Property Insurance: Are You Covered?

Property Insurance: Are You Covered? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamThe recent Slave Lake fires have a lot of people in Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Parkland County and the Edmonton area thinking about home insurance.  It’s a good idea to review your coverage annually with your insurance agent, and be sure to ask the right questions.  Never assume you are covered against a particular peril!

Here are a few things to consider about home insurance:

  1. Most home owner policies protect against fire, vandalism and theft – but how much coverage do you actually have?   Are you covered for replacement value so that you could rebuild your home from the ground up with all its contents at today’s prices?   
  2. What is the coverage for other free-standing structures on your property, such as a storage shed or detached garage?
  3. Is your coverage “All Risk” or “Named Perils”?  Be especially aware of things that you might not be protected against.  For example, some companies require policy owners to purchase special coverage for sewer backup.  Some other common exclusions:  wear and tear, settling, rust, snowslide (kind of important to know about this in Alberta!), landslide, flood, water damage to property while the home is vacant or unoccupied, mechanical breakdown, damage caused by insects or rodents.   Ask your agent what your policy does NOT cover!
  4. Limitations on theft coverage are common.  If you own expensive jewelry, furs, artwork, silverware, coin or stamp collections, a boat and motor, cameras, bicycles, business books and tools, you’ll probably need additional coverage, known as a “rider”, on your policy.
  5. What kind of proof of value might you need in support of a claim?  The experts recommend making a list room by room in your house of everything you own, and assigning a value to each item, or group of items.  If you have sales receipts, especially for big-ticket items, add these to the file.  Take photographs of everything, or better yet, a video.  Nowadays, all this can be posted online for free, so your information will always be available even if, like the residents of Slave Lake, all your property is destroyed.
  6. If you submit a claim against your insurance, you will be expected to pay a deductible,  a certain amount of the cost of damage before the insurance payment kicks in.  Discuss with your insurance agent the advantages and disadvantages of increasing or decreasing your deductible.
  7. What if extensive re-building requires you to move out temporarily?  Does your policy have a clause to cover the cost of hotel rooms and food?
  8. Property insurance doesn’t just cover your own belongings.  What happens if someone is injured while in your home, or their property is damaged?  Some liability insurance is standard in every policy, but consider if that amount is adequate for your situation.
  9. Ask about coverage of your belongings when they are not in your home.  What about belongings stored off the property, such as in a rented storage facility?   Are you covered when you travel?   What if your car is stolen with your computer in it; can you claim for a new computer?  (This is a special situation where you might have to submit two different claims:  one against your auto insurance and the other against your home insurance.  Did you know that many companies not only offer a discount if you have both your home and auto insurance with them, but will only charge you a single deductible in a double claim situation?  Good to know!)
  10. Educate yourself about coverage in special situations.  If you have a child living away from home, are that child’s belongings covered?  When you’re moving to a new home, what kind of coverage do you have between the two dwellings and on your belongings in transit?  If your home is going to be vacant for a significant period of time (for example, you’ve sold your home but the possession date for the new owners is several weeks or months away), do you need special coverage?  Do you need special insurance during home renovations?  If in doubt, contact your insurance agent!
  11. Condo owners may require special insurance to protect not just their personal investment but also their share of the common property in the condominium development.  Ask your insurance agent about “loss assessment”.  Also, take the time to read carefully what’s included and covered in the condo corporation policy; that way, you’ll know what you need to include in your personal policy.
  12. Renters and tenants should have property insurance as well.  Like home owners, you need to protect your own belongings, and guard against liability if someone is injured while in your rented space, but you also need to protect yourself in case of accidental damage you, or your guests, might cause to the landlord’s property; for example, forgetting to turn off a tap while you’re away for the weekend, causing water damage to your own suite and others.
  13. Landlords have special insurance needs also.  Maybe you rent out a room in your home.  You might not have thought about it, but this represents a risk to the company that might even void your policy if the company is unaware of your tenant or boarder.  Be sure to let your insurance agent know so that your coverage can be amended.  If you own a revenue-generating property, ask your insurance agent if your home property insurance extends to cover it.  You might also wish to consider Landlord Insurance which is designed to cover the rental income of a property if it remains vacant because of loss.  Again, the Slave Lake situation comes to mind.
  14. Be sure to ask about discounted rates.  Some companies offer lower rates depending on whether you have multiple policies with that company, age of the policy owner, number of years claim-free, non-smoking property owner, special security features such as alarm systems, security bars on basement windows, etc.

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Companies selling home insurance want you to contact them for a quote since policies are tailored to individual situations, and very few publish detailed information online.  A few helpful websites with information about home insurance:

TD InsuranceHome Insurance Learning Centre

MelocheMonnex:  About Standard Home Coverage

Canadian Direct InsuranceHome insurance coverages offered in Alberta

Kanetix.ca:  Standard home insurance coverages

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For a list of insurance companies in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain, check out our Welcome Home Moving In Package

Comments or questions about this article?  Contact me here, phone me at 780-910-9669, or email me at barry@barryt.ca.

 

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Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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