Broker’s broken promise?

Bob and Betsy Brown engaged Linda, a tiler, to assist in their bathroom renovation. Linda engaged a subcontractor to complete one aspect of the renovation. Unfortunately, the Browns were not happy with the standard of the subcontractor’s work, and they wanted the entire job to be redone at Linda’s expense, at a cost of $15,000.

Linda contacted her insurance broker and made a claim with her insurer. However, the insurer declined the claim because Linda’s policy excluded claims for faulty workmanship. Linda’s broker tried to negotiate a settlement between Linda and the Browns, but the Browns refused to settle and brought a claim against Linda in the Disputes Tribunal.

Linda asked her broker to be a witness at the Disputes Tribunal hearing. The broker turned up to the hearing, but had to wait outside and eventually left. The Disputes Tribunal ordered Linda to pay the full amount the Browns were seeking.

Linda complained to FSCL.

 

Dispute

Linda complained that her broker should have had insurance in place for faulty workmanship. She also felt very let down by the broker at the Disputes Tribunal hearing.

The broker provided evidence that it was not at that time possible to obtain insurance for faulty workmanship. The broker had advocated on behalf of Linda with the insurer. The broker also explained that, while she was waiting outside the hearing room, Disputes Tribunal staff had told her she could not attend the hearing.

 

Review

We considered the evidence about insurance for faulty workmanship. We noted that if it was not possible at that time to obtain insurance for poor workmanship, then the broker could not be faulted for not having done so.

We also considered the level of support provided by the broker. The Disputes Tribunal incident was unfortunate, but likely a result of miscommunication rather than lack of support. We noted that a broker’s legal obligations tend to be focussed on the financial aspects of a broker’s work, rather than what is expected of a broker when it comes to providing support during a claim (or a hearing).

 

Resolution

We negotiated a settlement between Linda and the broker. The broker agreed to pay Linda the sum of $1,000 in recognition of any inconvenience caused by any of the broker’s actions after Linda made her claim.

 

Insights for consumers

You are entitled to support from your broker – but that is mainly around the financial aspects of the broker’s work.