Home Insurance

Insurance rejects Nova Scotia family’s claim after house swallowed by sinkhole

By: Jessica Mach on April 1, 2019

In the fall of 2017, the home of a Nova Scotia family was swallowed up by a sinkhole. But, they also had home insurance — and were sure that their policy would cover the damages.

Turns out, that wasn’t exactly the case. Two years later, the Strickey family is still paying the mortgage on their destroyed home, which they haven’t been able to live in since the incident.

Heather Strickey was woken up by unfamiliar sounds on the night of Sept. 3, 2017.

“I could hear things moving, like almost being dragged,” Strickey said. “I tried to be calm and cool, but eventually realized there was probably someone in our house.”

The family huddled together while they waited for the police to arrive. The power in the house went out, and windows began to break.

Then, the 911 operator told them it was a sinkhole, not an intruder. “Get out of your house as quickly as you can,” Strickey recalls the operator telling her.

As they watched the sinkhole swallow up their home, the family felt assured that their insurance would cover the losses.

“...all I could think was ‘we’re OK’… things can be replaced, we will move on from this,” Strickey told CTV News.

They filed an insurance claim, and waited 72 days for a response from their insurance company — only to find out that the claim had been rejected. CTV reached out to insurer, but the company declined to comment on the specifics of the claim or why it was rejected.

Shortly after, Strickey’s mother in law passed away following a battle with cancer.

“The darkest day would be when we lost Linda,” she said. “You've lost your home, you've lost a loved one, just having a few losses compounded on each other was definitely our darkest time.”

The family is now in the midst of a legal battle to resolve the claim. In the meantime, they’re still paying the mortgage for the home they lost.

Friends, family members and employers have offered the family financial support, and the Strickeys have since lived in three homes. They are currently at their fourth — a residence at the Strickeys’ workplace, King’s Edgehill school in Windsor, N.S., where they had first lived after they got married.

The couple is now acting as house parents to five Grade 12 girls who are living on campus.

“We’re still paying for a house that doesn’t exist, so we can’t afford to ever own a home again unless we get insurance to cover our lost home,” Strickey said.