Whether it's damage from a fire or weather events, theft, or water infiltration, it's important to have home insurance for one of your most important investments. If the unexpected happens, you want reassurance knowing you have coverage for you and your property.
Like updating your will, once you’ve purchased a homeowner’s policy, it’s a good habit to review your insurance plan with an agent from time to time to make sure the coverage keeps up with your changing needs.
Here are some tips to help you learn what home insurance covers, and how to keep your home secure.
What Does Home Insurance Cover?
1. Know what you're covered for
Not all home insurance policies are created equal. It's essential to check your policy and coverage limits, so you're aware of what types of damage (also known as perils) are covered and where you have any gaps.
A home insurance policy typically covers losses or damage to your dwelling building (including roof & siding), detached structures (including fences) and personal property / contents from the following perils:
- Fire or Lightning
- Windstorm or hail
- Flying object
- Vandalism or Malicious Acts
- Water Escape, Rupture, Freezing
- Impact by Aircraft or Land Vehicle
2. Extra coverage for damage caused by natural disasters
You should consider additional coverage for the following:
- Natural Disasters. While many insurance policies cover the above-listed perils, you can purchase an endorsement (or “add-on”) to protect against damage caused by earthquakes, for example.
- Water Damage. Did you know that water damage to homes is on the rise and can require expensive repairs? With that in mind, you’re going to want to ensure your home is covered. Many standard home insurance policies cover water damage caused by burst pipes or appliances, however, you may need enhanced water damage coverage for sewer backup or overland flooding.
3. Special items need extra coverage
Your home insurance may have limits regarding more valuable possessions like a wedding ring or artwork. You may want to consider buying a Personal Articles Floater which provides broader risk coverage for theft and loss of your personal property.
How to Keep Your Home Secure
In addition to buying home insurance, here are some tips to help make your home safe.
1. Install a home security system
Take steps to help protect your home from theft by installing a monitored security system. You may even be eligible for discounts on your insurance policy if you have one installed. Some plans may also include technology designed to prevent or minimize damage from emergencies like fires, freezing pipes, floods and carbon monoxide poisoning.
2. Save vacation selfies
While you may want to post that perfect selfie while on vacation to let everyone know that you are living your best life, doing so may put your home security at risk by unintentionally inviting a potential break-in. Save these for after you’ve returned home!
3. Be sure to have a house sitter
If you’re going to be away from your home for a significant period of time, it’s a good idea to have a friend, family member, or neighbour check in on your home to ensure that everything is alright. Things to check include making sure that the water supply is shut off (to avoid any accidental flooding), ensuring that the stove is not on, and gathering your mail or other packages to avoid suspicion that your home is unoccupied.
4. Prevent fire damage
- Maintain your furnace and water heater properly.
- Get your gas lines checked regularly.
- Service your fireplace every year.
- Clean the dryer lint trap and exhaust fan regularly.
- In the kitchen: keep flammable items away from the stove; turn pot handles inward to prevent accidents that could spark fires or cause burns; keep young children and pets at least one metre away from all cooking areas, and don't leave your stove unattended.
- Be sure to purchase a fire extinguisher for the kitchen and basement
5. Before storm season
- Have your pipes inspected and repaired by a licensed plumber if necessary. Also, have them check your sump pit and sump pump (if you have them) to make sure they're in good working order. If you have a septic system, have it inspected and serviced regularly.
- Hire a licensed plumber to install a backwater valve which prevents sewage and water from flowing back into your home.
- Keep floor drains in your basement clear of obstructions.
- Seal up any cracks or openings in your basement walls, doors, and around pipes and cables. Store valuables on shelves or higher floors in airtight containers.
- Keep electrical components at least 30 centimetres above the basement floor.
- Grade the property surrounding your house to help water to drain away from your home's foundation.
- Trim branches from trees growing near, or hanging over your home, so they don't damage your roof, windows, or siding during a storm.
- Seal cracks in your foundation and exterior walls.
- Install window well and well covers on basement windows.
- Disconnect downspouts and extend them away from your home, preferably draining water at least six feet away.
- Regularly clean and maintain your eavestroughs so that they're not blocked.
- Keep storm drains near your home clear of leaves and debris.
- Repair or replace your roof if shingles are deteriorating or missing.
- Repair sidewalks, decks, patios, and driveways that may have shifted over the years, causing water to pool close to your home.
- Remove loose objects outdoors if a storm is a forecast because they can become airborne during a windstorm and cause damage.
Just like making a will, having the right property insurance in place will help give you and your family peace of mind.
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Disclaimer: This information has been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice. Trademark owned by Allstate Insurance Company used under license by Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. ©2022 Allstate Insurance Company of Canada.