5 Winter Home Insurance Tips

winter-homeWinter is here in Southern Ontario and many homeowners are faced with some questions about their winter home insurance policy and what coverage they have.

1. Going away: If you leave for a warm location during the winter, make sure somebody regularly checks your home. Some insurers explicitly exclude cases if the home was not monitored regularly. Here is an example of a policy which is very specific about this topic: “…but we do not insure loss or damage caused by freezing during the usual heating season within a heated portion of your dwelling if you have been away from your premises for more than 4 consecutive days but you will still be insured if you had taken one of the following precaution: arranged for a competent person to enter your dwelling each day you were away to ensure that heating was being maintained…”
Different companies can have various time horizons e.g. 4 or 7 days. Another option to keep a house safe is to turn off the water at the main source and drain the pipes.

2. Melted snow: Once snow melts and converts into water, it can result in flooding. The challenge in Canada is that, generally speaking, overland flooding is not covered. The only support path in this case can be government disaster recovery programs (e.g. similar to the ones supporting home owners during southern Alberta’s recent flooding).  Also, when buying a new home, you want to check if the location has a history of flooding due to melted snow.

3. Snow damages: Typically, your home insurance will cover damages caused by heavy snow, such as damages to your roof. Nevertheless, it is best to ensure your home is free of snow as much as possible in order to avoid potential claims. Often a claim can lead (depending on provider) to increased rates.snowtreehouse

4. Minimizing liability at home: Winter brings unexpected dangers around your home in the form of icicles and icy pathways. In order to avoid liability claims (e.g. somebody falls on your icy path or gets hit by an icicle), make sure that these hazards are not dangerous for others. Typically, liability cases are covered by your home insurance (similar to possible summer liabilities such as guests falling into your swimming pool). A couple simple things to consider for winter though: sand or salt against ice, guidance to navigate your visitors away from icicle-endangered areas and cutting the trees that carry a lot of weight of ice and snow are prudent maneuvers.
5. Garden and Trees: Should a tree fall on your house due to a winter storm, the damage is generally covered by your home insurance policy. Important to know, however, that a typically home insurance policy covers living trees and not the dead ones which is your responsibility to have timely removed. Another important aspect: some policies may cover only damages to the home by fallen trees, but also some of the cost of the repair landscaping. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, “Most home policies will allow you to apply up to 5 per cent of the amount of insurance on your dwelling to repair damage to trees and landscaping”.

Don’t spend hours researching home and auto insurance quote and insurance providers just to get a policy that doesn’t match your expectations. Let us find you the right home and auto insurance coverage at the right price. Unlike big, faceless insurance companies, an insurance broker works for you.  At Acumen Insurance our brokers use their professional knowledge and experience to help you properly assess your insurance needs, shop for the best value in insurance coverage and help you in the event of a claim. Our brokers will help you with a quote on line or over the phone, but personal consultations are encouraged, to answer any questions you may have, ensure there are no misunderstandings and no detail is overlooked.
Contact a broker at our Hamilton Head Office at (905) 574-7000 or in Mississauga at (905) 282-0900

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