Mackay Insurance Blog
Returning to the New Normal: What That Means For Your Insurance Coverage
Slowly yet surely, we are starting to emerge out of the firestorm of the global pandemic.
Many of our customers are returning to working outside the home, with their kids similarly preparing for a return to school.
The roads are more crowded now. Some of that traffic even represents seasonal cottage-holders finally able to make the trek to check on their properties and perhaps enjoy a long weekend away.
We may still feel a bit shaky, a touch uncertain about personal safety and next steps, but there is life to be lived and we want to live it.
And while insurance matters may not feel pressing in light of the other major issues we have faced as individuals, communities and a nation this year, this shift towards post-pandemic life also means it is time to revisit your insurance coverage yet again.
In this timely post, we highlight important insurance coverage tasks you may need to consider as we move into the fall and winter season here in Ontario.
Commuting Again? Make Sure Your Auto Insurance Has You Covered
Earlier this year, it came as a welcome relief for many of our customers when auto insurers dropped rates and offered rebates to reflect province-wide pandemic shelter-in-place orders.
You may have also had a conversation with your Mackay broker about reducing coverages based on reduced driving activity.
As the world opens back up again and you find yourself logging more commute time once more, be sure your auto insurance coverage reflects your actual use patterns.
Time to Make the Switch to Off-Season Cottage & Vehicle Insurance?
This hasn't been an easy summer season thus far for seasonal cottage owners and recreational vehicle owners.
In fact, with the majority of the brief warm season now behind us, our goals for getting the RV out of storage or taking a spin with our motorboat or jet skis may rapidly be fading as we move into fall.
However, with fall nearly upon us, our customers who own snowmobiles or ATVs may be eyeing those with unseasonal eagerness, imagining a winter with the pandemic firmly behind us at last.
In either case, make sure you update your seasonal cottage insurance and recreational boat insurance coverage accordingly. It is not too early to retire a recreational vehicle you don't anticipate using for the remainder of the summer season and reap the savings from that.
Similarly, if your cottage is typically inaccessible in winter, talk with your Mackay Insurance broker about transitioning to off-season coverage there as well.
Evaluate Business Insurance Coverage for a Remote Workforce
Whether your business is an entrepreneurship or a large company, the transition to a largely remote workforce can have a ripple effect on the types of business insurance coverage you need.
In many cases, business liability insurance is set up to reflect a group of workers operating out of a single location. The risk profile changes across the board when that same group of workers is now working from multiple locations.
Part of the increased risk comes into play due to the need to provide remote online access to secure company networks and databases that may contain sensitive or proprietary information.
Part of the increased risk arises from the use of a remote location as a "work site" and what might happen if the remote worker is injured on the job or causes harm or injury to another during scheduled work hours.
Another aspect to the increased risk comes from the need or choice to store company property, supplies, materials, devices or data in an off-site, remote location.
Yet, another issue that arises is when a remote worker needs to use their personal vehicle for non-commute-related company business or to transfer company property or data from one location to another, such as between a home office and the regular work site.
Each of these issues needs to be addressed in a thorough review of the current business insurance coverage - even more urgently if there is an ongoing semi-permanent or permanent transition to a remote workforce. Your Mackay broker in Belleville can help you review and adjust your business coverage policy to reflect these types of post-pandemic shifts.
Homeowners Insurance Policies May Not Cover a Home Office
Similarly, for remote workers who are using a portion of the home as a temporary (or transitioning to permanent) remote work site, it is vital to be aware of any coverage limitations under your existing homeowner insurance policy.
Your current homeowners insurance policy may contain a clause that expressly prohibits operation of a home-based business. Should a claim arise out of the choice or necessity of working remotely from home, it will be up to your insurer to decide whether that constitutes a violation of the policy exclusion or not.
And while it is true that many insurers have adopted a policy of leniency during these unprecedented crisis months, this should be viewed as a temporary laxity and never something you should count on.
It is worth a phone call or email to your Mackay Insurance broker to talk through any changes to your work site and possible risks that may open up when filing a homeowners insurance policy claim.
If necessary, your coverage can be adjusted to reflect your new use of a portion of your home space as a work site. Something as simple as an "incidental office use" rider may be all that is needed.
You may also need to adjust your personal riders to reflect use/storage of high-value business property like computers. If there is theft or loss, you want to be sure those items can be replaced without causing you to use your personal savings to do so.
Get in Touch With Your Mackay Insurance Broker Today
Mackay Insurance in Belleville, Ontario continues to work remotely and our qualified Mackay Insurance brokers are available to serve you by appointment, in person, as well as by phone, email, fax, social media and courier.
Relief for Seasonal Cottage Insurance
Now that summer is here in full force, we are getting calls from some of our customers who have seasonal cottages.
One of the hot-topic questions on the table right now is simply this: “if you are not allowed to use your seasonal cottage this summer season, will there be discounts or rebates on cottage insurance, recreational vehicle insurance or cottage rental (business use) insurance?”
If yes, how do you apply? If no, is it possible to cut back on coverage levels to control the costs of seasonal cottage coverage during COVID-19?
What about breaks on associated fees, such as marina use fees, property taxes and local services fees?
These are all great questions; however, with COVID-19 being an unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation, the answer is more complicated than we might like.
We will take a closer look at each question and give you the most recent, up-to-date information in this blog post. Keep reading!
Are There COVID-19 Related Discounts or Rebates for Seasonal Cottage Insurance?
Unlike with auto insurance, currently there are no province-wide or national mandates of any kind encouraging or requiring that insurers provide seasonal cottage insurance customers with rebates or discounts due to COVID-19.
This is in spite of the fact that many cottage owners are not able to even travel to their properties just to check the premises, let alone to enjoy time there or earn rental income by subletting to summer tenants.
There is a possibility that you could apply for a deferment of premium payments for reasons of financial hardship due to COVID-19. This is a decision that is being left up to each individual insurance provider. Find out more about your Mackay cottage insurance here.
Is It Okay to Cancel Seasonal Cottage Insurance During COVID-19?
If you can't visit your seasonal cottage due to COVID-19 restrictions and no one else (such as rental tenants) can either, then is it okay to cancel your seasonal cottage insurance to save money?
We completely understand that many of our customers have been severely impacted financially due to the economic shutdown here in Canada.
There are simply far too many unknowns to make it a smart plan to cancel your seasonal cottage insurance even if you can't enjoy your cottage right now.
It may, however, be possible to adjust your premiums based on adjusting the level of coverage you are carrying.
Can You Cancel Business Use Rider Coverage for a Seasonal Cottage Rental?
If you have been carrying a business use policy rider that permits you to rent your seasonal cottage for a more extended time period, it may be feasible to pause this seasonal cottage coverage.
If, however, your business use rider includes coverage for loss of rental income, you may not want to pause this coverage right now!
What Other Options Are Available to Make Seasonal Cottage Insurance More Affordable?
Here are some additional ways to adjust your policy premium costs to make continuing to carry seasonal cottage insurance more affordable during COVID-19:
- Increase your policy deductible.
- Install extra safety features at your cottage, such as a monitored alarm system.
At the very least, you still want to make sure your seasonal cottage, including the premises and possessions stored on that property, are insured against risks that COVID-19 will not impact, such as weather-related events, vandalism, theft and flooding due to pump or pipe malfunctions.
Can You Get a COVID-19 Deferral on Your Seasonal Cottage Premium Payments?
Another option to pursue if COVID-19 is stretching your budget too thin is to ask your insurer if it is possible to apply for a deferral of policy premium payments.
If you are experiencing financial hardship, it is possible you may be able to have your premium payments deferred for a limited period of time.
A premium payment deferment is not the same as a loan or a forgiveness of financial obligations. Rather, a deferment simply pushes back the due date of the next premium payment.
This may have the impact of extending the term of your policy and/or increasing the amount you have to pay for the remaining premium payments.
It is vital to understand the fine print of how any such deferred payment plan will work to be sure you are comfortable with the terms.
Can You Cancel Your Recreational Vehicle Insurance Policy?
If you have a boat, jet skis, off-road vehicles, fifth wheel or RTV, travel trailer or other type of seasonal recreational vehicle that you are not able to use right now, you may also be wondering if there are any auto-related insurance discounts for these.
While the auto insurance industry has been releasing some funds back to policyholders due to COVID-19, the same is not true for the recreational vehicle insurance industry.
Depending on how your policy is structured, it may be possible to reduce coverage based on reduced use. But here again, you want to make sure you retain coverage for damage or destruction due to events outside of your control such as weather or theft.
How to Find Out What Financial Support May Be Available to You
Right now, with the possible exception of auto insurance providers, it is pretty much up to each individual insurer whether to offer any type of financial support to customers hit hard by COVID-19.
The best way to find out what, if any, financial relief may be available is to reach out to your Mackay broker directly.
Together, you can review your coverage and identify where you may be able to cut back on coverage, apply for premium payment deferment or consolidate due to reduced use rates.
Get in Touch With Mackay Insurance
Here at Mackay Insurance in Belleville, Ontario, our offices are open by appointment only to serve you. Our brokers and support staff are also available by email and phone to support you in any way we can.