Auto & Home Insurance Buying Tips

Proper Insurance is a Must – On The Road and at Home

For the right coverage at the right price, it pays to compare auto & home insurance programs.

The Need For Auto & Home Insurance

Because most of us don’t have the resources to pay for the losses we might cause while driving – severe injury, death, property damage, etc. – provincial governments require drivers to carry a certain amount of insurance to cover any losses they might cause others to suffer. Further, every province and territory requires drivers to carry coverage for their own medical costs and potential loss of income resulting from any driving-related injuries.

And though not mandatory, it’s recommended that you purchase additional insurance for your vehicles. This includes collision coverage, plus comprehensive coverage, which protects for damage to your vehicle caused by vandalism, theft, fire, glass breakage, falling or flying objects, extreme weather conditions and all specified perils.

For most of us, our home is our single largest financial investment – but one that is vulnerable to fire, theft and other damage. And most of us simply can’t afford to replace everything we own out of pocket. Even recovering financially from a partial loss is more than most can manage. Yes, protecting your home with proper insurance is important. But reviewing your insurance policy with your provider on a regular basis and updating your coverage can be just as important.

The Costs For Auto & Home Insurance

While it may seem complex, the process of setting rates for insurance is really quite simple. Premiums collected by your insurance company are used to settle the claims of the few.

Further, the process of setting premiums for auto & home insurance is no different than any other type of insurance, in that costs are based on risk. In this case, risk refers to the likelihood that a policyholder will make a claim, and the estimated cost of that claim.

A few individual factors that can affect your auto insurance premiums include:

  • Your automobile: Some vehicles fare better in collisions, resulting in less severe injury to the occupants and damage to the car. Plus, newer, more expensive vehicles may cost more to repair or replace.
  • Use of your automobile: Insurers consider many factors including how much and how far you drive on a regular basis, and whether you drive to work each day.
  • Where you live: If you reside in a large metropolitan centre, more vehicles on the road and more congestion could mean accidents and vehicle theft are more likely to occur.
  • Your driving record: Just as a clean driving record for many years will help keep premiums down, accidents, speeding tickets or other moving violations will contribute to an increase in your premiums.
  • Other factors: Auto & home premiums can be affected by provincial regulations, and the features offered by specific insurance programs, such as accident forgiveness benefits or loyalty discounts.

When setting premiums for group insurance programs, insurers will calculate the risk associated with the entire group to which you belong as a driver. Even with group programs however, there is no one-size-fits-all method of determining auto insurance premiums*.

Each policyholder’s premium is based on their individual driver profile, the amount of coverage selected, and the factors listed above.

*Premiums and eligibility for group program will vary for specific drivers depending upon individual factors.

Home Insurance – is Yours Up to Date?

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reminds you that it’s up to you, as a homeowner, to insure your house according to what it would cost to rebuild it in the event of serious damage or destruction. IBC encourages you to take stock of what you own, and offers a checklist that lets you easily create a room-by-room inventory of your possessions. Look for the downloadable brochures in the “Buying Home Insurance” section of: www.ibc.ca.

A Flood of Home Insurance Concerns

We are but a few months away from the spring thaw, and spring flooding. As you look at images of damaged homes on the television, internet and newspaper, ask yourself, “if your home experienced flood damage, or any water damage for that matter, would your home insurance policy cover your losses?”

Home insurance coverage typically includes damage caused by a sudden and accidental escape of water from an indoor plumbing, heating, sprinkler or air conditioning system, plus water heaters.

In most policy wordings, water damage is defined and includes damage by steam or ice. However, coverage for freezing damage is limited to the inside of your home, and there are specific coverage requirements if your home is unoccupied during the normal heating season. For example, a comprehensive home policy requires that you arrange for a competent person to check your dwelling daily if you've been away more than four days in the regular heating season.

Home insurance coverage typically excludes damage caused by floodwater from an overflowing creek or river, from continuous water seepage such as you experience with a cracked basement wall or unrepaired pipe, or from a sewer back-up.

Why the exclusions? Home insurance is designed to assist policyholders with the financial consequences of events that are considered to be sudden and accidental. Events that are considered predictable, such as the flooding of a home located in an area prone to floods, are not covered.

Similarly, events considered preventable would not be covered. Water damage arising from a sudden rupture of an indoor water pipe could not be prevented, so that damage would be covered. However, you can take precautions to prevent damage caused by frozen indoor pipes or leaks from unrepaired plumbing.

You can also take precautions to protect yourself with certain optional coverage. An example of a peril not automatically included in your policy is sewer back-up. This coverage is useful in some low-lying areas, especially if your area has storm and sanitary sewers combined. This coverage must be purchased separately.

The two most important things to remember about home insurance are that, (1) your home insurance policy is not a maintenance contract, and (2) water damage is a very complex insurance issue. You should discuss your homeowner responsibilities and coverage options carefully with your broker or agent.