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

Bowser residents protest marine sewage outfall plan

Veenhof and staff endures harsh criticisms at public information meeting

Qualicum Beach society goes to bat for insect eaters

Two bat houses built to monitor population in Heritage Forest

Parksville reopens portion of wetland

City undertakes review, remediation of liability concerns

Is Steve Nash Vancouver Island’s best athlete of all-time?

As Captain Canada gets ready to enter basketball’s Hall of Fame it’s time to debate his legacy

Who is Vancouver Island’s greatest athlete ever?

We want to know, you get to choose in a 64-athlete tournament bracket

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

SAR scaling back in Kilmer search, but friends will keep looking

Search for 41-year-old Cobble Hill dad hits six-day mark

Rachel Notley to skip premiers conference to focus on pipeline deal

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project until it receives assurances

B.C. tech company will power Uber Elevate

Moli and Uber announce research and development partnership.

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Still no sign of missing father in Cowichan Valley

Search group for Ben Kilmer now stands 40 SAR volunteers and another 100 friends and concerned community members

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

Most Read