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No Insurance for Foster Families
June 20, 2014 permalink
A Montreal foster family has lost their home insurance because they have more than two foster children. Insurers have figured out that foster children are a greater risk than real children. After the story hit the press, Wawanesa Insurance apologized to the family, but only extended their insurance for 60 days.
Montreal mother denied home insurance over 5 foster children
Wawanesa Insurance says it only insures homes with up to 2 foster children
A Montreal mother says she is shocked and outraged that after insuring her home with Wawanesa Insurance for 10 years, the company will cancel her coverage because she has more than two foster children.
“I was floored. I couldn’t believe that a company could actually cancel your policy because you have foster children.”
The woman, whom CBC News has agreed not to name in order to protect the identity of her five foster children, received a letter from Wawanesa informing her that her home insurance will be terminated next month.
“Due to the risk of aggravating circumstances, we find ourselves under the obligation to cancel your house insurance to respect our underwriting norms,” the letter from Wawanesa read.
The letter came after the family got a call from the company to update her file.
“They asked, ‘Do you have anybody in the house living with you who is not part of your immediate family?’ So I said I have foster children … and this is what I get for it,” she said.
The woman said she has been taking in foster children for years, and in the 10 years she’s been a client with Wawanesa she was never aware of its policy.
Underwriting rules 'clear'
A representative from Wawanesa would not comment on this specific case, but told CBC News its rules are clear.
"Wawanesa Insurance, like every other insurance [company], we all have underwriting rules. These rules determine what we insure and what we don't. Our underwriting rule for households which house foster children is that we insure homes with two or less foster children," said Thierry Gamelin, marketing manager at Wawanesa.
The family, which must now find another company to insure their home by July 11, calls it discriminatory.
“We’ve never, ever put a claim in to Wawanesa at all. This is the first time I’ve heard of any discrimination for foster kids. There are families out there that are trying to help other children have a stable life and not be labelled, and here the insurance company is labelling us for having foster children, and cancelling our insurance for it,” she said.
The Quebec Federation of Foster Families, which places foster children with families, said it has heard of this situation occurring before, but not often.
"The insurance companies can set the rules they want. If they assume more than two [foster children] are riskier, it is their choice," said the federation's vice-president Robert Pagé.
The Insurance Board of Canada told CBC News that it can help families find the insurance coverage that is right for them.
Wawanesa apologizes to Montreal foster family for cancelling home insurance
Insurance company says letter it mailed to foster family 'fell short' of its standards
Wawanesa Insurance has apologized to the Montreal foster family whose home policy was terminated for having more than two foster children, but has only offered a two-month extension to their policy while they seek other coverage.
The apology comes one day after CBC News broke the story about a foster mother from LaSalle, whom we have agreed not to name in order to protect the identity of her five foster children.
The company does not provide home insurance to families with more than two foster children.
The foster family got a letter earlier this week from Wawanesa informing them that their home insurance policy would be terminated next month.
"Our priority is the well-being of our clients, and the letter did not meet our standards. It was not representative of what we do normally. We have to be respectful, and this letter fell short,” Claude Auclair, the company’s Quebec vice-president, told CBC News.
Auclair said the family’s case is rare, but the company takes the matter seriously.
“We are taking steps to resolve the issue to make sure their needs are met,” he said.
60 extra days
The Montreal foster mother said the company’s apology does not resolve the issue.
“It was an insult because it still doesn’t rectify what they’ve done.… They never even called us to advise us that they’re cancelling our policy — they just sent the letter in the mail. So it was a shock, and giving us a phone call today to apologize for what’s been happening — it’s a slap in the face.”
She said the company told her it will extend her home insurance policy by two months — giving the family an extra 60 days to find a new insurer.
“They said they will look into it — if there is anything they can do — but they still didn’t offer to keep us on as a client. They just offered to extend it because they cannot accommodate us with having foster children in our home,” she said.
The family says the Quebec Federation of Foster Families referred them to another insurance company and they are awaiting a quote.