Elderly B.C. man wins $425k battle with insurance corporation

George Apostolidis, who is described in court documents as an illiterate widower, was in need of funds.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge sided with an elderly West Kelowna man whose insurer tried to deny him a $425,000 claim after his house burned down.

George Apostolidis, who is described in court documents as an illiterate widower, owned a home on Alexander Place. On Sept. 22, 2015 he and his new partner had gone to Penticton for the night and the house caught fire.

The home-destroying blaze was deemed an arson when an accelerant was found and Canadian Northern Shield Insurance Company, denied coverage of $425,000.

In their estimation, it was “more than likely” the 76-year-old intentionally caused the fire himself or hired someone else to do so.

READ MORE: ARSON SUSPECTED

In a written decision, however, Justice Ian Crawford Meiklem combed through the argument of the insurance company and found it to be lacking.

To start, when investigators went to the house they saw signs of mischief.

Graffiti reading “satan is king,” “burn in hell,” “die” and “666” on the concrete patio adjacent to the swimming pool, as well as “666” on the retaining wall adjacent to the driveway.

There were no signs of forced entry to any of the doors, but a padlocked gate at the back of the house had been broken open. Red paint smears were found on the locking lever of a sliding glass door on the lower level near the pool area and on the adjacent light switch cover.

“The plaintiff’s overnight stay in Penticton means that it is virtually a certainty that the plaintiff did not commit the arson himself,” writes Justice Meiklem.

“It could be said that hypothetically the opportunity to hire a third party arsonist is available to any insured with unsavoury connections … In this case, there was no evidence connecting the plaintiff to anyone who might be the arsonist, despite investigations having been conducted by both the RCMP and the defendant.”

The insurance company also argued that the elderly man had an “obvious financial motive to have his house destroyed by fire.”

With the death of his wife in March 2014, he lost the person who was looking after his finances and quickly discovered that he was left with only regular income from pensions totalling approximately $1,000 per month and his savings.

His savings as of September 2014 were approximately $64,000 USD, and had been reduced by September 2015 to approximately $30,000 USD. His monthly mortgage and loan payments were $4,500.

Apostolidis’s taxable income in 2014 was $11,233.

“The plaintiff denied that he was selling his house for financial reasons, but because at 7,000 square-feet it was far too large for himself as a widower,” said Meiklem.

Apostolidis also planned to relocate to Hawaii, where he had previously lived and owned restaurants. This plan had been in place even before the death of his wife.

Apostolidis had also argued that he had equity in his home of approximately $200,000, he was up-to-date on all his financial obligations and had enough money to continue to service his mortgages and other expenses.

Altogether the savings would only allow him to service his debts for another six months, unless he obtained a new source of income or sold his house.

“If neither of those events occurred, he would be in a desperate financial situation at the end of six months,” said Meiklem.

“Obviously selling the house would probably have been more financially beneficial than any insurance settlement following either a total loss of the house or a partial loss. One might think that having obtained an accepted offer after two price drops over several months of market exposure, Mr. Apostolidis would be optimistic that he had found the market, rather than pessimistic enough to commit arson. If his motivation was to simply free himself from the mortgage payments, he of course had the obvious option of lowering the list price further. In his circumstances, he would have been the quintessential motivated seller.”

Meiklem ordered the insurance company to award Apostolidis his claim along with costs.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaNewsKat
kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Nelson lacks enough supporting housing to meet homeless demand: report

The annual study shows permanent shelter is needed for people experiencing homelessness

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Nelson outdoor photo exhibit reflects physically distanced life

Portraits of a Pandemic runs until Oct. 15 at Lakeside Park

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Most Read