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The Beginner’s Guide to Purchasing Home Insurance

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Home insurance is something that everyone needs, but most people don’t know a whole lot about it.

Our experts will help you choose the best policy for your home, but for them to do so effectively, it’s important for you to know the basics. Before diving into purchasing home insurance, have a read through this beginner’s guide!

General Coverages

When you purchase a home insurance policy, you will be covered for four main categories: dwelling, detached private structures, personal property, and additional living expenses. Within your policy a list of covered events will also be provided. These are scenarios in which your insurance would cover you for a loss up to your policy’s limit, less the deductible. The limit is the maximum amount your insurance will pay to settle a claim and a deductible is a portion of money which you are required to pay when making a claim. Here’s a list of the general coverages included in most home insurance policies:

  • Damage caused by fire/lightning
  • Damage caused by smoke. This does not cover smoke damage from a fireplace. The smoke damage would have to be due to the sudden, unusual and faulty operation of any heating or cooking unit.
  • Damage caused by impact from a land vehicle or an aircraft (example: if somebody other than you were to accidentally drive their car into your home).
  • Liability coverage (example: if somebody were to take legal action after slipping and injuring themselves on your front step).
  • Damage due to weather such as windstorms, and hail (this may not include damage caused by significant weather disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and/or earthquakes).
  • Coverage for additional living expenses. This coverage pays for the extra costs of living you would require if your house becomes uninhabitable due to a covered event. This can include expenses such as rent, hotel costs, restaurant meals, and storage fees.
  • Some policies may cover other damages conditionally, such as water damage from a burst pipe or faulty appliance. These types of coverages may depend on varying factors like whether or not the system which failed was in need of service/replacement and whether or not proper action was taken to prevent further damage where possible.

Always be sure to ask questions if you aren’t 100% clear on the conditions of a covered event. You won’t be able to make a claim for any damages which are not included in your list of coverages or for damages which do not meet the conditions of the covered event. It’s better to be safe than sorry! All policies are subject to special limits and exclusions

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Additional Coverages

Everybody’s needs are different. That’s why there are additional optional coverages that you can include in your home insurance policy for an extra cost to your premium. Some common examples of these optional coverages are:

  • Flood/overland water: While some policies may conditionally cover damages caused by water, you will need to purchase additional coverage if you’d like to be covered against potential flooding. Flooding is defined as damage caused by water entering your property from torrential rains, rapid snow melt, or overflow of lakes, streams and rivers. This coverage usually doesn’t apply for damage caused by saltwater flooding from oceans.
  • Sewer backup: Damages caused by backed up sewers, drains, toilets and showers. This does not include flooding/overland water coverage.
  • Scheduled personal articles: Additional coverage may be purchased for expensive valuables which could exceed the coverage limits of typical home policies. Examples might include jewelry, furs, sports equipment, and more.
  • Earthquake: Earthquake coverage insures against any damages caused by an earthquake.

The Factors That Determine Your Premium

Now that you know about the different types of coverages offered within home insurance policies, let’s go through the factors that affect how much you pay:

  • Replacement cost – The cost to replace your home and personal contents (not the same as your homes market value or property tax evaluation). This is determined based on the size and composition of your home.
  • Location – Your premium may be higher if you live in an area which has a higher than average rate of claims. Typically, premiums are more expensive in urban areas than rural areas.
  • Roofing – If your roof is 20+ years old or in need of repair, you may need to pay a higher premium.
  • Heating – Wood stoves and heating systems which use oil tanks have far more risk than electric heat or forced-air gas furnaces. If you use wood and/or oil to heat your home, your premium may be higher.
  • Plumbing – Your premium may be higher based on the age of your plumbing system. Older pipes are more prone to failure.

How You Can Reduce Your Premium

Everyone likes saving money right? Rather than opting out of coverage by choosing the cheapest available insurance policy, check out these ways you can reduce your premium:

  • Increasing your deductible will lower your premium; however, you should only do so if you are comfortable with this out of pocket expense in the event of a loss.
  • Many insurers offer a non-smokers discount if all members of your household are non-smokers of tobacco & cannabis products.
  • You may be eligible for a mortgage free discount if you no longer have a mortgage on your home
  • Many insurers offer discounts if you have a monitored security/fire system installed. A copy of an alarm certificate may be required.
  • You may be eligible to receive a claims free discount if you have not had any previous property claims.

What You’ll Need on Hand When Calling for a Quote

Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to request a quote! To receive the most accurate quote possible, try to have the information below on hand. Don’t worry if you aren’t quite sure of the answer to everything!

  • Total square feet of living space, including basement.
  • Total square feet of deck and/or patio space.
  • Year your home was built.
  • Year you purchased your home.
  • Number of smoke detectors in your home.
  • Number of fire extinguishers in your home.
  • Year of installation for the main source of heat, if furnace or wood stove.
  • Age of the hot water tank.
  • Foundation: full concrete, concrete posts, or wood posts.
  • Is there a fire hydrant within 1,000 feet (300 metres) of your home?
  • Do you have a fire hall located within 13 kilometres of your home?
  • Name of your current or past home insurance.
  • Renewal date for your current or past home insurance.

We hope to hear from you soon! Give us a call anytime Monday to Friday between 8:30am-4:30pm. After hours, you can leave us an email or voicemail and we’ll get back to you on the next business day.