Who Pays for Emergency Repairs to My Furnace?

by WilliamClarke
(London, Ontario)

I have owned my condo for about 40 years.
This past march, the city sewer system backed up and I suffered extensive damage to the furnace.

Being March and very cold, the first thing I did was look for a furnace repairer, which was difficult with such short notice.

The furnace was repaired and I submitted the invoice to my insurance company for payment.
After some time, my insurer informed me that the condo corporation, or its insurer, was liable for the invoice which amounted to $695.00.

My insurer contacted the manager of our corporation on 4 or 5 occasions and had no response. My insurers position is that a furnace is a fixture attached to the building and as such is the corporations responsibility. I should mention that this was not the original furnace in that I had to replace the original furnace about 10 years ago.

I am getting nowhere with this problem and need to know whose interpretation is correct.

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Dec 16, 2020
Who Must Insure My Furnace?
by: Ross

Hi William:
Thanks for your submission. I believe I can clarify your situation for you. However, I am not a lawyer. Thus, any advice I offer should be confirmed with your lawyer before proceeding.

If you're living in what I believe is a condominium townhouse, where the furnace is located in the basement, then it would be your own insurer's contractual obligation to cover your loss. However, if there is a clause in your policy that excludes damage that resulted from a sewer back-up, then you must assume personal responsibility the expense. In no way is your condo corp responsible unless, of course, the flood was due to condo management negligence.

One might compare this case to, say, your kitchen cabinets or bathroom shower. They are fixtures "inside" your unit, thus are your responsibility to insure against damage or loss. Again, the condo would not be responsible unless the damage was their fault. If they failed to replace a leaking roof, resulting in water damage to the interior of your unit, it could be successfully argued that they would have to bear the expense for repair or replacement of the damaged items.

You control all fixtures "inside" your unit, and the condo typically does the same for all "exterior" fixtures.

I suspect that your own insurance company is either being deceitful, or more likely, has not included a sewer back-up rider in your policy, for which there's typically an additional premium.

I trust that this helps clarify the issue for you. If your policy is deficient in this regard, though the horse has already escaped the barn, I'd recommend that you add a sewer back-up rider.

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