Home Insurance for Canadians
Home insurance is something that most people will or at least should get at some point in time, though the type of home insurance they need may vary. Insurance can often be a confusing subject, which prevents some people from getting the right insurance. Below you will find all the information that you need to understand home insurance and get your property insured. This guide will explain the different types of insurance, how the cost is calculated, what home insurance covers, and how to find home insurance.
What Is Home Insurance?
Everyone hopes that nothing will ever happen to their home or the things in their home, but unfortunately, sometimes things happen, and when they do, it can be rather expensive. Home insurance protects you for the times that losses and damages happen and are out of your control, such as theft, a fire, or a flood. Of course, what each policy covers depends a lot on the provider and what you are in need of. When a person has home insurance, and a loss or damage covered under their policy happens, they do not have to pay for the entirety of the problem, though there may still be a deductible. Because home insurance is not legally required in Canada, some people decide not to get it because it is an added bill that they have to pay, but it is generally not recommended that someone go without. While the monthly fee can be annoying, the bill you get when any major damage is done to your home can be too large for you to pay, and then you may end up in some serious trouble.
Types of Home Insurance
Home insurance is an umbrella term, and there are several different types of insurance included in this category. It is important to know the different kinds of insurance so that you get the right one for what you need. Below you will find an explanation of the different types of home insurance.
Homeowner insurance is what most people think of when they think of home insurance, and also what most people need to buy. This policy is to protect people who own a home. Each policy is different, but most policies cover structural damage and theft. The monthly fee you have to pay will depend on the provider you use and a couple of aspects about your home, such as where it is located, the value of your belongings, and the materials used to build your home. You will also probably need to pay a deductible when or if something does happen. Again, the deductible will depend on your provider and what your situation is, but it is important that you ask your provider what you should expect your deductible to be.
In Canada, most providers offer four main policy types: basic, comprehensive, broad, and no-frills. While the names are mostly universal, each provider will have their own definition for the terms, so it is important to read the fine print and ask questions about each type. While an agent can recommend a policy type to you, in the end, you will have to make the decision about what you need from your policy.
Condo insurance is for people who own condos. Unlike an apartment, a condo is usually independently owned. Therefore, any damage that is done to the condo must also be individually covered, which can be rather expensive if the person does not have insurance. Just like with homeowner insurance, the cost of condo insurance depends on a variety of factors such as location, building materials, age, and the value of the things that you have in your condo. Some condominium corporations will require you to have condo insurance, while others will leave it up to the individual. Either way, it is a good idea to get it. Condo insurance usually will cover you in case of any damage to your condo, damage and theft of your belongings, and liability in case of damage to other condos around yours.
Tenant insurance, also known as rental insurance, is for anyone who is renting an apartment or house. They do not actually own the home, so they need a different kind of policy than that offered by homeowner insurance. Renters insurance is generally less expensive than some other types. What renter’s insurance typically covers is your personal property, liability in case a guest gets injured, and any damage that you are responsible for. Make sure that you ask your provider exactly what you are covered for and how much you are covered for. Some providers will only cover you up to a certain amount. Many landlords require their tenants to get rental insurance.
Rental Property Insurance
Rental property insurance is for the people who are renting out their apartment or house. While they own the property, they need a different plan than homeowners' insurance or condo insurance for property and liability coverage. The property coverage applies to specific risks called specified perils or all perils for anything that destroys or damages your home.
Also known as landlord insurance, rental property insurance covers any structural damage to your property and any belongings that you have inside of the rental space, such as furniture or art. Policies can also cover you for the income you receive and the loss thereof.
Vacation Property Insurance
Vacation property insurance is what you need if you own a vacation property. Also known as cottage insurance, this type of insurance covers a property that is not your main place of residency. This type of insurance will most likely cover your property and your belongings inside of it. It will also cover you in case someone gets hurts while on your property.
What Does Home Insurance Cover?
Most plans will cover any structural damage that is done to your property, along with damage to your belongings or theft. As far as structural damage, you will probably be covered if it is done due to something out of your control like a fire, flood, earthquake, or tornado, but may not cover any damage that you cause or is deemed not to be an accident. The specifics of what kind of damage your home insurance covers will depend a lot on the policy you get and your provider. It is important to read all the fine print so that you know precisely what is covered and what you are entitled to if anything does end up happening.
How Much Coverage Is Enough?
This really depends on your situation. If you are in an area that is known to have regular floods, you should make sure that flood insurance is included under your coverage. On the other hand, if you are nowhere near a floodplain, there is no point in paying to have your house protected from floods. You need to make sure that any realistically possible damage to your property and your belongings are covered. You may want to ask a third party (who is knowledgeable about home insurance) to look at your property and tell you what coverage you need because an insurance provider may try to upsell you.
What Factors Affect the Cost of Home Insurance?
The first thing that will decide how much your home insurance costs is how much it will cost to replace your home. The bigger the property, the more it will cost the insurance company to replace, and therefore the more you will have to pay to have it insured. The same is true about what your home is made of. If your home is more expertly crafted and made from more expensive materials, it will cost the insurance company more to repair it, and therefore you will have to pay a higher monthly premium. On the other hand, if the plumbing and electricity in your house are older or cheaper, they may consider you to be more at risk, and you may also have a higher monthly premium.
The contents in your home also affect the cost. The more you own, and the more expensive the things are, the more you will have to pay to have them protected because they cost more to replace. The location of your house, how you use it, previous claims, and how high of a deductible you agree to pay will all contribute to how much your home insurance policy costs.
What is a Deductible?
A deductible is an amount that you have to pay when you make a claim. You will agree on an amount or percentage before you sign the policy agreement. If something then happens to your property, you will be able to file a claim to get it repaired and the costs covered. First, you will have to pay the amount that you agreed to, and then you, when you file a claim, pay it, and then the insurance provider will cover the rest. Also, be aware that some insurance providers also put a cap on what they are willing to pay for, so past a certain amount, you may end up paying for more.
Best Home Insurance in Canada
Finding the right home insurance to meet your needs can feel like a struggle, especially with all the options available on the market. To help, here is a list of the best home insurance in Canada. Read below for a review and facts on each insurance company.
RBC Insurance is backed by one of Canada’s big banks. As an existing RBC customer, it may seem like the logical choice for home insurance. Although, RBC Insurance isn’t administered by RBC bank directly. To get it, you must call an insurance agent on the phone or go to a RBC Insurance Store location. Communicating with a different division of a company is a normal experience but, in this case, RBC sold their insurance sector to Aviva in 2016. RBC still backs and advertises RBC Insurance, but Aviva oversees the administration. This somewhat confusing partnership creates small hurdles for customers, including the need to call and cancel insurance separately from mortgages, even when your mortgage is through RBC. While RBC Insurance has all the luxuries of large insurance companies, they lack the customer service Canada’s big banks are known for. Aviva does somehow mange to keep the customer satisfaction of RBC Insurance high though. They do not have Green Coverage, for energy efficient upgrades on claims, and they do not offer home sharing options for insurance.
Allstate is one of the largest insurance companies in the US. In Canada, they only operate in 5 provinces: Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Although, this doesn’t eliminate Allstate as a key insurance company in Canada. They offer everything you’d need and expect from a home insurance company while offering some of the best discounts for having multiple insurance packages with them. They also offer retirement age and mortgage-free discounts. With exclusive in-house agents, Allstate offers excellent and streamlined services from purchasing insurance to making claims. By not outsourcing the sale of their insurance policies to external insurance brokers, Allstate is able to provide knowledgeable and quick responses. Some of the downsides of Allstate is that they are not well reviewed online, and they do not offer green coverage.
As a Canadian company founded in Quebec, belairdirect is known to have great customer service. With insurance packages for home, auto, and travel; belairdirect offers great discount bundles on multiple insurances. With policy and claim management fully online, belairdirect has eliminated the need to call in for every little concern, while speeding up the timeframe of claims. This may be a draw back for those who want in person services but allows belairdirect to offer competitive rates and attractive discounts. Coverage options aren’t nationwide, belairdirect only offers home insurance in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia.
TD Insurance is the insurance division of TD Bank. Being owned and operated by one of Canada’s big banks it is considered safe and reliable. TD Insurance offers basic insurance packages that cover common insurable issues, and they have Enhanced Home Protection for those who want the best coverage. Applying for home insurance online with TD Insurance will automatically earn new clients a 5% discount on their policy. This streamlined application process is a part of TD Insurance’s business model as they have no physical locations to go in and get insurance. Everything must be done over the phone or online. This could be a huge benefit for some but a draw back for others who want an in-person service experience. Reviews for TD Insurance customer service are not great, with the most common issue being how long it takes to reach a customer service agent on the phone.
Desjardins General Insurance
Desjardins General Insurance opened in Quebec in 1944 and has become a well-known name in the province. They now offer home insurance in Quebec, Alberta, and Ontario. While only operating in three provinces, Desjardins General Insurance manages to be the third largest insurance agency in Canada. In 2015, Desjardins General Insurance acquired State Farm Canada insurance thereby increasing their presence in the industry. They offer great home insurance packages at fair prices with increased offerings at additional costs. By having home security systems, you may be entitled to discounts on home insurance with Desjardins General Insurance. In addition, without claims, Desjardins offers increased discounts to rates. As with most insurance companies the largest customer complaint is the timeliness of customer service. Otherwise, Desjardins General Insurance is a great company with a great reputation and highly recommended as an option to at least get a quote from.
Aviva Insurance is an independent insurance company operating in Canada since 1999. It has grown to serve just under 1 million customers across the country. They offer great, basic packages and any add-ons you may like to include. Aviva is considered a trustworthy company with over twenty years in business. The largest concern with Aviva is the customer service, as is the concern with most insurance companies. Although, Aviva seems to fall a little behind every other company due to complaints of long processing times for claims. They do have a simple online application which could get you a quote in under five minutes.
Founded in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1880, Johnson Insurance led the way in Canadian insurance being the first to offer monthly payment options in 1950. In 1960, it was the first insurance company to offer bundle benefits with one monthly charge. Today, the Canadian company is owned by RSA Insurance Group, a U.K.-headquartered insurance company. With online operations in all of Canada except Nunavut, they still focus on home insurance, with most offices in the Maritime Provinces. This is the company to go to for more local roots.
Canada’s largest operator of insurance, Intact, has over four million customers across the entire country. They have a 30-minute guarantee for claims, meaning when you call in, you will be connected to an agent and your claim will begin within 30 minutes. This is a nice touch and promises those customers who find wait times for customer service with other insurance companies a problem. While 30 minutes may not be fast, having a known and realistic timeline can bring many people comfort. Intact Insurance has one of the best ratings online for customer service and is quick to respond and resolve negative reviews and complaints. Having presence across the country, Intact does not offer all it’s insurance options in every province, which can be an issue for those looking to bundle services.
A fully Canadian owned and operated company, The Co-operators is a true co-operative owned by its members. It is the 5th largest insurance company in Canada. With consistent customer satisfaction, customers can make phone claims 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The company does higher rates than other insurance companies, but the improved service may make it acceptable to some customers. Quotes are free and done online if you would like to do price comparisons. The Co-operators do not offer any additional living expenses insurance if you are making a claim and are displaced from your home.