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.

Just Posted

Okanagan Lake levels stay steady but snowpack is growing: officials

Whether or not the tributaries and creeks flood depends on how suddenly the snowpack begins to melt,

Penticton robbery trial starts days before accused’s murder trial

Narcotics, cash stolen from pharmacy; accused scheduled for murder trial next week in Abbotsford

Listen Up to The Pack A.D.

CFUZ radio bring garage punk duo to Penticton

Okanagan realtors add voices to anti-speculation tax coalition

This speculation tax is likely to harm the very people the government is trying to protect

Crown seeking jail time for Okanagan hockey fraudster Elphicke

Defence lawyer hinted at a suggestion of a suspended or conditional sentence with no time in jail

Sunshine and above-average temperatures all week

We can expect to enjoy this warm sunshine all week long

Vancouver to rake in $30 million in empty homes tax in first year

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada, and was intended to address the city’s near-zero vacancy rate

Take care with water use during flooding

Precautions needed with private drinking water sources

Toronto songstress shares indie vibes with Okanagan

Emma Cook will rock Penticton’s The Elite April 28 before she hits Vernon’s Record City April 29

B.C.’s snowpack continues to increase, melting delayed

River Forecast Centre official says sudden melting further into the season could cause flooding

Student produces gun at Princeton Secondary School

Starter pistol confiscated, RCMP are investigating

Another B.C. First Nation voices support for Kinder Morgan pipeline

Simpcw First Nation claims people living on one-third of pipeline route support the project

NHL’er Duncan Keith in the running for humanitarian award

Former Penticton Panthers player has donated through Keith’s Relief to OSNS

Protesters argue both sides of B.C.’s SOGI curriculum at teachers’ union office

The sexual orientation and gender identity program was launched as a pilot project last year

Most Read