Most of the renters displaced by the Dec. 11 fire that swept through the 86-unit Paddington Station condominium complex in Langley City were not insured.
Of the 66 units being rented, 42 had no coverage, said Ginger Sherlock, the emergency program co-ordinator for Langley City and Township.
“That’s about 75 per cent,” Sherlock said.
“Unfortunately, that is the norm (for renters in the Langleys)”
More than 100 people were left homeless when fire destroyed the top floor of the four-storey building on 201A Street near 56 Avenue.
Sherlock, who provided the insurance figures in response to a Times query, said many renters are young, working people on tight budgets who mistakenly think they can’t afford coverage.
But in fact, it is possible to find renter’s insurance, also known as tenant’s or contents insurance, for as little as $20 to $30 a month, Sherlock said.
“There are many insurance agencies out there. If you buy that TV and you don’t insure it, you’re buying it again (if you have a fire and you don’t have insurance)” Sherlock said.
In addition to coverage for lost possessions, Sherlock said renters with insurance are usually covered for additional living expenses such as temporary accommodation at a hotel.
The week before Christmas, City mayor Ted Schaffer announced the provincial government would extend emergency service benefits for some victims of the Paddington fire.
“They are going on a case-by-case basis and the possibility is (coverage will continue) up until Jan. 15,” Schaffer told the Times.
Usually, the benefits, which include accommodations and food vouchers, only cover the first 72 hours after a fire.
The City of Langley Fire Rescue Service estimates that in roughly 75 per cent of rental fires in the City, tenants have no coverage.
According to Statistics Canada, less than half the renters in the country have insurance.
That is substantially less than home owners, 97 per cent of whom have coverage.
The City has 3,960 rental units, making up 35 per cent of its total housing stock.
That is more rental units per capita than most Lower Mainland municipalities (Only Vancouver, New Westminster and North Vancouver City have higher percentages).
– with files from Black Press