Mackay Insurance Blog
November is a time for remembering. As we have just held our memorial services and practiced our two minutes of reverent silence on November 11th, we are reminded of our troops and the sacrifices they make for our freedom. As we near December and prepare to close 2020, we are also reminded of the many changes this year has brought each of us - the good times and the bad times. We remember cycles, the ebb and flow of changing seasons, as winter begins to roll in - mighty and brave as ever. By recalling the cycles of our lives, we are reminded of this key point - bad times are always followed by the good times. As 2020 comes to its close, let’s remember to look forward to the good times of 2021.
Something else we want to remember as we are heading into this new season are a few important tasks related to preparing our homes for the upcoming winter months. November is hitting us in full force this year with the occasional flurry of snow, frosty windshields and heating bills appearing in our mailboxes. At Mackay Insurance in Belleville, Ontario, we recognize these little hints far too well as the beginnings of a cold winter approaching. Is your home ready for it?
With the COVID-19 pandemic sticking around for the remainder of 2020, there are many individuals who continue to spend the majority of their time quarantining indoors. Whether you have a home office or run homeschooling from your kitchen table, the comfort of your home during these upcoming winter months is imperative.
At Mackay Insurance, the comfort and safety of your home is extremely important to us! We hear questions about winter home insurance and readying homes for those upcoming cold months all the time . This is why we have come up with a simple list of November To Do’s that you can follow in order to get your home ready for winter!
How To Ensure Your Home Is Prepared For Winter
There are a few key steps in preparing your home for winter - steps that should never be missed! We’ve outlined these winter prepping steps below:
- Remember to clear your gutters and downspouts and extend your downspouts away from the house.
- Check foundations for exterior cracks and ensure that those are properly repaired as soon as possible.
- Check that there is 20cm. between the bottom of your window(s) and ground/bed(s).
- Check your batteries on your smoke detector and back up sewer systems.
- Check your basement and storage areas. Consider not storing things of value down in the basement and consider buying totes for anything stored in crawl spaces.
Mackay Insurance understands the value of your household and we strive to protect that value for you. By following the above steps, you are aiding in loss prevention - meaning that you are ensuring that your home is protected from any potential losses.
During the winter months in eastern Ontario, there are many potential household losses and damages that can occur:
- Flooding caused by melted snow)
- Damages caused by heavy or fallen snow
- Burst or frozen pipes
- Fallen gutters
- And more!
Is Your Home Insured For Potential Winter Damages?
Does your home insurance cover potential loss and damages caused by seasonal effects? Contact your home insurance brokers at Mackay Insurance today to discuss your home insurance coverages this winter!
Located in Belleville, Ontario, and serving the Quinte region and beyond, our goal is to provide our community with a safe and comfortable winter. Let us handle the stress and worry of keeping your house protected so that you can enjoy the season!
From all of us at Mackay Insurance, we hope you stay safe and have a great day!
Traveling Within Canada for the Holidays? First Step Is Travel Insurance
This has been some year, hasn't it! Just when we think the worst is finally in our rearview mirror, we have another spike in COVID-19 cases here in Ontario.
Looking back now, it becomes clear that nearly every aspect of daily life has been altered in some way this year - from how we shop for groceries, to how we work, to how we keep in touch with family and friends.
And now the holidays are nearly here!
If your typical holiday plans include travelling out of the province, it is time to start considering whether you may need to purchase supplemental travel insurance in advance of your trip. At Mackay Insurance in Belleville, Ontario, we work with a great company in providing travel insurance. Click Here for more information on Travel Insurance through Mackay Insurance providers.
In this post, we walk you through how to evaluate your travel insurance options and make the safest choice for your finances and family.
First, Make Sure You Understand Your Current Coverage
This is the right time to download, print out and review all that boring fine print that came with your health insurance policy
In particular, you are looking for any exclusions that apply starting when you travel out of the province.
Let's say you have a provincial health insurance plan and you are planning to travel with your family from Ontario to Quebec to visit relatives.
Here, what you are looking for in the fine print of your policy is coverage exclusions related to out-of-province medical or dental needs.
If you get sick - from COVID-19 or something else - and need special medical attention, will your provincial health insurance policy cover that?
In particular, look for health insurance coverages details about the following:
- Emergency medical transportation for any reason (including pregnancy).
- Diagnostic tests such as X-rays.
- Extra services such as wheelchairs, casts or splints.
- Services specific to COVID-19, such as a ventilator or a stay in the ICU.
- Prescription medications.
- Emergency oral health care.
- Treatment for recurrence of a pre-existing condition.
- Expenses related to having relatives travel to get you if you are hospitalized.
- Expenses related to your family's needs if someone gets sick while you are traveling.
- Coverage benefits for health needs if there is a re-enactment of out-of-province travel bans while you are out of province.
- Costs of enforced quarantine if you contract COVID-19 while out of province or if another lockdown prevents you from returning home for a time.
- Special coverage caps that relate only to COVID-19 treatment or detainment.
These are just some of the special health coverage considerations to ponder if you are planning an out-of-province trip in the near future.
While the fine print in your policy should always provide answers to these questions, it is not always so simple to identify the relevant passages and accurately interpret their meaning.
Your friendly and knowledgeable Mackay Insurance brokers in Belleville, Ontario, are happy to review your existing insurance coverages with you and talk through any limitations or exclusions that may be relevant to your holiday travel plans this year. For more information on travel insurance, contact our team directly or visit our travel insurance page.
Are You Relying on Travel or Health Coverage Through Your Credit Card or Airline?
It can feel very reassuring to know that you have travel insurance coverage through a credit card or through your airline carrier.
Once again, however, the good feelings may quickly evaporate when you take the time to read the fine print to discover limitations or exclusions.
For example, some airline carriers are now offering a limited amount of coverage if you contract COVID-19 while aboard a flight, but how much coverage is offered? What conditions must be met in order to receive that coverage?
If your credit card offers coverage, the first thing you want to check for is that the coverage provided will follow you if you travel outside the province versus outside the country. Many cardholders realize only too late that their coverage only applies to international travel.
Will Supplemental Travel Insurance Make Up the Difference?
Now that the international travel ban has been largely lifted, supplemental travel insurance is back on the table.
Yet here again, you want to be sure that the policy you purchase is actually worth all that fine print you just had to read through.
When reviewing all your options for travel and health insurance, the goal is to put together a complete picture of all the types of coverage and care you may potentially need.
That care doesn't all have to come from one provider, although for simplicity's sake this is always ideal.
Ultimately, you just want to be sure you have the coverage you may need for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-related health and travel claims if you choose to travel out of the province this winter.
For instance, let's say you are waiting to board your flight only to discover the flight was overbooked and you've been bumped off of it. You contact your supplemental travel insurance provider to file a claim.
It is only then you discover that claims made for overbooked travel are specifically excluded from your policy coverage.
This is unfortunately quite common, because the insurer will say the airline carrier is at fault and you will have to apply to them for reimbursement (in which case, good luck).
Get in Touch With Mackay Insurance, Belleville
Mackay Insurance in Belleville, Ontario continues to work remotely at this time. Our qualified Mackay Insurance brokers are available to serve you by appointment, in person and by phone, email, fax, social media and courier. Don’t forget to check out our travel insurance page for more information on our travel insurance options!
Seasonal Cottage Closing Time Means Insurance Updates: Get Yours Now
This has been a tough year for seasonal cottage owners and visitors. Throughout much of this year, we have simply been unable to enjoy "cottage season" the way we typically do.
With only 1-2 months of warm weather here in Ontario, you may be facing a choice:
Should you open up your seasonal cottage at all or simply keep it closed and wait for spring?
In this post, our experienced Mackay Cottage Insurance experts review our recommendations for seasonal cottage customers and give you information about possibilities for adjusting your seasonal cottage insurance.
Is Your Seasonal Cottage Standing Unoccupied, But Not Vacant?
The first big question to ask yourself is this: is your seasonal cottage standing unoccupied, but not vacant right now - and is it likely to stay that way throughout 2020?
Here is why this is an important question to ask.
From the perspective of an insurance underwriter as well as a cottage owner, there are different risk levels associated with a truly vacant structure and a structure that is not vacant, but is standing unoccupied.
Depending on who your insurance provider may be, the definition of each term can also vary. For some cottage insurance brokers, the change in cottage status for 2020 may constitute what is called a "material change in status."
If this applies to your coverage, this can trigger a revision in the type and level of cottage coverage you are eligible for as well as how your claims may be handled.
There is also a lot more that you, the cottage owner, can do to minimize risk for a structure that is not vacant, but is simply standing unoccupied at the moment.
The more you choose to do to minimize risk of weather damage, theft, vandalism and other risks that increase when a structure is continually unoccupied for an extended time period, the less you risk denial of claims or increase of insurance premiums.
Insurance Concessions May Be Available Due to COVID-19
Just the idea that your seasonal cottage insurance premiums might increase on top of the financial concerns that 2020 has already presented may be enough to tempt you to shut your browser window and stop reading this post.
Please do not do this - at least not yet!
It is quite possible that insurance providers may be willing to provide concessions due to the extraordinary financial burdens 2020 has imposed.
Concessions may conceivably include each of the following options:
Deferral of premium payments due to COVID-related financial hardship.
Here, "deferral" is not the same as "forgiveness." Rather, deferral simply means that your policy period gets pushed back by the amount of time you are granted before resuming your regular premium payments.
While deferral is more the order of the day with Canadian underwriters when reviewing COVID-related relief requests, some insurers may be open to an outright forgiveness, or the waiving of any missed payments.
The only way to know for sure is to contact your Mackay Cottage Insurance broker so that we can investigate the possibilities on your behalf. Do you need more information on your recreational cottage insurance coverage this year? Contact Mackay Insurance in Belleville online or give us a call at 888-853-5552.
Rate review based on owner's plan to secure the premises through year-end.
If your insurance provider does decide that 2020's unusual cottage usage patterns constitute a "material change in status," this may trigger an automatic policy review and a subsequent rate increase.
From what we have seen thus far, however, the majority of local Quinte insurance providers we work with are more than willing to back off on proposed rate increases provided that the cottage owner can demonstrate a plan-in-progress to enhance security measures at the property.
For example, many of our seasonal cottage owners have not been able to do much more than make a quick run to check up on their seasonal cottage. Some have not even been able to do that much until quite recently.
Examples of enhanced security measures that could stave off any premium increases might include each of the following:
- Installation of a remote security monitoring system.
- Early cottage winterization preparations to protect the structure from damage.
- Hiring a local security company to monitor the cottage on the owner's behalf.
- Hiring a local individual to check on the cottage regularly.
- Upgrades to the structure itself to prevent seasonal weather damage.
- Upgrades to the HVAC, plumbing, septic and/or sump system to guard against water damage, especially freezing.
Just the choice to install a remote security monitoring system might even be good for a discount of up to 15% off your annual policy rates.
Note - Linking that system to a local company that can follow up will probably be your ticket to the rate decrease.
Review Your Coverage and Make Sure It Protects You & Your Cottage Investment
At Mackay Insurance in Belleville, Ontario we are encouraging all of our seasonal cottage insurance clients to take this opportunity to review their cottage insurance coverage in light of the unusual circumstances of 2020.
We have released an entire post that walks you through the steps to do this.
There are many different levels and types of seasonal cottage insurance based on the type of property, usage patterns and other considerations.
We warmly invite you to connect with your Mackay Cottage Insurance broker to discuss all of your options for adjusting your seasonal cottage insurance in a way that is most favourable for your personal finances.
What If I Rent Out My Cottage Part-Time? How Does This Affect My Insurance Coverage?
In the sharing economy, many cottage owners have transitioned to renting their cottages out during different parts of the season. If you rent out your location, you need to make sure that your insurance company is well aware. In some cases, policies can be endorsed to cover rental for up to 2 weeks. If you are renting out your cottage for more than 2 weeks per year, it may have to go on a more commercial based plan. Talk to our team of qualified cottage insurance brokers today about your options.
Get in Touch With Your Mackay Cottage Insurance Broker Today
Mackay Insurance in Belleville, Ontario continues to work remotely and our qualified Mackay Insurance brokers are available to serve you by appointment, in person, as well as by phone, email, fax, social media and courier.
Need cottage insurance? Complete our short, easy application now!
Returning to the New Normal: What That Means For Your Insurance Coverage
Slowly yet surely, we are starting to emerge out of the firestorm of the global pandemic.
Many of our customers are returning to working outside the home, with their kids similarly preparing for a return to school.
The roads are more crowded now. Some of that traffic even represents seasonal cottage-holders finally able to make the trek to check on their properties and perhaps enjoy a long weekend away.
We may still feel a bit shaky, a touch uncertain about personal safety and next steps, but there is life to be lived and we want to live it.
And while insurance matters may not feel pressing in light of the other major issues we have faced as individuals, communities and a nation this year, this shift towards post-pandemic life also means it is time to revisit your insurance coverage yet again.
In this timely post, we highlight important insurance coverage tasks you may need to consider as we move into the fall and winter season here in Ontario.
Commuting Again? Make Sure Your Auto Insurance Has You Covered
Earlier this year, it came as a welcome relief for many of our customers when auto insurers dropped rates and offered rebates to reflect province-wide pandemic shelter-in-place orders.
You may have also had a conversation with your Mackay broker about reducing coverages based on reduced driving activity.
As the world opens back up again and you find yourself logging more commute time once more, be sure your auto insurance coverage reflects your actual use patterns.
Time to Make the Switch to Off-Season Cottage & Vehicle Insurance?
This hasn't been an easy summer season thus far for seasonal cottage owners and recreational vehicle owners.
In fact, with the majority of the brief warm season now behind us, our goals for getting the RV out of storage or taking a spin with our motorboat or jet skis may rapidly be fading as we move into fall.
However, with fall nearly upon us, our customers who own snowmobiles or ATVs may be eyeing those with unseasonal eagerness, imagining a winter with the pandemic firmly behind us at last.
In either case, make sure you update your seasonal cottage insurance and recreational boat insurance coverage accordingly. It is not too early to retire a recreational vehicle you don't anticipate using for the remainder of the summer season and reap the savings from that.
Similarly, if your cottage is typically inaccessible in winter, talk with your Mackay Insurance broker about transitioning to off-season coverage there as well.
Evaluate Business Insurance Coverage for a Remote Workforce
Whether your business is an entrepreneurship or a large company, the transition to a largely remote workforce can have a ripple effect on the types of business insurance coverage you need.
In many cases, business liability insurance is set up to reflect a group of workers operating out of a single location. The risk profile changes across the board when that same group of workers is now working from multiple locations.
Part of the increased risk comes into play due to the need to provide remote online access to secure company networks and databases that may contain sensitive or proprietary information.
Part of the increased risk arises from the use of a remote location as a "work site" and what might happen if the remote worker is injured on the job or causes harm or injury to another during scheduled work hours.
Another aspect to the increased risk comes from the need or choice to store company property, supplies, materials, devices or data in an off-site, remote location.
Yet, another issue that arises is when a remote worker needs to use their personal vehicle for non-commute-related company business or to transfer company property or data from one location to another, such as between a home office and the regular work site.
Each of these issues needs to be addressed in a thorough review of the current business insurance coverage - even more urgently if there is an ongoing semi-permanent or permanent transition to a remote workforce. Your Mackay broker in Belleville can help you review and adjust your business coverage policy to reflect these types of post-pandemic shifts.
Homeowners Insurance Policies May Not Cover a Home Office
Similarly, for remote workers who are using a portion of the home as a temporary (or transitioning to permanent) remote work site, it is vital to be aware of any coverage limitations under your existing homeowner insurance policy.
Your current homeowners insurance policy may contain a clause that expressly prohibits operation of a home-based business. Should a claim arise out of the choice or necessity of working remotely from home, it will be up to your insurer to decide whether that constitutes a violation of the policy exclusion or not.
And while it is true that many insurers have adopted a policy of leniency during these unprecedented crisis months, this should be viewed as a temporary laxity and never something you should count on.
It is worth a phone call or email to your Mackay Insurance broker to talk through any changes to your work site and possible risks that may open up when filing a homeowners insurance policy claim.
If necessary, your coverage can be adjusted to reflect your new use of a portion of your home space as a work site. Something as simple as an "incidental office use" rider may be all that is needed.
You may also need to adjust your personal riders to reflect use/storage of high-value business property like computers. If there is theft or loss, you want to be sure those items can be replaced without causing you to use your personal savings to do so.
Get in Touch With Your Mackay Insurance Broker Today
Mackay Insurance in Belleville, Ontario continues to work remotely and our qualified Mackay Insurance brokers are available to serve you by appointment, in person, as well as by phone, email, fax, social media and courier.
Relief for Seasonal Cottage Insurance
Now that summer is here in full force, we are getting calls from some of our customers who have seasonal cottages.
One of the hot-topic questions on the table right now is simply this: “if you are not allowed to use your seasonal cottage this summer season, will there be discounts or rebates on cottage insurance, recreational vehicle insurance or cottage rental (business use) insurance?”
If yes, how do you apply? If no, is it possible to cut back on coverage levels to control the costs of seasonal cottage coverage during COVID-19?
What about breaks on associated fees, such as marina use fees, property taxes and local services fees?
These are all great questions; however, with COVID-19 being an unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation, the answer is more complicated than we might like.
We will take a closer look at each question and give you the most recent, up-to-date information in this blog post. Keep reading!
Are There COVID-19 Related Discounts or Rebates for Seasonal Cottage Insurance?
Unlike with auto insurance, currently there are no province-wide or national mandates of any kind encouraging or requiring that insurers provide seasonal cottage insurance customers with rebates or discounts due to COVID-19.
This is in spite of the fact that many cottage owners are not able to even travel to their properties just to check the premises, let alone to enjoy time there or earn rental income by subletting to summer tenants.
There is a possibility that you could apply for a deferment of premium payments for reasons of financial hardship due to COVID-19. This is a decision that is being left up to each individual insurance provider. Find out more about your Mackay cottage insurance here.
Is It Okay to Cancel Seasonal Cottage Insurance During COVID-19?
If you can't visit your seasonal cottage due to COVID-19 restrictions and no one else (such as rental tenants) can either, then is it okay to cancel your seasonal cottage insurance to save money?
We completely understand that many of our customers have been severely impacted financially due to the economic shutdown here in Canada.
There are simply far too many unknowns to make it a smart plan to cancel your seasonal cottage insurance even if you can't enjoy your cottage right now.
It may, however, be possible to adjust your premiums based on adjusting the level of coverage you are carrying.
Can You Cancel Business Use Rider Coverage for a Seasonal Cottage Rental?
If you have been carrying a business use policy rider that permits you to rent your seasonal cottage for a more extended time period, it may be feasible to pause this seasonal cottage coverage.
If, however, your business use rider includes coverage for loss of rental income, you may not want to pause this coverage right now!
What Other Options Are Available to Make Seasonal Cottage Insurance More Affordable?
Here are some additional ways to adjust your policy premium costs to make continuing to carry seasonal cottage insurance more affordable during COVID-19:
- Increase your policy deductible.
- Install extra safety features at your cottage, such as a monitored alarm system.
At the very least, you still want to make sure your seasonal cottage, including the premises and possessions stored on that property, are insured against risks that COVID-19 will not impact, such as weather-related events, vandalism, theft and flooding due to pump or pipe malfunctions.
Can You Get a COVID-19 Deferral on Your Seasonal Cottage Premium Payments?
Another option to pursue if COVID-19 is stretching your budget too thin is to ask your insurer if it is possible to apply for a deferral of policy premium payments.
If you are experiencing financial hardship, it is possible you may be able to have your premium payments deferred for a limited period of time.
A premium payment deferment is not the same as a loan or a forgiveness of financial obligations. Rather, a deferment simply pushes back the due date of the next premium payment.
This may have the impact of extending the term of your policy and/or increasing the amount you have to pay for the remaining premium payments.
It is vital to understand the fine print of how any such deferred payment plan will work to be sure you are comfortable with the terms.
Can You Cancel Your Recreational Vehicle Insurance Policy?
If you have a boat, jet skis, off-road vehicles, fifth wheel or RTV, travel trailer or other type of seasonal recreational vehicle that you are not able to use right now, you may also be wondering if there are any auto-related insurance discounts for these.
While the auto insurance industry has been releasing some funds back to policyholders due to COVID-19, the same is not true for the recreational vehicle insurance industry.
Depending on how your policy is structured, it may be possible to reduce coverage based on reduced use. But here again, you want to make sure you retain coverage for damage or destruction due to events outside of your control such as weather or theft.
How to Find Out What Financial Support May Be Available to You
Right now, with the possible exception of auto insurance providers, it is pretty much up to each individual insurer whether to offer any type of financial support to customers hit hard by COVID-19.
The best way to find out what, if any, financial relief may be available is to reach out to your Mackay broker directly.
Together, you can review your coverage and identify where you may be able to cut back on coverage, apply for premium payment deferment or consolidate due to reduced use rates.
Get in Touch With Mackay Insurance
Here at Mackay Insurance in Belleville, Ontario, our offices are open by appointment only to serve you. Our brokers and support staff are also available by email and phone to support you in any way we can.
COVID-19 Insurance Relief for Individuals & Businesses
If there is one COVID-19 fact everyone around the world easily agrees on, it is this: the new novel coronavirus is wreaking havoc with budgets and bottom lines worldwide!
This includes individuals, small businesses, big businesses and not-for-profit organizations of all sizes. It seems no individual or business is immune to the effects. The economic ripple effect from the unexpected pandemic is only now starting to make its impact felt.
In fact, 95% of the calls we are receiving right now are calls to inquire about insurance for income loss and/or business interruption, auto insurance discounts and personal insurance benefits.
Callers want to know if the insurance they have been faithfully paying for all these months, or years, can help them in this time of near-universal struggle.
In this post, CEO Bruce Mackay of Mackay Insurance will answer your most frequently asked questions about insurance policy benefits as they may relate to COVID-19 relief.
NOTE: Do you have a question that we didn't answer in this post? Use the contact information at the end of this post to send us your question!
Question #1: Auto Insurance Discounts - Are You Going to Get One?
The short answer to this question is "it depends on the insurer.
Ontario province has adjusted regulations to permit auto insurers to offer discounts and/or rebates to customers who are driving less, due to COVID-19. This option will continue to extend for a full 12 months after the pandemic is officially over.
But officials have left it up to each individual insurer to decide if and/or how to administer financial relief to policyholders.
Some insurers are choosing to be proactive and simply issue blanket financial relief to all policyholders. Some insurers are choosing not to offer relief at all. Some insurers are only administering rebates or discounts on a case-by-case basis - and often only if you, the policyholder, call them first to ask for these benefits.
The best way to find out if your auto insurer is providing rebates and/or discounts due to reduced mileage or changes in vehicle use is to contact your Mackay Insurance broker right away.
NOTE: You can find additional information about coronavirus-related changes to auto insurance in this blog post.
Question #2: What Happens If You Can't Pay Your Policy Premiums Due to COVID-19?
An enormous number of people in Ontarian are struggling to pay for essentials due to the pandemic shutdown. So it is easy to see how paying for insurance premiums might become a serious economic hardship.
Currently, it is up to each individual consumer or business insurance provider to decide how to handle requests for payment deferments and/or premium discounts due to COVID-19 related economic hardship; however, from what we have seen thus far, the majority of insurers are doing their best to provide special concessions to policyholders who are severely impacted by COVID-19. Many insurers are providing policyholders with generous deferments (where you can simply resume paying for your premiums at a later date) upon request.
The best way to find out what, if any, type of economic relief may be available if you can't afford to pay your insurance premiums on time is to contact your Mackay Insurance broker.
Question #3: Will Business Interruption Insurance Cover You for COVID-19?
Recent events have conspired to make this the most controversial and hotly contested question in the insurance industry right now.
Traditionally speaking, the business interruption clause in most commercial insurance policies has not been designed to cover pandemic disruptions, at least according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).
As Insurance Business Magazine points out, a recent Supreme Court ruling has rekindled hope that commercial insurers might provide benefits for coronavirus-related business interruption. However, since this ruling was not related to COVID-19, it may be a long road to try to apply this case as precedent to seek coronavirus business interruption benefits.
Because so many businesses are being economically impacted by pandemic-related shutdowns, we expect much more dialogue and debate on this question in the coming weeks and months.
For now, the individual wording of each commercial insurance policy is still the ultimate determinant of whether a pandemic-related shutdown constitutes business interruption for the purposes of triggering insurance benefits.
Some companies and business owners are choosing to take the matter to court, and at least one class action is in process due to denial of business interruption benefits coverage.
The best way to find out if your particular commercial insurance policy may provide benefits for a pandemic-induced business interruption is to contact your Mackay Insurance broker to review your policy.
Question #4: Should You Get Travel Insurance If You Need to Travel During the Pandemic?
Here in Ontario, the travel insurance industry is closely linked to official travel advisories and border closures.
Starting on March 13, 2020, when Canada officially posted the non-essential travel advisory, the majority of insurance providers stopped issuing travel insurance policies regardless of the reason for the trip.
While some boutique insurers may still provide travel insurance policies for international travel outside of Canada, it is important to verify with the insurer that coronavirus-related travel delays and cancellations as well as medical benefits are included within the policy.
If travel is a requirement for your job, your employer may provide travel insurance benefits to you as a part of your employment package.
If your travel is of a personal nature, the best way to find out the most up-to-date information about available travel insurance benefits is to contact your Mackay Insurance broker.
Get in Touch
Do you have other questions about how the insurance industry is changing in response to the global pandemic crisis?
Do you need help applying for insurance premium payment deferment or filing a claim related to the current economic shutdown here in Canada?
COVID 19 and Your Mackay Home Insurance
Like many people, on March 16, 2020, Mackay Insurance in Belleville, Ontario began to transition our staff from our town office to working from home in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus and to do our part in protecting you. During this time, we have experienced quite a few phone calls in regards to this increased time spent at home. Many of our Quinte home owners have been asking whether their home insurance policies should be updated now as well, due to working from home, using business tools within their home, holding business property within their homes, renovations and home maintenance updates etc. Our Quinte team of certified home insurance brokers have many suggestions for our clients in terms of these working from home transitions. Keep reading as we reflect on these changes and advise on your home insurance policies! If you have any questions or would like more information in regards to any aspect of your home insurance, please contact us!
Home Insurance - Working From Home
Most home insurance policies in Ontario don’t include home business coverage, nor do they extend liability to working from home. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies actually changed their policy in order to include this coverage, but after July they are expected to revert back to the policy wordings as before, which don’t include working from home.
If you are temporarily working from home or, like Amazon and other tech companies, making a permanent transition to your home office, we definitely recommend getting this noted by your insurer and getting liability on your home insurance policy extended as soon as possible. This can be done very inexpensively as well! Contact one of our qualified home insurance brokers today and we will get this sorted out for you!
Home Insurance - Business Tools
Most homeowner policies in Ontario have limited coverage for business tools/business property while at your residence as subject to your home policy deductible. Many of our Quinte homeowner clients have brought home desktops or laptops, as well as other materials from their business offices and it is important to make note of these within your home insurance policy. It’s not uncommon for your home insurance policy to limit business tools and property to $2,500 - $5,000. In many circumstances, however, this isn’t enough. We recommend speaking with your employer about this to see if their insurance extends to their property while at your home, or if they can increase the limits.
Home Insurance - Business Property
Many of our clients who are working from home keep their company property within their house, which most policies will extend to with limited coverage. Some clients, however, have left company property in their car, which we highly recommend not doing. For security reasons, empty your car each night of business property. Leaving a laptop in your car is an easy target, and can also make your employer vulnerable to cyber security issues and could jeopardize your employer’s willingness to allow working from home to continue in the future.
Home Insurance - Renovations
With the onset of the current pandemic, many of Mackay’s clients have opted out of vacations and travel and have, instead, invested in updating their workspaces at home. This includes upgrading renovations within their home. An interesting statistic has emerged where fire claims have actually increased during this pandemic, due to many clients attempting to renovate their homes themselves. Unfortunately, encountering electrical and other issues causing more fire claims. We highly encourage and recommend ensuring you have the proper building permits and hiring professionals to do all electrical work for you. Before and after you do renovations, please contact your Mackay Insurance broker to update your home insurance policy and limits, and to ensure that you have the proper coverage for water, sewer, and overland coverage.
Review Your Property Policy
While most of our country is spending more time in their homes, we are highly recommending you consult your property policy and review the data with respect to any of the following updates:
- When was your roof last updated?
- How old is your furnace?
- How old is your wiring?
- How old is your plumbing?
- What are your limits for sewer and overland water coverage?
Home Run Business Packages
For many, the transition of working from home is now permanent.
At Mackay Insurance in Belleville, Ontario, we offer Home Run Business packages that will extend liability, and also increase commercial coverage for business property. To get a fast and easy online quote for updating your home insurance policy, please contact our team today or visit us online!
COVID-19 and Your Auto Insurance
On March 11, the global pandemic was issued with respect to COVID-19 - and our world, as well as our normal employment practices changed dramatically.
On March 16, the office culture of Mackay Insurance changed dramatically when the majority of our staff began working from home, rather than from our Belleville office location.
We understand that these times are confusing, as we’ve experienced the struggle of unknown ourselves as well, but we want to assure you that Mackay Insurance has you covered. We know the importance of having up-to-date knowledge in the insurance sector - including general news, changes in rates, updated policies etc. - and we are here to provide you with that knowledge so that you can feel safe - even amidst this unknown time.
Our Quinte drivers have frequently been asking us about their auto insurance policies and how their rates have, or will be, affected since the COVID-19 pandemic continues. In order to ease your worry and provide some helpful knowledge on the topic of Quinte auto insurance and COVID-19, our team of brokers at Mackay Insurance have compiled the most important factors for you to review!
How Is Your Mackay Auto Insurance Affected During COVID-19
Before the start of this pandemic, your vehicle was rated for particular usage:
Pleasure (For our Sunday drivers out there!)
Many of our Mackay Insurance clients are now inquiring, however, whether their auto insurance rates will be affected with the stay-at-home order. The short answer is yes, depending on what you are using your vehicle for currently and what it was used for previously, your auto insurance rate might be affected. If you have more questions regarding your own Mackay Auto Insurance rate changes, please contact one of our insurance brokers and we will be happy to discuss these changes with you further!
Currently, if you are a business owner in Quinte and have been forced to allow for minor amounts of delivery within your business (ie. delivering essential services and products), Mackay Insurance will amend your policy so that these factors are included.
Once the pandemic is over, however, you will need to advise your insurance provider about the continued deliveries and your rate will be adjusted accordingly.
If you have further questions regarding these policy and rate changes, or how they might affect your current vehicle deliveries, let us know and we will clear this up as soon as possible with you!
Many people show their annual kilometers at 20,000, 16,000 or 10,000. This is definitely a rating factor that should be reviewed every year, as we have found that most people will actually lower the number of kilometers driven this year, due to COVID-19. At Mackay Insurance, we strongly recommend each renewal cycle to review, assess and adjust accordingly.
It is important to note that this year may indeed cause your kilometers to be quite a bit lower in comparison to other, more ‘normal’ years. In this case, you would need to contact your insurance company directly in order to adjust for this decrease.
Each year, however, is subject to change and differs from what the previous year’s average might have been. For this reason, it is crucial that you contact your insurance company on the basis of any change so that they are able to adjust your rates accordingly.
Pay By Use
CAA insurance has just introduced a product called MyPace Insurance. This product basically allows you to pay for the exact amount of kilometers you drive. This product is unique to the Ontario market and should be considered if you drive under 9,000 km on an annual basis. If you drive more than 9,000 km annually, however, our brokers at Mackay Insurance recommend that you stay with your current insurance ratings. If you would like to analyze your situation further with us, please let us know and we would be glad to go over these details with you!
When reviewing your policy, it is very important to ensure that all drivers within your household are known and listed on that policy. Many people try to save money by not listing a particular driver who holds a negative driving record - whether that be from an accident or a ticket - in order to save on their premium. Unfortunately, if this is the case within your household, you could be put in the uncomfortable position of material misrepresentation and/or voiding of your contract when it comes time to a claim. Take our advice and don’t put yourself in that position. Simply review your drivers and your policy regularly so that you are constantly aware of the expectations and requirements.
When was the last time you reviewed your optional accident benefits? Perhaps you had a job which included disability or benefits before, but now, due to COVID-19 or employment downsizing, you have been forced to become an independent contractor with zero benefits. This could impact your auto insurance.
If you have reviewed your Mackay auto insurance before, but have recently experienced an employment change, we highly recommend that you review with us again.
Disability benefits cap out at 70% of your gross income to a maximum of $400 a week. If you don’t have a group benefits plan, this limit may be highly inadequate.
Combining and Saving
Now is the time to review and adjust your policy limits and coverages with your insurance provider. By increasing your deductibles, combining property and auto insurance, and updating your usage, you could also save quite a bit of money!
Contact Mackay Insurance in Belleville
Our team of brokers at Mackay Insurance are here to walk you through these insurance processes, to review and customize to your specific needs and help you find the auto insurance coverage that fits you best. During COVID-19, we want to ensure that you are getting the best package to fit your needs.
Although we are working from home, we are just as committed as ever in providing you with the best possible solutions for your specific needs.
Be Sure, Insure with Mackay Insurance!
Questions and Answers About Life Insurance and COVID-19
It is the topic we all put off talking about until a pandemic suddenly unfolds. All at once, you may find yourself asking the question: is it too late to enrol in life insurance now? The answer, thankfully, is no; however, continuing to delay your enrolment to see how things play out may put you and your family at risk of coverage exclusions related to the new novel coronavirus.
Right now, health insurance providers are scrambling to calculate risk and overhaul policy terms accordingly. These new terms are likely to impact future policyholders of all ages, since COVID-19 and its secondary complications do not discriminate based on age.
How Will Coverage Be Handled For My Existing Life Insurance Policy?
If you have an existing, active life insurance policy right now, you are unlikely to experience any difficulties with coverage for COVID-19 related claims, provided you meet all other policy requirements. If you have questions about this, please contact us at Mackay Insurance and we can assist you in understanding your life insurance policy.
My Life Insurance Coverage Is Deferred - What If I Need to Make a Claim?
If your life insurance policy is deferred, your coverage will not activate until that period has concluded. It is, however, unlikely that COVID-19 related claims will be handled differently than other "death by natural causes" claims that relate to disease or illness.
I Want to Enrol in Life Insurance, But Will Coronavirus Claims Still Be Covered?
At this point in time, there is no vaccine for the new novel coronavirus. The pandemic is creating an unusually high demand for life insurance products - and for good reason.
As of time of publication, Canadian insurance companies (including Mackay Insurance in Belleville, Ontario) that offer life insurance products have not yet changed terms to exclude COVID-19 related claims.
There is no guarantee, however, that they will not choose to do so in the future, especially if available data indicates the outbreak is worsening.
What you need to know right now is that if you choose to enrol in a life insurance policy today, you will likely receive the same coverage terms that current policyholders have - all other aspects remaining equal.
I Have Tested Positive for COVID-19 - Can I Still Enrol in Life Insurance?
This is a slightly more complicated question, since different insurance providers may choose to handle this sensitive issue differently.
Speaking in the most general terms based on what is known right now, the most likely outcome is that you will be able to enrol in life insurance, even if you have tested positive for COVID-19 and are showing symptoms.
It is equally likely that the policy issuer will place your policy into a deferral period, pending the outcome of your diagnosis. If this is the case, it is not different from how insurance providers have handled policy issuance in the past when a serious illness or disease has been involved.
I Returned From China Recently - Can I Still Enrol in Life Insurance Now?
To date, it has become standard practice in the insurance industry to ask applicants to share details about recent or upcoming travels. Generally, these inquiries are limited to the past quarter or near future.
If you have recently returned from any region reporting a high incidence of COVID-19 cases, or if your near-future travel plans are taking you into such a region, the insurance provider may elect to place your policy into a deferral period.
I Have a Disability Insurance Policy - Can I Make a COVID-19 Claim Under That Policy?
This is a good question. Here, the claim would relate to loss of income due to COVID-19 diagnosis.
The type of policy you have (short-term, long-term) and the waiting period (typically anywhere from one week to two years) will dictate what coverage you receive.
The best-case scenario is this: if you have lost income due to COVID-19, and your waiting period has expired, and your disability insurance policy is still in force, it is likely your claim will be honoured.
It may also be worth asking your insurance company to waive the waiting period.
I Have a Critical Illness Insurance Policy - Can I Make a COVID-19 Claim?
If you have a current active critical illness insurance policy, your policy likely outlines the specific health conditions that qualify you to make a claim against your policy.
Since COVID-19 is a newly identified illness, it will not be listed. This means insurers will likely elect to exclude COVID-19 related policy claims.
You may have some wiggle room here if you contract a serious secondary complication due to being diagnosed with COVID-19.
In this case, as long as the secondary complication itself is on the approved list of covered critical illnesses, it probably will not matter that COVID-19 came first - your claim will most likely be approved.
Is Now the Right Time to Purchase Life Insurance in Ontario, Canada?
Here in the province of Ontario, the coronavirus pandemic is still a rapidly evolving situation. It is very hard to make any predictions about the progress of the virus even for the near future.
This means that the basic reasons to apply for life insurance remain the same, but may perhaps be more urgent now.
If you are newly married, caring for dependents (whether young or elderly), have children or are concerned about loved ones bearing the cost burden of your burial and funeral, this is an excellent time to consider enrolling in life insurance.
Perhaps the greatest value of a new life insurance policy is simply knowing your loved ones are protected.
Get in Touch
Do you have more questions about applying for life insurance and how that process might be affected during COVID-19? Our team at Mackay Insurance continues to work remotely, but we are here for you. You can read more here about how to reach out to your broker via phone.
Our CSR Team
It’s Bruce Mackay from Mackay Insurance - currently working from home! Whether I’m dressed like this, or this, or even this, we’re here to help you!
You can reach me at extension 206 or email me at email@example.com.
Most of our staff during COVID 19 are at home and they’re here to help you!
Hi! I’m Holly. My extension is 209 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi, my name is Wendy. My phone extension is 207 and you can reach me by email at email@example.com.
Hi! I’m Anita. I’m working from home! You can reach me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or at extension 202.
Hi! I’m Donna Mitchell Perry. I’m working from home! You can reach me at email@example.com or contact me at extension 204. Thanks and stay safe!
Hi! I’m Janet and I’m working from home! You can reach me at my extension 208 or email me at Janet@mackayinsurance.com. Thanks!
Hi! I’m Tara. You can reach me at extension 229 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
So we’re open for business and here to help! Give us a call at 613 966 5740.
Be safe, and let’s stop this virus!
Our Sales Team
It’s Bruce Mackay from Mackay Insurance - currently working from home! Whether I’m dressed like this, or this, or even this, we’re here to help you!
You can reach me at extension 206 or email me at email@example.com.
Most of our staff during COVID 19 are at home and they’re here to help you!
Hi, I’m Davin and I’m working from home! My extension is 219 and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello! Don - extension 205. My email address is email@example.com.
Hi I’m Paul, I’m working from home where you can reach me at my email Paul@mackayinsurance.com or extension 211
So we’re open for business and here to help! Give us a call at 613 966 5740
Be safe and let’s stop this virus!
Hi again everyone, Bruce Mackay from Mackay Insurance.
You know, Covid-19 has impacted us in many ways. One of which, for business owners, is the shutdown of their business. For your buildings, you do need to check on them, and we recommend that you check on them daily.
There's a few things that you should be checking on:
First, check your sump pump. Make sure it's in working order. Also check your water systems, making sure if you have any sprinkler systems, fire extinguisers, or your plumbing - check for leaks.
Second, check on your heating and thermostat. Make sure your building is properly maintained.
Third, check on your roof. You want to make sure that there's not any missing shingles or any leaks.
Fourth, check on your property. It's a good practice to check it daily.
Also, if you're a homeowner, and there's been a change in your home or if you've had a rental home and it's now vacant. You do need to let your insurance company know. These are things that sometimes people forget. We recommend that if you have any changed use of your building, that you contact us as soon as possible.
Please be safe.