Dispute Resolution

ANHWP and its insurer The New Home Warranty Insurance (Canada) Company (NHWICC) provide multiple options for you to resolve disputes between you and your builder.


 

MANDATORY WARRANTY

Mandatory warranty insurance products and services apply to any home with a building permit that was applied for on or after February 1, 2014.

 

Communicate with your builder

The best way to ensure you end up with the home you purchased is to maintain open, collaborative communication with your builder and warranty provider (NHWICC) to work through any issues or concerns as they arise.

Sometimes this dialogue becomes difficult, and it may seem you and your builder will never agree. If you’re unable to work through these differences, we can provide effective dispute resolution services.

Before filing a claim, make sure the issue is covered by your warranty. Review your warranty policy, including your start date and whether the issue is covered under the terms.

Note: Contacting your builder does not constitute a claim under your warranty policy. Directly contact your warranty provider to make a claim. Familiarize yourself with the claim process so you can take the required steps, when necessary.

 

Get in Touch
Contact a Contact Centre Representative at anytime at 1 800 352 8240 or contactcentre@nhwicc.ca who will listen to your concerns, assist in explaining your policy coverage, help with the claims process and explain the dispute resolution options available to you.

 

Mediation
A quick, confidential process that’s highly effective in resolving issues and preserving business relationships, mediation brings participants together for a discussion facilitated by an impartial moderator.

Mediation is voluntary and helps bring the participants to a mutually acceptable agreement, often within a very short timeframe. Mediation services apply only to contractual issues between individual homeowners and their builder, outside of your warranty policy itself
The Program has members of staff trained to mediate disputes. Alternatively, we may use mediation specialists from organizations like the Alberta Arbitration & Mediation Society.
Learn more about mediation

 

Filing a Claim (Request for Assistance)
In the event a homeowner believes a defect exists, the homeowner can file a claim using the File a Claim option on our Homeowner Portal or in writing to NHWICC, either electronically or by mail.

Note: To log in the first time, use your personal invitation code. Before you file a claim, take a minute to check your warranty insurance expiry date(s). If you have questions, contact a Contact Centre Representative at 1 800 352 8240 or contactcentre@nhwicc.ca.

Once the claim has been received and validated an inspection may be conducted and a Claims Assessment Report issued setting out the decision in respect of the issues identified in the claim process.

While the New Home Buyer Protection Act does not prescribe a claims handling process to be followed by all warranty providers, the Government of Alberta’s Construction Performance Guide  for new home warranty insurance in Alberta outline some general standards of service homeowners can expect from their warranty provider.

Prior to the filing a claim, the Program continues to offer mediation to help resolve non-warranty policy related issues related to the contract between individual homeowners and their builder.

 

Claim assessment
For homes whose building permit application was filed after February 1, 2014, the Program’s conciliation and arbitration services are no longer available. Instead, in accordance with the Insurance Act and the Government of Alberta’s Construction Performance Guide (link) we offer a Claims Assessment procedure:

  1. The homeowner files a claim using the Request for Assistance option through the Homeowner Portal.
  2. The claim issues are reviewed to determine if they are warrantable under Alberta’s New Home Buyer Protection Act.
  3. An assessment or inspection will then be scheduled with the homeowner. The builder may also be in attendance.
  4. NHWICC assesses the claim and sends a report with a decision to both the builder and homeowner.
  5. If the report finds warrantable actionable items, NHWICC will work with the homeowner and an accredited representative (usually your builder) to fix and resolve the issues.
  6. If a homeowner disagrees with a decision and wishes to contest it, a number of dispute resolution options are available as outlined below:


Dispute Resolution Options
In the case where a homeowner disagrees with a decision in the Claims Assessment Report and wishes to dispute it, it is recommended to contact NHWICC’s Complaints Officer at complaintsofficer@nhwicc.com who will complete a review of the homeowner’s concerns with the assessment. This may involve additional contact with the homeowner and/or various other parties involved in the claim assessment. A decision will be communicated to the homeowner including options if they remain dissatisfied with the outcome.

 

What other options exist to resolve a dispute?

General Insurance OmbudService (GIO)
If you wish to pursue the matter further, you may contact the General Insurance OmbudService (GIO), which helps resolve differences between insurance companies and their customers, for home, automobile and business insurance issues in Canada. The GIO is an independent dispute resolution service and there is no charge for their services. The GIO will determine if your issue falls within their mandate. You can access the GIO by phone, mail, email, fax or through their website.

Our Complaints Officer will work with the GIO and all applicable provincial and federal regulators in order to resolve the issue as effectively as possible. The GIO does not provide any type of compensation and its services are non-binding.
You may reach the General Insurance OmbudService at:

General Insurance OmbudService
2727 Courtice Road, P.O. Box 98009
Courtice, ON L1E 3A0
1-877-225-0446
Fax: 416-299-4261
www.giocanada.org

 

Legislated Dispute Resolution Process
The New Home Buyer Protection Act refers to a legislated dispute resolution process outlined in the Alberta Insurance Act Sections 519 and 540. These sections are not the only considerations when reviewing the legislated dispute resolution process, but they provide enough information for basic understanding. NHWICC is not in a position to interpret the Act or its regulations. You may wish to seek legal counsel for further clarification.

The legislated dispute resolution process will be limited to matters of warranty insurance.


PRE-MANDATORY WARRANTY

Pre-mandatory warranty products and services apply to any Program-warrantied home whose building permit was applied for prior to February 1, 2014.

 

Communicate with your builder
When you purchase a new home, the best way to ensure you end up with the home you purchased is to maintain open, collaborative communication with your builder and work through any issues or concerns as they arise.

Sometimes this dialogue becomes difficult, and it may seem you and your builder will never agree. If you’re unable to work through these differences, the Program provides effective dispute resolution services, including mediation – a voluntary, highly effective process for resolving issues that may arise between the builders and their customers.


Request for Assistance
If you need the Program’s help to resolve an issue with a Builder Member, the first step is to submit a Request for Assistance through our Homeowner Portal. Note: To log in the first time, use your personal invitation code.

You can also contact a Contact Centre Representative at 1 800 352 8240. We’ll listen to your concerns and explain the dispute resolution options available to you: mediation, conciliation and arbitration.

 

Mediation
A quick, confidential process that’s highly effective in resolving issues and preserving business relationships, mediation brings participants together for a discussion facilitated by an impartial moderator. Mediation helps bring the participants to a mutually acceptable agreement, often within a very short timeframe.

The Program has members of staff trained to mediate disputes. Alternatively, we may use mediation specialists from organizations like the Alberta Arbitration & Mediation Society.
Learn more about mediation

Conciliation
A conciliation investigation (or claim assessment, as it became known on February 1, 2014) aims to establish the root cause of an issue and determine its warranty coverage. To identify causal factors in specialized areas, the Program may seek input from outside experts.

Your Request for Assistance authorizes the Program to contact your builder and begin an investigation. Within the conciliation process, the Program must respect the agreements already in place between you and your builder.

The inspector will contact you for more details about the issue and your builder’s response and request copies of any relevant documents and correspondence.

When the inspector visits your new home, a representative from each party with the authority to make decisions must also attend. We conduct inspections as soon as possible after receiving a Request for Assistance.

Along with informal discussion between the builder and homeowner during the process, an investigation often leads to resolution and a responsive course of action without further involvement of the Program.

 

Conciliation Report
In all cases, the claims assessor will prepare a Conciliation Report to detail the investigation’s findings and outline responsibilities. With total objectivity, the Conciliation Report (now called the Claim Assessment Report) establishes the root cause of a disputed issue and its eligibility for warranty coverage based on standards set forth in the Government of Alberta’s performance guidelines.

If the situation is a warrantable issue, the report will outline the required builder response and timelines for corrective action. The Program will monitor progress to ensure successful closure within an appropriate timeframe.

 

Timeline for corrective action
The builder is responsible for material and workmanship issues in the first year. For such issues, the Conciliation Report typically gives our Builder Member a firm deadline for corrective action. In the unlikely event that the builder fails to respond, the Program staff will coordinate and supervise the completion of the necessary work.

For a major structural defect after the first year and within the coverage period, the Program will resolve the issue within the limits of the warranty coverage. See your warranty certificate for limits, terms and conditions.

If either party disputes the determinations of the conciliation process, arbitration may be necessary.

Arbitration
If you’re unable to resolve an issue with a Builder Member of the Program through mediation or conciliation, you or your builder may request arbitration – a formal hearing process in which you or your legal representative present your position and supporting evidence to an agreed-upon third party for judgment.

In Alberta, the purchase and construction agreement between a builder and homebuyer includes an ‘arbitration clause’ stipulating that all disputes, claims and differences not settled through amicable negotiations or mediation “ the dispute shall be settled through binding arbitration in accordance with arbitration rules adopted by the Program”.

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