Mackay Insurance Blog
Have you ever heard of “insurance potholes?” As their name implies, insurance potholes are unexpected coverage gaps that arise when you least expect them.
In the case of a travel trailer, camper or recreational vehicle, insurance potholes in your regular homeowners or auto insurance policy often aren’t noticed until it is too late.
You make a call to your insurer because your trailer has become damaged, destroyed, stolen or vandalized, only to be told you have no insurance coverage or only minimal coverage for such issues.
What now? What can you do? The answer is often, sadly, “not much.” We don’t want this to happen to you! This is why Mackay Insurance offers flexible, personalized coverage for these special types of non-motorized wheeled vehicles.
What Is Trailer Insurance?
Trailer insurance is a product specifically designed to cover a vehicle that is not really a vehicle – one that has wheels but doesn’t have a motor.
The exact configuration of what you are towing can vary – you may have a small pop-up camper, a large fifth-wheel trailer, a teardrop sleeper camper or some variation thereof.
As long as it has wheels but no motor and is designed to be towed, not steered, trailer insurance is the right policy to protect what you own.
What Types of Trailers Does Trailer Insurance Protect?
As we just outlined, trailer insurance is designed to protect wheeled vehicles that lack motors.
More specifically, these are the major categories of trailers that trailer insurance is designed to cover:
When Do You Need Trailer Insurance?
Depending on the details of your personal homeowners insurance and auto insurance, you may actually have some amount of coverage for these non-motorized, wheeled, recreational vehicles already.
But then again, you may not.
Before taking out a separate trailer insurance policy, be sure to talk with your Mackay broker and review what existing coverage you already have to see what is and isn’t covered.
What Is Included in a Trailer Insurance Policy?
Like other insurance products, trailer insurance can be personalized to a degree. This means you have flexibility when it comes to options like your deductible, coverage levels, types of coverage, seasonal coverage, etc.
These are the typical categories of coverage that trailer insurance is able to provide:
Emergency roadside assistance
Damage, destruction or theft of the trailer
Damage, destruction or theft of trailer contents (including perishables like food)
Water damage coverage
Debris damage coverage
Lock replacement coverage
Injury to people or pets
Extended warranty for parts or appliances
In addition, there are special riders available to cover less typical needs.
How Much Trailer Insurance Do You Need?
This is where you will want to look closely at any existing coverage you may have through your homeowners insurance or auto insurance policy.
For example, your homeowners insurance may offer coverage for damage, destruction or theft of some of the contents of your travel trailer. Your auto insurance may cover liability issues when you are on the road with the trailer hitched behind your vehicle.
But the only way to know for sure is to read the fine print and review policy details with your Mackay broker.
Whatever is not covered under any existing insurance policies you already have is what trailer insurance is designed for.
Here, as with other insurance policies, you will have a deductible. The deductible is designed to give you more control over your premium costs, but you don’t want to choose a higher deductible than your finances can comfortably accommodate.
So take a look at the full replacement value of your trailer, minus what existing insurance provides coverage for, minus any amount (if applicable) you can afford to pay out of pocket to fix or replace your trailer. That is the amount of coverage you need.
Should You Rely on Your Homeowners or Auto Policy?
One thing we always tell our clients here at Mackay Insurance is that sometimes purchasing more insurance is actually less expensive in the long run!
For example, let’s say your homeowners and auto insurance policies do provide some level of coverage for your trailer as well. So you assume you don’t need trailer insurance, but then something happens.
Now you are in the stressful position of having to make a claim on your existing homeowners insurance or auto insurance policies if something happens with your travel trailer.
These types of major insurance policies tend to be more expensive in every way, including the hike in premiums you are likely to face after making even a minor claim.
This is why we say that, often, it can be a safer bet for your finances to simply let a separate trailer insurance policy handle any claims you may need to make to repair or replace any aspect of your trailer.
How Much Does Trailer Insurance Cost?
As with other types of insurance policies, the cost of your trailer insurance will be based on the value of your trailer and its contents.
Let’s take a very general example just so you can get a sense of how this might work.
For every $10,000 of value, you can expect to add another $15 or so to your monthly premiums. So for a very basic trailer worth $10,000, your monthly premium would likely be around $15. For a trailer worth $20,000, your monthly premium would be around $30 per month, and so forth.
Do You Own a Travel Trailer or RV?
Mackay Insurance now provides a special type of insurance policy to ensure your travel trailer is protected.
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-888-853-5552.
Special-event insurance is a less well-known product – in fact, most people don’t even know they need it until after their event date has passed!
But depending on what you’re planning, you really may need it. In this litigious society we live in today, you just never know when an unexpected oops might turn into a headline-making lawsuit.
In this post, find out more about what special-event insurance is, when you need it, how much insurance you need and how to get it.
What Is Special-Event Insurance?
Special-event insurance might more accurately be named “special-event planner insurance.” It could also be called “one-day event insurance,” since in most cases it is active only for the time the event is taking place.
The primary purpose and goal of this type of insurance product is to protect you, the event planner, from any event or action that might cause you financial or personal distress.
More specifically, special-event insurance is designed to cover anything and everything that might occur during your special event that no other existing insurance policy will cover.
What Does Special-Event Insurance Cover?
Special-event insurance, like most insurance products, can be customized to some degree. This means the answer to the question of when you need special-event insurance may not be clear-cut at first.
It is always smart to talk with your Mackay broker to share the details of the event you are planning and discover if special-event insurance is a smart choice.
For general purposes, special-event insurance is designed to cover issues such as the following:
Damage/destruction of rented property (i.e., venue, tables, chairs, tent, vehicles)
Bodily injuries sustained by bystanders, participants, staff or you
Extra costs sustained by last-minute vendor cancellations or changes
Financial losses due to participant cancellations (permits, security deposits, etc.)
Issues related to alcohol (this often requires a special rider on the policy)
Event cancellations due to weather, fire, power outages and other unforeseen issues
When Do You Need Special-Event Insurance?
Here are some common event-planning scenarios to help you think through whether or not you may need a special-event insurance policy.
You are hosting an event at your home
In general, if you are hosting small events in your home, your homeowner’s insurance policy will probably be sufficient to cover you.
Here, you want to read the fine print of your policy, because sometimes there are exclusions for gatherings over a certain number of people, where alcohol will be served, specific types of gatherings (such as bachelor/bachelorette parties) and similar limitations.
If you will be bringing in a band, a DJ, portable bathrooms, a tent, valet parking attendants or any similar additions, you may also need one or more permits from your municipality.
And if you are hosting a party where most of the guests are personally not known to you, be sure to talk with your Mackay broker to find out if you need special-event insurance to increase liability coverage during the event.
You are hosting a personal event at a rented space
Purchasing special-event insurance is always a smart move if you are hosting an event at a rented space. If alcohol will be served, be sure to mention this when you take out your policy. Often this will require a separate policy rider.
Here, it does not matter whether the event will be private (invitation-only) or open to the public. In either case, and especially in the latter case, unless the rental venue specifically states otherwise, purchasing your own independent special-event insurance policy is a protection you don’t want to be without on the day of your event.
You are hosting an event for work
If the event you are hosting is for your employer and is part of your job description, it is quite likely your employer already has insurance that will protect you, but be sure to ask!
If the event you are hosting is for your own small business, talk with your Mackay broker about whether your existing small-business liability insurance policy is sufficient to protect you or if you need to add a separate event insurance policy for the day.
How Much Special-Event Insurance Do You Need?
As with any insurance policy, you have options when it comes to purchasing your policy. In general, event insurance is an inexpensive product and also one you have a great deal of control over.
Life insurance is not the cheeriest topic in the world. No one loves to spend their weekend poring over pamphlets about death benefits and future payout potential.
But we do it because of them – our partners, our children, our parents, even our pets.
We do it because we don’t want to lie awake at night worrying about what will happen to our loves when we aren’t there to care for them. We do it because the unexpected is a smart thing to expect in today’s day and age.
Learn about your life insurance options as we move into the holiday season – perhaps this is the year you give this gift for the living to those you love!
Two Basic Types of Life Insurance
Despite what you may have heard or read, there are really only two basic categories of life insurance: term and permanent.
Regardless of which type of life insurance you select, you can expect to make a premium payment (typically remitted monthly or annually) to keep your policy active.
In exchange for your premium payments, your loved ones can expect protection in the form of a death benefit payout should the unfortunate occur.
What Is Term Life Insurance?
This is the simpler of the two options. Term life insurance is more affordable, faster and easier to apply for. It is a popular choice for singles, young couples and young families.
Term life insurance is designed to provide protection for a specific date range, or term.
After the selected period of time has expired, the insurance product also expires, whether there has been a death payout or not. If you continue to need protection, it is then necessary to purchase a new term life insurance policy.
What Is Permanent Life Insurance?
The second type is permanent life insurance. Here is where confusion often sets in, because permanent life insurance goes by lots of different names.
Some common names for permanent life insurance include whole life insurance, universal life insurance and even term to 100 life insurance. But basically, these are all just types of permanent life insurance with different benefit structures.
Permanent life insurance is also designed to provide protection in the form of a death benefit payout. But rather than having an expiration date, permanent life insurance endures until the policyholder passes, so there is never a need to purchase a new life insurance policy.
There is also an additional benefit in that the policy itself can function as a type of retirement investment product. It can be used in multiple ways while the policyholder is alive and passes the benefits on to designated beneficiaries when the time comes.
Why Choose Term Life Insurance?
Term life insurance is designed to be simple, although we realize it may not seem that way at first glance!
Term life insurance is a great fit if you are single, coupled or starting your family. This is the most popular type of life insurance with these three categories of shoppers because the basic goal is simply to protect dependents in case a primary income stream suddenly disappears, through death.
There are different protection periods to choose from. Term-10 is a policy that lasts for 10 years from the date of issue. Term-20 lasts for 20 years. Term-30 lasts for 30 years.
The premium you pay is calculated based on an average risk over the term you choose. Say you choose a term-10 life insurance policy. On the date your policy starts, the risk of death is probably low. But it will increase slightly every year for obvious reasons.
The premium you pay each year will be an average of all 10 years’ worth of risk. For this reason, your premium will not increase during the course of your policy term.
This is what makes longer-term periods attractive to term life insurance policyholders – you get a locked-in rate that includes the lower risk cost of your younger years.
However, when your policy expires after 10, 20 or 30 years, there is no cash value to you (no payout—payouts are not made unless in the case of death) and you will then need to purchase a new policy.
Why Choose Permanent Life Insurance?
Permanent life insurance is by necessity a more complicated type of life insurance product. This is because it is designed to do more than simply provide protection in the form of a death benefit payout.
The first difference is found in the cost of your premiums. This is because permanent life insurance does not have an expiration date. Your premium costs are calculated based on risk of death from now until you actually do pass, whenever that may be.
So the premium payments you make will be higher than they ever will be for term life insurance right from the start. As well, to keep your payments from skyrocketing later in life, premiums start out higher than they would be in a term life insurance policy and stay that rate.
This is important because your policy actually accrues cash value over and above any future death benefit. Each year, your premium payments are held in reserve and appreciate in value.
If you choose to cancel your permanent life insurance policy, you will then receive a refund based on how much you have paid in over and above what your actual risk to date has been.
Get in Touch
Is it time to think about giving your loved ones the gift of protection through taking out your personal life insurance policy? Our friendly, experienced Mackay insurance brokers are happy to help you choose the policy type that meets your needs!
Contact us online or give us a call at 888-853-5552.
Being classified as a high-risk driver can impact your life in some surprising ways. Sure, you expected your auto insurance premiums to increase after that last accident.
But what you probably didn’t expect was to have your auto insurance policy cancelled!
Unfortunately, even as the entire landscape of Ontario auto insurance is changing (read our blog post about this change here), there isn’t much that can change once you are classified as a high-risk driver.
Once your status changes to high-risk, typically your sole goal becomes finding someone, anyone, who will issue you auto insurance.
In this post, find out what you need to know about high-risk auto insurance: what it is, who needs it and how can you get it.
What Is High-Risk Auto Insurance?
As the name suggests, high-risk auto insurance is designed to provide coverage to drivers who have been deemed a “high risk” on the roadways.
What may not be so clear, however, is that different insurers are permitted to create their own set of criteria for determining who falls into the high-risk category and what type of policy they will provide, if any.
For example, some insurers may base this designation solely on your driving record. Other insurers may factor in additional information such as demographics (vehicle type, vehicle age, payment history, etc.).
So while it is always smart to shop around and gather several quotes before choosing an insurer for any type of insurance product, this makes shopping around especially important if you have been designated as a high-risk driver.
Who Needs High-Risk Auto Insurance?
A number of different factors can play into who gets designated as a high-risk driver. While every case is different, let’s look at some of the most common reasons you may be reclassified as high-risk behind the wheel.
If you have a DUI (driving under the influence) charge on your driver record, even standard high-risk auto insurance may not be sufficient for your needs. DUI insurance is a special category of high-risk auto insurance that some insurers provide for this purpose.
Reckless driving, which may include careless driving and stunt driving, can quickly get your driver status reclassified to high risk. A number of insurance companies have started to treat a cellphone/distracted driving ticket as a major problem, the same as careless driving.
Driving a high-risk vehicle
These two get frequently confused (for obvious reasons), but driving a high-risk vehicle is not the same as being a high-risk driver.
However, both can end up placing you in the high-risk category when it comes to auto insurance. Insurers view driving a high-risk car as similar to exhibiting high-risk driving patterns – both can end up being expensive for them if you submit a claim.
If you own an exotic car, a vintage restored car, a rare car or a car that frequently tops car thieves’ lists of “most desirable car,” you may wind up paying high-risk insurance rates.
Ontario has elected to use the no-fault system of administering auto insurance claims. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be declared “at fault” by your insurer during the claims settlement.
More than 40 different accident classifications exist, including types where no one is at fault. But what is most important to know here is that you can be cited for being at fault in an auto insurance claim even though Ontario itself is a no-fault province.
Once you have been cited as at fault in a traffic incident, you can expect your premiums to increase. Different insurers have different criteria for when a driver is moved to the high-risk category for at fault accidents.
Another common reason drivers get reclassified as high risk is citation for other types of traffic incidents, including speeding and running red lights.
Other non-traffic reasons
If you are taking out an auto insurance policy for the first time, no data exists to help an insurer calculate their risk to insure you. This alone may place you temporarily in the high-risk category.
Still another reason you might find yourself in the high-risk insurance category is if you have credit issues. Many people do not realize that allowing an insurance policy to be cancelled because you do not pay the premium will become part of your insurance record the same as having an accident does, and can put you into a high-risk category.
How to Get High Risk Auto Insurance
Many insurers do offer high-risk auto insurance, although these types of policies are generally less well advertised than mainstream policies.
The best way to begin is to make a connection with an auto insurance broker and explain your situation.
By taking a more personal approach (versus just shopping around anonymously online), your broker can get to know you, learn the details about why you have been classified as a high-risk driver and advocate on your behalf to get you the best deal on a high-risk auto insurance policy.
This can be especially useful when you have been classified as high risk for non-traffic reasons!
As we shared in the introduction here, it can be beneficial to gather at least a few policy quotes so you can compare what each insurer has to offer. Your broker can assist with this process by reaching out to providers in their network to generate quotes on your behalf.
Get in Touch
Are you seeking high-risk auto insurance for yourself or a family member? We can help!
Reach out to us and one of our friendly Mackay Insurance brokers will be able to assist you with gathering high-risk auto insurance quotes and choosing the best policy to meet your needs.
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-888-853-5552.
If you owned a brick-and-mortar business, you would want business insurance coverage to protect the premises as well as the contents.
But when your business is wherever you happen to be, and your professional tools and equipment travel with you from one appointment to the next, you need tool insurance that can travel with you and protect you wherever you are, day or night.
Mechanics tool insurance is not one of the better-known commercial insurance products, but it is also not the type of insurance you want to learn about only after your valuable tools and equipment have been stolen, damaged or destroyed.
In this post, learn timely information about mechanics tool insurance coverage, why you need it, when you need it and how to get it.
When Do You Need to Insure Your Tools?
When do you need to insure your tools? Is this insurance just for working professionals who use their tools and equipment as part of their career?
The short answer is no.
The longer answer is that tool insurance doesn’t just cover professional mechanics, contractors and businesses such as electricians or plumbers whose livelihood depends on their tools.
If you own a valuable tool collection for personal use, you can also benefit from tool insurance.
But Doesn’t Your Auto or Home Insurance Cover Tools and Equipment?
This is one of the most common misconceptions people hold about auto and home insurance policies!
Unless you have specifically requested a rider to cover valuable property such as tools and equipment, it is unlikely that either your homeowners insurance or your auto insurance policy will cover loss, theft, damage or destruction to your tools.
Even if you have a commercial auto insurance policy in place, this policy may not cover tools and equipment you transport, or your coverage limit may not be adequate to the full value of your tools and equipment.
What Does Tool Insurance Cover?
Tools and equipment insurance can vary depending on the insurer. In most cases, “tools” are belongings that are valued at $1,000 or less per item.
Common examples of tools covered under a professional tool insurance policy include hand tools, power tools, supportive gear (ladders, wheelbarrows, etc.) and safety gear (goggles, gloves, knee pads, etc.).
What Is Equipment Insurance?
If you also own equipment that you rely on to do your job, or if you have a personal collection of valuable equipment for projects or home safety, equipment insurance is a policy designed to protect your investment.
In most cases, “equipment” is defined as belongings with a replacement value of greater than $1,000.
Common examples of equipment covered under a professional equipment insurance policy include compressors, generators, backhoes, excavators, scaffolding and similar types of equipment.
Options for Ensuring Your Tools and Equipment Are Adequately Insured
If you are taking out an insurance policy as a part of your professional career, even a single day’s interruption could be costly for you.
So, as with any insurance product, it is important to set up your coverage in a way that fully safeguards your ability to get back to work quickly no matter what happens to the tools and/or equipment you rely on for your daily work.
Contractor insurance offers different options to address loss, theft, damage or destruction to your professional tools and/or equipment and also to the vehicle you use for work purposes.
Full replacement value versus market value
There are two ways you can be reimbursed for tools or equipment that have been lost, damaged, stolen or destroyed.
You can choose to receive the full replacement cost of the item (i.e., what it would cost you to purchase the item new) or you could choose to receive the market value of the item minus depreciation.
Rental reimbursement rider
It is not always easy to go right out and replace certain high-end tools and equipment. You may need to wait days or even weeks to obtain certain items.
A rental reimbursement rider can get you back to work quickly if you need to rent the required tools or equipment you need to do your job while you wait for the replacement items to arrive.
Commercial vehicle insurance
As mentioned earlier, if your business includes a mobile component, the vehicle you use also represents a valuable part of your business viability.
If that vehicle is also your personal vehicle, your personal auto insurance policy will NOT cover any claims that arise while you are using that vehicle for work purposes. You will need a commercial auto insurance policy to protect your vehicle when you are using it for work.
Even if you have a commercial vehicle that you use only for work purposes, you will still need commercial auto insurance to protect your vehicle as the business asset that it is.
Here again, it is important to review coverage levels with your broker to ensure your business is not interrupted while a claim is being processed.
How to Estimate the Total Value of Your Tools and Equipment
If you need help estimating the full or market replacement value of your tools and/or equipment, your Mackay insurance broker can help.
To get the process started, we invite you to create a complete list of your tools and equipment inventory.
Be sure to include carrying cases, safety gear, supportive gear, cleaning supplies, replacement parts and other items that you use to maintain your tools and equipment.
Get in Touch
Are you shopping around for an insurance policy that will cover your personal or professional investment in tools and/or equipment? We can help!
To generate a fast, free, easy online quote, simply complete this online short form. A friendly Mackay insurance broker will contact you to learn more about your tools and equipment and discuss your insurance options.
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-888-853-5552.
Since early January of this year, Ontario’s leadership has been putting the entire auto insurance industry under a magnifying glass, beginning with a survey sent to current policyholders.
Its goal? To initiate reforms to lower premiums to a level in line with the relatively low volume of reported auto-related accidents and fatalities.
To that end, officials have been surveying customers to discover exactly what is – to use their precise words – “broken” in the auto insurance industry.
In this timely blog post, find out breaking news about these auto insurance changes that may impact what you pay, your coverage levels and your access to electronic resources for managing your auto insurance policy.
What Policyholders Had to Say About Navigating Auto Insurance
The January Ministry of Finance policyholder survey results didn’t surprise anyone who has ever had to navigate the increasingly complex and expensive world of Ontario auto insurance.
More than half of the respondents reported that they found the fine print on their own auto insurance policy too complicated to easily understand. A full 55 percent of respondents said there were few options to customize their auto insurance to their individual needs.
Even as the survey results were being tallied, a Newswire editorial simultaneously reported on continued auto policy rate hikes across Canada.
Some of the steepest hikes took place in Ontario, where policyholders saw increases of up to 9.06 percent. The report cited insurance fraud and increased claims as a reason for the hikes.
The New Proposed Plan: Putting Drivers First
In early April, the government unveiled the new auto insurance plan, entitled "Putting Drivers First."
Lots of proposed changes will be coming down the pike, each of which is designed to help Ontario drivers get lower rates and individually tailored coverage.
Here are five changes we feel are particularly relevant and compelling – be sure to discuss these changes and how they may impact your auto insurance policy!
Reducing Industry Regulation
With fewer auto industry regulations imposed from the provincial level down, insurers will be free to customize rate plans and policy benefits to a greater degree.
This will benefit policy holders by creating more healthy competition among insurers to create new tailored auto insurance plans and packages that appeal to different customer segments.
No More Postal Code Discrimination
Ontario officials have indicated their plans to stop rate increases that are based solely on the policyholder’s address.
Increasing Options to Trim Policy Costs
A number of options are on the table to potentially reduce the costs of issuing and administering auto insurance policies.
Among the most anticipated are two that many feel are long overdue in the industry.
Drivers will now be permitted to permit insurers to review credit scores and credit history to influence policy rates.
During the claims process, drivers will now be given options to use certain repair facilities or healthcare clinics and receive reduced policy rates.
Fraud Prevention Is a Priority
Ongoing issues with widespread auto industry insurance fraud has impeded the industry’s efforts to better serve customers.
Ontario officials plan to implement stricter controls to improve industry-wide customer data security, control escalating auto insurance claims-related legal expenses, institute new rulings on unfair practices in the industry, develop an online process for submitting and tracking claims and more.
Better E-Insurance Options
January customer survey respondents highlighted a lack of electronic options as a chronic source of frustration when managing their auto insurance policy information.
Officials have announced that customers will now be able to make policy payments online, access coverage details and documents, connect with their brokers, use e-POF (proof of insurance) documents as needed and communicate via email about auto insurance matters.
Streamlined Claims Processing
The current ponderous claims process has contributed to issues with auto insurance and medical fraud and has caused rising costs.
Under the new Driver Care Plan, benefit limits for catastrophic injury claims will be increased from $1 million to $2 million in benefits.
After filing an accident/injury claim, proposed changes include providing the insured with a type of insurance debit card that has been pre-loaded with funds that can be used toward covered medical expenses such as physical therapy.
What to Expect Over the Coming Months
With new rate hikes coming on the heels of the announcement of Ontario’s long-awaited auto insurance industry overhaul, it is hard to know exactly what we can expect in the coming months.
What we do know is that the proposed auto industry-wide reforms are designed to take place in a gradual rollout over the next few years to soften the impact to Ontario’s budget.
Officials cite the need to design, test and implement the proposed reforms, which have the potential to impact an estimated 10 million Ontarian policyholders, as another reason for the multi-year rollout.
Rest assured that we will keep all of our policyholders updated on important industry reforms that may affect their insurance rates and coverage, claims processes and policy benefits.
Do You Have Questions About Auto Insurance Policy Changes in Ontario?
If you have questions about options to lower your auto insurance policy rates, available discounts and credits, bundling options and family auto insurance plans, we invite you to give your broker a call or send us an email.
Remember to update your information if you have moved, added a new vehicle, changed your driving habits significantly or taken a seasonal vehicle out of storage for summer use.
Get in Touch
Are you shopping around for a new auto insurance policy? We can help!
Contact us online or give us a call at 888-853-5552.
As the price of real estate continues to increase, more homeowners are choosing to renovate an existing home rather than trying to upgrade by moving.
This makes a lot of sense, especially if you like where you live and enjoy your neighbors and community.
But there is a crucial task many homeowners fail to do before launching into a remodel, and that is to alert their home insurer.
According to Canadian Underwriter Magazine, a mere six percent of Ontario homeowners thought to review their homeowner’s insurance policy before beginning their renovation project!
And just 14 percent of homeowners contacted their insurance provider to be sure their current coverage would protect them during the remodel.
In this post, learn about common myths, misconceptions and realities regarding homeowners insurance during home renovations.
3 Questions to Ask Your Home Insurance Broker
No homeowner likes to contemplate an increase in an existing insurance policy. But not asking the right questions at the right times can end up being a lot more expensive than taking the time to be sure your current policy is sufficient.
These are the three questions you absolutely need to ask your broker before launching into your home remodel.
1. Will my current homeowners insurance policy provide sufficient coverage while my home is being remodeled?
If you are planning to move out of your home temporarily while your renovation project is completed, this can impact your existing insurance policy.
This is especially true if you will be out of your home for 30 days or longer. You may need to change your home’s status to “under construction” or obtain a home vacancy permit in order to have coverage for perils like vandalism or theft while your home is unoccupied.
2. Will my policy protect me if a contractor, subcontractor or construction worker is hurt on my property while working on my home remodel?
The simplest answer to this complicated question is often “no.” You need to verify that your contractor carries a general liability insurance policy, and also that they are covered by workers compensation.
If you do the work yourself, obviously the risk of a contractor damaging your home or being injured is not a factor. However, this doesn’t change your need to notify your insurer about remodel plans. DIY renovations are still home renovations.
3. Will my homeowners policy need to be changed after I complete my home upgrades?
Did you know that some home upgrades can actually lower your future homeowners policy premiums?
Some examples include beefing up your home security system, installing extra safety lighting, upgrading your roofing or electrical system, upgrading to new energy-efficient appliances or windows, updating your plumbing or installing basement waterproofing.
Other upgrades, however, may cause your policy premiums to increase. In most cases, this is because the upgrades themselves increase either the square footage of your home or its overall value or both.
Examples can include installation of a pool or spa, expanding the square footage of your home, converting an unused room to a home office, adding on an apartment above your garage, installing expensive extras such as granite countertops and any customized one-of-a-kind upgrades.
If you are on the fence about certain upgrades, talking with your insurance broker can be a useful tiebreaker!
Be Sure to Read Your Policy Fine Print Before Starting Your Renovations
Every year, unhappy homeowners find out too late that they have voided their homeowners insurance policy by failing to notify their insurer before a remodel.
Some find this out when something is damaged during the renovation and they learn they are not covered. Others discover long after the renovation that the increased value of their home is not insured because their broker was never informed.
Unfortunately, these homeowners don’t have much recourse once they find out this requirement to notify was outlined in the fine print of their policy documents.
The moral of this sad story is to always err on the side of informing your broker!
What If You Run Into Trouble During Your Home Renovation?
If you have ever been through any type of remodeling or renovation project in the past, you probably know all too well that surprises often crop up once the project gets underway.
Sometimes these surprises occur when you go to file for a permit and discover the building standards have changed and you now need to make unanticipated upgrades to plumbing, wiring, insulation or other components of your home.
At other times, you may be surprised to uncover an unanticipated leak, crack, mold outbreak or other issue that you have to stop and address before your remodel can proceed.
In these cases, your project may take longer than you originally anticipated. Here again, it is vital to contact your broker right away to make sure you have the right coverage for as long as you need it during your renovations.
What to Do After Your Home Remodel Is Complete
Once your remodeling project is finished, it is essential to let your insurer know that your project is complete. You may need to change your home status back from a building under construction and adjust your limits accordingly.
If your remodel has changed the overall square footage, replacement value of items or resale value of your home itself, you will want to edit and update your homeowners insurance policy accordingly to stay fully protected.
In most cases, your policy premiums will not significantly increase, and as we’ve mentioned, some delighted homeowners have even seen their premiums decrease thanks to energy-efficiency, security or safety upgrades!
Get in Touch
Planning a home renovation and need to update your homeowners insurance coverage accordingly? Our friendly, knowledgeable team of insurance brokers can help!
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-888-853-5552.
Victoria Day weekend, aka cottage-opening weekend, is around the corner!
This is a great time to refer to your cottage-opening checklist and start getting your game plan together. After all, the less time you spend actually opening your cottage, the more time you can spend enjoying it.
One key item it is so easy to overlook is insurance coverage. It may not be the most exciting part of opening up your cottage for the season, but it sure comes in handy if anything goes wrong!
In this post, learn what you need to know to determine if all of the coverage you need is in place.
3 Important Types of Cottage Insurance Policies
Of course, you want to have cottage insurance in place to protect you and your guests while you are on-site and to protect belongings and premises when no one is there.
But this isn’t the only type of cottage insurance you need to consider, especially if you keep valuable property or vehicles there or you have guests or tenants.
Your main cottage insurance policy protects your cottage itself, its contents and the surrounding property. It also protects you if a visitor experiences a mishap while on your property and decides to sue.
What many cottage owners do not realize is that their cottage use habits can impact how much they may pay for a standard cottage insurance policy.
Closing your cottage versus keeping it open year-round is another decision that can change what you pay for cottage insurance.
Declaring your cottage as a secondary residence can impact both your cottage insurance rates and the coverage that is available. Cottages that are actually regularly used “second homes” may be eligible for broader coverage.
We have written a detailed blog post about choosing the right cottage insurance that can help you think through the types of standard coverage and protective insurance riders you need in advance of the start of cottage season.
If you plan to rent out your seasonal cottage to tenants for part or all of the summer, or if you want to allow friends or relatives to stay for extended periods when you are away, you may need more than just a standard cottage insurance policy for protection.
A basic cottage insurance policy may allow limited use by other people. Before loaning or renting your cottage to others, you should call your broker to determine what your specific policy allows and arrange the correct coverage for the actual use of the cottage. Talk to your broker specifically about what goes with the cottage when you rent it out – for example, the use of a boat or an ATV.
If you do plan to start renting out your cottage, our knowledgeable brokers are happy to talk with you about your plans and protection needs before the season begins in earnest.
Recreational property or vehicle insurance
Recreational vehicles can include motorized boats, ATVs, classic cars, mopeds, motorcycles, jet-skis, trailers and trailer hitches, RVs and others.
If you store recreational (seasonal) property or vehicles on-site at your cottage or off-site, be sure insurance is in place before using them. You may need to reinstate full insurance on a vehicle that is used seasonally. If your insurance or plates renewed over the winter, remember to get the updated pink cards in each vehicle and tags on each license plate.
Making sure you have correct insurance in place for each recreational vehicle is important both for your own safety and for that of guests who may also use these vehicles during their stay at your cottage. It is particularly important to discuss with your broker the rules around other people using your vehicles. A standard vehicle policy does not allow you to “rent that vehicle out” to another person as part of a cottage rental.
Save Money By Reviewing Your Current Cottage Insurance Policy
We always recommend taking a few minutes each year to review your active insurance policies with your Mackay Insurance broker.
Be sure to talk through these important points, which may lower your cottage insurance rates:
How often are you in residence at your cottage?
Does your cottage stay open only seasonally or year-round?
Who uses your cottage (you, family, friends, rental tenants)?
Does someone check on your cottage regularly when you are not in residence?
What type of security system (if any) exists at your cottage?
Do you store any recreational vehicles at your cottage?
Do you store any personal valuables at your cottage when you are not in residence?
Is your cottage your primary or secondary residence?
Do you have other buildings (workshops, sheds, boathouses, garages) at your cottage?
Do you conduct any business at your cottage (renting it out or another enterprise)?
Your answers to these questions can impact what you pay as well as what types of coverage and riders you need to fully protect your cottage investment and your plans to use your cottage.
Are You a First-Time Seasonal Cottage Owner?
If you are entering cottage season as a proud cottage owner for the first time, congratulations! This is a dream for many Canadians, and you are about to begin living it!
We know there can be a huge learning curve in your first year of cottage ownership and cottage insurance is only one small part of that learning curve.
Our friendly, knowledgeable brokers are happy to walk you through the steps for how cottage insurance works, what coverage you need to protect your investment and how to adjust your policy seasonally to reflect your usage.
Get in Touch
Are you getting excited for the start of cottage season? We sure are! If you need help with a new cottage insurance policy or want to review your existing policy, we can help.
Contact us online or give us a call at 888-853-5552.
Modular. Manufactured. Mobile. There are so many alternatives to the traditional brick-and-mortar home today! Figuring out the differences between each of them can be surprisingly tricky.
The challenge increases when you are trying to determine what type of home insurance policy you need to cover a manufactured home versus a mobile home versus a modular home.
In this post, we review each of these three popular home types and explain the differences between them. Then we talk about what type of insurance policy you need to cover the home you have or are considering purchasing.
3 Alternative Home Types: Modular, Manufactured, Mobile
Each of these three home types sounds quite similar at first glance. In fact, they do share some similarities.
A modular home is a type of prefabricated home that is built first and then relocated to the home site.
This type of home is often created in two or more separate parts that are then joined together at the building site—hence the word “modular,” which means “parts.”
A modular home is typically situated on a concrete foundation that can accommodate a crawl space or a full basement.
For the most part, once a modular home is placed on a site, it cannot be moved and is treated just like a permanent home.
A manufactured home is also a type of prefabricated home—that is, one that is built at a location other than the site at which it will be permanently placed.
But a manufactured home is typically built and transported in one piece rather than in separate modules. Here, the terms “double-wide” and “triple-wide” refer to the width of a manufactured home.
A manufactured home is constructed around a steel frame and sits atop concrete blocks or concrete or metal piers. A manufactured home can also be placed on a concrete slab as a permanent foundation. However, most manufactured homeowners prefer the former in case they want to move their home at a later date.
It is not uncommon for manufactured homes to have exterior additions such as stairs or ramps, porches or garages.
The term “mobile home” is sometimes used interchangeably with manufactured homes, RV or trailer. The former is what is meant in the context of home insurance.
A mobile home manufactured in Canada will have a CSA label. A mobile home manufactured in the USA will have a red HUD (Housing and Urban Development) label. These organizations govern manufacturing and safety standards for manufactured homes.
RV or Travel Trailer
Recreational vehicles are meant to be mobile. There are several different classes of RVs (A, B,C, etc.) describing different configurations of these vehicles.
What is important to remember here is that RVs and travel trailers are considered vehicles rather than homes. For this reason, you need a different type of insurance policy to cover an RV or travel trailer than what you need for a modular, manufactured or traditional mobile home.
Matching the Right Insurance to Your Home
The type of home insurance policy you need is related to two key factors: whether your home can be moved and the building code your home is built to conform to.
Modular home: standard homeowners insurance policy
Modular homes are typically constructed to comply with local or provincial building codes. For this reason, a modular home will usually be covered under the same type of homeowners insurance policy that a brick-and-mortar home requires.
Manufactured home: mobile/manufactured home insurance policy.
Manufactured homes, in contrast, are built to comply with federal CSA/HUD building codes. For this reason, they need to have a different type of homeowners insurance policy. This policy may be called a mobile home insurance policy or a manufactured home insurance policy.
Adjusting Your Coverages for Full Protection
Modern modular homes are often indistinguishable from traditional brick-and-mortar homes once set in place on their permanent site. Typically, homeowners insurance treats modular homes just like brick-and-mortar homes in terms of overall insurability.
The only adjustments you may need to make here will relate to personal coverage needs and preferences.
Manufactured houses are viewed a bit differently by potential insurers. Because the vast majority are not secured to a permanent foundation and retain wheels and a chassis to be moved at will, they are naturally less secure during inclement weather.
Weather events can potentially cause major damage or even total destruction to manufactured homes, which can raise annual premium rates for manufactured homeowners insurance. Similarly, since many manufactured homes carry less insulation than traditional or modular homes, pipes are more prone to freezing or exploding during extreme winter weather.
However, as a balancing factor, manufactured home structures also typically carry a lower overall valuation than permanent modular or brick-and-mortar homes. In other words, it generally costs less to repair or replace a manufactured home. This fact can help to offset the higher risk of damage or destruction.
There are also a number of optional safety features, such as hurricane straps or special skirting, that you can add on to help reduce the risk of storm or wind damage. These extra features can also help lower homeowners insurance premiums for manufactured homes.
Get in Touch
Do you own a mobile, modular or manufactured home or are you considering investing in one? Do you need expert guidance regarding the right type of homeowners insurance coverage? Our friendly, knowledgeable team of brokers can help!
Contact us online or give us a call at 888-853-5552.
As of this year, there are an estimated 1.15 million small businesses scattered throughout Canada. Half of these are located in Ontario.
But if we fast-forward 10 years, statistics tell us nearly half of these businesses will have disappeared.
A variety of factors contribute to business survival, including number of employees, industry, economic fluctuations and leadership succession plans.
Often overlooked, however, is a business’s risk management strategy. This includes the strategic purchase of business insurance to protect the growing company from the inside out and the outside in.
In this post, we highlight eight key ways to know it is time to take out a business insurance policy for your small business.
Business Insurance Defined
The Government of Canada defines business insurance as “peace of mind.”
This definition may sound simplistic at first, but at its most fundamental level, this is precisely the role business insurance plays in safeguarding your company’s future.
There are many different types of business insurance to offer protection for various key aspects of your company. Business insurance can protect you and your employees, your materials and products, your company vehicles, your online activities and much more.
Different businesses need different types of business insurance. What type you acquire depends on the industry you work in, the size and scope of your operations, your net worth and even your local weather!
As a general rule of thumb, your business insurance policy should match your current needs, with a bit of room to grow.
8 Signs You Need Business Insurance
If you find yourself nodding while you read any of these 8 signs, please give one of our friendly and knowledgeable insurance brokers a call (contact information at the end of this post).
1. You set up a business website
Your business website is essentially your virtual workplace. This is especially the case if you have an online store (more about that in number 6 here), but even your blog and social media feed function as outgrowths of your business operations.
General business liability insurance will protect you in the event someone takes issue with content you post, images you use and advertising and marketing activities.
2. You hire someone to do work for you
Once you take on an employee, you open yourself up to a whole new level of risk. That employee may have an accident on the job or say or do something while working for you that harms someone or damages something.
For the former, workers’ compensation insurance provides protection for you and your employee. For the latter, professional liability insurance covers you for an employee’s (or your own) on-the-job errors that cause damage or harm.
3. You use your vehicle for your business
This is an area far too many business owners overlook to their personal peril.
What many small business owners don’t realize is that a personal auto insurance policy does not cover you if you have an auto accident while driving for work. Some insurers will even drop you if they discover you have filed a claim for a work-related incident under your personal auto policy.
For this, what you need is a commercial vehicle insurance policy. This way, you are protected when driving for work whether you use a personal vehicle or a business vehicle.
4. You carry raw materials or product inventory
Theft, vandalism and even natural disasters can wreak havoc with the raw materials or finished inventory you rely on to keep your business’s doors open. The same holds true for the basic equipment and supplies you use to do business, from your desk and office chair to your phones and computer equipment.
The type of business insurance you need to protect the premises can vary based on whether you are operating your business out of your home or out of a leased or owned commercial space. Commercial property insurance will protect the contents of that space, including raw materials, office supplies, equipment, furniture and finished goods.
5. You receive a new major order
Every business owner dreams of the day they receive their first large order that really solidifies their company’s place in their industry.
But in the glow of success, it is easy to forget this is also a time when you need to already have an active certificate of liability insurance in place to secure that new client.
6. You store confidential or personal customer data
If your website also functions as an online store, chances are good you are accepting and perhaps storing very sensitive customer data, including credit card or bank account information.
With the amount of online fraud activity today, it is smart to include a cyber insurance rider in your business insurance policy to protect you in the event of a data breach.
7. You have visitors to your business
Whether your company operates out of your basement or the office building down the street, you open yourself up to risk with each visitor that enters your space.
From trips and falls to property theft, you will want to have general liability business coverage in place to protect you if someone is injured or their property is damaged while they are visiting your business.
8. You act as an expert in your industry
Finally, in the litigious society we live and work in today, there is nothing to say someone won’t take issue with what you say or do, or your credentials to say or do it.
Errors and omissions insurance plus a professional liability insurance rider will protect you here.
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 888-853-5552.
Life insurance is that one product no one really wants to buy while they are living, but no one really wants to die without having it, either!
Even bringing up the topic of life insurance—when to buy it, how much of it to buy, how long to buy it for—can be a touchy subject between loved ones.
The truth is, life insurance isn’t easy to talk about! It gets even tougher once it is time to actually pick out a policy and iron out all the details of what, when, and how much.
In this post, we take a close look at the number one question most individuals, couples and families today have when it comes to life insurance: When is the right time to purchase a life insurance policy?
The Most Popular Time to Buy Life Insurance
Certain times in life can bring up the topic of life insurance more naturally.
Getting married is one of those life-changing transitions that can prompt discussions about future financial planning.
For some couples, and especially those who want to start a family together, this can be a key moment to decide to take out a life insurance policy.
The hands-down most popular time people decide to purchase a life insurance policy is with the arrival of their first baby.
For most of us, this is the first time in our lives when we have a dependent who totally relies on us for everything they will need in life.
Taking out a life insurance policy can feel very reassuring in the sense that while you can’t control what may happen to you tomorrow, but you can control whether your baby will be provided for if the unthinkable occurs.
Another popular time to think about taking out a life insurance policy is when you are approaching retirement age.
This is the time in life when most people’s minds turn to thoughts of aging, making a will, repaying any outstanding debts, making end-of-life arrangements and leaving something behind for loved ones.
The Best Time to Take Out a Life Insurance Policy
There is a big difference between the most popular time to purchase life insurance and the best time to purchase life insurance.
Investopedia points out that the best time to take out a life insurance policy is when you are born!
If you think about it, this strategy makes sense. You are as young as you will ever get, and presumably healthier than you will ever be again. You have no medical history to complicate approval or hike premium prices.
You have your whole life ahead of you to let your policy appreciate (which is especially important if you are buying life insurance as an investment).
Of course, you can’t purchase a life insurance policy for yourself when you are born, but it’s a very smart thing for a parent to do for a child.
There are two ways to take out life insurance on your child’s behalf. You can purchase a whole life insurance policy in your child’s name and then transfer policy ownership on their 18th birthday. Or you can pay a little bit more on your own term life insurance policy to add coverage for your child.
The Benefits of Purchasing Life Insurance
As the Government of Canada points out, life insurance is designed to provide some very specific benefits to loved ones in the event of your passing.
The life insurance payout is a tax-free lump sum payment. It can be used to pay for funeral and burial services, pay off debt, take care of dependents and loved ones or be put into an estate or trust. It can also be used to contribute to a charitable cause.
But the number one benefit that many people cite as their main motivation for purchasing a life insurance policy is simply peace of mind.
Types of Life Insurance Policies
As with any major purchase, your main reason for purchasing a life insurance policy will and should inform what type of policy you purchase.
There are two main types of policies: term and permanent. There is one basic difference between these two policy types: term life insurance expires and permanent does not.
Term life insurance is the simplest type of policy. The main reason to purchase term life insurance is to have some type of protection in place for dependents or to repay debt if you pass during the term of the policy.
Permanent life insurance offers two different subtypes: whole and universal.
Whole life insurance provides a guarantee that premium costs will not increase during the life of the policyholder along with a guaranteed death benefit payout.
Universal life insurance is the most flexible type of life insurance coverage. This policy type offers lots of options for how and when you pay your premiums, how you use accumulated earnings and the amount of the death benefit payout.
Making the Choice to Open a Life Insurance Policy
Even from this brief overview, you can see that making the choice to open a life insurance policy can get complicated quickly.
You have all kinds of choices and decisions, from when to open your policy to what type of policy to open to how long that policy will remain active.
Then you have decisions about how much coverage to take out, what to do with that coverage (especially if you have an investment-type policy) and who to name as your beneficiary.
The most important thing to remember here is that there is no one “right” time for everyone to take out a life insurance policy. There is only the time that is right for you.
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 888-853-5552.
It’s no secret that Ontarians have some of the highest auto insurance rates nationwide.
This is a popular topic for major news outlets and certainly gets drivers’ attention when those annual premium notices go out.
“But why?” is the common refrain. Everyone is concerned about the cost of their insurance, from high-risk drivers to drivers with a spotless driving record.
Even officials representing the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) acknowledge that Ontario’s auto insurance premiums are high and that the industry is struggling to get a handle on the situation.
What can you do to control your auto insurance costs when you live in the priciest province in the nation? We’ll show you: read on to find out!
Shop Around & Don’t Settle for “This Is the Best Rate You’re Going to Find”
Shopping around is a smart play. While the insurance industry as a whole uses some common factors such as age, gender, location, make/model, driving habits, driving record, etc.), individual insurers file their own rates. Different insurance companies reward different customers with a better price. As an example, Company A may have collected data that tells them that customers who park their car in their driveway have fewer claims than customers who park on the street. They may give a discount to those people. Company B may never have looked at that aspect of setting rates. If you are insured with Company B, you may be getting their best rate, but not the best rate available.
Similarly, because bottom-line price is such a powerful motivator for customers to switch insurers, insurers are free to offer their own incentives and discounts to retain customers and build loyalty. So if an insurance broker tells you that their offer is “the best you’re going to find,” keep looking. Chances are good they know their offer isn’t the best!
Buying your insurance from an insurance broker such as Mackay Insurance gives you an advantage over people who buy from a 1-800 number with only one option for them. Your broker can do some of that legwork for you and check which is the best insurance company for you.
Even if you are insured with a broker, periodically stop in and talk to them about your options. Your circumstances may have changed, and they may now have a better answer for you. A good time to touch base with your broker is when you get your annual renewal notice. And remember that no broker represents every insurance company there is. Periodically check the market yourself and satisfy yourself that you are not over-paying for your insurance.
Talk to Mackay Insurance for help with this. We represent many different insurance companies and can shop around and find the best deal for you. In addition, our knowledge and expertise can help find you discounts and rate reductions you may not have otherwise known about!
Carefully Review Your Insurance Discount & Savings Options With Your Broker Annually
Did you know that insurers will now discount your premiums if you install snow tires on your vehicle during the winter season? You may be able to save up to 5 percent for making this seasonal change! But you have to tell your broker or agent, or they won’t know to add the discount to your policy.
Some insurers will give you a discount if you choose to install a special app on your phone. This app is sort of like the black box on an airplane. It monitors your driving habits and can analyze this data to identify additional discounts you are eligible for (like not driving at night or regularly slamming on your brakes) to further lower your premium payments.
Another potential way to get discounts is to make your vehicle more difficult to steal! Anti-theft alarm systems and secure garaging may translate into lower risk to insure you and thus a premium discount.
Other Mainstream Ways to Lower Your Auto Insurance Premiums
While you might not love all of these savings options, each one does offer a potential avenue for lowering auto insurance premiums.
Consider a higher deductible
The deductible is the amount you pay personally if there is a claim, and the higher the deductible, the lower the premium. It generally is not advisable to put in very small claims anyway, and if your budget can handle paying a larger deductible if there was a larger claim you may as well save some premium and take a higher deductible.
One word of caution is to check what the actual savings are, as there is often something called a “diminishing return” on taking higher deductibles. For example, it may save you enough premium to be worth changing from a $500 to a $1,000 deductible, but you may find that the savings to bump the deductible from $1,000 to $2,500 don’t save you enough to make that next change. Every situation and every budget is unique, so talk to your broker about your own situation.
Drop your comprehensive and/or collision coverage
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) points out that an older, lower-value vehicle may not merit the additional, optional collision and/or comprehensive coverage you would want with a new vehicle.
Bundle your policies
When you purchase more than one type of insurance with the same broker, you may qualify for a discount of anywhere from 5 to 15 percent on your aggregate premiums.
Pay your premiums annually in one lump sum
It typically costs insurers less in administrative overhead to collect premiums in one annual lump sum than to send out and monitor monthly payment reminders. If this fits your budget you can save service charges.
In between paying monthly or paying for a full year is another option to investigate. Many insurance companies have an option to pay in two or three installments and do not charge the finance fee they would if you paid monthly.
Get in Touch
Are you shopping around for a lower rate on insurance? Our talented, seasoned brokerage team would love the opportunity to assist!
Contact us online or give us a call at 888-853-5552.