As the tragedy slowly receded into the past, a silver lining slowly emerged. As luck would have it, the wife was able to digitize all of their family pictures before the fire started. The photos themselves were gone, but the images were all online.
The fire also freed him from the pain of making a big decision. Around that time, property prices in Fort McMurray were still high, but declined amid uncertainty surrounding the price of oil and gas. In that market, they had no idea how long it would take them to find a buyer for their old place, or the amount they could get for it.
“After some back and forth with the insurance company, they were able to arrive at a solid number,” Cork says, noting that the process took months because of the avalanche of claims facing insurers. The money was then used to plan their next home and what their new lifestyle would be like.”
In addition, the fire catalysed a change in the couple’s priorities. Originally, they talked Cork about finding a hut somewhere for a low price, and a bigger boat. But after that harrowing experience, he decided he didn’t need that extra asset. They settled in a house just outside Edmonton and, with their newfound appreciation for life, opted to increase their annual travel budget instead.
“Effectively, they also became the full financial planning client, because they were as concerned about having all their insurance as they were about accumulating assets,” Cork says.