Flooded Comox Valley business in insurance dispute

Vera-De Windows Inc. owner Detlef Recktenwald hopes he doesn
Vera-De Windows Inc. owner Detlef Recktenwald hopes he doesn't have to go out of business due to a flood that started from this small plastic pipe.
— image credit: Renee Andor

Detlef Recktenwald says he may go out of business after an early-January flood.

The problem, according to the Vera-De Windows Inc. owner, is that he's having trouble with his insurance company, Intact Insurance.

"It looks like we will lose everything because we cannot get sales in," says Recktenwald. "It is already middle of February; this month is lost, total loss. So, for me, two months without any income, I don't know how to stay in business, so I do not think I'm going to make it — I don't think so."

Employees came in to work Monday, Jan. 6 to discover the showroom and warehouse part of Vera-De Windows was flooded with hot water.

Among other damage, the hot water caused the ceiling of the warehouse to cave in, right on top of the business's stockpile of profiles — which are a honeycomb-like material used to produce energy-efficient window frames. The profiles were ruined.

Recktenwald says Intact will pay for the replacement of the profiles, but he's having trouble with his business interruption claim.

According to Recktenwald, the profiles take 60 to 90 days for delivery from the supplier; his orders will be held up due to the loss of his profile stockpile. Once Vera-De Windows has the profiles, it takes four to six weeks to produce an order for windows, making the total time for completion four to five months instead of the normal four to six weeks.

Recktenwald says contractors can't wait that long for windows due to their timelines, and he's lost about $150,000 in sales since the flood.

He's had to lay off all his employees; his salespeople can't start selling until they're able to tell customers windows will take the normal four to six weeks, and his manufacturers can't put any windows together until he gets the profiles in.

Although Recktenwald says his business is at a standstill, he says Intact has told him his business is not interrupted.

Rosa Nelson, Intact Western Division's director of communications, says Intact can't discuss all the specifics of Recktenwald's claim but says his insurance "provides coverage for any loss of profits that he has realized directly as a result of this loss."

She adds Intact has retained the services of a forensic accounting firm to calculate Recktenwald's  losses.

"Based on the information provided to date by Mr. Recktenwald, we have provided him with a draft calculation based on his loss of profits only," continues Nelson. "However, should we be provided with additional information that supports a greater loss, we will revise any monies owing the company under his policy."

But, Recktenwald says he showed his lawyer the draft calculation and his lawyer is asking Intact for clarification because it is unclear whether Intact considers Recktenwald's business interrupted from the letter.

Recktenwald adds he has spent countless hours on the phone with Intact representatives and claim adjusters, and he is still under the impression Intact does not consider his business interrupted.

Recktenwald has paid more than $8,000 per year for business insurance from Intact Insurance. He has been in business for 16 years, and says this is the first time he's made an insurance claim.

"I don't know anymore what is wrong, what is right, because if you think you have everything and then you find out you don't have anything, you have nothing actually," says a frustrated Recktenwald.


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