Will Koblensky, Freelance Blogger
The best home insurance companies in Canada for customer service aren’t the most expensive providers, nor are they the most popular.
While the price of home insurance is determined by an array of factors including your home’s age, building materials and location, some insurers are flat out offering more for less.
Banks and membership associations (BCAA or The Co-operators, etc.) offered competitive prices for well-performing customer satisfaction scores, while Canada’s biggest home insurer, Intact, had among the highest prices and lowest customer service ratings among the study’s top performers.
Saving on home insurance starts when you’re looking to buy your home. While some factors such as a security system or flood prevention tools like a sump pump or backflow preventer can bring down your premium, some homes are just expensive to insure. For instance, you can’t change the age of your foundation, how far it is from a fire hydrant or how big it is and those factors may drive up insurance premiums.
Which company is best for home insurance in Canada?
To compare the best home insurance companies in Canada for customer service, we’ll need a control to measure all the insurers against.
For this example, let’s use Mary.
Mary is 35-years-old and buying her first home, a new townhouse in a medium-sized city that she purchased for $350,000. The newly built home has a gas furnace, vinyl siding, a security system monitored by ADT, and is a stone’s throw from a fire hydrant.
This is Mary’s first home insurance policy.
Even with Mary’s favourable conditions, she’ll still be offered a wide range of home insurance premiums by some of the nation’s most recognizable providers. While Mary has a new home built using state of the art materials, she is still located in an urban area with a higher chance of theft and vandalism. Though, a monitored security system and living close to a fire hydrant will help reduce her pricing.
Here’s how the pricing breaks down after she compares the data.
The best performing home insurer for customer service in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, The Co-operators, is also the third-least expensive.
Though that may sound like a tantalizing offer, Mary might weigh her options when looking at Allstate’s incredibly affordable price, compared with the fact they’re the third-best performer in customer service.
Conversely, Economical and Intact offer the highest prices for home insurance in Ontario and Atlantic Canada without competing at the top of the table on price.
It certainly gets pricier west of Ontario due to the extreme weather events and weaker competition among insurers, but there are still some deals to be had for Mary.
BCAA earned the highest score of any insurer in Western Canada, Ontario or the Maritimes, though they only provide British Columbia home insurance.
While The Co-operators offer Mary a competitive deal in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, their policy in the West is much more expensive.
TD Insurance manages to offer the least expensive policy while still holding the third-highest customer service rating, making it the obvious best deal for Mary.
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What drives your home insurance premium?
The value and size of your home is a major factor in how much you’ll end up paying in premiums. The greater the cost to replace the home, the greater the insurance to cover it will be. Replacement value is the maximum possible cost of rebuilding your home.
Insurers also look at the quality of your home’s construction material in relation to replacement costs and different insurers may give a recently replaced roof a bigger discount. Everything from whether your frame is wooden or brick, your sidings vinyl or stucco and if your heating system a gas furnace or a boiler will affect your premium. If your roof hasn’t been updated in the past 20 years, your home insurance will certainly reflect that in terms of higher premiums.
Knob-and-tube or aluminum electrical wiring is a red flag for home insurers and they may deny you a policy based on that, or ask you to replace it. Also, electrical breakers are looked upon more favourably than fuses. Similarly, copper and plastic plumbing is a plus and galvanized or lead piping is a minus in the eyes of insurers.
Wood stoves are something else that sends alarm bells off in insurers’ heads, due to their likelihood of catching fire or causing monoxide poisoning. How close your home is to a fire hydrant or fire hall matters to home insurers too, though some are more precise about how that proximity than others.
Location of your home
As real estate is all about location, location, location, so too is home insurance. Your neighbourhood’s level of crime and history of weather-related accidents factors into how insurers will price your home.
Western Canada tends to have higher home insurance premiums and also experiences more devastating weather than the rest of the country. From the Fort McMurray Wildfires to the Calgary floods to earthquakes and oil spills in BC, Western Canada has some of the nation’s most extreme weather events.
Home insurance history
As with all insurance, your history of claims and denials will affect your premium or ability to get a policy in the first place.
Insurers view people who’ve made a number of claims as risky, even if those claims weren’t the claimant’s fault. Similarly, lapses on premium payments are considered a sign of financially unstable people, something that will cause insurers to charge more.
What to keep in mind when shopping for home insurance
Knowing you’ll need to pay for home insurance or condo insurance, depending on the property type, is something every homebuyer should factor into their decision-making process. Some postal codes cost more than others, while some fixer uppers could cost the homeowner in premiums as well as repair costs. Comparing home insurance quotes with endorsements like overland water coverage, insurance for earthquakes or even coverage for having to rebuild according to new by-laws can help your decision.
If you’re renting your property out, getting your tenants to look at renter’s insurance could prevent problems for you both down the road.
To save money, consider comparing auto insurance quotes at the same time and bundle them together to save 15%.
If you value customer service, we hope the review and pricing details on the best home insurance companies in Canada has helped you.
The bottom line
Although numbers don't lie, the best home insurer will ultimately be the one that suits all your needs for the best price. To find your lowest rate today, compare home insurance quotes with us from Canada's top providers – in under five minutes, you can save hundreds of dollars for the long run.