Home Insurance Claims
You have home insurance, but do you know what happens if you need to make a home insurance claim?
With the recent stormy weather that blew through several parts of Ontario, some homeowners may have had the unfortunate experience of seeing damage occur to their property. When disaster strikes, the first question asked is usually, ‘Is that covered under my home insurance policy’? Home Insurance claims are on the rise however it is important to understand when you can, or possibly can’t, put forward a claim.
The starting point
The first point to note is to check what type of home insurance coverage you have; is it Basic (also known as Fire & Extended Coverages), Broad (also known as Named Perils) or Comprehensive? Comprehensive insurance covers both building and contents for all risks (unless excluded under the policy wording). Basic insurance only covers certain types of losses while Broad Form can provide comprehensive coverage for things like the building as well as named perils coverage on contents.
Exclusions within a Homeowners policy are important to understand so it is always recommended you read through them carefully and if anything doesn’t make sense, call and speak with your insurance broker. If a loss occurs to your home by an insured peril that is deemed sudden and accidental you may be eligible to put forward a claim however if the damage has occurred over slowly over a period of time then you may find your policy exclusions applying – for example, seepage is a common water exclusion as this is damage that can occur slowly over time.
Water damage is always an issue so it is important you check your policy and make sure you have Overland Flood coverage and Sewer Back-up coverage in place as these are not typically included in a homeowner policy. You can refer to previous blog entries for information about those coverages. Seepage is typically not covered so if you are aware your basement has leaks due to a foundation crack, or you have loose roof shingles letting rainwater trickle in, get that fixed!
There are also Special Limits on certain items such as bikes or jewelry that may not be adequate in the event of a loss. These limits detail the maximum amount paid out in the event of a loss and sometimes the limit can be as little as $500 for an item that may be worth over $1,000. It is often recommended that if you have any high-value items that you review the policy special limits with your insurance broker as you may want to schedule these items on your policy individually at their appraised value. It is also recommended that an inventory of your home is made; take photographs or video of your property to help record important items. In the event of a claim, you will be able to reference this record to help aid the claim situation.
It is also good to bear in mind that any damage done to your vehicle while parked on your property does not get covered under your home insurance policy – that claim would need to be made under your auto insurance policy, providing you have that in place.
Liability insurance on a homeowners policy activates in the event of bodily injury or unintentional property damage done to others while on your property. For example, if a visitor (not a household or family member) slips and falls on your snow-covered driveway, you may be legally responsible for any damages resulting from injury up to the coverage limit. It is always recommended liability limits be higher rather than lower otherwise you could put yourself in a position of being financially responsible if an injury claim goes above and beyond the insurance limit.
If you do need to make a claim, speak with your insurance broker first – they can advise you of the best course of action to follow. They can also answer any questions or concerns you may have, along with aiding throughout the claims process.