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Each year in British Columbia, the wildfire season brings risks to people and communities throughout the province. 2021 is no exception, and RECBC encourages real estate consumers and professionals to stay informed of wildfire risks and resources available. The BC Wildfire Service provides valuable fire prevention tips and information for homeowners and tenants, as well as current wildfire information, links to evacuation alerts and recovery resources.
For those with pending real estate transactions in fire-affected areas, the situation is even more uncertain: we know that many buyers are likely asking questions about how the fires will affect their home insurance and their ability to close on a transaction.
Real estate professionals may find that in some cases, buyers with accepted offers who have removed financing subjects have found that insurance companies have withdrawn their approval to insure the property due to the risk of damage from the fires. When this happens, the lenders may also withdraw their approval for funding of the mortgage.
If you have a client in this situation, you can advise them to:
- contact their insurance company and lender to determine any steps required for the home to be insured again,
- consider contacting their insurance broker if the initial insurer refuses coverage or there are issues with coverage to discuss their options,
- consider requesting an extension on the completion of the sale,
- seek legal advice, especially if they want to re-open the contract.
If you have a client who is worried about losing insurance approval, they can:
- check with their insurance provider to confirm whether the transaction will be jeopardized by an encroaching wildfire,
- consider contacting their insurance broker to discuss their options if the initial insurer refuses coverage or there are issues with coverage.
If you have a client who is facing insurance policy renewal in a potential wildfire zone, you should tell them to:
- contact their insurance broker to discuss their options, and
- consider shopping around and comparing policies from a variety of insurance providers.
For a Fire/Property Insurance clause, see the Knowledge Base.
As people begin to return to evacuated areas, we encourage you to reach out to your clients who are in the middle of transactions to discuss their situation.
Maintaining communications between the seller, the buyer and real estate professional involved in the transaction is the best chance of resolving issues for all parties. In many cases, it will also be prudent to advise your clients to seek legal advice.
Managing brokers in evacuated areas may have questions about how to fulfill their record-keeping responsibilities or their fiscal year-end reporting requirements. We can advise you on acceptable methods for recreating records if these are damaged by fires, and work with you on meeting reporting deadlines. We encourage managing brokers to speak with our Audit department if they have concerns or questions about their record-keeping responsibilities or their fiscal year-end reporting requirements considering the fires: contact [email protected].
RECBC’s Professional Standards Advisors are available to answer questions from real estate professionals and consumers about impacts to property transactions in areas affected or threatened by wildfires. They can be contacted at [email protected]