What do you do with your home or tenants insurance policy when it arrives in the mail each year? Do you read it carefully or do you file it away without looking at it?
Taking the time to read and understand the details of your policy could potentially save you a lot of time and money down the road.
When you receive your insurance policy, be sure to review the following areas:
- Payment schedule. Review your payment schedule to ensure it is a payment plan that works best for you. (If eligible) you can change your insurance payments from yearly to three times a year or monthly. Tip: For your convenience, you can set up automatic credit card payments or withdrawals from your bank. Your BrokerLink broker can help you set-up these payment changes during renewal.
- Deductible. Your deductible is the amount you will need to pay if you make a claim. Home owners’ and tenants’ deductibles are typically $1,000. Tip: You can increase the deductible amount to help reduce your premium. Be sure to speak with a BrokerLink broker to discuss the various deductible options available and the impact they will have on your home insurance premium.
- Belongings coverage. How much will it cost to replace all of your belongings? Most people are surprised when they add up the value of their possessions in their home. Be sure to compile an inventory of your items with our downloadable home inventory checklist. Remember: Be aware of special limits for items such as electronics, sports equipment, collectibles, jewellery and fine art. If you require additional insurance coverage, or to determine, talk to your BrokerLink broker. Depending on the amount of protection you need, your premium will be determined accordingly.
- Additional living expense coverage. Without this coverage, you would be 100% responsible for any costs you would experience if you were displaced from your home. This could include hotel rooms and meals. Remember: you will only be eligible for additional living expenses if you are displaced due to an incident you have coverage for (see #5. Additional coverage). For example, if you are displaced due to sewer back-up, you will only receive additional living expenses if you have sewer back-up coverage.
- Additional coverage. Is your property at risk for hail, windstorms or sewage back-up? If so, double-check this is included in your policy. Coverage for these types of risks are separate and there are specific coverage limits with different deductibles than your overall policy. Some of these additional coverages may have restricted coverage depending on your claims history. Make sure you understand these limits on additional coverage. You may change the additional coverage deductible to adjust your premium. Make sure to find a balance that works for you between what you are willing to risk in case of future claims and the premiums you pay now.
- Personal liability insurance. If you unintentionally injure somebody else or damage their property, personal liability insurance will cover you. This includes medical and legal costs associated with the incident (up to your coverage limit). Remember: You and members of your household are not covered for self-inflicted injuries and cannot claim or apply deductibles under your personal liability insurance. Tip for travellers: this coverage can extend worldwide. For example, if you were travelling in Amsterdam, rented a bike and accidentally hit a pedestrian, your personal liability coverage would extend to the costs from the incident.
- “Details that may affect your price” section. Some insurance providers include this section in your policy. Here you may easily identify how you may reduce your premiums. This includes:
- Added features and additions. Your premium may be reduced if your home has risk prevention features such as a fire alarm, burglar alarm or sewer backup prevention.
- Updates and renovations to your home. Older electrical, heating, plumbing and roofs can increase the likelihood of making a claim, therefore increasing your premium. Consider updating your home to protect yourself from a risk and reduce your premium. If your policy does not have this section, contact your BrokerLink broker to learn more about ways that you can reduce your premium through home additions and renovations.
- Additional pieces on your property (home owners). Your policy should contain an insured value on additional pieces on your property such as a garage, deck, gazebo, porch, greenhouse or shed. This will ensure you are fully covered if there is a loss to them.
- Current mortgage (home owners). Confirm that the mortgage company listed is still correct. If your mortgage is paid off, you qualify for a discount.
- Estimated cost to rebuild your home (home owners). A home evaluation should be done every 3 to 5 years to ensure your policy reflects current replacement value. Check this amount on your policy, including not just your home but your belongings and additional pieces on your property.
Note: Are you renovating or leaving your house longer than 30 days? Your home insurance may become insufficient or invalid if you do not notify your broker.
Do you have questions about your policy? Or are you are looking for a specific kind of coverage, and it does not appear on your policy? Contact your BrokerLink broker and we will help explain your policy step-by-step, make sure you understand all details and ensure you have all the coverage you need.