Insurance company ‘concerned’ over fires, deaths in Cornwall social housing

Coun. Jim Locke, seen here during a county council meeting on May 19, 2015, says the insurance company underwriting Cornwall & Housing Corporation has become 'concerned' with the number of recent fires and deaths. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

SD&G – The track record of fires and deaths under Cornwall and SD&G’s social housing provider has caught the attention of its insurance provider.

Cornwall and Area Housing Corporation (CAHC) is underwritten by Princeton, Ont. based Frank Cowan Company Limited, a municipal insurance specialist. The corporation recently moved from Housing Services Corporation (HSC), an independent non-profit corporation providing insurance.

In his report to county council Tuesday afternoon, social housing board member Jim Locke says the current insurance provider, Frank Cowan, is “concerned” with the recent fires and deaths.

“There’s been pretty high claims,” Locke said in an interview with Cornwall Newswatch.

Two units in a complex on Lourdes Avenue were damaged in a fire on April 23 while a woman, 79, died in a fire at the Edward Street social housing complex on April 5. The Edward Street fire was caused by careless smoking.

While he wasn’t able to provide details, Locke says a corpse had been in a social housing unit for “a couple weeks” before it was found. “That’s a major renovation,” he said.

Social housing also had a claim for a sewer backup in seven units at 560 Hamilton Crescent in late March.

Locke says everything is fine for now but forewarned rates could rise. “There’s been nothing done. We’re still insured with the same company. But, if, when the price comes in for next year’s policy I’m sure the rates will go up. We might be looking back to HSC,” Locke said.

“It’s not a financial life and death matter. They (staff) just made a comment that we could be faced an increased rate,” Locke said.

According to Locke, the currently policy covers the social housing structure after a $10,000 deductible.

Cornwall and Area Housing Corporation has 904 family units and 623 senior units, according to the city’s municipal data book. The city services as the provider of social housing for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

Cornwall and Area Housing Corporation Executive Director Peggy Fulton was not immediately available for comment.

A call to the president of the Frank Cowan Company requesting comment was not returned.

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