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B.C. house fire victim gets $30,000 in damages for botched insurance claim

A judge has ruled the insurance company was in breach of contract conditions.
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The B.C. woman filed a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court on Nov. 2, 2020 following various insurance delays after a May 2019 fire. (Getty Images)

A B.C. woman has won her lawsuit against Sonnet Insurance Company after experiencing unnecessary delays for compensation following a devastating house fire.

Cindy Lambright, who happens to be an insurance adjustor, launched a lawsuit against the insurer after her deceased mother’s home in Terrace burned to the ground in May 2019.

Lambright’s mother Judy Green had died just a month prior to the fire and the home was full of Green and Lambright’s belongings, as Lambright transitioned homes to set up a new career there.

Sonnet disputed Lambright’s personal possessions claim, which amounted to $189,538, on grounds she had stated different values at different times, court documents show. The company initially compensated Lambright $18,277 for her possessions.

A year went by with various delays and Lambright filed a claim in B.C. Supreme Court on Nov. 2, 2020.

Justice Warren Milman determined Sonnet was in breach of contract conditions for failing to pay out losses within 60 days of receiving Lambright’s claim.

“Not only did Sonnet delay its investigation of the contents claim indefinitely, it also improperly withheld payment on the other parts of the claim that were undisputed pending the outcome of that investigation,” wrote Milman in a May 3 decision.

Lambright sought $80,000 in punitive damages but MIlman only issued $30,000 on top of $150,059 in outstanding compensatory damages and $25,000 for alternative accommodation.

Sonnet did properly pay for the building replacement, the court heard.

gwood@glaciermedia.ca