Bylaw helps secure payouts for fire department
Clearview council has passed a bylaw that will allow the municipality to go after insurance payouts for fire service that are issued to the homeowner instead of the fire department.
Fire Chief Roree Payment recommended to council members at their August 10 meeting that they pass the cost recovery fee bylaw to provide another avenue to collect expenses incurred by the fire department in the event that an insurance company pays directly to the policy holder, who in turn does not remit them to the municipality.
Payment reported that the fire department recoups about $25,000 each year through insurance claims, which helps reduce the impact of fire services on taxpayers.
Since 2013, the municipality has been involved with Fire Marque, which specializes in cost recovery for fire departments.
“Over the past seven years many insurance companies have challenged the process even though coverage is included in most policies for this purpose,” reported Payment. “In a recent case in Southern Ontario the insurance company paid the recoverable fee directly to the policy holder who refused to forward the payment on to the municipality. The municipality challenged this non-payment through the Ontario Court system which found that although the insurance company had an obligation to pay the fee charged, the payment could be made directly to the policy holder and it was up to the policy holder to decide if they wanted to pay the municipality. The courts also stated that unless the municipality had a bylaw ordering the policy holder to pay the fees they collected from their insurance company to the municipality for fire department charges, there was no way to collect the fees. We have a similar situation going on with our municipality right now where the insurance company is setting terms for payment.”
It was determined that the municipality would set a term for payment of the requested fees and, if not paid, the amount would be added to the taxroll.