A Saskatoon woman says she’s sick of living in the shell of her fire-damaged house after a dispute with SGI Canada over her home insurance.
“Even though you pay into a policy for 20 years and you think you have that safety net, you just have to make damn sure you have that safety net,” Gillian Snider said Thursday from her home in Caswell Hill.
Faulty wiring led to a fire in Snider’s house on Jan. 29.
While the flames and then the water used by firefighters all caused heavy damage, she said she was still left thankful one of her roommates had changed plans that evening.
“If nobody would have been home, all the animals would have died, the house would have been burnt to the ground,” she said.
Snider said SGI Canada stepped up in the immediate aftermath of the fire, finding her a place to stay and covering the initial work to gut the house ahead of repairs.
Then, about two-and-a-half months after the fire, she said the company suspended work on her home.
“The house was about 75 per cent gutted, then they said: ‘we found an anomaly in your insurance policy,'” she said.
Snider said SGI sent out a pair of adjusters about a month later for a walk-through of her home. She said she was then informed her house was okay to move back into and the company would not be providing any further coverage.
Unable to afford to pay both her existing mortgage and rent somewhere else, Snider said she and her boyfriend went to work making the house as liveable as possible.
She said that involved clearing out a flock of birds who’d moved in while the house was unoccupied, getting a plumber friend to help hook their water back up and then rigging up canvas to serve as interior walls.
“So, we’ve made it inhabitable. If you can call it ‘inhabitable’ with one outlet and no insulation and no walls and hundred-year-old dust bunnies falling into your bathtub,”she said with a chuckle.
While she’s tried to stay positive, Snider said the rapid onset of winter is testing her good humour.
“Right now, it’s getting to maybe 5 C at night, which we kind of feel. But in the winter, this will actually be unliveable.”
With a lawsuit against SGI working its way through the courts, she said she’s gathering funds to get critical work done before the snow flies. She said she expects to be out at least $10,000 for things like insulation and patching on exterior walls that still have holes left from the fire.
Some of Snider’s friends have held fundraisers and put up a GoFundMe page to help with costs. Others have offered up their skills.
“We have friends that are construction workers, we have a friend that’s a plumber, an electrician and even a spray-foam insulation company that doesn’t know us but wants to help. So that’s been a very positive thing that’s kept our spirits up,” she said.
Snider said she was hoping an eventual settlement of her lawsuit would allow her to re-donate the money that’s been raised so far to a different charity.
An SGI Canada spokesman issued an emailed statement when contacted about Snider’s case.
“In this industry, there are — on occasion — disagreements between an insurer and customer about insurance contracts. This is unfortunate, and when it happens, we try our best to resolve them to the customer’s satisfaction,” he wrote.
He went on to say the company was aware of Snider’s statement of claim and was gathering information before responding.