Court orders insurance company to pay for Surrey fire damage

Judge didn't buy claim that family started the blaze.

An insurance firm that accused a Surrey family of setting fire to their home has been ordered to pay more than $160,000 in damages.

The Sidhu family bought a home at 13875 88 Ave. in 1990, and in 2005, purchased fire insurance from Wawanesa. On Feb. 7, 2005, the home caught fire – a blaze that was determined by investigators to be arson.

“Wawanesa refused to pay them for the loss because they allege the Sidhus deliberately started the fire in order to recover the insurance money,” Justice Trevor Armstrong wrote in his ruling made public Wednesday. “If the Sidhus deliberately started the fire, the defendant is not obliged to pay them for the repairs and other losses caused by the fire.”

However, Armstrong found no compelling proof that the Sidhus set the fire.

“On the balance of probabilities I am unable to conclude that the fire was started by or at the direction of one or more of the plaintiffs…,” he wrote.

Six years after the initial claim, the court ordered Wawanesa to pay the Sidhus $110,968 for  property loss due to the fire. Armstrong also ordered Wawanesa to pay $50,000 in punitive damages.

“I conclude that this amount will be sufficient to deter the defendant from repeating this conduct,” Armstrong found.

He was not able to determine the Sidhus’ claim of pain and suffering due to the delay in paying the claim.

@diakiw