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Home Insurance

Considering Home Renovation? Make Sure Your Insurance Protects You!

home renovation

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.

Click here to get an instant, online, no obligation home insurance quote now.

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Cottage Season Is Nearly Here: Is Your Cottage Protected?

muskoka chairs on the dock

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.

Cottage insurance

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.

Tenant insurance

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.

Click here to get an instant, online, no obligation cottage insurance quote now.

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Modular Versus Manufactured Home: What Type of Home Insurance Do You Need?

assembling a prefabricated house

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.

Modular home

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.

Manufactured 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.

Mobile home

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.

Click here to get an instant, online, no obligation home insurance quote now.

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How to Select Tenant Insurance You Can Trust

modern apartment

Many renters don’t think about tenant insurance unless their landlord requires proof of a policy as a condition for renting.

It is all too easy to look at renting as a “no responsibility” situation—you pay for the space you live in and your landlord takes care of the heavy lifting for things like repairs and insurance. Many renters in Canada don’t carry tenant (renter's) insurance!

This strategy can backfire. As a renter, you are exposed to serious liability issues, both in your home and away. The easy and affordable solution is to buy a tenant insurance policy.

In this post, we take a close look at the benefits of tenant insurance so you can decide if now is the right time to take out a policy.

What Is Tenant Insurance?

You can bet that your landlord carries an insurance policy that protects the premises and structure of the building itself. However, for all intents and purposes, your landlord’s policy ends at your front door.

What lies inside your space—your possessions—is not covered by your landlord’s insurance policy.

This means that tenant insurance is the policy you need in order to protect personal items you have spent your hard-earned money to purchase.

The Star reports that tenant insurance often costs less than $1 per day and calls taking out a renter insurance policy a “no-brainer.”

But is it, really? Let’s take a look at exactly what a typical tenant insurance policy covers.

What Does Tenant Insurance Cover?

The typical basic tenant insurance policy covers two key things:

1. Personal property

Your personal belongings will be covered up to a certain dollar amount. You will select the amount of insurance needed to replace your possessions. You can add policy riders if you have high-valued jewelry, cameras or other special property and collections.

Many young renters in particular take the position that their personal possessions are not valuable enough to take out a renter policy. It is important to test out that theory by making a list of your valuables, assigning a dollar value to each. Though you have used your furniture and clothing and perhaps could not sell it for much, most tenant policies insure property for the cost to replace the item with new property—new for old.

For example, you might be readily able to replace your laptop or your watch if one of these items was stolen. But would you be financially able to replace all of your valuables at the same time if your home was broken into and robbed?

As well, if you choose to take your personal property outside your home and put it in the car and your car is broken into, your tenant insurance policy will still cover the loss. The same holds true if a valuable item is stolen or damaged on a trip or while you are running errands.

2. Personal liability

Personal liability is often an area of confusion for many. What does “personal liability” mean? You can be held liable (legally and financially responsible) for actions you take that cause harm to other people or damage to their property.

For example, let’s say you light a candle and fall asleep. Meanwhile, the air conditioning comes on and blows the curtains into the candle flame and they catch fire. By the time you wake up, the fire is spreading from your apartment to nearby units.

Without a renter insurance policy to protect you, you could be held liable for the damage your actions caused to your landlord’s building and other tenants!

Personal liability also covers you in case someone visits you, trips and falls, and decides to sue you. If you are away from home and cause injury to someone else that is not auto-related, your personal liability coverage can also protect you.

Tenant Insurance: Replacement Value Versus Actual Cash Value

You can choose whether to purchase a tenant insurance policy that covers the full replacement value of your personal items or the actual cash value at the time your items were stolen, lost or destroyed.

Opting for a policy that covers the full replacement value ensures you won’t have to dip into your own pocket to account for depreciation or changes in market price.

Tenant Insurance: All Risk Versus Named Perils

There are two types of renter insurance policies: all risk and named perils. Under an all risk policy, only perils that are specifically excluded in the policy fine print will not be covered.

Under a named perils policy, only perils that are listed in the policy are covered.

Perils, as the name suggests, is a term that means bad things that could happen. For example, a flood is a peril. So is a fire. Theft, vandalism, wind damage, water damage, rain or hail damage, even getting struck by lightning, are all considered perils.

Tenant insurance typically covers these types of perils so that if your personal items are lost due to any of these occurrences, you will have coverage to replace them.

Additional Living Expenses Coverage

Tenant insurance also covers your expenses if an insured event beyond your control causes your rental home to become uninhabitable and you need to live elsewhere until repairs can be made. For example, let’s say there was a fire and now your landlord needs several months to make repairs before you can move back in.

Where will you stay? How will you eat? These costs can really add up, especially if you don’t have a friend or family member who can afford to put you up at no cost while you are waiting to move back into your unit.

Get a Free Tenant Insurance Quote!

It is free and easy to generate a quote for tenant insurance. Just visit our quick quote generator tool to get started.

If you have questions or want to speak with an agent personally, give us a call at 1-888-853-5552!

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Do You Run a Home-Based Business? Why You Need Business Insurance

home business woman at cluttered desk

It is exciting to get a new home-based business up and running! For many Canadians today, being able to work from home profitably is a huge “bucket list” goal.

The number of home-based businesses throughout Canada grows each year, which is great news for Canada’s economy.

However, a surprising number of home-based business owners do not realize that their home insurance coverage may not provide coverage for claims associated with their home business operations.

This can put both the business owner and the business at risk of exposure to liability and legal issues. In this article, we talk about why we recommend home-based business insurance.

What is Home-Based Business Insurance?

As the name implies, home-based business insurance is an insurance policy that is specifically tailored to the unique needs and potential liability issues of a business that is operated out of your residence.

What Are the Types of Home-Based Business Insurance?

There are two basic types of home-based business insurance. It is important to talk to your broker about your business and determine which of these solutions is right for you.

Extension of an existing homeowners policy

The first type of home-based business insurance can be provided through an extension of your existing home insurance policy.

This type of insurance may fit your needs if your business has just one or two employees without a lot of foot traffic through the home (customers, vendors, employees).

Standard business insurance policy

If you have a larger or more high-value business, or you are storing business inventory at your home, you may need a standard business insurance policy instead.

What Does a Home-Based Business Insurance Policy Cover?

Both types of home-based business insurance policies offer certain standard features that all business owners should have in place.

Property

For general purposes, the majority of home-based businesses have several types of business-related property kept on the premises to help run the business.

Examples include home office equipment (desks, file cabinets, printers, scanners, computers), business inventory (raw materials, finished products, packaging, marketing materials) and cash reserves.

Your property coverage typically provides coverage for business property losses in your home and any items you may transport for business purposes that are lost, stolen, vandalized or destroyed while you travel.

Your cash on hand needs to be looked at separately. You will need the correct amount of insurance, and insurance against the correct perils. As an example there is different coverage needed to protect you if someone breaks in and steals your cash (theft), if someone holds you up at gunpoint on the way to the bank (burglary), and if an employee steals from you.

Liability

Business liability coverage will protect you if, for example, a customer is injured while at your home. It can also protect you from legal issues that arise from damage that can be traced back to your company’s services or products.

Business interruption

Business interruption insurance is a valuable resource for small and home-based businesses in particular, since often even a short interruption may greatly impact the viability and health of the business.

Business interruption insurance can compensate you for being unable to run your business due to your place of business (in your case, your home) being unusable due to a fire or other insured peril. It may also cover the costs for you to move your business operations to another location until you can move back into your home.

Extra Business Insurance Coverage You May Need

The specific type and level of home-based business insurance coverage you need can vary depending on the type of business you operate as well as on the scope of the business and the number of employees you have.

For example, let’s say you run a service-based business. Your main “product” is your expertise. If you give professional advice, you may need a professional liability (errors and omissions) policy.

This policy covers and protects you if a client sues you for professional negligence or malpractice.

Businesses that work with children or at-risk adults face a higher liability exposure. In addition to slips, falls, accidents and other bodily injury issues, you need insurance that will pay for your defence costs if abuse is alleged.

You may need special insurance if your business property includes antiques, rare items, high-value items or unique items.

It is important to talk through your home-based business with your broker and put together the right coverage to meet your needs.

How to Determine What Business Coverage You Need

A technical term for figuring out what to insure and for how much is “risk management.”

Risk management means identifying possible risks in advance and then working backward to put a plan in place to both prevent them from occurring and protect you if they do occur.

You can use risk management to figure out how much insurance coverage your home-based business needs by following these four steps:

  1. Ask yourself what could go wrong. Write down everything you can think of.

  2. Brainstorm ideas for how to prevent each risk from ever happening.

  3. Assign a dollar value (or range) to each risk—how will it impact your bottom line?

  4. Brainstorm ideas for how your business will recover if each risk happens.

Doing this pre-work can come in handy when you meet with your insurance broker. You will already have a good idea of the potential impact of each business risk, and your broker can help tailor your insurance policies to meet your needs.

Get in Touch

Here at Mackay Insurance, we have a combined 165+ years of insurance industry expertise! Contact us online or give us a call at 888-853-5552 to find out how we can help you protect your home-based business!

Click here to get a free business insurance quote now.

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Cottage Insurance for Cottage Rentals: Are You Sure You Are Covered?

cottage by a lake with a boat

Recreational residences, also commonly called cottages here in Canada, are becoming more popular each year.

When our short but stunning summer season rolls around, vacationing gets a lot easier if you feel like a local at your destination. You can bring less, do more, and de-stress faster by vacationing at your own seasonal cottage.

But another reason cottages are becoming more popular is the rental income they can generate for their owners. Let’s say you open your cottage in late May and close it in early October. You spend one month in residence, and you rent out your cottage during the other three months.

It is easy to see how you can pick up a handy little chunk of change each summer just for renting out a space you already own!

There is just one catch: insurance. Did you know that most homeowners insurance policies prohibit rentals for more than one to two weeks, if at all? More than a few horrified cottage owners have discovered only after filing a major claim that they had voided their own policy by renting out their cottage!

You do not want this to happen to you. In this article, we take a timely look at the right type of cottage insurance to support you in renting out your cottage as often as you like.

Cottage Insurance “Deal-Breaker” Liabilities

There are some liabilities that may be just too big for your insurer to comfortably cover. Here are some general examples:

  • Permitting tenants to use your recreational vehicles (boats, ATVs, jet skis, etc.).

  • Providing life jackets for tenants (especially children’s life jackets).

  • Allowing smoking in or around the cottage.

  • Leaving your personal valuables in the cottage while it is being used by tenants.

Before you meet with your broker to discuss your cottage insurance needs for rental tenants, consider how you plan to present and market your rental cottage. For example, what amenities would you like to offer prospective renters that might give you an edge over other local cottage owners?

Review these with your broker to find out what your current policy will and won’t cover. Then you can talk about adding on riders or changing the type of insurance to fit your cottage rental needs and concerns.

Do You Need Homeowners or Business Insurance?

One highly relevant question for cottage owners who plan to rent their cottage frequently is whether homeowners insurance is enough.

Once you begin operating your cottage like a business, whether seasonally or year-round, this makes a strong argument to invest in the extra protection business insurance can offer you.

Here is one example: With a homeowners insurance policy, you may have some coverage for personal liability. Let’s say you are staying at your cottage and a neighbour walks over to visit with you and trips on your lawn. If that neighbour tries to sue you, you may have some personal liability protection under your homeowners insurance policy.

But now let’s say the person who trips on your cottage lawn is a rental tenant. They sue. Your homeowners insurance policy excludes coverage for business activities conducted on the premises of your personal seasonal residence. You have no protection!

This is a perfect example of how switching from homeowners to business insurance may make sense if you plan to rent out your seasonal cottage regularly.

Don’t Rely on “Host Guarantee” Policies from Online Rental Sites

One budding cottage entrepreneur discovered nearly too late that his homeowners insurance policy wouldn’t cover him once he began renting his cottage out through the popular Airbnb site.

Not only can renting out your cottage expose you to risk in the event of a rental-related claim, but also making such a claim may void your coverage entirely.

Perhaps surprisingly, insurers are concerned about pretty much the same things you are: crime, theft, vandalism, and liability.

While host guarantee-type policies, such as the $1M CAD policy the well-known rental site Airbnb offers, may cover you for certain types of damage or loss, it cannot be used as a substitute for your own cottage insurance. Here is why:

  • It covers only your liability if you are sued, not the cottage itself.

  • It does not cover your lost rental income while your cottage is being repaired.

  • It does not defend you or cover your liability if someone alleges that you assaulted them —even if you are completely innocent.

  • It does not cover or defend you if a claim is in any way connected to aspects of the construction of the cottage that you may not even know about if the work was done before you bought the cottage—for example, drywall from China or the type of primer that was used by a painter.

As well, it is important to know that the rental site may not necessarily be on your side in the event that you need to file a claim under a host guarantee. In the case of Airbnb, they will do their own investigation of the claim, which will initially delay claims processing.

They may also require you to attempt to resolve the dispute with your rental tenant before they will intervene or release payment for a claim. This can delay claims processing still further as well as add an extra layer of stress to the whole process.

Secure Your Cottage Rental with the Right Insurance

It is not uncommon for seasonal cottages in Canada to command anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000-plus per week in rental income. No wonder so many cottage owners are eager to begin renting out their cottages!

But without the right insurance policy, what looks like an easy way to generate income can quickly become a financial nightmare.

The only way to ensure your cottage investment is secure for both personal and business (rental) use is to contact your broker and discuss your options for cottage rental insurance.

Get in Touch

Is this the year your cottage is going to start paying for itself with seasonal rental income? Let us help you create a custom insurance policy tailored to your unique needs and cottage rental goals.

Contact us online or give us a call at 888-853-5552 to schedule your consultation!

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5 Ways to Save on Home Insurance By Installing a Home Alarm System

home alarm

How would you like to save up to 20 percent on your annual home insurance premium?

This is the estimated annual amount you could save each year by adding a home alarm system to your home security and safety tools.

Some of the savings you can realize are tangible, easy to calculate, and immediately translate into money back into your pocket.

Some of the savings are less immediately tangible, like peace of mind, safeguarding irreplaceable items and memories, feeling safe in your home, and also knowing your home is protected while you are away.

All of these savings matter. And with the help of a home security system, you can start reaping all of the following types of home alarm system-related savings right away!

How a Home Alarm System Helps You Save

Having your home or car robbed or vandalized is always heartbreaking, stressful, and unforgettable. For many homeowners, the sheer experience of having their private home space breached can cause symptoms akin to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression.

When you add to that the anxiety and expense of having to put your life and your home back together after a burglary, the expenses start to mount.

These five savings options are all available to you when you choose to install a home security system!

1. Save 5 percent just by adding a home alarm system.

Just adding any type of home alarm system, no matter how basic, can often net you at least a five percent discount on the cost of your annual home insurance policy.

2. Save 10 to 15 percent by connecting that system to a central monitoring network.

There are a few options today to provide you with extra safety and security monitoring inside your home for the times you can’t be at home personally to keep an eye on things.

These can include smartphone-managed remote tools, closed-circuit video monitoring or connecting your system to an externally monitored central network.

The latter often includes extra services, such as the option to generate a call to local law enforcement if the security alarm is tripped and unauthorized entry is suspected.

You can talk with your insurance provider about which types of networking options may provide you with an extra discount or reduction on your annual home insurance premiums.

3. Save even more by adding water sensor alarms and/or video monitoring.

Some insurers will provide a discount of up to 35% of the premium for water damage peril if you add a water sensor-monitored alarm. The more components of a full security system you add, the more you can save.

Alarms and sensors can include an automatic message sent to your cellphone and to local authorities. With video monitoring, you can immediately see what is actually happening inside your house if a smoke detector, intruder alert, or water sensor is tripped.

4. Save 10 to 15 percent for remaining free of claims for three to five years.

Sometimes the biggest win that comes from installing a home alarm system is simply by making your home a less desirable target for thieves.

If you wanted to burgle someone’s home property, would you choose a house that has a “Smile! You’re on Video Camera!” sign posted out front or a house that has no sign?

You would probably pick the house that looks easier to get in and out of without being detected, right?

This is why even the simplest home alarm system can end up being an effective tool to deter criminals. This is also why many home insurance providers are willing to offer homeowners a reduction in premiums for installing home alarm systems!

5. Save on depreciation costs for replacement of lost, damaged, or stolen items that have devalued or are simply irreplaceable.

Depending on how your home insurance policy is structured, you may have reimbursement of lost, vandalized, or stolen items based on their replacement cost, or you may have coverage only for their actual cash value. If you have an insurance policy that reimburses based on actual cash value, you should know that most items are reduced in value (they depreciate).

Keep in mind that even if your home contents are insured for their replacement value, some things in the home may not be. For example, if you have a car parked in an attached garage, that car is covered on its own vehicle policy, not on your home policy. Most car policies do not provide replacement cost coverage if someone breaks into your home and steals or vandalizes your car. Having an alarm can deter would-be thieves and protect things like your car.

By making your home less desirable as a target for thieves, you increase your chances of never having to file a loss or damage claim against your home insurance at all! Not only will this keep your most cherished items safely in your possession, but it will also net you the additional savings described here, depending on how your insurance provider’s safety discounts are structured.

Mackay Insurance’s Founder, the Late David Mackay, Recommends Home Alarm Systems!

Did you know that Mackay Insurance’s founder, the late and much-missed David Mackay, kept a home alarm system for many years and credited it with keeping his household safe and improving his own peace of mind?

You can watch Mr. Mackay share his story in this video: “How Alarm Systems Can Save You Money on Your Homeowners Insurance.”

Give Us a Call

Here at Mackay Insurance, we keep David Mackay’s legacy alive by keeping premiums affordable and customer service top-notch!

Today, Mackay Insurance has grown from a small local firm with just 35 clients to a regional brokerage serving the insurance needs of more than 5,000 residential and commercial customers!

Give us a call at 1-888-853-5552 or visit us online to get a free estimate on our insurance products!

Click here to get an instant, online, no obligation home insurance quote now.

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Do You Have Sufficient Flood Insurance Coverage? Know For Sure

interior flooding underwater

This year has seen a tremendous amount of rain and hurricane activity south of our borders. Our friends in the United States have been buffeted by storms that broke records for rainfall, wind, and mass destruction.

But what is so amazing is that an estimated whopping 80 percent of homeowners in Hurricane Harvey's path alone didn’t have any form of flood insurance!

Those homeowners who didn’t have flood insurance now rely on government aid and private grants to help them rebuild their homes and lives. This makes for a timely reminder for Canadian homeowners to review policy coverages and make sure there are adequate protections in place.

Did You Know Flooding Is the No. 1 Naturally Occurring Threat in Canada?

If you are like many of our clients, you may not be aware that flooding is the most common natural disaster to strike Canadian homeowners. In fact, flooding has now overtaken fire as the most prominent risk faced by homeowners throughout Canada.

The reasons that flooding has become more severe of late vary. There are climate changes and warmer weather year-round. In many areas throughout Canada, outdated sewage systems and public works infrastructure can cause backup into basements and first-floor housing. New subdivisions are popping up on former swampland—and guess where the water still naturally runs!

In 2013, large portions of Calgary and other Alberta cities like High River were literally under water. A few weeks later, a record-breaking series of storms created flash flooding throughout the city of Toronto and surrounding boroughs. The 126-mm (4.9-inch) rainfall exceeded even that produced by legendary 1954 Hurricane Hazel, and meteorologists do not make light of this trend. These 2013 events also accelerated the Canadian conversation about flooding and insurance.

Flood Insurance: What It Is & What It Isn't

Until very recently, the only recourse for Canadians whose homes were damaged or destroyed by flooding was to submit a claim to Disaster Financial Assistance programs on federal, provincial, and territorial levels. But even with this recourse, in most cases proffered funds have not been sufficient to bring homeowners back to break even.

When polled, most Canadians reported one of three assumptions:

  • They thought they didn’t need flood insurance coverage.

  • They thought their homeowner’s insurance policy automatically covered flooding.

  • They thought they could get sufficient reimbursement from government-sponsored disaster relief agencies.

Unfortunately, not one of these three assumptions is accurate. Most homeowner’s insurance policies specifically exclude flooding.

Wait a minute, you may say. My neighbor had a flood in her house when the water line to the ice maker in her fridge sprang a leak and ran all weekend while she was away, and her insurance company fixed things right up for them...

But here is the most important part of this post: there are all sorts of different types of water damage. Some are covered on your policy. Some are not.

Most insurance policies give you the coverage you need to clean up the damage if a pipe bursts or a washing machine hose fails. Your policy would probably also cover water damage that resulted from a storm lifting shingles or, say, hail hammering your siding. If you purchase an optional rider, your policy would also cover your sewer or septic backing up.

What you did not have prior to 2015, though, because homeowner’s policies in Canada did not cover this peril, was flood coverage.

Overland Water/Flood Insurance: A New Homeowner’s Insurance Product

Beginning in around 2015, Canadian insurance companies began to offer a new type of water damage coverage—flood insurance. Many homeowners didn’t know they didn’t have it in the past, and some still don’t have it. Those who do have it may not know what it does and does not cover.

To know what coverage you do and do not have, you will need to know the meaning of an insurance term: “overland water damage.” This is damage caused by a body of fresh water (such as a lake or stream) overflowing its banks and water literally flowing “over the land.” Overland water damage can also happen when there is no creek but the rain is so heavy that it accumulates and makes its own creek. This is the coverage that a number of insurance companies have brought out recently.

It is important to know that Overland Water is just one of the ways flooding can happen—for example, a dam could burst or an underground stream could cave in the foundation of your house. Even though flood insurance is now available, not everything is covered. Every policy is different in exactly what it covers. Some types of flood damage are still not covered by any policy—for example, a tidal wave wiping out a shoreline community. Some insurance companies still do not offer flood insurance at all, though most now do. And for insurance companies that do offer flood insurance, there are differences between what one insurance company covers and what another one covers.

So how are you as a homeowner supposed to navigate these “waters”? One step is to assess what you need. Your needs are different if your house is on top of a hill or if it is waterfront property. However, don’t assume that only people who can throw a stone from their deck and hit a lake or a stream need flood insurance. Almost everyone faces some level of risk. A second step is to talk with an insurance professional about what coverage you need, what coverage you do or don’t have now, and what your options are.

Why Applying for Flood Insurance Is Now Critical

Before 2015, any homeowner who experienced flood-related home damage was eligible to apply for government aid.

But now that many insurers have started to offer flood insurance products as homeowner's insurance policy riders, eligibility standards for federal, provincial, and territorial disaster relief assistance are changing accordingly. Specifically, if you as a homeowner qualify for flood insurance and don’t know about it or choose not to apply, you may now be deemed ineligible for government aid in the wake of flooding. This leaves you without recourse in the event your home is damaged or destroyed by flood waters.

Weather Pattern Predictions in Coming Years

The federal government of Canada has now begun to study future weather-related risks in earnest. Steadily rising costs for annual federal disaster relief funding to various affected areas throughout Canada speak loudly of the need to revise policies and budgets for weather events in years to come.

For example, in 2004, the federal government paid out approximately $54 million in storm relief funds. In 2014, that number had risen to $410 million! Starting in 2017, the estimate jumped again to $673 million—and that is just for flood damages!

Key areas for further investigation include rising sea levels, glacial melting, erosion of coastal areas, flooding from storm surges, and related storms and severe weather event activity.

While certain parts of Canada are experiencing more rapid climate-related changes than others, there is no doubt at this stage that climate change has arrived and is here to stay. This requires action on everyone’s part, from individual homeowners to strategizing at the national level for how to afford flood insurance coverage for everyone who needs it.

Give Us a Call

If you are concerned about the risks of flood damage to your home, Mackay Insurance is here to help. We can set up a time to review your current homeowner's insurance policy coverage and riders, re-evaluate coverage levels, and discuss optional flood insurance coverage based on the risk level to your area.

Give us a call at 888-853-5552. You can also visit us online to chat with a broker live or send us an email.

Click here to get an instant, online, no obligation home insurance quote now.

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What is Optional "Bylaws Coverage" on your Homeowners Insurance Policy?

A transcript is available below the video...

You should consider adding bylaws coverage to your homeowners insurance policy.

What is Bylaws coverage? What is a bylaw?

Well, in some towns and municipalities they put an extra expense, or they ask you to build something bigger, better, or safer than you actually had in the first place. In some cases this will add expense, or an extra cost, to the reconstruction of your home.

For instance, let's say you have an 800 sqaure foot home. Your municipality in which you live says, "We're not allowing you to build anything less than a 1,000 square foot home". The difference that is incurred, is going to be incurred by you. Your insurance policy won't pay for any extra expense that comes out of an extra bylaw that your town puts upon you.

So, if you have an extra bylaws coverage endorsement, it will allow you to offset that expense for the extra construction cost. It's minimal, it only costs about $10 or $20 extra, and it could save you a lot in the long run.

So, if you want more information, please call your CSR, or give us a call at the office.

Click here to get an instant, online, no obligation home insurance quote now.

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How Alarm Systems can save you money on your Homeowners Insurance

Transcript follows below the video...

I would strongly recommend that you would consider putting an alarm system in your home. I've had one in my own home for many years and there's a peace of mind factor that you cannot buy.

As well, you would get a discount on your insurance if you have a working alarm system in your house.

It would prevent claims and prevent having something stolen from your home that you cannot replace.

Click here to get an instant, online, no obligation home insurance quote now.

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Protect Yourself from Identity Theft with Homeowners Insurance

identity theft house insurance

The term "identity theft" makes normal, sane adults quake in fear. Statistics support that the fear is well-founded. Not only is identity theft increasing throughout Canada, but it is increasing rapidly.

The Government of Canada's Competition Bureau reports that, as of 2017, Canadians have lost nearly $300 million to identity theft in the past two years!

Complaints of identity theft lodged with the Bureau increased from 70,000 to 90,000 in just 12 months. That is a 28% increase and an additional 20,000 victims in just one calendar year!

Why do we bring this up here and now? For two reasons:

  1. You, just like every Canadian, are at risk no matter how careful you are

  2. Your homeowners insurance policy may be able to offer you protection against identity theft.

How Identity Theft Happens

If only there was just one way that identity theft could occur! We could all protect ourselves against that method. Unfortunately, identity theft scams are becoming more devious every day. From outright physical mail theft to online phishing, from email trickery to phone surveys, identity thieves can be remarkably patient. They collect small pieces of the sensitive data required to insert themselves into your financial life—and with disastrous results.

It is common for identity scammers to start with small thefts and work their way up. If the small scams remain undetected, they will continue to chip away at your identity toward a much larger theft.

How to Protect & Monitor Your Identity

We highly recommend these simple tips to monitor and protect your identity on an ongoing basis:

  • Always shred any document with your name, address, phone number, or any sensitive personal information printed on it—even junk mail!

  • Collect your physical mail daily so identity thieves don't have a chance to get to it first.

  • NEVER give ANY personal or financial information to ANYONE whom you do not know AND trust—whether this is over email, phone, fax, text, chat, or any other means.

  • Guard your online identity like a hawk. This includes passwords, personal PIN numbers, social media contact information, photo/video location tagging, and any other place you go online.

  • Regularly change your passwords and personal PIN numbers. Make the new ones sufficiently complex that you have trouble remembering them (if you struggle, chances are good identity thieves will struggle too!).

  • Use an encrypted password keeper program or app to store this type of information for your personal use.

  • Do not allow online e-commerce portals to remember your credit card data for future transactions—shopping online as a "guest" is the safest option.

  • Review your banking and credit card use transactions frequently (weekly or more frequently is ideal) and immediately follow up on any unknown or suspicious-appearing transactions.

  • Monitor your credit report and credit score at least once or twice annually and look carefully for discrepancies.

You can also monitor the Competition Bureau's Consumer Alerts webpage to be aware of newly identified individual and business scams.

How Homeowners Insurance Can Protect Your Identity

Here at Mackay Insurance, our clients are sometimes surprised to learn that their existing homeowners insurance policy can also offer protection from identity theft. Our new clients, of course, are delighted by this news!

How can homeowners insurance protect your identity from thieves? The term "identity theft insurance" can be confusing. Let’s use the example of unauthorized credit card purchases to understand the two separate problems that identity theft causes. First, the thief has used your credit card information to pay for their $3,000 vacation. If you follow the procedures from your credit card company, those charges on your credit card can usually be reversed.

However, you now have a second and potentially bigger problem—and this is where your home insurance coverage can help. Someone out there has your identity.

  • You may need to notarize fraud affidavits for law enforcement agencies. That costs money.
  • You may need to notify government agencies or financial institutions by registered mail.
  • You may need to take time off work to talk with people who are available only during your work hours, and this can cost you lost wages.
  • You may need to pay fees for new loan applications.
  • You may actually end up being sued by someone who was defrauded by the identity thief while they were pretending to be you. Legal expenses can add up quickly.

It is mostly in this second category of expenses (getting your identity back) that your home insurance policy can step in and help you.

As with any insurance, here are some important things to look at with identity theft insurance:

  • What is the amount the insurance company is insuring you for?

  • What events (perils) does the insurance company cover?

  • What is the deductible (the amount you need to pay if you have a claim)?

  • What do you need to do? With identity theft insurance, there is usually a requirement that you work with law enforcement and do the reasonable things you can do, such as cancel the compromised credit card.

  • What are the exclusions? This is sometimes called the “fine print” in the policy. It is not  actually in fine print—and it is one of the most important parts of an insurance policy for you to understand. For example, with identity theft coverage on your home insurance policy, identity theft arising from your business pursuits are usually excluded. If you run a business, call us about separate identity theft Insurance for your business.

More About Mackay Insurance

Here at Mackay Insurance, we just celebrated our 40th anniversary! Over this time, we have grown from a tiny firm with just 25 clients to a thriving multi-location insurer with 5,000+ happy clients!

We are passionate about helping our clients guard against identity theft with the right insurance. Visit our video library for an informative video about homeowners insurance protection from identity theft and many other useful topics! Or just give us a call at 888-853-5552 to learn more.

Click here to get an instant, online, no obligation home insurance quote now.

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Choosing the Right Cottage Insurance

cottage insurance

Canada is an undeniably stunning country. We are rich in natural beauty, with a whopping total of 44 national parks to enjoy nationwide!

But most Canadians know you don't have to visit a national park site to relish our wondrous landscape—which also explains our zeal for owning seasonal second homes, often known simply as "cottages."

In fact, many Canadians are so keen to own a cottage they would be willing to cut their spending, go in with others to make the purchase, buy a "fixer-upper" place, or even just buy the land now and save to build on it later.

But once your dream cottage is finally yours, you also need to make sure you protect it. That is where knowing how to choose the right type of insurance policy is essential.

As the warm season approaches, these tips can help you evaluate your existing cottage insurance policy or select a new policy for the cottage you just purchased. If you find you have questions or need help picking a policy, we are happy to be of assistance!

Key Questions to Ask Yourself

If you have just bought your first cottage, you may not be sure yet how to answer some of these questions. But your answers will be important to determine what type of insurance and how much insurance you need, so think through these questions.

How often do you plan to visit your cottage?

If you plan to visit the cottage every weekend during the warm season, you may find your insurance premiums are lower than if you visit only occasionally. This is because you will be able to keep a much closer eye on your cottage and perform minor maintenance before a small issue turns into a big issue.

Do you plan to rent it out to other tenants?

Different insurers have different approaches when a cottage owner wants to list their seasonal property for rent. In most cases, if you have a fire alarm installed and you have a local person who is willing to check on the property before and after each short-term tenant visit, you will find coverage to be more affordable (although still higher than if you are the sole occupants).

As well, if you plan to rent to only people you already know, you may pay lower premiums than if you plan to rent your cottage out to strangers.

Some insurers place a cap on the number of weeks per year that a cottage owner can rent out their property, while others do not. In some cases, choosing a commercial insurance policy rather than a residential secondary home insurance policy will give you the coverage you need to earn extra rental income on your cottage and enjoy peace of mind that you are properly insured.

Do you intend to keep your cottage open year-round?

Insurers typically offer lower rates to cottage owners who have year-round road access to their cottage. This is mainly because of fire risks. If a cottage catches fire and there is no way to get to it during the cold season, claims will be much higher.

Of course, if your cottage doesn't have a road that is accessible year-round, you may still be able to get lower rates if you can find someone who lives in the area to check on it during the cold season. Installing a fire alarm can sometimes also help keep rates more economical.

Will your cottage serve as your primary or secondary residence?

In most cases, cottage owners declare a cottage as a secondary residence at least until they retire. In this case, often cottage owners will choose to add the cottage to their primary residence insurance policy as a seasonal or secondary residence.

If you do declare your cottage as your primary residence, you will have the usual tax advantages, as with any primary residence. In this case, you would need a full homeowner policy rather than a seasonal property policy.

Rider Options for Your Seasonal Insurance Policy

Most seasonal cottage insurance is issued on a named perils basis as opposed to all-risks coverage that is available on a comprehensive (primary residence) insurance policy.

The term "named perils" means there is a list of specific perils you are purchasing insurance to cover, such as fire, smoke damage, theft, or vandalism.

Depending on your cottage location and unique situation, adding on these riders may also make sense:

  1. Animal damage. Large, hungry wildlife such as bears or small, hungry wildlife such as raccoons can inflict a surprising amount of damage on an unattended cottage.

  2. Water or flood damage. Burst water pipes or sewer pumps or flood damage typically isn't covered in a standard seasonal cottage policy, but it may be available for an additional premium.

  3. Cottage contents insurance. If you plan to leave certain high-value items at your cottage (rather than taking them back and forth with you, which would keep them covered under your primary homeowner's policy), you may want to purchase additional contents insurance coverage.

  4. Recreational vehicles or watercraft. If you plan to store boats, jet skis, off-road vehicles or other recreational-use vehicles at your cottage, talk to your broker and be sure they are correctly insured.

  5. Storage sheds or detached spaces. If you have additional storage units or shelter sites for boats or off-road vehicles, check to be sure your seasonal insurance policy offers sufficient coverage for these as well.

Contact Mackay Insurance for Help

Cottage insurance, like any other insurance policy, comes with its own terminology and learning curve.

While it can take some time to understand the ins and outs of this specialized insurance product, the ongoing peace of mind you get from buying the right policy that fully protects your cottage investment is literally priceless.

Contact us for help today!

Click here to get an instant, online, no obligation cottage insurance quote now.

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