Home Reno: Check Insurance First
Written by Kelley Keehn

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

There are two seasons in Canada: winter and construction.

While the latter usually pertains to our roads, a recent survey found 39% of Canadians are planning to renovate their homes during the warmer months.

Are you tackling a big home project? Have you thought about insurance?

"Insurance could be one of the biggest items to consider when undertaking a home reno project," says Matt Hands, Senior Business Unit Manager of Insurance at Ratehub. "Not letting your insurance provider know about your plans can actually come with big risks – including a denied claim, or worse, a cancelled insurance policy."

Here are 6 things to consider if you're planning home renovations:

1. Contact Your Insurance Provider Before You Start the Reno

"It's easy to forget to check in with your home insurance provider. We spend all this time researching things like contractors and materials, but we aren't taking the same care with our insurance, which is what protects us if something goes wrong," says Hands.

"It's important that before you even start your renovations, you connect with your provider to understand what coverage you have during the renovations, and how the changes could impact your insurance after."

Don't forget to contact your mortgage provider as well. The lender will need to approve any structural changes, such as adding a floor or moving a load bearing wall.

2. Doing it Yourself? You Still Need to Contact Your Insurer

"It doesn't matter who's doing the work, you still need to be certain you're covered, and your insurer needs to be informed," says Hands.

3. Contact Your Insurer After It's Done

Reach out to your insurer again once the renovation has been completed.

"Your coverage will likely need to be updated to reflect the changes you've made to your property," said Hands. "For example, if your renovations have increased the square footage of your property or the replacement value of your home, the cost to insure your property will increase."

4. Get A Vacancy Permit if You're Leaving Your Home

If you're vacant from your home and it's left unattended by you for 30 days or more, it's likely in violation of your policy. Hands suggests inquiring about getting a vacancy permit.

"It typically costs an extra $30-$50 per month while you're away. If you're still checking in regularly on your home, then you may not need this permit, but the key thing to remember is you, the homeowner, need to be the one checking in. It's important to connect with your insurance provider to understand exactly what their expectations are."

5. Look at Potential Insurance Benefits to Renovating

"Some improvements that reduce your risk for liability, meaning the likelihood of someone injuring themselves on your property or causing property damage, or that protect your home from common hazards that affect your insurance could help lower your premiums," Hands says.

An example where a renovation can save you money on your insurance is replacing a weathered roof. This decreases your risk for roof leaks and damage. If the improvements increase the replacement value of the home, your premiums will likely increase to reflect that new value.

6. Adding a Liability Can Increase Your Costs

"Your premium can also increase if you're adding anything that creates a liability," says Hands.

"A pool is a great example of this. As we head into summer, if you're planning to add a pool, you can expect to see your premium increase, because you're asking your insurer to take on more risk – both with possible damage to the pool and for any potential accidents it may cause."

Safeguard Your Summer Projects, Big and Small

A quick call to your insurance provider can ensure you don't face a big surprise because you weren't covered for an unexpected event.

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