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.

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.

Earthquake Preparedness Tips

Earthquakes, one of Mother Nature’s most unsettling phenomena, are unpredictable and can strike without warning. That’s why it’s important for you and your family to learn how to prepare for an earthquake, and develop a plan to react quickly and safely if a disaster strikes.

Preparing for an Earthquake

  • Locate and learn how to use the shutoff valves for water, gas, and electricity in your home.
  • Prepare an emergency earthquake kit with warm clothing, non-perishable food items and bottled water to last you and your family for at least 72 hours.
  • Bold down and secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace, and gas appliances to the wall studs.
  • Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover, and hold on!

During an Earthquake

  • Remain inside of your home and seek shelter under a heavy table or desk; brace yourself inside a door-frame or inside wall.
  • Stay at least 2 metres away from windows and out of kitchens and garages, if possible.
  • Stay under the structure that is protecting you. If the shaking causes the table or desk to move, then you should move with it so you remain protected.
  • Do not panic, and anticipate what you should do next to remain safe.

Follow these guidelines to remain safe after the ground stops shaking:

  • Remain in your safe location for several minutes in case there are any aftershocks
  • Do not leave your home unless it is absolutely necessary to do so
  • Check your family members for injuries and administer first aid
  • Establish a temporary shelter area in your home away from areas that have severe damage

Dos and Don’ts for First-time Homebuyers

Purchasing your first home is an exciting milestone. However, home buying is not simple task, and many first-time purchasers fall into common, sometimes costly, traps.

So, before you start searching for your dream home, keep in mind the following dos and don’ts.

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Get Pre-Approved – When shopping for a home, it’s important to know what kind of credit you have and your overall budget. In some cases, real estate agents won’t even work with you until you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage.

Get a Real Estate Agent – While it’s true that real estate agents aren’t required for buying a home, they can be invaluable – especially for first-time buyers. A good agent will walk you through the necessary steps and offer market insight and specific advice.

First Time Home Buyers DON'Ts

Get over excited – It’s common for first-time home buyers to act on their emotions. But when it comes to such a large purchase, acting on impulse can be dangerous and commonly leads to overspending. Experts recommend that buyers only close on houses they can see themselves in for at least five years.

Get careless about money – When purchasing a house, you want to avoid making other big purchases before you are approved for a mortgage. In addition, many first-time buyers forget to budget for closing costs. Consider putting aside anywhere from 1 to 4 per cent of the purchase price to cover them.

Keeping in mind the above tips will ensure that, when it comes time to sign on the dotted line, you made all the right steps to secure your dream home. Get a free home insurance quote from Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions.