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What is home insurance?
Matt Hands, VP, Insurance and MoneySense
Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments you can make, so you'll also want to protect it from risks of damage and loss – this is where home insurance comes in.
A home insurance policy (also known as house insurance or homeowner's insurance) is a contract between you and your insurer – by paying premiums on a regular basis (typically monthly or annually), your insurer agrees to cover you for various financial risks that come with owning a property.
For example, your building and belongings could be damaged or lost due to unforeseeable events – such as fire, theft, and severe weather. In this case, your insurance policy can step in and foot the cost to repair your dwelling and replace your items. Home insurance can also cover you for liability suits and pay for added living expenses (e.g. hotel fees) while you’re place is inhabitable.
Unlike auto insurance, home insurance isn't required by law in Canada. However, many homeowners have a mortgage on their property, and mortgage lenders generally require you to carry insurance on the property as a stipulation.
When shopping around for home insurance, it's important to note that not all providers offer the same types of coverage. You'll want to choose the one that caters to all your needs for the lowest price possible. We can help – read on the learn more about your property coverage needs and compare home insurance quotes with us today.
What does home insurance cover?
While the terms of a home insurance policy will differ depending on the provider, standard plans will include coverage for your building, liability, contents, and additional living expenses – here's what you need to know.
First and foremost, your home insurance is there to protect your dwelling, also known as the physical structure of your house. This also includes outbuildings on your property, such as a shed or detached garage. So in the event your dwelling is damaged – due to fire or explosion, for instance – your home insurance policy can help pay out the cost to repair or rebuild the structure.
You’ll want enough dwelling coverage on your policy to cover a full rebuild of your home. This is also known as the replacement value of your property which differs from your home’s market value. Insurers help you estimate this number by asking for details on your home, such as the year it was built, the total square footage, and the type of materials used.
If you’re looking to make some home improvements (e.g. basement renovation, kitchen remodel), be sure to update your insurance provider as soon as possible, so the dwelling coverage on your policy can also be adjusted. Failing to inform them ahead of time could lead to your claim being denied when you need it the most.
It’s important to answer all the questions on your insurance application to the best of your ability as you wouldn’t want to be overinsured or underinsured. Some providers also offer guaranteed replacement cost coverage for an added cost – with this, you’re guaranteed to be paid out the full replacement value of your home, despite the limit stated on your policy. It’s a good option if you want peace of mind, knowing you have enough insurance for a rebuild if anything were to happen.
What is a home insurance peril?
In the context of home insurance, a peril is an event that causes loss or damage to your property. While every policy is different, here are some perils that are commonly covered, as well as some that aren’t.
Commonly insured perils
Commonly uninsured perils
What is a home insurance endorsement?
A home insurance endorsment is an optional coverage you can add to your policy (for an additional cost, of course). While the types of endorsements offered will differ depending on the provider, here are a few popular ones you can consider.
Home-based business insurance
Identity theft insurance
Personal valuables insurance
How much is home insurance in Canada?
The average cost of home insurance is about $960 per year, but this will vary depending on your personal case. Comparing home insurance quotes can help you save hundreds of dollars each year – so find your lowest rate with us today.compare quotes
The different types of home insurance policies
While the overwhelming choice for Canadians is comprehensive home insurance policy (as it offers the most protection), here's a quick breakdown of the different types of plans you can choose from.
Factors that affect your home insurance premium
Home insurance is calculated on a case-to-case basis. Insurers look at the level of risk you (and your property) bring and adjust their rates accordingly. Here's a quick overview of the factors that'll impact your home insurance quote.
Home replacement value – This is the amount of money you’ll need to rebuild your home in the event it gets completely destroyed – so the more this costs, the more coverage you’ll need (and therefore, the more expensive your premium will be). You can also opt-in for guaranteed replacement coverage, meaning your building will be covered for a full rebuild even if it exceeds the policy limit.
Property type and use – How many people live in the household? Do you rent out your property for additional income? Insurers factor in how you use your home to determine your risk of making a claim, and the more risk you bring, the higher your premium will be.
Property age – The older your home, the more susceptible it is to damage. So newly-built properties often come with cheaper home insurance premiums.
Property size – The larger your home, the more you need to insure. So expect to pay a higher premium when insuring a 7,000-square-foot mansion than a 500-square-foot apartment.
Location – Where your home is located matters. If you live near a body of water or in a statistically high-rate crime area, you’re more susceptible to making a claim which of course, increases your rate. Living near a fire station or fire hydrant, however, can help bring your premium down.
Roofing – A newer, higher-quality roof can lead to lower home insurance premiums. You’re lowering your insurer’s risk of having to pay out a damage claim due to severe weather conditions.
Exterior materials – As your building wears down, you’re more likely to face other claims-related issues, such as a leaky pipe. Therefore, newer homes, brick homes, and homes made of fire-resistant materials tend to come with lower premiums.
Heating, plumbing, and electrical systems – Older systems lead to higher home insurance premiums, and some insurers may even require you to make upgrades before providing you with coverage. This may be the case for wood burning stoves, galvanized steel plumbing, knob and tube wiring, fuel oil tanks, as well as 60-amp electricity.
Accessory structures – If you have accessory dwelling units, such as a garden suite, or a pool in your backyard, you’ll need coverage on these too. So expect your home insurance rate to go up.
How to get cheap home insurance quotes
Shop and compare
Every home insurance company quotes their customers differently – that’s why it’s important to shop the market (with Ratehub.ca) and find the one that offers the coverage you need for the lowest rate possible.
Bundle insurance products
By purchasing coverage for your car and home under one provider, your insurer will thank you for your loyalty with discounted premiums. And you also bundle other products, such as landlord insurance and boat insurance, for further savings.
Install safety systems
Cheap home insurance premium is all about mitigating risk, so installing an alarm system and smoke detectors can help. Ask your insurer about specifics – some providers require your alarm to be centrally monitored in order to qualify for savings.
A clean home insurance history shows insurers you’re less likely to make a future claim, lowering your rate substantially. So before you call up your home insurance company to ask for a payout, make sure it’s worthwhile.
Improve your credit score
While insurers can’t increase your premium due to a low credit score, you can be offered a better rate with good credit. Simply agreeing to a soft credit check can also give you more options when shopping around for the right company.
Get a group rate
Ask your insurance provider about group rates – discounts for certain professionals, alumni, or organization members. For instance, you may receive a lower rate for being CPA licensed or a post-secondary graduate.
Upgrade your home
While some upgrades (such as a kitchen remodel) can lead to higher premiums, other upgrades (such as an impact-resistant roof) help limit your risk – ultimately leading to cheaper home insurance quotes.
Increase your deductible
If you can afford to pay a larger amount out-of-pocket, increasing your home insurance deductible is one way to save on your premium. But make sure it’s a risk you’re willing to take as you could potentially be paying more in the long run.
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Frequently asked home insurance questions
Is home insurance mandatory?
What is the best home insurance?
How do I get the best home insurance quote?
What doesn't home insurance cover?
How does a home insurance deductible work?
Can I cancel my home insurance policy at any time?
Can I switch home insurance at any time?
Can you have two home insurance policies?
Does your home insurance premium increase after making a claim?
Do home insurance quotes affect your credit score?
Matt Hands, Business Director of Insurance
With 6+ years of experience at Ratehub.ca, Matt’s focus has been on growing its newest business unit, Insurance. He is a thought leader and a valuable resource to respected publications across Canada. read more
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