Welcome to December's Homewatch post. In this installment, we discuss the importance of having accurate homeowner insurance. While most property owners know of the necessity of property insurance, this post reinforces how critical it is your insurance coverage be detailed and correct.
At this holiday time of year, when our lives are a whirlwind of giving and receiving, and the gifts are piled high, it's important to ensure that your possessions are properly protected.
When getting home insurance, it's not uncommon for homeowners to make assumptions, providing their insurance company with information that has not been fact-checked. The problem is, 'to the best of your knowledge' does not necessarily equal 'reality'. If you should need to make a claim down the road, you may find a gap between what you thought you knew about your house and what actually is there (or not there) in terms of structure, feature, or design; this may find you in hot water with your insurance company, or simply out of luck.
You may be wondering what goes into the formula behind your insurance premiums; insurers look at several factors, like the location where you live (including how close you are to fire hydrants), the age and condition of the dwelling, whether you live and/or work in the space, if you’ve made claims in the pastand whether or not your home contains more than one suite.
That is why a crucial part of your successful homeowner strategy is to invite your insurer in to assess your property to make sure that your coverage is reflective of your needs. The best time to do this is right after you've closed and taken possession, as well as each time you execute any substantial upgrades or renovations. Additionally, we recommend you re-evaluate your insurance needs annually, just to make sure there isn’t a gap between the coverage you believe you have and what you actually have.
Why Invite Your Insurer In?
Both you and your insurer share a common interest: the structural integrity of your home, and the potential for damage. They need to determine what the replacement cost would be for the structure and for the items in your home. Likewise, you need to know the details of your coverage and what you should be able to expect in terms of replacement. Some years ago, I invited my insurer to take a look at a vintage Edwardian I had purchased and was renovating into a duplex. The insurer came by and noted some concerns over the roof flashing and eaves troughs, expressing fears it was prone to fail and leak. I got my contractor to the property lickety-split and, lo and behold, as we investigated the troubled area we discovered some serious damage that would have caused significant water penetration. The problem got caught in the nick of time, and the repair bill just $800. It taught me a lesson on the value of inviting your insurer.
Nervous About Premiums?
Perhaps you are avoiding inviting your insurer in to do their own appraisal because you are afraid that your premiums might increase. The truth? You might be correct. Did you know that there are several features that could potentially raise your premiums? We’ve listed these in this recent blog: 14 Features That Increase Your Insurance Premiums. Nobody wants to pay more than they have to, but you also don’t want to roll the dice on your coverage either. It’s better to know now - and be fully covered down the road - even if it means a little extra cash out of your pocket.
By the same token, having your insurer see your property in person may also have the opposite affect on your premiums. Maybe you're paying for coverage that you don’t need. There are a number of insurance companies that actually tailor what you own to your pay out. Your insurer might be able to help you identify areas for improvement too.
There are a number of ways that you can actually reduce your premiums as well, by installing items like a monitored alarm system, water sensors, main line backwater valves, alarmed sump pumps, and tankless water heaters. As your insurance company about ways to achieve discounts!
Do Your Own Inventory
You can be proactive in your own coverage by making sure that you keep receipts and documentation around your belongings; this makes sure you replace apples with apples in the event of damage. It prevents your insurer from trying to replace items with cheaper models. It’s also a good idea to video tape items as a backup. After my near miss with the Edwardian duplex, I was considerably more detailed in documenting my improvements. Sure enough, after executing my head-to-toe renovation of my Movie House Loft, I forwarded a synopsis of all the work I had executed so they had a record on hand, and also double-checked to make sure I had ample coverage. So when the neighbour above flooded, which effectively drenched my newly transformed home into a water bath, I was relieved to confirm my Rolls Royce of an insurance policy provided comfortable alternative accommodations when I had to relocate for six weeks for the repairs to be completed. Own a condo? Here's my Insurance Assurance story with an essential nugget on how to ensure your upgrades and betterments are protected!
Put The Ball In Their Court
Not only does having your insurer in to assess your property ensure that your policy coverage and payment amount makes the most sense, it places the onus back on the insurer. You, 'the ever proactive homeowner', have ticked all of your boxes, followed the proper processes, and met the necessary criteria to have your claims successfully filed in the event of damage or disaster. For example, is there a risk your house might have older knob and tube wiring? If you've told your insurer no and it's discovered in your property, you've effectively nullified your coverage. Better to confirm these sorts of risks well in advance of issues. Here's a past post On Property Insurance which includes insurers who cover houses with knob and tube wiring.
Insurance is one of those things that may seem like a nuisance, but if you ever need to rely on it, you’ll be extremely grateful that you’ve laid the proper groundwork to expedite your claims and maximize your coverage.
What comes after buying a home? Owning a home. Once you’ve secured you dream property, you must embrace the business of finding the best way to live your life within those walls in order to keep that dream going. We help you anticipate some of the issues you may face and help to determine ways to proactively make your tenure as the homeowner smooth and successful.
At urbaneer, we’re here to support you and help ensure your homeownership journey gets of to a great, SAFE start.
- earn your trust, then your business -
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