Life During COVID-19. How to Keep Your Home and Family as Safe as Possible

Life During COVID-19. How to Keep Your Home and Family as Safe as Possible

By now, we’re all getting used to living with COVID-19. But, with rising case numbers in BC, how can we keep our homes and families safe?

It’s November. Already several months since most British Columbia schools, offices, and workplaces have opened their doors to welcome everyone back. But, despite our provincial authorities’ best efforts, case numbers in BC continue to break previous records weekend after weekend throughout the fall. And, while it’s probably inevitable as most of us succumb to some degree of COVID-19 fatigue, the increase in cases should be a reminder that this is nowhere near over.

With family members and friends spending more time out of the home and the security of our respective bubbles, it’s vitally important that we remain vigilant –  continue to practice the recommended protocols to help keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our homes as healthy and safe as possible.

Resigning ourselves to the fact that COVID-19 is going to be around for some time is helpful, first and foremost – getting our heads around the ‘new normal’. But, at the same time, reassuring ourselves that we have some control over how it affects our health and well-being is so important to our peace of mind. No, we can’t end the virus. But, we can do our part as individuals to hinder it’s spread through our communities and the infection of our households.

As a gentle reminder of how to navigate this ‘new normal’, and echoing the recommendations of our respected public health officials, below is a checklist of concrete actions you can take to reduce exposure and slow the spread of COVID-19 in your community – and keep the people in your household healthy as this pandemic persists.

A preventative checklist:

  • Social or physical distancing is still paramount – limit close contact with those outside your bubble as much as you can. When out and about, try to keep a distance of at least six feet from others.
  • As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”:
    • Face coverings have become a requirement in many public spaces, such as grocery stores, community centres, and gyms. Always keep a face mask handy – one in your purse, in your car’s glove compartment, in your pocket. And require your school-age kids to do likewise.
    • Sanitize hands before, during, and after outings to public places.
    • Frequently clean, sanitize, and disinfect those surfaces that are touched most often. Your typical household detergents and soaps with water work well. You can also use EPA-registered household disinfectants, too. Just be sure they’re appropriate for the surfaces your cleaning.
    • Frequent hand-washing with soap and water for a count of at least 20 seconds – or quietly sing Happy Birthday in its entirety. If you’re unable to use soap and water, a hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol is a good replacement.
    • Be conscious when you sneeze or cough – cover your mouth and nose (use the inside of your elbow if you don’t have a tissue). Don’t keep and reuse a tissue, toss it immediately after use.
    • Frequently sanitize with the manufacturer-recommended cleaners any and all electronic devices – mobile phones, tablets, TV remote controls, laptops, etc.
  • Be aware of the emotional wellbeing of family members and others in your household and bubble. This has been a very stressful many months and can easily take its toll on everyone’s mental health – adults and children. Talk with your family, including children, about these surreal circumstances. Approach it calmly and with a sense of reassurance, stressing how they too can help to prevent the spread to stay healthy and safe.
  • As we often hear, those who have had the hardest time are people in more isolated situations, such as the elderly in care homes. Stay in touch and check in regularly with those who are alone – phone calls, video chat, text, or even email.
  • Discourage your kids, particularly your teenagers, from large gatherings. Limit their outings to school, with minimal time spent in public places, so as to minimize the potential for spread throughout your community.
  • If you get sick, stay home. Work, school, and any other activities or commitments can wait until you’re recovered.
  • As best you’re able, limit any exposure to anyone you know who may be ill.
  • If someone in your home becomes ill: Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members (if possible).
    • Give them a room and bathroom separate from other family members.
    • Do not share any personal items such as drinks or food.
    • Ensure that the sick housemate uses a clean, disposable face mask around the house.
    • Keep the room and bathroom of the sick individual clean, disinfected, and sanitized as thoroughly and frequently as possible.
  • If you suspect that you or a housemate may be ill, notify work, school, daycare, or other obligations immediately and let them know you’ll not be in. Request work or schoolwork to be sent home.
  • Stay well-informed about COVID-19. Receive up-to-date information regarding local outbreaks, school closures, and other changes in your community from trusted media source updates.

Please keep in mind: no matter how comprehensive this list, and others like it, it’s still vital that you keep up-to-date with the guidance and recommendations provided by your local and provincial public health authorities.

Protect your home from wildfire

Another Wildfire Season – Protect Your Home and Property!

Forest and wildfire season is upon us! Do what you can to ensure your home and property are protected.

Our area is experiencing yet another aggressive wildfire season. It may be a later start than years past, but such a hot dry July and August have left us vulnerable to both natural and human-initiated fire events. As we watch with interest and concern communities and wilderness under immediate threat, you may think there really isn’t anything you can do to protect your home and property against the perils of forest and wildfires.

There are many regions of the province of British Columbia vulnerable to the threat of wildfires. Our West Kootenay communities certainly are!

Did you know? Much of the Canadian landmass is covered in forests – 30 per cent of the total forests of the earth and 10 per cent of what is referred to as forest cover are here in Canada. Just by nature of our forest cover, many Canadian communities are subject to the threat of wildfire.

And that’s not necessarily bad. Forest and wildfires are, in fact, necessary to maintain a healthy forest ecosystem. Fire is vital to forest renewal as it aids in the release of seeds and important nutrients as it reduces the forest canopy overhead to let in essential sunlight to stimulate growth.

But, given climate change and the associated challenges and issues, such as less precipitation and increased temperatures, not to mention the consistent and steady development and infringement of human activity on the surrounding natural world, wildfires become just that much a greater threat to our communities, property, and wilderness.

Natural Resources Canada (NRC) has identified that a whopping 2.5 million hectares per year have been destroyed by forest and wildfires in Canada over the last 30 years. That means a significant cost to land and property as well as significant resources devoted to efforts of fire suppression – $500 million to $1 billion a year!

To keep track of forest and wildfire activity throughout the province and the region, check out the British Columbia interactive wildfire map, for regular updates.

Meantime, as you keep your eye on the wildfire situation in our area, there are steps you can take to protect your home and property in the face of a wildfire threat. Keep in mind though, the steps below help to protect your home against fire, but we always encourage you to heed to the advice and information of local authorities and follow any instructions and restrictions in the event of imminent fire danger. The priority is always, first and foremost, to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Create a home that is as fire-resistant as possible

Here are a variety of things you can do to help make your home or business as forest and wildfire-resistant as possible:

  • Siding materials: As you consider the safety of your home, it’s important to know that vinyl and wood and vinyl are not good choices for fire-resistance. Consider instead materials like stucco, metal, brick, concrete, or fibre-cement siding. You may be surprised to know that logs and timbers are actually more fire-resistant than other wood options.
  • Roofing material: Wood shakes are just not good when it comes to protecting your home from fire. Wood materials are very combustible and also can leave potentially dangerous cracks that can let in burning embers and debris. Metal and asphalt are much better choices, along with clay and composite rubber tiles.
  • Windows: It’s best to replace any single-pane windows with tempered, dual- or multi-paned windows. The extreme heat from a wildfire can actually break single-paned windows. Additionally, you should install metal screening to help reduce radiant exposure and protect your home from burning debris or embers coming through.
  • Doors: Make sure all the doors of your home, garage, and any other buildings on your property are fire-rated and have proper seals.
  • Chimney: Add a spark arrestor to your chimney. Your fireplace or woodstove can actually be a dangerous source of fire. Sparks and embers can be tossed out on to your roof or into the surrounding trees, shrubs, or brush.
  • Balconies and decks: As with siding and roof materials, decking should be made of non-combustible material.
  • Gutters and eaves: Buildup and clutter in your gutters can be a vulnerability – easily ignited by sparks and embers.
  • Vents: Even small openings can make your home vulnerable to sparks or burning embers. Install fire-rated vents and have them screened over for additional protection.
  • Fences: A wood fence can lead flames and fire right to your front door. If you’re able, install a metal gate to separate the wood fence from your home.
  • Sheds and outbuildings: Any other structures (garages, guesthouse, workshops, even an outhouse) on your property within 10 metres of your home should follow the same guidelines as with your home.
  • Lawn: Keep your lawn, shrubs, trees, and landscaping mowed, trimmed, and well-watered.

Chances are your existing home policy (condo, tenant, farm, commercial, and auto) provides coverage for forest and wildfire.

BUT, if you have any questions about the details of your insurance policy and fire –  some kinds of damage can, in fact, be excluded or have limits – CONTACT US!

Heritage General construction insurance

Building a New Commercial or Residential Property? Why You Need Course of Construction Insurance

Course of Construction insurance also referred to as “Builders’ Risk”, provides coverage for buildings throughout the course of construction. And it’s required!

Imagine a construction team heads home from a residential building project on Friday afternoon. Over the course of the hot and sunny weekend, an oil-soaked rag left in a bucket in the garage ignites due to overheating and destroys all the materials as well as the house, itself.

Without proper and necessary Course of Construction (COC) Insurance, the rebuild, and replacement of materials would be entirely laid at the building contractor’s feet.

Builders’ Risk Insurance is designed to insure building projects – residential or commercial – that are under construction against the costs of replacement, rebuild, or repair in the event of an accident similar to that described above.

COC provides both the building owner or developer, as well as the general contractor, valuable protection and peace of mind.

COC protects not only the contractor, but the owner as well, from any devastating results of incidents such as floods, fires, vandalism or theft, and any other unwelcome potential accidents to a construction site. When you insure your project for the entire course of construction, you enjoy financial protection in the case of loss or damage to the materials, appliances, and fixtures that make up the completed construction.

Typically, most policies are provided on an “all-risk” basis – the amount of coverage is equivalent to the building’s finished value.

COC insurance is always purchased prior to the first steps of construction – digging and pouring the foundations.

Is my general contractor required to buy Course of Construction coverage?

Generally, a builder’s risk policy covers a number of stakeholders. A standard policy can be purchased by the owner, the general contractor, the architect, an engineer, or the project manager. However, most often, the insurance purchase is the owner’s responsibility, unless it’s identified in the building contract that it falls to another party.

Subcontractors are often fundamental to any building project. They are also included in a COC insurance policy as “unnamed insureds,” falling under the same coverage benefits regardless if the policy was purchased by the owner or the contractor.

In most cases, it’s the contractor who bears responsibility for any losses as a result of their negligence, but the project owner is usually responsible for most other damages or losses.

What are the limits of coverage?

The COC policy is designed to provide fairly broad and comprehensive coverage, however, it doesn’t necessarily cover all property connected to the building project, and nor does it cover each and every risk. It is vital that you discuss your specific needs with your insurance agent, as COC insurance is only one component in the range of insurance options that applies to the construction industry.

There is other coverage available through what is referred to as endorsements, or through other policies designed specifically to provide protection against the range of risks not included in a standard Builder’s Risk policy.

Questions about an upcoming building project and the policy that you need? We can help! Contact us today!

HG Insurance how to make a claim

Don’t Lose Your Head in a Crisis. How to Make an Insurance Claim After a Disaster

On the heels of a disastrous incident, you should make an insurance claim as soon as possible. Follow these steps to help you collect as quickly and easily as possible and get back on your feet.

Unfortunately, at some point, and for one reason or another, we’ll likely all have to make an insurance claim. Your home may have been damaged by fire or flood, a tree may fall on your garage, you may have been the victim of vandals or burglary.

No matter what has happened, the compensation you receive for your loss will depend on the kind of insurance coverage you have purchased. Fortunately, in addition to your claim amount for destroyed or damaged property, you might even be able to receive funds to help with living expenses if you’re temporarily displaced.

Steps to follow to submit an insurance claim:

You MUST contact your insurance agent as soon as you can after the incident. Night or day, make the call to your insurance broker. Most providers have 24-hour claims service.

The devil is most definitely in the details – have them on hand. Be prepared to offer as much information as possible about the damage and the circumstances of the event. Don’t be afraid to include photos and/or video if you have it (only if it’s safe to acquire, of course).

Ask about additional living expenses. If your home is not safe to live in, ask your insurance agent about any expenses you might be entitled to and for how long. From the time of your loss, make a point of collecting all invoices and receipts for any living expenses.

A visit from a claims adjuster or specialist. Understand that your insurance company will hire a claims adjuster or specialist to investigate the circumstances of the event and the loss. They’ll examine any documentation and explain your next steps. They will likely also:

  1. Determine the facts and details regarding the claim as well as the extent of what will be covered by your insurance policy.
  2. Attempt to reach an agreement with any other individuals involved, losses they may have incurred, and the extent of their responsibility.

Proof of Loss form. After the incident, you’ll be asked by your insurance agent to complete and return a Proof of Loss form. It will list the property and/or items that were damaged or lost, as well as their estimated cost or value. The form will ask you to:

  1. Make a complete list of all damaged, destroyed or stolen items. Attach proofs of purchase, receipts, police reports, owner’s manuals, and warranties, if possible.
  2. Attach any photos of damaged items. Unless they are dangerous or pose a health hazard, keep damaged items. An up-to-date home inventory will help if you experience a loss.
  3. Sign and swear that statements you make in the proof of loss are true.
  4. VERY IMPORTANT: If any of the statements you make on the form are not true, your insurance and claim may be considered void.

Review your policy. Review and familiarize yourself with any deductibles, coverage limits, and replacement values.

  1. If you make a claim, the amount you receive will depend on the kind of coverage you own.
  2. Insurance companies have a few options regarding your damaged or stolen items:
    • Repair
    • Replace
    • Reimburse
  3. Your policy will require you to take all the necessary steps to limit further damage.

Hiring contractor(s). Ask your insurance agent if you’re free to hire a contractor or supplier of your choosing. If you can, be sure to discuss the costs. Make sure the contractor or supplier you choose stays true to the price, quotes, details, and specifications that you and your insurance representative have agreed upon.

Questions? Talk to us!

Heritage Insurance prevent slips on ice and snow around your home

Prevent Slip and Fall Due to Ice and Snow Around Your Home

Slips on ice and snow can happen easily. As a homeowner, it’s important to know you could be held liable for the slip and fall of a visitor to your owned or rented property. 

With all of this recent snow, not to mention the plunging temperatures, the chances of someone having an accident due to weather conditions increase significantly. Consequently, it’s doubly important that you maintain your steps, porches, and walkways – keeping them clear – to ensure the safety of your visitors and, if you own a rental property, your tenants and their visitors.

As a homeowner, you are responsible for keeping your property, which includes any stairs, walkways, and driveways clear of snow and ice and as safe as possible for anyone who uses them. Before anyone – a courier, delivery person, repair technician, babysitter, or otherwise visits, be aware of potential cold-weather hazards, outdoors and in:

  • Ice and snow – shovel and/or sand to keep any walking surfaces clear as per bylaw timeframes and apply salt where needed
  • Maintain any unexpected surface or elevation issues such as gaps or surface cracks – fix problems that lie within your property line and/or report issues that exist on municipally-owned property (for instance, uneven sidewalks)
  • Apply non-slip mats or coverings on indoor surfaces that become slippery when wet
  • Make repairs or replace loose or missing handrails on stairs
  • It isn’t just snow and ice – debris such as wet leaves can be slippery and potentially hazardous
  • Ensure there is adequate light to illuminate stairs and walkways

Do you know your legal liability?

It’s important to understand that if you may be held liable for trips, slips, and falls if you haven’t provided a reasonable standard of maintenance in keeping your home and property free of potential hazards. Keep this in mind as you plan a party or yard or garage sale.

If you rent your home, the responsibility and, therefore, liability could possibly be shared with your landlord. Who exactly will be held liable will depend on the circumstances of the mishap or accident. If you are a renter with roommates, be sure that your lease agreement clearly states and identifies your responsibilities.

The criteria considered tends to include the following:

  • Did the homeowner’s actions conform to acceptable standards of practice?
  • Was the hazard or danger foreseeable?
  • How easily could the danger have been prevented?
  • Did the hazard or danger exist for an unreasonable amount of time?

The most sure-fire way of avoiding liability is prevention. Be diligent in keeping your property free of hazards and regular maintenance is one of the most effective ways to defend yourself against a claim or lawsuit should one occur.

What do you do if there is an accident:

  1. Of course, you assist the injured person, including to find medical treatment and call an ambulance if necessary in finding medical treatment.
  2. Document the names and contact information of any witnesses. Be sure to collect and record detailed descriptions of the incident from the victim as well as witnesses.
  3. Mention any discussions with the claimant to your insurer. DO NOT ADMIT LIABILITY!
  4. Take pictures and/or video of the area where the incident occurred. If you can, get a photograph of the footwear the injured person was wearing.
  5. Document the exact events of the incident as well as you can. This may be valuable as you establish a defense for a claim and assist your insurer to analyze the exact cause of the incident.
  6. Report the incident to your insurer quickly. Provide for them:
    1. All incident details
    2. Any details regarding your actions to help avoid the incident.
  7. Explore and investigate the potential causes of the accident and take the necessary steps to prevent and/or respond more effectively to similar incidents in the future.

Questions about personal liability and accidents around your home? Talk to us!

Heritage Insurance Agencies - why it's important to understand your coverage

Be in the Know – Understand Your Insurance!

Insurance coverage can be confusing and overwhelming. But, to ensure you’ve got the right coverage for your needs it’s VERY important that you understand your insurance.

It’s so important that you understand your insurance and the coverage you’ve purchased, to ensure that, in challenging times, you have the peace of mind knowing you’re adequately covered.

An unexpected cold snap of weather can freeze and burst your water pipes. A car collision. A wind storm brings a tree down on to your roof. Your business is damaged by vandals. Life can be disrupted so easily, and so significantly, after an accident or loss. And, though you can’t anticipate the unexpected, you can certainly be prepared to ensure that you’re not attempting to manage through it on your own – that’s where insurance steps in.

Being adequately insured provides the protection you need from paying huge amounts in the face of the unexpected – the tree through your roof, a car collision, or nefarious vandals.

When you understand the basic components of insurance, you’re able to make informed decisions regarding the coverage you need to ensure you’re as prepared and protected as possible when it comes to the various unknown circumstances and events that can impact and, in some cases, completely upend our lives.

In the absence of insurance, purchasing a home, driving a vehicle, or traveling abroad would simply pose too great a risk.

What exactly is insurance and how does it help? 

When you purchase insurance those funds are added to a premium pool along with the many others who’ve also purchased. It’s those funds that are drawn upon to help if you or another contributor are the victims of unexpected hardship due to losses from a motor vehicle accident, home fire or damage, or business interruption in that calendar year.

Any payouts for these losses are referred to as ‘claims’. And it is required by law that insurers have sufficient funds to accommodate and cover all claims.

Why MUST I have insurance?

Without insurance, buying a home, driving a vehicle, traveling out of the province, or starting a business would pose an unaffordable risk. In the event of losses, mishaps, or accidents you would be left to pay out of pocket – often thousands of dollars or much, much more.

What will my insurance policy cover? 

In all cases, your insurance only pays for the insured losses described in your insurance coverage contract. Take the time to review – and understand! – your policy. If you have any questions at all, be sure to talk to your insurance representative.

It isn’t just about what’s covered in your policy. Equally important is that for which isn’t covered. Talk to your agent and be clear about both aspects of your policy.

Insurance isn’t going to cover every problem you may face, and it’s not intended to. For example, your home insurance policy will not cover the regular home maintenance you perform.

Typically insurance is intended – and priced – to help you better manage the financial consequences and impacts of unpredictable and unexpected occurrences that are accidental and sudden.

If, for instance, your home sits on a floodplain close to a river, the seasonal flooding of your property in the spring is considered neither accidental nor sudden; it is an inevitability and, therefore, unable to be insured.

It’s important that you speak to your insurance representative about any potential inevitabilities as well as any other questions or details regarding your insurance policy to thoroughly understand your coverage.

Why do I pay for insurance yearly?

With only a very few exceptions, an insurance policy is purchased as an annual contract. All premium pools operate for a period one year at a time. The insurance company employs a formula to predict how much money they will need to pay the coming year’s claims.

After one year, the entire contract renews and your premiums will not carry over or build up over time.

The calculation of insurance premiums is rather complicated and involves a process that requires a risk assessment that draws on actuarial science.

Premiums are calculated based upon informed predictions about how much money may be needed to pay future claims. Insurers gather the information that they understand from experience will help them set fair yet accurate premium prices.

There are 4 steps in the insurance process

  1. Your insurance company estimates an annual cost, or premium, to accept the risk of covering your vehicle, home, vehicle, business, or travels.
  2. On an annual, or monthly, basis you will pay a premium to your insurance provider for assuming the risk on your behalf.
  3. Your insurance company places all premiums into one large pool, contractually operating on an annual basis.
  4. Your insurance company uses the pool to pay for the losses of those who make claims that year.

There is no question that our lives and all of the activities in which we enjoy and participate bring inherent risk. Fortunately, insurance provides us the preparation, protection, and peace of mind to take it all on, enjoy, and live to the fullest.

If you have questions about a new or existing policy, we can help! Contact us today to talk about your insurance needs or get a FREE QUOTE!

Heritage Insurance RV and Motorhome Coverage

Leave Home With Peace of Mind: RV and Motorhome Insurance

Ensure your valuable peace of mind as you head out on the road for the winter. Don’t leave anything to chance – purchase RV and motorhome insurance!

The warm weather of the south is calling and you’re excited to start planning your road-trip! But, as you check things off the list before hitting the road in your motorhome, travel trailer, fifth wheel or tent trailer make sure you’ve covered ALL your bases. You’ve invested a significant amount in your home-away-from-home and it requires the appropriate coverage to ensure it’s protected throughout your travels.

RV or Motorhome Insurance

Purchasing insurance for your RV or motorhome isn’t much different than that for a car, truck, or van. it becomes distinct when you take into consideration “standard equipment” and “contents”, elements not typically covered by your typical vehicle insurance policy.

“Standard equipment” includes the components attached to the motorhome, such as the appliances. The “contents” covered included items such as dishes, cooking utensils, linens, etc.

Questions? Contact us for a complete list of items considered “standard” and “contents”.

Insurance for Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels

Travel trailers and fifth wheels can actually be insured through the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). For example, when you purchase a “Vehicle Travel Protection” package from ICBC for your auto, the camper or trailer that you are towing will be protected.

There can be limits to the protection included under this type of policy. Ask us! 

Whether your unit is brand new or of a more vintage variety model we are happy to customize a package for you.  Guaranteed replacement cost is available for units 10 years or newer. An insured total loss in the first 10 years could be settled with a new current model year unit.

It’s not unusual for your home insurance to cover some of the contents of your trailer or fifth wheel—up to certain limits. Additional coverage may be required if those limits aren’t sufficient to cover the true value of the contents of your trailer including awnings and outbuildings.

Questions? Need a quote? Contact us!

Additional Coverage for Motorhomes and Travel Trailers

Consider other coverage options to ensure your valuable assets are fully covered:

  • Comprehensive Coverage: For protection from just about any direct, sudden, and accidental loss, including collision, fire, smoke, flood, landslide, hail, windstorm, animals, vandalism, low branches or overhangs, theft and lightning.
  • Unit in Storage: Trailers, fifth wheels, tent trailers and campers require special insurance while in storage. If they are used as living accommodation, they require still another type of coverage.
  • Attached Accessories: Includes awnings, satellite dishes and TV antennas.
  • Emergency Expenses: Pays for lodging or travel home if your rig is damaged or destroyed by a covered loss more than 50 miles from home.
  • Campsite/Vacation Liability: Provides liability coverage when you are parked and using your motorhome as a residence.
  • Replacement Cost Policy: This type of policy provides broad coverage, with the standard insurance exclusions, and a replacement cost settlement that is based on the current depreciated value of the motorhome or travel trailers.
  • Guaranteed Replacement Cost Policy: This policy also provides broad coverage with the standard exclusions, but the replacement costs are calculated based on the value of providing a new, but comparable, motorhome or travel trailer.
  • Full Timers Coverage: Provides comprehensive personal liability, stored personal contents, and additional living expense coverage if you are living full-time in your motorhome or travel trailer.

Take advantage of our emergency vacation coverage, as most losses occur while away from home. Talk to us!

Heritage Insurance insure my engagement and wedding rings

Engagement and Wedding Ring Insurance – How to Protect Jewellery?

Recently engaged or married? Congratulations! Now, how to best protect those beautiful new valuables – engagement and wedding ring insurance.

It happens remarkably easily. In fact, over a recent five-year time span 14% of men lost an engagement or wedding ring and 8% of women misplaced their rings. The rings, arguably one of the most important symbols to any loving union, can be a huge financial investment. An investment profoundly felt when the money is spent, and even more so if they go missing.

The odds of finding them again are slim, but the odds of replacing them doesn’t have to be if you’ve thought ahead.

Wedding rings, and engagement rings, in particular, are expensive. And something that expensive should be protected against damage and loss. But what type of insurance is best for an engagement or wedding ring? The value of these items is two-fold financial and sentimental. So, is it best to insure them under your home or renters insurance policy, via a third-party jewellery insurer, or simply rely on the warranty from the jeweller?

Establish worth

Regardless of how you decide to insure your ring, you first have to determine how much it is worth. The value of the ring will determine the level and cost of the coverage you’ll get.

We suggest you have the ring appraised by either a certified appraiser or jeweller. The cost for this service can vary. Some appraisers will charge a flat rate for the service; others might take a percentage of the value of the ring as their fee.

Appraisals aren’t a one-time deal. With global markets are constantly in flux, the value of your ring is going to fluctuate, as well, depending on the types of gemstones and precious metals it’s comprised of and the current value of those materials.

Industry recommendations for how often to appraise range from every two to five years. Whenever you get an updated appraisal, you should inform your insurer, as you don’t want to risk being underinsured. Know, too, that the updated value may also change your premiums.

Some insurers, such as Jewelers Mutual, which provides coverage for all personal jewellery items and jewellery businesses in Canada (with the exception of Quebec) and the U.S., will provide something called “inflation guard protection, or insurance value adjustment.”

“This feature will automatically adjust the insurance value of insured items when an updated appraisal has not been received for a period of time,” says Bryan Howard, director of product and risk management at Jewelers Mutual.

“This adjustment is based on the latest results for Jewelry and Watches within the Consumer Price Index, and protects the customer from their jewellery items being underinsured.”

Armed with information – the precise value of your ring – you can start considering how you’d like to insure it.

Have questions about insuring specific valuables? Talk to us!

Insuring wedding and engagement rings under your home or renters policy

One of the most common ways to insure an engagement or wedding ring is under your home, condo, or renters insurance policy.

Choosing this type of coverage for your jewellery is relatively straightforward as you simply keep all your property insurance with one company.

However, most home and renters policies will include only a base amount of coverage for jewellery, or a limit — usually around $6,000 or less for each claim you make. So, your first step should be looking at the policy language to determine what the cap is for jewellery items, and whether or not you’ll need to purchase additional coverage (called an “endorsement”) in order to fully cover the cost of the ring.

Typically, home and renters policies will cover loss or damage to the ring. The specific amount of coverage is usually determined by figuring out how much it would cost to replace the ring, as well as other factors like where it’s being stored and who’s wearing it.

If you need to make a claim for loss or damage to the ring, you would contact your home or renters insurance broker. Depending on the insurer, you might be able to obtain an actual cash value for the ring (though keep in mind that your insurer will take into account how much the ring has depreciated in value since you bought it) or a replacement ring that’s similar in quality and type. You may need to hand over any receipts from appraisers or the jeweller from whom you bought the ring.

Choosing insurance for your rings through a jewellery insurer

Another option is to purchase standalone jewellery insurance from a dedicated jewellery insurer.

“Each company is unique in what they offer in terms of their cost and level of coverage,” says Howard. “Warranty products will cover damage to the item and maybe a few types of losses, such as where they lose a piece of the item that they purchased. Insurance policies tend to be a little more comprehensive from that standpoint, where they’ll cover theft, damage to the item, things like that.”

But no matter where you’re getting your insurance from, Howard recommends doing your research and sifting through the policy language to see what amount and type of coverage you’re getting with each provider.

Each insurer will ask for different information, but if a customer applies for a policy with Jewelers Mutual, they’ll need to provide the value of the ring, who is going to be wearing it (and how often), where it’s going to be stored, and how it will be used. These factors will determine the level of coverage, with deductibles that can range anywhere from $0 to $25,000, depending on the value of the ring, says Howard.

“We’ll also ask for permission to run an insurance score,” he says.  An insurance score, he explains, is a way for insurance companies to determine your insurability by looking at your credit or financial habits. It’s completely optional in Canada and the customer must consent to it.

A jewellery policy at Jewelers Mutual, for example, will typically cover loss, theft, or damage to the ring.

“Let’s say you hit your engagement ring on the side of the table and you chip the stone or bend or break the prong or setting that holds the stone in place,” says Howard. “Those are typically types of perils or losses that are covered in our policy language.”

There’s no difference in coverage for male versus female rings, and it’s possible to insure multiple items under one policy. The most important thing is making sure you have the appropriate coverage when you need it.

“The minute that it leaves the jewellery store,” says Howard, “it’s the individual’s responsibility to ensure that it’s protected.”

Have questions about insuring your engagement and wedding rings? Talk to us! Or get a FREE QUOTE.

HG Insurance travel coverage

Planning a Trip? Don’t Forget your Travel Insurance!

Why get travel insurance? Travel coverage protects you and your loved ones if an accident occurs while you’re out of the country or out of province.

British Columbians are beginning to make their travel plans for the upcoming season. As you plan for your flights, accommodations, rental cars, and other important elements of travel, there’s one thing you MUST be sure not to leave home without – travel insurance.

Most provincial or territorial health insurance plans only cover expenses within your home province or territory. With travel insurance, you’re protected no matter where you go.

Insurance that goes beyond your provincial medical plan

Whether you’re taking a quick trip across the border, or planning an extended stay to escape the cold winter months, buying travel insurance is an essential part of planning your trip.

It’s important that you understand how British Columbia’s provincial health plan may only cover a fraction of healthcare expenses incurred outside Canada and limits coverage when traveling to another province. These expenses have the potential to be seriously overwhelming financially.

Other types of coverages include Emergency Hospital and Medical Single trip Insurance, Snowbird coverage, Family Plans, Visitors to Canada, and non-medical plans including Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption, Flight Accident, Baggage coverage and more.

Be prepared for the unexpected. And that includes a weekend trip to the USA!

A new report from Allianz Global Assistance Canada (AGAC) suggests that Canadians are choosing to forgo travel insurance when they embark on quick getaways. For the small savings, the risks can be huge!

The data in AGAC’s report shows that less than 1.4% of single-trip policies purchased by Canadians were for trips lasting a couple of days when Statistics Canada identifies that this year over 12.5 million Canadianstraveledd to the US for at least one night.

That’s a lot of people traveling with inadequate travel coverage, particularly given the costs associated with American medical care.

As Holiday season approaches, and the Black Friday sales beckoning Canadians south of the border, quick trips to the United States will surely be up. Travelers complacency regarding travel insurance for quick cross-border getaways could leave them vulnerable in the event of the unexpected.

Your provincial health care will cover a small percentage of medical expenses in the United States, but it won’t come close to the thousands of dollars that can be incurred. Forget the cost of serious injuries requiring hospital stays, or what might be required in the event of an auto accident, simply a few stitches in a hospital south of the border could cost upwards of $3,000, a sprained ankle around $2000.

To ensure you’re protected from costly medical bills abroad or outside of the province, let us obtain the coverage you need.  As a broker, we have access to many different insurance companies, through whom we can offer different types of coverage options including:

Emergency Medical Insurance: Includes licensed ambulance, emergency dental expenses, prescription drug reimbursement, emergency medical transport, family transportation expenses, board and lodging for the insured person(s) or the traveling companion while confined to a hospital, escort home of insured children and more.

All-Inclusive Holiday Package: Emergency Medical Insurance – Worldwide, Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance, Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption, Baggage Insurance.

Non-Medical Package: Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance, Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance, Baggage Insurance.

Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance: Unexpected sickness, injury and/or death of the insured traveler or traveling companion, the insured traveler’s immediate family or the traveling companion’s immediate family; natural disaster, travel advisory, subpoena, involuntary job loss, missed connection, the non-issuance of a travel visa.

Additionally, Emergency Hospital, Annual Multi-trip Insurance, and others, as well as various trip lengths to choose from.

We can also provide coverage that lets you travel around the world as often as you wish, provided that your trip duration does not exceed the maximum number of days selected.

Are you relying on credit card insurance?

Credit card plans often have limited benefits and coverage. Our travel insurance gives you the best coverage for your needs.

Trips are meant to be enjoyed! It’s impossible to predict what might happen while traveling and it’s important to consider all the potential risks associated with travel, no matter how long or short the trip!

Let us meet your specific needs, provide you the peace of mind, and an affordable way to protect against the cost of an unexpected emergency medical expense.

Planning a trip, near or far? Contact us or call 250-365-3368 for more information. Or get a FREE QUOTE.

HGINS Why you should have Tenants Insurance

Do You Rent Your Home? Why You NEED Tenant’s Insurance

If you rent your home, you should seriously consider Tenant’s Insurance to ensure your belongings – and your potential liability – is covered!

One of the many benefits of renting over homeownership is the freedom from all of the complications and obligations owning a home often entails – costly and time-intensive home and yard maintenance, fluctuating real estate markets, and the burden of home insurance.

But, wait! Even if you’re renting, it’s still important to be prepared. Do not overlook an important detail such as insurance even if the home you’re living in isn’t your own. Tenant’s Insurance could protect you from costly consequences, in the event of a mishap or crisis.

You may think that home insurance is as simple as relying on your landlord’s policy. Think again!

Rather than take your landlord’s coverage for granted, you’re better off to just assume that your his or her insurance coverage WILL NOT be adequate when it comes to YOUR belongings and personal liability.

Tenant’s Insurance is designed to address any shortcomings or variations in your landlord’s coverage.

Additionally, for parents of college-aged young adults, given the increased possibility of mishaps, Tenant’s Insurance can protect your youngster (and yourself!) while providing some additional peace of mind.

Questions about what insurance you may need as a renter? Talk to us!

There are a variety of reasons to consider Tenant’s Insurance. Not the least of which is to ensure that you and your belongings are adequately protected in the event of the unexpected. Be proactive about protecting yourself as a renter, here’s why:

Even if you only rent on a temporary basis, Tenant’s Insurance will replace the contents of your rental unit in the event of an insurable loss. This includes everything from furniture to expensive electronics such as laptops and televisions.

You own more than you think! It often comes as a surprise to realize how much stuff you actually have and how expensive it would be to replace all of it at once.  Be sure to keep an updated record of everything you own, including taking pictures or video of your belongings.

Tenant’s Insurance may cover any additional expenses after a loss.  If a fire occurs in your apartment, you will need a place to stay temporarily. Insurance will cover these necessary expenses while your apartment is being repaired.

You’re protected if you happen to damage the landlord’s, or another tenant’s, property in your building. As a tenant, you could be vulnerable, liable for damage caused to not only the space you’re renting but possibly the building as well – tenants are responsible for the harm they cause to any part of their building. Tenant’s insurance is there to help cover the damage.

If you’re unfortunate enough to accidentally cause someone harm in your building, Tenant’s Insurance will provide the protection you need. Tenants are potentially responsible for the harm they cause others who live or visit their unit. Tenant’s insurance would help cover the costs associated with this type of claim.

Tenant’s Insurance provides protection in the event of a lawsuit related to your rental unit. A standard insurance policy provides coverage, including defense fees and potential settlements, in the case of a lawsuit commenced by a third party.

As an added bonus for maintaining coverage, Tenant’s Insurance contributes to a claims-free history. Most insurance companies will offer a discount if you have several years of insurance history without a claim.  A tenant’s policy can help you establish that positive insurance history.

Questions about what insurance you may need as a renter? Talk to us!