Category Archives: insurance claims

5 tips for insuring your first home

Photo: James Bombales

Before you take ownership of the property, your mortgage provider will likely want to see proof that the home is insured. This protects their interest in the building in case of damage or loss. Here are 5 tips for insuring your first home:

1. Be honest during your application

Buying insurance is not like buying a candy bar. It’s a contract with requirements from both parties. The most important thing to remember when purchasing insurance for your first home is to answer the application questions with as much openness and honesty as possible. This will help to ensure that the policy you purchase will be valid in the event you need to make a claim.

It’s worth doing some research on your home at this stage so that you’re prepared to answer any questions that may arise during a quote. For example, you may need to know about your home’s construction or the age of key systems, like the roof or furnace. Also, be clear about who’s living at the property and in what capacity. Any tenants occupying rental suites should be disclosed upfront.

Photo: James Bombales

2. Consider if you’d like to make renovations

Similarly, if you’re thinking about making changes to your home, be sure to let your insurance provider know before you start renovating. For most renovations, Square One will simply update your policy to cover the renovations, and follow up every now and then to check on your progress. There’s typically no need to buy a new policy to ensure your home remains protected. Just be sure to update the value of your home to include the renovations. That way, you won’t be forced to pay for them twice in the event of a total loss.

3. Check for lender-specific requirements

Most mortgage providers require confirmation of insurance before they’re willing to release the funds for your purchase. The terms of requirements differ with each lender, so be sure to identify what’s needed before you sign the dotted line.

For example, your mortgage providers will need to be listed as a “mortgagee” on your policy. This means you can’t simply cancel the coverage without the mortgage provider finding out. Most will also require an appraisal of the home’s value. Some mortgage providers will require a home inspection, or might have specific coverage requirements, such as Guaranteed Building Replacement coverage. This coverage guarantees that your home will be rebuilt in the event of a total loss, even if the cost to do so exceeds the limit of your coverage.

Photo: James Bombales

4. Pay attention to your home’s systems

Your home inspector should identify the type, age and condition of your home’s systems. If your home contains older or less reliable systems such knob + tube wiring or Kitec plumbing, you may want to consider upgrading to a more modern alternative. Not only will this provide some leverage for you to re-negotiate the purchase price, but upgrading to copper wire and pipes (considered the gold-standard) could help safeguard your home. Many providers, including Square One, offer a reduction in your home insurance premium if you’re willing to upgrade your home’s systems. (However, not all providers do – so if this is part of your decision-making process, check with your provider to be sure.)

5. Qualify for discounts to your premium

Homeowners with a history of continuous, claims-free coverage will often qualify for discounts on their premium– even if they’ve only previously held a policy for tenant’s insurance. Your insurance provider wants to see that you’re responsible and proactive about managing the risks associated with your home. And, because tenant insurance policies are typically cheaper than homeowner’s policies, the discount that’s applied to your future homeowner’s insurance premium may help to offset the cost of your tenant insurance today.

Source: Livabl.com – SPONSORED 

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HOME INSURANCE 101

HOME INSURANCE 101

Whether you’re a homeowner or a tenant, your home deserves to be properly protected. Unlike auto insurance, home insurance is not legally required by the government. Instead, it may be deemed as a requirement by anyone who has a financial interest in the property. For example, a landlord can require tenants to maintain specific insurance coverage while renting the dwelling. Similarly, a mortgage company can stipulate that homeowners maintain adequate insurance at all times, which is a way to protect their interests.

Now that we know why other people are interested in you having home insurance, let’s focus on why home insurance is, and should be, important to you. Let’s start by defining what it actually is. Homeowner’s insurance provides you with protection against damages that may occur to your home. For example, fire or flood damage (to name a couple) could be quite costly to repair — not to mention when the damages are beyond repair and require replacement or rebuilding. Your home insurance policy is there to cover you should such incidents occur.

In addition to covering damages to your dwelling and other structures, your home insurance policy provides coverage for your personal property. Insurance companies commonly refer to your personal property as contents. Each policy has a defined monetary limit when it comes to contents. When purchasing a tenant’s insurance policy, this limit is usually set by you.

A handy way to determine an appropriate contents limit is to create a personal inventory. This document lists all of your belongings room-by-room, along with their value. The total value of all the items is the total amount of contents you’re wanting to insure through a tenant’s policy. A homeowner’s policy, on the other hand, handles contents limits a bit differently: usually, this limit is a percentage of the total cost calculated to rebuild the home.

A home insurance policy also provides you with coverage for liability. As with auto insurance, your home insurance policy protects you in the event a third party attempts to take legal action against you as it relates to your home. Liability coverage also comes in handy when you may be held responsible for damage to a third party’s property. One of the factors to consider when choosing your liability limit is the exposure you may have to risks. If you operate a home-based business, for example, you could be vulnerable to additional risk because you have a higher volume of people visiting your house. Having tenants is another example of liability risk.

The next time you’re shopping for a home insurance quote using the traditional route, keep in mind the multitude of details you’ll need to organize to help ensure a hiccup-free process (see our helpful checklist below). With aha insurance, however, we can save you a lot of time and hassle because the entire process is completed online, leveraging secure, state-of-the-art technology. In fact, the only information you’ll need to know for a home insurance quote with aha insurance is your address!

Checklist:

1) Address
Okay, we know this one sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s important to specify your exact address when getting a home insurance quote. This is particularly important for those who live in more rural regions with rural routes.

2) Insurance Information
If you have a current home insurance policy, ensure you know its details, such as the renewal dates. It’s also useful to know what your current coverages are, including replacement costs.

3) Claims History
Be prepared to share the details of your home insurance claims history. You’ll also want to make sure you have the specifics about how the claims were settled, including the amounts that were paid out as well as the reason for the claim (e.g., water damage, hail damage, theft, etc.).

4) Home Occupant
Who will be living with you? If you rent out rooms or the basement of your home, provide this information to ensure you have the proper protection.

5) Property Details
Know your home, inside and out. You should know your home’s approximate living space. You should also make note of its construction, including the year it was built and the materials used. Details about your plumbing, electrical, heating and roofing will also be required. You should be aware of the materials, as well as the most recent dates they were updated. You should also note how close your home is (in metres or kilometres) to the nearest fire hydrant and fire station.

6) Personal Belongings
How much stuff do you have? If you’ve ever created a home inventory, now is the time to refer to it (and update it). Your home insurance quote will automatically calculate an amount for your contents, but if you have anything that should be given particular attention due to its value, such as jewellery or expensive antiques, you’ll want to include it.

When it comes to home insurance coverage, every insurance company sets their own requirements for the information they’ll request in order to provide you with a quote. But if you keep this checklist in mind, you’ll certainly be prepared for whatever they’d like to know.

If you’re looking to upgrade insurance coverage, we invite you to get started with an online quote. When you purchase home insurance through Hudson’s Bay Financial Services and aha insurance, you’ll be eligible to receive up to 4,000 Hudson’s Bay Rewards points.1

Source: HudsonsBayFinancial.com

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Hurricane Matthew: Before it hits, take these insurance precautions

AP HURRICANE MATTHEW NORTH CAROLINA A WEA USA NC

America hasn’t seen a storm as strong as Hurricane Matthew in a decade, and the damages could be epic. The Consumer Federation of America predicts as many as 100,000 insurance claims for wind damage, and payouts for damages likely will exceed $7.4 billion.

As residents board up windows and stock up on bottled water, if they have time to safely do so, they should also consider preparing for the possibility that they soon could be facing an insurance claim.

Before the storm

The CFA offers these three tips:

  • Locate your homeowners or renters policy, and make sure it’s in a safe place where you can reach it after the storm.
  • Review your policy to find out how and where to report a claim.
  • If possible, document your belongings with photos or a video tour.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America also recommends a thorough documentation. A home inventory can be vital to ensure you get the most out of your insurance policy, said Don Griffin, vice president of personal lines for PCIAA.

“You see your stuff every day, but if you don’t have a picture or a video of it, you won’t remember,” Griffin said.

PCIAA recommends using a smartphone to supplement an inventory with photos and videos inside the home. You should save your inventory in a disaster-proof form, such as email or cloud-based note-taking services.

The more detailed the list, the better, said Joshua Butts, owner of Cornerstone Insurance in Tampa. That means tallying the contents of drawers and the make and model of furniture, TVs and other big-ticket electronics. A detailed list gets an owner more money back in a loss, and they get it back more quickly, Butts said — instead of dickering over the exact nature of lost items, insurers have the lists, photos and videos right before them.

“What you document is what you get back,” Butts said.

In addition to documenting your possessions, keep track of any expenses you incur to mitigate damage, like boarding up windows, because they may covered.

After the storm

The CFA recommends that you:

  • Report your claim as soon as possible, because they’re usually handled on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Be sure to get a claim number and write it down. It’s the quickest and easiest way for insurance companies to locate your file.
  • Keep good records of anything you spend to make immediate repairs to secure your home. Also keep receipts for hotels or meals if you can’t return home right away after the storm.

After you file your claim

  • Immediately start a notebook with all contact information of the people you deal with from your insurance company, the CFA recommends. List the date, time and topic of conversations. Note any problems, as well. Documentation is key to resolving problems later.
  • Get a repair estimate from a local contractor you trust to use as a guide in talking with the insurance adjuster.

And, finally, if you’re considering skipping filing a claim because you’re worried about future premium hikes or policy cancellations, don’t.

“You’ve paid your premium and are entitled to coverage,” the CFA wrote in a release. “If you have a legitimate claim, do not hesitate to file it.”

Source: , USA TODAY8:13 a.m. EDT October 7, 2016

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Intact denies claim for burst fire sprinkler pipe even though fire code was followed

Diane and Michael Uniac were stunned when Intact denied their claim because they left their fire sprinkler system on when they were away for the winter.

An Ontario couple’s home insurance claim is being denied after the pipes of their emergency fire sprinkler system froze and burst, causing major damage.

Intact insurance is denying the claim, even though the couple followed Ontario’s fire code and left the sprinklers operational while away on vacation.

Even your insurance broker may not understand your policy1:44

Michael and Diane Uniac live in an attached townhouse in Waterloo, Ont., and for past 19 years, they’ve been spending winters in Florida. Each year, they turn off the water before leaving, but not the fire sprinkler system.

“Never in my wildest dreams would it ever occur to me that I would ever consider shutting off the fire system, for heaven’s sake,” Michael Uniac told Go Public.

In January of last year, the pipe supplying water to the fire sprinkler heads froze and burst, severely damaging all four levels of the home.

“I was speechless,” Diane Uniac said.

“There was insulation hanging down and walls hanging down and ceiling fans. It was just shocking.”

Claim denied

Intact denied the claim, saying that under the policy, the water needed to be turned off and drained, including the fire sprinkler system, if the couple were away for more than a few days.

The Uniacs say they were shocked and confused. Under the building code, the Uniacs townhouse requires a fire sprinkler system that has to remain operational at all times.

“It’s a real mess, a catch 22,” Michael Uniac told Go Public.

Sprinkler Sign

The Waterloo, Ont., fire department told the Uniacs that their fire sprinkler system must be kept operational at all times.

“We’ve got the fire department on the one hand telling us we have to have a system and it’s got to be maintained on at all times. We’ve got the city telling us we have to have the system it’s a building code requirement. We got the insurance company telling us, you can’t do that or you’re not insured. It doesn’t make any sense at all.”

Intact knew the Uniacs had the fire sprinkler system and factored the added safety feature into the couple’s premium.

“I put [a] question to our adjuster early on. I said, ‘Supposing instead of a flood we had a fire, and we had turned off our fire system, what then?’ Obviously I didn’t get an answer, but I can guess what it would have been.”

Damage estimated over $250,000

All the floors, walls, and ceilings had to be ripped out, and the home rebuilt. Original estimates placed the cost at somewhere between $250,000 and $300,000.

The couple have been doing some of the work themselves and so far have spent over $160,000, borrowing against their mortgage.

“Common sense dictates you leave your fire system on. The insurance was aware we had it.… I felt it was part of my contract with them to maintain protection.

“They really have the odds stacked in their favour. Things that can be legal aren’t necessarily just or fair. I’ll tell you that,” he said.

Broker assumed couple covered

Even the couple’s insurance broker, who’s paid to interpret and explain policies, thinks the Uniacs should be covered.

Scott Stanley

Insurance lawyer Scott Stanley says policies have become so complicated that even the experts have trouble understanding them. (CBC)

“He told me flat out in writing that you are covered, that no insurance company is asking anyone to turn off their fire system in the winter,” Uniac said.

The couple are considering suing the broker and Intact, but were told legal costs would run about $120,000. That’s on top of paying for the repairs.

‘Couple did everything right’

Insurance lawyer Scott Stanley from the law firm Murphy Battista, says the problem is not the people but the policies.

“There’s nothing these people could have done. If you had a client that acted perfectly — this would be that particular client,” Stanley told Go Public.

“This industry needs to make the information simpler for people to digest. There’s a problem when the insurance industry itself is struggling to understand the contracts that it’s selling … if they can’t understand it, there’s not hope a regular person can.”

The Uniacs say Intact made them an offer a while ago, but it doesn’t even cover 10 per cent of the repair costs.

Intact Logo

Intact Insurance refused to comment on this story, saying the case is before the courts. (Intact Insurance)

After Go Public contacted the company, Intact’s lawyers repeated its request for the couple to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Even though the Uniacs have asked their lawyer to put any legal action on hold, Intact tells Go Public it won’t comment because this case is before the courts, adding it is confident in its position.

Source: Rosa Marchitelli, CBC News Posted: Jun 17, 2015 5:00 AM ET