Saskatoon landlord involved in insurance battle and lawsuit

December 19, 2012 - 5:13pm
The damage in the basement of Stephen Brandt's Saskatoon rental property. Photo from Brandt's blog.
The damage in the basement of Stephen Brandt's Saskatoon rental property. Photo from Brandt's blog.

A Saskatoon landlord is fighting an insurance company after his only rental property was badly damaged in a suspicious fire this summer.

"In our case, it's a very significant part of our livelihood and well-being financially," said Stephen Brandt, who purchased the property for extra income so his wife could stay home with a sick baby.

Brandt said he feels he hasn't gotten the amount of money from Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance (SMI) he should have and said the company hasn't handled his situation well.

Now, SMI has filed a defamation lawsuit against Brandt for comments he has made about the company on his blog and during contact with media sources and professionals in Saskatoon.

The legal papers say SMI is trying to sue him for up to $150,000 in damages.

"I haven't stated anything that I believe is untrue," he said.

Brandt currently lives in Calgary, but was in Saskatoon on Wednesday trying to collect 10 signatures from people who have insurance policies with SMI.

"If there are 10 members that request a special general meeting in writing, then (SMI has) to hold one," he said, citing part of the Saskatchewan Insurance Act.

At that meeting, Brandt wants to bring forward suggestions on how to improve SMI for future claims, based on his experience.

"My hope would be ... that was has happened in my situation would not happen to another member or policy holder in the future," he said.

His suggestions for SMI include: creating a "what to expect and how this works" guide for people who have just filed a claim, a policy for how to deal with unanswered phone calls and emails from people who filed a claim and need to get in touch with SMI, a post-claim survey for people who have dealt with SMI, a member-review panel and a policy to not cancel insurance for people in the middle of a disputed claim.

"The members have the power to sort of drive greater accountability and transparency and this is part of what I'm going for."

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