Four break and enters break rural family’s insurance

Rural family searches for coverage after policy not renewed

A rural Wetaskiwin-area family that has seen their property robbed for four straight years recently had their home insurance cancelled because they were making too many claims.

The Rasmussens, father Al who is in his 80’s, and son Gordon, were scrambling to find a new insurance company for their rural property after having their current policy cancelled apparently because the family was getting robbed too often and subsequently filing too many claims.

A letter from the Co-operators Insurance/Financial Services dated Aug. 8, 2019 reads, “The Co-operators has defined a set of qualifying standards, which help us decide which risks we should assume by providing insurance protection. After thorough consideration of your policy, we regret we are unable to continue to provide coverage on (the Rasmussen property).

“Our decision was made due to your number of claims. Coverage will cease at 12:01 a.m. on Sept. 22, 2019.

“Sincerely, the Co-operators.”

A resident of the property for over 30 years, Al said the crime problem really started to get serious in 2015, coinciding with the latest oil and gas industry collapse. The year before, 2014, had been bad enough for the Rasmussens; they’d suffered five deaths in the family that year.

Then in 2015 the annual break and enters started, and the area of the County of Wetaskiwin that the Rasmussens lived in, north of the City of Wetaskiwin, seemed targeted by thieves. “Everybody around here was getting broken into,” said Al at the family property Sept. 12.

The most recent break and enter the Rasmussens suffered was in August, 2018. Al and Gord were away at the time, and got a call from a neighbour who had driven by their home and saw a door standing open. The neighbour called the Rasmussens to let them know. Al and Gord said they called RCMP right away, and still had to travel home.

Once they arrived home, they called 9-11 and police arrived a short time later.

Gord said plenty of valuable stuff was stolen, over $40,000 worth. He said one safe held valuable coins which he knows could have sold for around $7,500, based on similar coins selling at auction.

Some of the items stolen included a compressor, tires, a generator, chain saws, brand new yard trimming equipment and fuel.

A number of valuable collectibles with the likeness of Hollywood star John Wayne were also stolen, including a rare leather jacket.

The Rasmussens said their previous insurance company seemed hesitant to listen to them after they gave the estimate of $40,000 stolen. Gord said the Rasmussens were eventually paid under $20,000.

Previous break and enters the Rasmussens suffered included different thefts. The first one involved a stolen vehicle, which was later recovered.

The second break and enter saw the burglar caught and held for trial; the judge later sentenced him to time served, which was about 90 days in jail.

The third break and enter saw police identify a suspect after a piece of jewelry belonging to the Rasmussens was allegedly found on a person but the Rasmussens don’t know what has happened in that case. “We haven’t even been called to court on that yet,” said Al.

The Rasmussens invested in an alarm system, but the first one they got wasn’t much help. According to Gord, when the alarm was triggered during a break and enter, the security company simply phoned the Rasmussen home and left a voicemail. As far as they know, no police were called.

Their new system is a real-time video camera network around the home, so they can keep tabs with their cell phones and tablets.

The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer contacted The Co-operators for a comment Sept. 17. The company responded Sept. 20 through email: “What we can say is that The Co-operators exists to provide financial security for Canadians and their communities. To do this, we need to consider the best interests of all of our clients, which is why we set qualifying standards that help us determine which risks to assume when providing insurance protection. In some cases, we need to make difficult decisions and discontinue coverage for some clients in service of the greater good of our clients and our communities.”

The Wetaskiwin RCMP detachment did confirm on Sept. 17 that the Rasmussens reported a break and enter in August, 2018.

With the stress of regular break and enters weighing on them, the Rasmussens said they tried talking to their insurance company after the Aug. 8 letter was received, but the company said the underwriters refused to insure the Rasmussen’s property.

Gord said he called a number of other organizations and insurance companies and found little to no help. One organization suggested the Rasmussens find a new home, which Al wouldn’t accept. “I don’t want to move,” said Al.

Another insurance company made a quote to the Rasmussens that included $3,000 premiums plus $4,000 deposits that would act as deductibles.

The Rasmussens learned that, unlike automobile coverage, home coverage could be refused outright or cancelled at any time. Gord estimates he made over 100 phone calls trying to find help or other coverage. “I am so sick and tired of this crap,” he said, noting he felt quite helpless and frustrated as being both victims of crime and in effect held responsible for what criminals do.

UPDATE: It looks like the Rasmussens enjoyed some good luck after all. Al confirmed to The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer Sept. 17 they found an insurance company. He said a broker named Peters Insurance found them coverage for their property through a company called Portage.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca

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