replacement cost appraisal and then deducting for physical and functional depreciation on the property since it was built. Considerations prior to the deduction would include current standards of material and design, labour, supervision, contractor’s profit and overhead, architect’s plans and specifications, and sales tax. As a general rule, older properties tend to have higher depreciation deductions.

What do we require?

In addition to the architectural blueprints, we will also require a record of all major maintenance and replacement projects completed since date of original construction. The records should include the year of the work done, and if available, the costs incurred.

Why might a broker suggest ACV?

In the past, ACV policies would most often be written because the owner wanted to save money on premiums. Given the hard market we are in, insurers have tightened underwriting guidelines and in turn are writing less policies for properties that they deem as higher risk due to lack of maintenance or being located in a hazard-prone area.  While a full replacement cost valuation might have been available in the past, it may no longer be an option today as insurers look to reduce their risk.

 

Case Study: New Dawn Enterprises Limited v. Northbridge General

On March 17, 2017, a 132-year-old Cape Breton Island building in Nova Scotia had a major sprinkler failure resulting in significant damages to the property.

 

Upon review of the policy set in place at the time, the actual cash value was unclear, and the property owner (New Dawn) believed the ACV was $1.59 million, while the insurer (Northbridge) said $230,000 –  a difference of $1.36 million. The figures were determined by two independent appraisers after the accident.

 

When calculating ACV, the two appraisers first determined “replacement cost new” – what it would cost to rebuild the property in the event of a total loss. However, different approaches were taken to come up with this value. Northbridge had come up with a $6.67 million valuation using the “unit in place method” and New Dawn’s appraiser had used the “quantity survey method” for a $14.58 million valuation. One key difference between the two valuations is that New Dawn’s appraiser had included the value of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, while Northbridge’s appraiser did not.

 

The appraiser for Northbridge then deducted 71% for physical depreciation but 85% for external obsolescence for an ACV of $290,000 (This figure was averaged down to $230,000, taking into account the value for “direct comparison” at $200,000). On the contrary, New Dawn’s appraiser had deducted 72.73% for physical depreciation and 60% for functional obsolescence for an ACV of $1.59 million.

 

To settle the discrepancy, an umpire selected by the two appraisal firms had determined that the actual cash value was $258,000 – a figure that Northbridge was OK with. New Dawn, unhappy with the outcome, took the matter to court and the judge had ruled the umpire’s findings invalid after contacting vendors hired by Northbridge to make a conclusion. A second umpire was to re-assess the actual cash value.

What can I do to protect my property?

What we can learn from the case of New Dawn Enterprises Limited v. Northbridge General, is the importance of having a clearly defined and supportable estimate of ACV before a loss occurs. Hiring an accredited appraiser who specializes in replacement cost and is knowledgeable in depreciation factors over time is the only way to ensure you are adequately protected. In addition,  a plan to consistently maintain the property to a high standard can assist in avoiding an ACV policy in the first place.

 

 

Normac can help with your ACV needs. Having an insurance appraisal done on an annual basis can give you peace of mind, ensuring you have an accurate and agreed upon estimate of ACV before a loss happens. Please contact our Client Services team directly to inquire about a proposal for this kind if report.