Mackay Insurance Blog
Does My Home Insurance Plan Cover Slips and Falls On My Property?
Autumn is quickly turning into winter here in Quinte, Ontario. And now that most of the leaves have fallen, homeowners are preparing their properties for the first snowfall. That means goodbye leaf rakes and hello snow shovels!
As you prepare for winter, don’t forget to focus on slip and fall prevention. Although many of us like to prepare for the winter season with holiday decor, the more crucial step is to ensure your property is safe for your family and guests.
Did you know accidental falls are the most common cause of hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits? According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), there were 654,000 ED visits caused by accidental falls in 2016-2017. And resulting injuries varied from fractures to more extreme head injuries.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has also noted that Ontario's snowfall and warmer winter temperatures increase the risk of these fall-related ED visits.
This means homeowners need to be extra cautious when that first November snowfall does hit. Heavy snowfall paired with a mild climate can make for a treacherous landscape.
Don’t get caught off guard with a slip, trip and fall claim! Know what your home insurance policy covers and learn how to prepare your property for the unpredictable snowy season ahead.
Your Home Insurance Plan Covers Medical Payments and Personal Liability
Your home insurance plan protects against numerous types of loss and damages, from theft to house fires, fallen trees, accidental falls etc.
Typically when we think of the term damages, we think of structural damages. Those caused by wind, rain or vandalism. But in a legal case, damages actually pertain to the amount of money compensating for loss, medical expenses, and suffering.
As a homeowner, you are responsible for keeping your property safe. This means keeping up with proper maintenance and ensuring safe conditions.
If someone slips, trips or falls on your property due to dangerous conditions, they could very well sue you! And if you are negligent or at fault for those injuries, you’re held liable.
This is where your home insurance policy comes in!
Your home insurance helps cover medical payment expenses and protects you if you are found liable.
Medical Payments Coverage
Medical payment coverage helps pay for medical expenses related to the injury on your property.
This can include:
- Hospital stays
- ER visits
- Ambulance rides
- Physical therapy etc.
Personal Liability Coverage
Personal liability coverage protects you financially if you are negligent or at fault.
How do you know if you are legally responsible for the injuries obtained on your property? Answer the following questions to find out!
- Did you cause dangerous conditions on your property?
- Did you fail to fix unsafe conditions on your property?
- Should you, as a reasonable person, have known about and repaired hazards on your property?
You could be found negligent if you answered yes to any of the above questions.
Negligence means you failed to reasonably take care of something - causing damage or injury to someone else.
If you are found negligent, your home insurance will help cover you with personal liability coverage. This coverage helps pay for legal expenses, settlement costs, lost wages etc.
Someone Just Slipped and Fell On My Property! What Should I Do?
First and foremost, make sure they’re okay. Call an ambulance or find medical treatment if necessary.
Write everything down! This includes a complete accident description from the injured person and all witnesses. Don't forget to jot down the necessary witness contact information as well!
Contact your insurance provider and transfer all further discussions to them. You will also want to provide them with all the details you collected in Step 2 and any other information they request.
Take photos of the injury, the area where the injury occurred and any other necessary components.
Find out why the injury occurred and learn how to prevent future accidents.
How To Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents On Your Property
As mentioned above, you are responsible for ensuring the safety of your property. While this applies to indoor and outdoor areas, this article focuses on your outdoor property.
Outdoor Winter Property Maintenance Tips:
- Install railings where necessary.
- Shovel and salt your driveway and walkway as necessary.
- Provide sufficient lighting for your walkway.
- Fix any wear, tear and damage to your property (i.e. an uneven or cracked sidewalk).
Even leaves and other debris can cause a hazardous walkway for visitors. So keeping your walkway clear before the snow comes is just as important!
You may be responsible for maintaining your rented property as a tenant. If you’re unsure, review your tenant contract or clarify these details with your landlord. And don’t forget to get their answer in writing! You may be found responsible if someone injures themselves on your rented property.
Invest In Complete Coverage With a Mackay Home Insurance Plan!
Accidents happen. But they’re not inevitable!
Contact your Mackay Insurance broker today to discuss your home insurance needs! We're committed to protecting your home - for you, your family, your visitors and your wallet!
You can contact us online or call one of our two Quinte office locations below!
Our Belleville Office: 613-966-5740.
Our Napanee Office: 613-354-2555.
Cottage Insurance: 10 Questions You Need To Ask Before Choosing a Policy
Your cottage is your safe haven. Your peace and quiet. Your vacation! But without the right cottage insurance coverage, your home-away-from-home might actually become:
a) A safety risk and
b) A Financial liability.
Are you investing in a new cottage property this year? Maybe you already have a cottage and a policy but aren’t happy with the cost or coverages you’re getting.
Now is the time to start thinking about (or re-thinking) your cottage insurance policy.
After all, your cottage policy is what protects your vacation home in the event of:
- Damage from falling objects
- Weather Damage
But not all cottage policies are the same.
Do you need help understanding cottage policies and how to choose the right one?
In this article, we explore some of the most important factors in choosing your cottage insurance policy. So you can make the best choice for your family, budget and investments!
Keep reading for 10 key questions you should ask BEFORE choosing your cottage insurance policy this year.
1. What are the policy differences between seasonal and year-round cottage insurance?
Do you have a seasonal cottage or a year-round cottage? This is a crucial detail for your insurance company to know. Especially if you’re looking to narrow down your coverage needs and reduce your insurance costs.
Seasonal cottages are not winterized and are only accessible for a part of the year.
Do you have a seasonal cottage? If so, our Mackay brokers recommend seasonal cottage insurance, also called basic coverage.
This basic insurance covers your seasonal cottage and belongings. But it does not automatically insure seasonal detached buildings (i.e. a boathouse). You can, however, add this coverage at an extra cost.
That’s why it’s considered a Named Perils Coverage plan. It only covers losses resulting from perils that are clearly identified in the policy.
Seasonal-use cottages are usually considered a higher risk because cottagers visit them less. Thus they are not maintained as regularly.
Year-Round (Second-Home) Insurance
If your year-round cottage is accessible 365 days of the year, your Mackay broker recommends broad coverage.
This policy includes protection for your cottage, detached buildings and belongings.
This form of coverage is commonly referred to as Second-Home Insurance. Why? It covers all risks associated with homeownership. Much like your Home Insurance policy does.
2. Does a cottage insurance policy cover a cottage located on an island or remote location?
While some cottagers choose a local, more public location for their vacation home, others prefer the off-grid lifestyle.
But will your insurance company still cover a cottage located on an island or other remote location?
That depends on which insurance company you work with.
While some Ontario insurance companies refuse to insure remote vacation homes, others specialize in it!
In this case, we recommend speaking with your insurance provider BEFORE purchasing your cottage.
They may agree to ensure you, but pay close attention to the insurance premiums they offer you. A cottage not easily accessed makes it an extremely high risk.
And many providers tend to increase insurance premiums for remote locations because they are not easily accessible by:
- Emergency Medical Services
- Fire Halls
- Fire Hydrants
3. Does an off-grid small cabin still need insurance?
The simple answer is no.
Smaller cabins (600 square foot buildings) deep in the woods and without power don’t legally need insurance.
But while cottage insurance is not required, third-party liability coverage is always a good investment.
Protecting yourself while another individual is on your property is always crucial.
And while we are on the topic of guests…
4. Do you need liability protection for cottage guests?
If you own a cottage, chances are you host many family and friend get-togethers every summer. After all, who wouldn’t want to share such a gem of a location with their loved ones?
But if you don’t have liability insurance, these events become a big financial risk.
As a cottage owner in Ontario, it is your legal responsibility to make your property as safe as possible. In fact, Ontario’s occupier’s Liability Act clearly states:
“An occupier of premises owes a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that persons entering on the premises, and the property brought on the premises by those persons are reasonably safe while on the premises.”
This means you need to ensure all aspects of your cottage property are reasonably safe, including your:
Liability insurance protects you in the unfortunate event of injuries resulting from a slip, fall, drowning, watercraft incident…etc. on your property.
5. Does a cottage insurance policy cover renters?
Planning on renting out your cottage? Be sure to tell your insurance company!
Some providers don’t allow cottage rentals on their policies. So you may need to look for a different insurance provider if you plan to rent out.
On its own, your cottage policy does not usually cover renters. But for companies that offer it, adjustments to accommodate rental situations are usually an option.
6. What structures ( i.e. dock, boathouse) does your cottage insurance policy cover?
As mentioned before, the structures covered on your cottage insurance policy depend on what type of policy you choose.
Seasonal cottage insurance offers Named Perils Coverage. This usually includes attached structures like the garage and deck. It does not, however, cover other outbuildings unless otherwise noted.
On the other hand…
All-season cottage insurance is an All Risk policy, much like your home insurance policy. So it does cover unattached, outdoor structures, including:
- Detached Garages
7. Are cottage toys (i.e. boats) covered by a cottage insurance policy?
Most cottage toys require additional or separate coverage. This can include your:
- Jet Ski
- Inflatable Dock
- Paddle Board
- Water Trampoline…etc.
These items are usually not included in your cottage insurance. However, you must check with your insurance company on what is and isn’t covered.
8. Does cottage insurance include Replacement Costs or Actual Cash Value?
Every insurance company is different. So understanding the financial reimbursement factor of your cottage insurance coverage is crucial. After all, replacement costs and cash value are two potentially very different amounts. And you want to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your policy.
If your insurance company promises replacement costs, you’ll receive the repair costs or item replacement in full. With zero depreciation.
Actual Cash Value:
If your insurance company promises actual cash value, you’ll receive the current, depreciated value of the building.
9. Do your home and cottage insurance have to be with the same company?
Many insurance companies won’t insure your cottage unless you have existing home insurance with them. While others specifically specialize in vacation home insurance!
So before you start shopping for the best cottage insurance policy, be aware of your limitation. Ask your insurance company what their requirements are and proceed from there!
10. How do you keep a cottage insurance policy valid?
For your insurance policy to stay valid, there are usually a few requirements set out by your insurance provider.
Many companies insist their clients make regular visits to their seasonal cottage throughout the year.
Failure to make these regular visits could result in your policy becoming invalid.
If you’re unsure what your insurance company requires of you for a valid policy, ask your insurance broker! They will review your policy, or potential policy, with you to ensure you understand your role in the policy validation process.
Get The Right Cottage Insurance Coverage With Mackay!
Whether you have a cottage, a cabin, a lakehouse, a hunting camp or a chalet, we’ve got the insurance coverage you need!
Get in touch with your Mackay broker today to learn more about our cottage insurance options.
You can reach our Belleville office at 613-966-5740 or our Napanee office at 613-354-2555. You can even start your online application process for cottage insurance right away!
Happy Cottage Season!
Don't Be Fooled! Protect Your Privacy This Year With Complete Home Cyber Security Insurance
There are many benefits that come from the rise of global connectivity. But increased home security isn't necessarily one of them.
"But wait!" you may be saying to yourself. "Didn't the internet bring us smart home security systems?"
Yes, it did. But it also brought cybercriminals with an eye towards hacking those same home security systems.
Internet, Wifi, GPS and other digital aids open up a whole new world of potential home security risks.
Luckily, there is a new breed of home insurance coverage designed to protect you from these risks.
What Is Cyber Security Insurance?
We have to admit, home cyber security insurance is a mouthful. So what precisely does this insurance protect you from?
Home cyber security insurance protects you from cyberattacks.
Cyberattack occurs through what is called access points.
Access points are points of entry online where a cybercriminal could breach your home's digital defences.
Examples of access points include your:
- Desktop computer
- Gaming system
- WiFi hotspot
- Smart home monitoring or security system
- And more!
Anything with the ability to connect to the internet is a potential access point where cybercriminals could breach and access your digitally-stored valuables.
Cyber security insurance protects you from these threats.
It is worth mentioning there are two different types of cyber security insurance:
- Commercial cyber security insurance
- Residential cyber security insurance
For the purposes of this blog post, we are addressing the home edition of cyber security insurance.
How Does Home Cyber Security Insurance Protect You?
Imagine if you left the house and accidentally left your home's front door unlocked all day.
How calm and focused would you feel running errands, attending classes or sitting at your desk at work once you realized your mistake?
Of course, that is what your homeowner's insurance policy is there for....to protect you in the event there is a breach of premises that causes theft, loss, damage or destruction to your home or property.
Now imagine that, rather than your physical home premises, we are instead referring to your digital home online.
All of the same sorts of risks are present when a digital breach occurs. Yet your existing homeowner's insurance policy is not going to protect you from loss of your sensitive personal or financial data.
Your homeowner's insurance policy won't protect you from the time and financial costs of any of the following issues commonly associated with cybercrime:
- Initial and ongoing data breach response.
- Data fraud.
- Identity theft.
- Cyberbullying or deception.
- IoT (internet of things) device implementation or mitigation.
- Cyber extortion.
- Costs of system repair, restoration and/and recovery.
- Digital forensic investigation.
- Legal and notification expenses.
- Reparation to other affected parties.
But home cyber security insurance can and will protect you from each of these threats and more.
3 Main Threat Protections of Home Cyber Security
Starting this year, Mackay Insurance in Quinte, Ontario, is proud to bring you leading edge digital insurance protection through Cyberboxx Home Edition.
Cyberboxx, newly available here in Ontario, provides three main threat protections to all of our Mackay Insurance customers.
Specialist Cyber Insurance
Cyberboxx provides a standalone insurance product to protect families and individuals from the impact and aftermath of cybercrime.
There is also the potential for employers to offer Cyberboxx protection to their employees as a benefit.
If you are employed, and especially if you are currently working remotely, ask your employer if they will be making Cyberboxx available as an employee perk.
If you are like so many today, you are aware cybercrime is a threat but are not clear about exactly how it can happen or how to prevent it.
Digital wellness is a component of Cyberboxx home security insurance. It helps you reduce your personal and family risk of being victimized by cybercrime. This digital wellness starts with knowing the warning signs of a breach.
As a Cyberboxx customer, you will also receive ongoing membership in the premium tier credit monitoring service through Equifax.
Cybercrime Incident Response
Timely detection and rapid response are the two keys to minimizing damage from a digital breach.
In the event of a digital breach, Cyberboxx offers all of their home insurance customers 24/7 support through their incident response team, Hackbusters (TM).
Is Cyber Security Insurance Required for Your Homeowners Insurance?
Home cyber security insurance is not yet a requirement for an active homeowners insurance policy here in Ontario. However, if there is one tenet the insurance industry as a whole exists for, it is this: lower risk equals greater savings.
This is especially true for homeowners who may be working from home during the pandemic or permanently. It is also a major consideration if your children attend school online or are homeschooled in a digital environment.
All that to say, it is worth a conversation with your Mackay Insurance broker to find out if adding home cyber security insurance to your existing suite of coverages may net you additional savings.
And for home-based business owners vulnerable to a data breach, cyber security insurance can make the difference between staying in business and going out of business.
Mackay Insurance in Napanee and Belleville Keeps Your Home Safe
Like practically everything else about life today, the insurance industry has had to mobilize quickly to keep pace with the ongoing changes in our rapidly evolving world.
As we increasingly move towards a remote workplace and home life, it is vital to consider how your whole life might be different after a digital security breach.
Should you be worried? Statistics say YES. But we can help minimize the risks.
Reach out to your knowledgeable Mackay Insurance brokers today. We can help you identify digital risks and implement insurance protection that gives you daily peace of mind for the whole family.
Avoid These Homeowner Insurance Pitfalls When Purchasing Your Home Insurance Policy
As a homeowner, why would you want to buy a home insurance policy? Is it just because the lender requires it? After all, it is not a mandatory purchase here in Canada.
Yet the vast majority of homeowners - even those who own their homes outright - still carry a policy. Why?
Because you want protection, of course. You want to be protected in case your home or its contents are damaged or destroyed. You want protection from third party liability in case a visitor trips and sues you.
Most of all, you want protection from the perils you don't know you need protection from - especially the ones that could cause your insurer to drop you entirely!
So let's find out what those are and explain what you need to do to make sure you are covered.
Home Insurance and Wood Stoves
Homeowners love wood stoves. They are efficient, economical and extremely homey to enjoy when it is cold outside.
Insurance companies do not love wood stoves because, well, fire. Wood stoves are among the leading causes of home fires each year. And home fires generate home insurance claims.
So it just makes sense that your insurance company would be less enthused about your wood stove than you are. In fact, we made a whole video about the topic!
Some insurers outright refuse to issue policies when wood stoves are involved. Most of the time, this is because the wood stove does not meet minimum safety standards according to current building codes and certifications. Most insurance companies will accept it when it’s auxiliary heat but if you are burning too many cords of wood, it could be considered primary heat and not insurable by many insurance companies.
But most insurers simply tack on a surcharge.
How much extra will you pay?
You can expect to pay at least 10% more on your annual premiums. Alternatively, your homeowners insurance provider may simply assess you an annual flat fee on top of your annual premium.
And if for any reason your home does catch fire and the inspection later indicates the wood stove was to blame, you may find yourself paying out of pocket for damages.
All this to say - be sure to talk with your Mackay Insurance broker before choosing a wood stove to meet your cooking or heating needs.
Home Insurance and Dogs
Everyone loves dogs. Dogs are the number one choice of companion animal here in North America and in many places around the world.
Most homeowners do not initially link homeowners insurance and their canine family members together. How on earth could these two be related?
Insurers do not like dogs for the same reason they do not like wood stoves - because of liability. However, not all dog breeds are treated equally for the purposes of a homeowners insurance policy.
Certain dog breeds have become staples on so-called "dangerous dog lists" here in Canada and across the globe. These dog breeds are the ones that consistently outrank the others in terms of confirmed dog bite cases.
Here in Ontario, there are four breeds or categories of canines that are now banned or heavily restricted. Currently, these breeds include the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier and Pit Bull Terrier.
This can get more confusing still because if you are a dog lover, you know that the "pit bull" is not a dog breed, per se, but rather a category of dogs that have similar physical characteristics and may have some bulldog or terrier in the genetic makeup.
Why is this important to know when you are applying for homeowner's insurance?
Basically, if you do not disclose the presence of a dog that fits the criteria of a dog that is banned or regulated, your insurer can refuse to pay damages arising from a dog-related claim and may also cancel your policy.
Home Insurance and Home Based Businesses
The global pandemic has changed a great deal about our daily routines. One of the biggest changes is the number of individuals who are now working remotely or even running new businesses out of a home space.
If this describes you, it is time to check in with your homeowners insurance provider to let them know. If you are currently shopping for a policy and plan to run a business from your new home, you definitely want to mention this up front.
What could happen if you don't? Your homeowners insurance policy provider could refuse to pay any claims that arise from damages to your home based business equipment, supplies or inventory. You may also find yourself with a voided policy.
Home based business owners need a separate home based business insurance policy to cover business operations and liabilities that can sometimes arise.
Home Insurance and Vacancy or Renovations
While you may not think to notify your homeowners insurance provider if you are away from home for an extended time period, an extended vacancy can sometimes result in denied claims.
In the same way, failing to alert your provider of upcoming renovations to your home may mean unpaid claims or even a dropped policy.
In both cases, the provider is reacting to an increased safety risk these two events can pose. Leaving your property vacant or opening up the premises to workers can each trigger an increased risk of insurance claims.
What should you do if you plan to be gone any longer than a week or have any upcoming home renovations?
Call your Mackay Insurance broker in Quinte to discuss whether you need to notify your homeowners insurance provider in advance. You may need to make additional advance plans to be sure your policy stays active.
Contact Mackay Insurance For Your Napanee and Belleville Home Insurance Needs
Looking for a quick home insurance quote near you? Your friendly, knowledgeable Mackay Insurance brokers can help!
Mackay Insurance works with a number of homeowners insurance providers to make sure you always get the most competitive policy quotes in the industry. We can also work with you to be sure you are fully covered for perils both known and known.
How To Obtain Camper Trailer Insurance For Your Summer Camping Plans This Year!
The great outdoors has always been great. But in the wake of the global pandemic, being outdoors has become positively spectacular.
This year, getting outdoors is the safest way to have fun, de-stress and see other actual human beings again.
And one of the best ways to get outdoors is to go camping with your COVID bubble or social pod!
As the warm season approaches in earnest, it will soon be time to pile your tents and all your gear into your camper trailer and head for one of the lush and lovely scenic sites Canada is known for.
But before you hit the road, there is one thing you absolutely don't want to forget to do. Be sure to insure your camper trailer! Learn everything you need to know to get the best deal on camper trailer insurance in this post.
What Is a Camper Trailer?
There are four basic types of trailers.
1. Classic Pop-Top Camper Trailer
This is often dubbed the "pop up trailer" because when the tent portion is stowed away out of sight, it looks like a small rectangle on wheels.
But pop the lid and voila! You've got a really neat, multifunctional cross between an RV and a tent.
2. Hard Top Trailer
Hard top trailers are also called teardrop trailers, standup trailers, compact hard wall trailers and variations of the same.
These are extremely small, lightweight hitch trailers with a small footprint. Many can take you into the backcountry!
3. Fifth Wheel Trailer
If you imagine the exact opposite of a compact, lightweight camper trailer, what you have is the fifth wheel trailer.
Fifth wheel trailers are basically like little homes on wheels. Some are spacious enough for families to live full-time, but others are used more seasonally. They attach to a suitable vehicle for hauling by means of a special mounted coupling.
4. Cottager Trailer
A cottager trailer is essentially either a fifth wheel trailer or a traditional trailer that has been mounted semi-permanently or permanently on some type of foundation.
What Is Camper Trailer Insurance?
Fundamentally, camper trailer insurance is a type of insurance product that protects a towed, non-motorized, recreational vehicle.
And now that you have a better picture of all the different types of recreational vehicles that this definition applies towards, it will make more sense when we tell you that camper trailer insurance is not just one product.
Rather, it is a suite of products offering different types and levels of insurance coverage for different needs.
In most cases, camper trailer insurance policies and riders can be customized to reflect add-ons and modifications (such as a sunroom or deck) that may be unique to your specific camper trailer.
How to Choose the Right Camper Trailer Insurance
How do you know what type of camper trailer insurance policy you need to protect your investment?
This is what we recommend.
1. First, verify your camper trailer's value.
The best place to start is to verify your camper trailer's current market value. You want to know how much your investment is worth.
Some of our clients have been surprised to discover that, far from depreciating over time, their camper trailers have actually appreciated in value as a result of the pandemic.
2. Next, identify your usage patterns.
Are you living in your camper trailer seasonally or full-time? Do you envision using it for occasional weekend getaways throughout the summer? Perhaps you plan to take it on an extended trip cross-country or internationally.
Where will you park it? How will you secure it? What possessions or valuables will you bring with you? Will you have any pets on board?
The answers to each of these questions give you a better idea of your financial exposure if your camper trailer and its contents is not adequately insured.
3. Match your camper trailer with the right method of insurance coverage.
Let's say you have a cottager (stationary) camper trailer and you live in it seasonally or full time.
In this case, rather than purchasing a standalone camper trailer insurance policy, you would want to modify your homeowners insurance policy to reflect the new addition.
If you have a lightweight pop up or hard top camper trailer that you haul with your commuter vehicle, you may have partial liability coverage through your auto insurance policy. But typically this only applies when the camper trailer is physically attached to the hauling vehicle.
In this case, you would want to look at whether adding a rider on to your existing auto insurance or homeowner's insurance policy would provide enough coverage. Alternately, you may find that purchasing standalone camper trailer insurance ends up being both more comprehensive and more affordable.
Finally, if you have a fifth wheel camper trailer, you will most likely need to purchase a complete standalone camper trailer insurance policy to obtain the level of coverage required to fully protect your investment and your family.
Camper Trailer Insurance Coverage Options
Camper trailer insurance coverage is flexible enough to reflect different usage patterns, garaging options and special risks related to a camper trailer's shape and size.
The major categories to consider include the following:
- Comprehensive and collision coverage
- Liability coverage
- Accessories (attachments) coverage
- Emergency coverage
Call Your Mackay Broker For Belleville Camper Trailer Insurance
We predict this will be the summer of the camper trailer - and you don't want yours to be uninsured! A camper trailer is a high value investment that needs to be protected from loss, theft and damage.
Get in touch with your friendly, knowledgeable brokers at Mackay Insurance by phone or email today. We will help you get the best deal on affordable camper trailer insurance so you can get back to planning your summer camping adventure!
Condo Insurance: What You Don't Know Could Cause Your Rates to Increase
Do you understand your condo insurance? Many condo owners remain in the dark about important policy information impacting their rates.
For example, did you know that your condo is actually covered by two different insurance policies?
The majority of condo owners do not realize this.
Do you understand why your insurance premiums keep going up, and up, and up?
Most owners don't understand this either.
Mackay Insurance can help! This article explains both mysteries so you will be better informed and better protected.
Condo Insurance Is Two Policies, Not One Policy
When you decide to purchase a condo, you are responsible for taking out a condo insurance policy.
That is one of two policies that covers your condo in case of loss or damage.
Your condo corporation (sometimes called syndicate) also takes out a condo insurance policy.
This is the second policy that covers your condo in case of loss or damage.
Condo Corporations Are Facing Premium Increases on Condo Insurance Too
Understanding what the condo corporation policy covers and excludes is critical to selecting the right type and amount of condo insurance for you.
Various factors can influence pricing for annual insurance premiums on syndicate and individual condo insurance policies.
As syndicate insurance premium prices increase, your syndicate may elect to drop or reduce certain coverages.
Alternatively, your syndicate may decide to offer incentives to condo owners who implement individual unit risk reduction strategies against constant cash drains such as water damage claims.
This becomes especially pertinent as condo structures continue to age at the same time severe weather increases province-wide.
Not only can aging alone cause syndicate condo-wide insurance premiums to increase, but as structures age and claims increase, premiums may increase yet again as a result.
And when you add in the increase in new condo construction and increasing demand for condo insurance as a result, you can see even another increase in insurance premiums.
As if that wasn't already enough, investors into the condo insurance may choose to divert funds towards less costly, lower risk investments, causing a scramble within the condo insurance marketplace for new sources of funding.
Syndicates, like individuals, have options to try to control annual premium costs, including raising their deductible, dropping certain coverage riders and limiting coverage for certain categories of claims.
It is important to take time each year to review what your condo corporation's insurance policy covers and to then review your own individual condo insurance policy in light of that.
If you need help comparing what each type of policy covers for your condo, your friendly Mackay Insurance broker is happy to help.
What to Look For When You Review Your Condo Insurance Coverage
The generic individual condo insurance policy typically consists of seven parts:
- Interior condo upgrades.
- Contents inside the condo.
- Liability (third party).
- Theft (condo).
- Locker (theft).
- Assessments rider.
- Additional living expenses.
Whether you opt to purchase all seven of these coverages, and how much coverage you elect for each, can and should be adjusted based on what the condo corporation's own policy covers.
In other words, why pay money every month for coverage that is also included in the condo corporation's coverage benefits?
You will also want to take some time to read the fine print explaining how the condo corporation handles deductible payments.
For instance, it is vital to find out if you may be responsible for reimbursing the condo corporation for your portion of the corporate deductible for certain categories of claims and losses.
Specific Features & Benefits of Condo Insurance Solutions:
- All risk coverage and replacement costs on contents are covered
- Debris removal for an additional 10% of the contents limit is covered
- Credit card coverage (up to $10,000 per occurrence)
- Coverage for electric vehicles
- Satellite dishes are included automatically, at no additional cost
- Food freezer installation ($3,000, no deductible applies)
- Premium discounts
- Lock replacement ($1,000 with no deductible)
Be Aware of These Big Changes In Corporate Condo Insurance Policies
Recent industry reports highlight a worrisome trend among condo corporations to downsize their own liability, shifting that responsibility over to individual condo owners.
Well-publicized recent changes include shifting responsibility for maintaining insurance coverage for damage to floors and countertops to individual condo owners.
Water damage claims are another hot button area where condo corporations are increasingly attempting to shift responsibility over to individual condo owners.
Structural claims such as water damage can become particularly problematic to resolve when the damage affects more than one condo in the building.
For example, if a wall pipe bursts and causes damage to both your condo unit and a neighbour's unit, the claims filing and payout process can quickly get complicated.
Condo insurance as a product is designed to minimize such headaches. But it can only do its job well to serve your interests when the coverages you select effectively plug up any coverage holes in your condo corporation's own policy.
Three Condo Insurance Riders You May Regret Not Having
These three condo insurance riders are all too commonly overlooked, either because the owner does not think they are needed or because the owner mistakenly believes the condo corporation is providing coverage.
According to a recent insurance industry survey, a full one-third of condo owners do not carry any insurance coverage for water damage.
Water damage is the number one condo insurance claim.
If you are keeping high-value possessions such as instruments, collectibles or jewelry in your unit or locker, be aware that your standard condo insurance may not cover these items.
If you have roommates or tenants (whether long-term or short-term renters), you need to make sure they carry their own separate tenant insurance policy.
This is especially the case if you plan to participate in home-sharing (i.e. Airbnb), which could void your coverage entirely if not disclosed.
Give your friendly Mackay insurance broker a call to review your current condo insurance coverage against coverage provided through your condo corporation and make sure your policy fully protects you.
Optional Condo Coverage Add-Ons:
- Claim Free Discount Protector (protects the claim fee discount following the first claim)
- Personal Umbrella Coverage (as high as $9,000,000)
- Enhanced Special Limits (doubles the special limits noted in the policy)
Mackay Is Your Napanee and Belleville, Ontario, Condo Insurance Broker
Worried about your skyrocketing condo insurance rates? We may be able to help! Reach out to schedule a virtual appointment by phone, email, Zoom, Skype or chat.
Here are some Points For Protection to help keep your condo investment safe:
- Place all valuable jewelry and other expensive items in a safe location (ie. not in the master bedroom)
- Review and practice your basic fire safety plan (with all family members)
- Always keep an up-to-date inventory on all large purchases (ie. televisions, furniture)
- Always always always turn off the water before you leave for vacation!
Do You Have Insurance for Emergencies and Natural Disasters in Canada
No matter where you look in the world today, it seems emergencies of all types are on the rise.
Changing weather and climate conditions, overloaded power grids in densely populated urban areas and an aging population are not a recipe for peace and ease, especially when the unexpected happens.
Add in a side order of COVID-19 and suddenly you may be wondering if you need additional insurance to protect your family or business from all the unknowns!
If this has been on your mind of late, your friendly Mackay Insurance brokers in Belleville crafted this post especially for you!
Insurance for Natural Disasters in Canada
Snow and ice. Wind and rain. Heat and humidity. Wildfires.
Canada may be best known for our winter sports and ski slopes, but the truth is, we get all kinds of weather events here in the far north.
And each type of natural disaster has its own perils, which is what the Canadian insurance industry calls an event that may be covered under an insurance policy or optional rider.
So, let's take a closer look at how natural disaster insurance works.
The Four Key Elements of Natural Disaster Insurance in Canada
There are four key elements that influence whether, how and how much insurance coverage may be available for different types of natural disasters, including weather events.
These are the four major factors you can discuss with your Mackay Insurance broker in Belleville.
1. The specific category of natural disaster.
While there is no single universal insurance policy that will simply cover you for everything, everywhere, all the time (wouldn't that be wonderful!), there actually is quite a for more coverage options than most people realize.
Let's take a look at the major weather events that are typically covered if you have the right type of insurance policy or rider:
- Fire (insurance coverages for home fires or wildfires).
- Ice and snow (including insurance coverage for frozen/burst pipes).
- Hail (damage coverages to vehicle roof damage).
- High winds (insurance coverage for damages caused by high winds)
- Rain (including insurance coverage for water damage caused by structural and roof leaks).
- Weather events (including insurance coverages for hurricanes, tornadoes etc.).
There are some types of weather related natural disasters that are typically excluded from insurance coverage protection, including these categories:
- Flooding (from natural overland flood events).
More on this in the very next section here.
2. The area where you live and/or work.
It probably won't surprise you to learn that different geographic areas may have different insurance coverage options for natural disasters.
For example, if you live in a flood plain, your options for flood insurance will typically decrease because this is a known peril associated with choosing to live in that specific area or region.
This is not to say you have zero insurance coverage options, although sometimes this is the case. The best way to find out is to contact your Mackay Insurance broker in Belleville to talk through your concerns and coverage options.
3. The coverage options based on your property type and personal circumstances.
In a similar way, the type of structure you own and the property it sits on can influence what insurance coverage may be available for certain categories of weather events and natural disasters.
Also, the age of your building or home and its value (based on the estimate) will have an impact on coverage options and their costs.
4. The insurance provider you select.
Last and certainly not least, different insurance providers may offer a different menu of coverage options for your specific concerns, or perils.
While many aspects of the entire insurance industry here in Canada will be regulated at the provincial level, insurance providers do have some flexibility to bundle or package their coverage products differently.
Some insurance providers may opt not to offer certain types of coverage while others may choose to specialize in certain categories of insurance coverage.
This is where it really pays to talk with your Mackay broker and shop around until you find the insurance provider with the right suite of insurance policies and riders that meets your specific needs!
Don't settle for the first or even the second natural disaster insurance quote you receive.
It is very smart to ask your Mackay Insurance broker to gather several quotes and estimates. This way, you get a good sense for what the current insurance marketplace is offering and which provider gives you the best coverage for the right price.
Don't Forget About Disaster Coverage For Your Home Insurance, Car Insurance and Life Insurance
There are three other places you don't want to forget about when searching out the most comprehensive coverage for emergencies and disasters.
All three types of policies typically offer a certain level of coverage, plus optional riders to address the unexpected.
For home insurance, an example might be a sudden and accidental burst pipe that causes water damage.
For vehicle insurance, an example might be coverage for an unexpected hail storm that cracks your windshield.
For life insurance, an example might be accidental injury from being caught out in severe weather.
NOTE: This does not usually include work-related incidents, for which you will need to look at specific business insurance riders that are relevant to your industry and type of business.
2 Steps to Get the Right Type of Canada Emergency and Natural Disaster Insurance
Here is the best way to find the right insurance coverage.
1. Make a list of your specific concerns and needs.
2. Make an appointment to review this list with your Mackay broker.
Get in Touch With Your Belleville Ontario Mackay Insurance Broker
Get in touch with us by phone or email us to schedule a virtual appointment. Ask us about our safe contactless insurance estimates, invoicing and payment options.
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!
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.
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!
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.