Your Home Away From Home

If you’re investing in a second home, Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions has gathered some insurance basics that will help you make the best buying decision when it comes to determining insurability and estimating your ongoing cost of ownership.

Coverage Options

At a minimum, your lender will require that you carry hazard insurance to protect your property against damage from theft, fire, flooding or windstorms. It is also a good idea to add liability insurance, which covers you and members of your household for accidental injuries to your visitors. Opting for property plus liability insurance adds up to a standard homeowners insurance package. For an extra layer of protection, a personal umbrella liability policy extends your liability coverage for properties named in the policy.

Dwelling Fire Insurance

Since most homeowner policies require occupancy as a condition of insurance, the fact that you visit infrequently may preclude you from obtaining full homeowners coverage. Dwelling fire insurance is an alternate coverage option used for insuring residential rental or non-owner occupancy property, including vacant property.

A dwelling fire policy continues to offer coverage for a home and other structures (detached sheds or garages, for example) for perils named in the policy. Named perils listed in a typical fire dwelling policy protect against damage caused by fire, collapse, lightning strike, wind, hail, explosion and smoke. For more coverage, consider adding personal property protection and liability insurance to a dwelling fire policy.

Renting Out Your Home to Others?

Whether your second property is an apartment unit or a family home, if you are renting the property, you will have little control over the physical damage that can occur in or on it. To mitigate your risks, tenant-occupied dwelling insurance will cover the costs incurred by damage, including fire, storms, burglary and vandalism. It does not cover your tenant’s personal property.

Renting your property furnished or unfurnished also has insurance coverage implications. If you are renting your property furnished, make sure to let us know. We can advise you on the best coverage options and whether you need to consider requiring longer-term tenants to carry additional renter’s insurance.

As with all homeowners insurance, it is important to be sure that there is enough coverage to protect all of your property values and assets when purchasing coverage.

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Avoiding Scams When Doing Home Improvements

Remodels and other home improvements are an important part of being a property owner. When done correctly, these projects can add value to a home and make it more attractive to future buyers.

Unfortunately, hiring a contractor to complete home improvement projects is not always simple. The average homeowner is often unaware of the average cost of materials and labour. What’s more, construction projects can be stressful, and it’s common for individuals to rush when choosing a construction firm just to get a job done faster.

As a result, homeowners are an easy target for contractor fraud, which is when a firm performs substandard repairs or offers services that deliberately cheat another party. To avoid contractor fraud and ensure that your home improvements are done to a high standard, look out for the following:

  • Contractors that contact you looking for work
  • Unsolicited, free home inspections that turn up problems you were previously unaware of
  • Contractors that want you to commit to repairs immediately
  • Contractors that request money in advance
  • Contractors that do not get the right permits or want to sell extra materials to you for a cheap price

When choosing a contractor, obtain as many references as you can and be diligent about researching reputable firms. If you are the victim of contractor fraud, you can report it to your local police department or notify services like the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Protecting Your Home From Storms

Heavy rainfall, high winds, hail and lightning from storms can cause severe damage to your home and endanger you and your family. In fact, flooding alone can cost Canadians an average of $42,000.

Make sure to protect your home from storm damage by taking the following steps:

  • Be aware of the types of storms that are likely to affect your area, and always listen to the weather forecast so you can stay informed of potentially dangerous weather patterns.
  • Update your home inventory at least once a year in case a storm causes damage to your home or possessions.
  • Inspect the outside of your home for any damage that could cause a leak. Even a small leak in your home’s roof, siding or foundation can cause severe damage and weaken the structural integrity of your home.
  • Prepare a home disaster kit that includes a first-aid kit, flashlight, battery-powered radio and clean water. You should also create emergency shelter and evacuation plans with your family in the event that any of you are separated during a severe storm.
  • Check your home’s windows, doors and gutters to ensure they can withstand heavy rainfall and high wind speeds.
  • Contact Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions to make sure that your home insurance policy offers enough protection to cover storm damage, or to learn more about home storm protection.

Chemical Safety Tips for the Home and Cottage

Though you may think that your family is protected against household chemical dangers, accidents can still occur. In fact, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, an average of three children (ages 14 and younger) die each year due to unintentional poisoning and another 900 are hospitalized with serious injuries.

To ensure the safety of your loved ones, take extra precautions when storing and handling poisonous chemicals in your home or cottage. Use the following tips to protect your family:

  • Place the local poison centre contact information next to your phone in case of an emergency. For added protection, program the number into your mobile device as well. The Ontario Poison Control Centre phone number is 1-800-268-9017.
  • Store harmful products out of the kitchen and away from food and drinks.
  • Read product labels when purchasing new items. If they contain the words caution, warning or danger, be extra cautious when storing and using them.
  • Keep chemicals and products in their original packaging so usage and handling instructions remain available.
  • Refrain from storing products that may release harmful fumes or catch fir inside your home. These items include paints, solvents, gasoline, fuels, and varnishes.
  • Check the City of Ottawa’ guidelines for instructions on how to dispose of chemicals and other hazardous waste. Never pour chemicals down the drain unless instructed.

Keeping in mind the above tips, you’ll ensure that you and your loved ones are safe from potentially deadly household chemicals.

Preparing a Household for a Disaster

Homeowners throughout Canada face a variety of natural hazards, including earthquakes, floods and wildfires.

If you are unprepared for one of these disasters, you and your family could be left without food, electricity or even shelter.

To prepare your household for a disaster, consider the following tips:

  1. Know the risks. Depending on where you live, your home could be impacted by any number of unique hazards like landslides or hazardous material spills. Familiarize yourself with the risks that are most likely to occur near your home to guide your preparation.
  2. Create a phone list. Create a master list of family and emergency contacts. Ensure that every member of your family has a copy of this list and stores it in a safe and easy-to-access area.
  3. Pick a meeting place. If you get separated from your loved ones during a disaster, it’s important to have a meeting place set up. This could be a neighbour’s house, library or community centre.
  4. Stay informed. Once impacted by a disaster, you will want to know how to receive updates on the situation. You and your family should know how to get this information ahead of time. Contact your local government to learn the best ways to receive alerts.
  5. Know how to turn off utilities. If you suspect a leak, knowing how to turn off your home’s gas and electricity can protect your family from fires or explosions. Locate and label your electrical panel as well as your water and gas valves.
  6. Store emergency supplies. Above all, in the event of a disaster, you will need access to clean water. You will need at least 4 litres (1 gallon) of water per person, per day. In addition, emergency supplies like first-aid kits, whistles, flashlights and cellphones will be critical to have on hand. Keep all of these items in a safe area or create an easy grab-and-go bag for quick access.

Home-Based Business Coverage

What Protection Does it Offer

Common coverages for home-based businesses include personal business property, professional liability, business income, personal and advertising injury, loss of business data, crime, theft, and auto coverage. Depending on the type of home-based business you have, not all coverages apply, and other coverage options may be available.

Coverage Options

Based on your business needs, you have three basic coverage options to choose from, depending on your level of risk:

Homeowners Policy Endorsement

This provides the least amount of coverage and, therefore, is not ideal for most home-based businesses (depending on the level of risk). While it may provide enough coverage for a freelance writer with one computer and no business foot traffic, it’s not enough for someone who employs others, has clients visiting his or her home or has valuable business equipment and/or inventory.

In-Home Business Policy

More comprehensive than a homeowners policy endorsement, in-home business coverage is a stand-alone policy that provides higher amounts of coverage for business equipment and liability.

Business Owners Policy (or BOP)

A BOP bundles property and liability insurance into one policy. Created specifically for the small- to mid-size business, a BOP covers your business property and equipment, loss of income, extra expense, and liability. It is the most comprehensive property and liability option. It does not include health or disability insurance, which are available as separate policies.

What’s Your Risk?

While most homeowners insurance policies do cover a limited amount of business equipment – computers, copiers, and printers, to name a few – it’s likely that what you own is worth more than your policy’s limits. Also, your homeowners liability insurance probably won’t cover any injuries that may occur to the employees or clients that you have on your premises. What’s a home-based businessperson to do?

Scrivens is Here to Help!

Properly insuring your home-based business is crucial to protecting both your business and your home. At Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions, we understand the small business owner’s personal and business needs, and can help you tailor coverage that’s as unique as the products and services you provide. Contact us today at 613-236-9101 to learn more about how we can help you insure your livelihood.

Home Maintenance Tips for the Summer

Keeping up with seasonal repairs upkeep not only shows pride of ownership, but can reduce the risk of costly and preventable home expenses. Prepare your home for the summer with the following considerations.

Home Exterior

  • Check all window and door locks to make sure they are secure. Open and close them, and apply lubricant when they are hard to open.
  • Inspect your roof and gutters, clean out gutter debris and check shingle integrity.
  • Inspect your home’s foundation, sealing cracks, and leveling yard depressions with compacted soil.
  • Check wooden structures, such as decks and steps, for rotting, loose wood, or exposed nails.

Home Interior

  • Hire a qualified heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor to tune up your air conditioning unit.
  • Examine electrical outlets and cords for potential fire hazards, such as frayed wires.

Garage

  • Examine your garage door to ensure that it is in proper working order.
  • Declutter by reviewing the contents of your garage. Donate or dispose of items you no longer use or need.

Driveways and Walkways

  • Inspect your pavement for cracks and holes, and remedy them. This can go a long way in preventing accident slips, trips, and falls.

These tips are brought to you by Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions.