Beat the Heat on the Water – But Not Without Boat Insurance

Beat the Heat on the Water – But Not Without Boat Insurance!

With an early-season heatwave, boating is more popular than ever. Be sure you’re prepared – protect yourself with boat insurance

With such an early and long spell of heat this summer, British Columbians are retreating to the water in droves. As a result, boat sales are booming as people look for new ways to beat the heat!

It’s easy to see why. Not only is boating a great way to enjoy our BC rivers and lakes but it’s a fabulous way to enjoy time outdoors with family and friends and make the most of what is typically a pretty short summer.

Relaxing and carefree, boating is so much fun. But… accidents do happen. The unexpected can happen on the water as it does on our roadways, and while some choose to forgo boat insurance, you never know when you might be victim to really bad luck.

Whether it’s a boat, jetski, or another kind of watercraft, marine or boat insurance offers a variety of protections that provide you with valuable peace of mind knowing that you and your loved ones are protected from financial losses in the event of an unfortunate accident.

Marine or boat insurance — the basics

As you explore boat insurance, you’ll discover that there are two main types: pleasure craft (ski boats, pontoon boats, sailboats, yachts, jet skis, and personal watercraft) and commercial marine (fishing boats and ocean cargo, for example).

With a focus on pleasure craft boat insurance, there are four kinds of coverage:

  1. Property. Financial protection when it comes to any physical damage to your boat or watercraft.
  2. Personal Liability. Protection against financial losses in the event you damage the property of another property or cause physical injury.
  3. Uninsured Parties. You are protected from having to pay for medical expenses if you are injured by an uninsured party.
  4. Medical Payments. Insurance helps to pay for any medical expenses you might incur.

It’s common for many people to purchase property and/or personal liability insurance coverage. This is great because, without insurance, you risk just about everything you have (money, car, and even your home) if, due to an accident, the other party comes after you for damages.

When people purchase boat insurance they choose a coverage that is considered ‘all risk’ – covers any risks that are not specifically excluded in your pollicy. You can also customize your boat insurance policy to include specific perils.

Depending on the details of your watercraft – cost, size, and your intended use of the boat, your HG Insurance representative may ask you to fill out a marine survey before we can extend coverage

To get the right coverage, ask yourself the following questions prior to talking to your insurance agent:

Who will be the primary operator of the watercraft? – Most policies have terms and conditions regarding who can operate the watercraft. Breaking the terms can result in claims being rejected.

Where will you take your boat – regions, locations, etc.? – Where do you plan to operate your boat primarily. This information could impact the premium you pay.

Where will you store your watercraft? – Your insurance agent will need to know about possible risks while the boat is in storage so they can tailor your boat insurance coverage accordingly.

Be aware of any exclusions in your boat insurance policy

Do expect limits to what your boat insurance policy will cover.

For example, it’s unusual for a policy to cover damage incurred if you engage in a race or competition with your watercraft. You’re unlikely to be covered if any aquatic or land critters damage your boat.  These can be rather costly perils so be sure that you understand the limits of your insurance policy.

When you speak to an insurance agent, have them clearly identify the limits of your policy and can answer questions about how to tailor your insurance to cover more unusual perils.

Know what information to provide to get the right insurance

To determine premiums accurately, your insurance agent will assess a variety of information about the watercraft and about you. Be familiar with the information that can impact your premiums:

  • Type of boat (type, length, engine size, etc.)
  • Who will operate the boat
  • Where the boat will be stored
  • Where it will be operated
  • If you have a claim history
  • Safety licensing

Your provider will develop an insurance policy that is best suited to your unique needs to try to reduce your premiums as much as possible. Prior to meeting with an agent, be prepared with the following:

Boat specifications – make, model, and size. This information should be identified in the user manual of the watercraft. 

The market value of your watercraft. It’s recommended you bring supporting documentation.

Details about how often you expect to use the watercraft and how it will be used.  and what it’s typically used for. This information will ensure the most appropriate premium.

Boating experience, licensing information, and any claims history. As with any insurance purchase, a record in good standing may reduce your premiums.

Unfortunately, while many people get the valuable protection they need before heading out, there are others who do not. And they’re taking a huge risk. As with operating any vehicle, there are many risks and variables associated. Accidents happen!

But you can protect yourself. When you know you’re protected by a marine or boat insurance policy, you enjoy your summer on the boat so much more.

Before you head out on the water GET IN TOUCH with an HG Insurance representative to get the boat insurance you need along with tremendous peace of mind!

Firesmart- BC-Wildfire-Preparedness

Fire Season 2021 – FireSmart and Wildfire Preparedness

What is your wildfire preparedness? Take advantage of FREE resources like FireSmart to help protect your property and you.

As British Columbia welcomes the warmth of late spring, communities across the province are beginning to get out ahead in their wildfire preparedness.

Summer will be here before we know it, and with that glorious hot, dry weather comes the increased risk of wildfire. This spring marks the 5th anniversary of the Fort McMurray wildfires that ravaged so many homes and businesses in our neighbouring province. Those fires are on record for being the costliest insured natural disaster in our nation’s history – claims filed to the tune of almost $3.8 billion.

According to Natural Resources Canada (NRC), approximately 2.5 million hectares (about 6 million football fields) per year have been destroyed by forest and wildfires in Canada over the last 30 years. In terms of cost to land, property and what it takes in fire suppression resources, about $500 million to $1 billion a year.

To help offer a little peace of mind as we brace ourselves for another fire season, we’ve got some good advice as well as a very useful new resource from FireSmart Canada.

Resources to help with Wildfire Preparedness 

1. A FREE FireSmart 101 Course

With the increasing frequency of devastating forest and wildfires across Canada, there is a clear need for education to help us take the appropriate precautions to prevent them as best we can.  To help educate and better inform, FireSmart Canada has launched a FREE online course.

A 1-hour course, FireSmart 101 provides a good introduction to FireSmart and what it’s about. In addition to addressing how you can protect your home and property, it outlines the primary FireSmart disciplines, defines the FireSmart home ignition zone, as well as other valuable information. You’ll have a brief quiz at the end of the course to ensure that you understand the material. This short program isn’t meant to lecture or talk down to you. Rather, it’s a very accessible tool to help you feel more prepared and empowered to protect your valuable property.

Take the FREE FireSmart 101 course

Firesmart- BC-Wildfire-Preparedness

2. Protect your home and property from forest and  wildfires

In addition to the FireSmart 101 course, please feel free to read our comprehensive advice about how to protect your home and property from fire damage.  It will give you more information to help you feel more confident that your property is prepared for another wildfire season. Follow forest and wildfire activity throughout the province and the region with the British Columbia interactive wildfire map.

3. Drive safely on BC roads during fire season

The number one rule is, if your route is impacted by forest or wildfire, simply don’t go. Find a safer, alternate route, even if it may be longer. If your route is inundated with smoke, keep windows shut tight and vents closed, with A/C set to recirculate. Breathing toxic, smoke-filled air that can induce coughing and drowsiness and impact your respiratory health.

Keep a fire-related emergency kit in your car. Along with your usual car emergency kit, you may want to be sure you have:

  • Mobile phone charger to ensure you can connect for emergency calls.
  • Fire retardant blanket for all passengers.
  • Bottled water, ideally a 12-24 case.
  • Don’t carry flammables such as gas and oil cans if you don’t have to.

4. How You Can Help Prevent Forest Fires

Those fires caused by natural events, such as lightning strikes, are obviously out of our control. However, many forest and wildfires are caused by human beings – they’re preventable! How can you help?

  • No smoking when you are near or in forests or brush. It’s obvious, of course, but regardless, every year tossed cigarette butts are the main culprit for forest and wildfires in BC.
  • Properly tending to your campfire. Follow campground and regional rules as well as fire danger status reports. Manage and control your fire implements and the campfire. Make sure it’s fully extinguished before leaving it unattended.
  • Before burning – yard waste or a campfire – be aware of, and monitor, wind conditions.
  • Contain and manage any flammables around your home and property.
  • You can call the authorities. It’s not snitching if a neighbour is engaging in irresponsible and potentially hazardous fire practices. Or, if you or someone in your party, has accidentally ignited a fire and is losing control, don’t be afraid to call for help!

Concerns about your home and property and the possibility of forest or wildfires? It’s likely that your home policy (condo, tenant, farm, commercial, and auto) provides the appropriate coverage.

BUT, if you have any questions about your insurance policy and fire –  some damage can be limited or excluded altogether – CONTACT US!

HG Insurance 6 Steps to Springtime Home Preparation and Protection

6 Steps to Springtime Home Preparation and Protection

Spring is on the way! Protect your property and take all the necessary steps in your springtime home preparation.

There is likely no greater anticipation than that of the change from winter to spring – warmer weather, setting our clocks forward, clear roads and walkways, fresh blooms, golf season and, of course, epic spring skiing!

As we make our way further and further from the bitter cold – remember February?! – day by day we’ll see the signs of springtime emerge; a gradual (or this year, not so gradual) thaw, including melting around our homes. That’s why it’s so very important to have considered all aspects of your springtime home preparation.

To ensure that these welcome warm temperatures and the resulting thaw don’t result in damage to your home and property, here are five steps to help guide your springtime preparations:

  1. Walk around your home, including around your garage and any outbuildings, as well as the fence line as soon as you can. Inspect the basement and foundation, your patio and deck, your driveway and sidewalks. You want to make sure that they are capable of resisting water and moisture and that any melt water is directed away from the structures, especially your home.
  2. Inspect for cracks – and repair them! When you repair cracks, you’ll prevent leaks. Caulk around all exterior doors and windows as the bottoms can allow leaks. Most people assume it’s the foundation that allows most leaks. On the contrary – it’s the caulking around the frames of windows and doors.
  3. As you inspect your property, take the time to clean up and tidy. The earlier in the season, the better.
  4. Your inspection should include the roof as well as all eaves and downspouts. Another way for water to seep into the home and cause flooding and damage is when ice is allowed to build upon the roof, where water will melt and back up under a shingle. This is referred to as ice damming and can cause significant damage. Roof leaks occur due to heat loss as a result of inadequate insulation. A poorly insulated home lets heat escape to the attic and melt any snow on the roof where it will flow into the eavestrough and re-freeze.  The ice accumulates and makes its way beneath the shingles and to trickle into the attic as it melts once again.
    Is there debris collected that could block drainage? Are your downspouts adequately directing water away from your home and well into the yard? The answer to both questions should be ‘yes’!
  5. In the event water or sewage backs up into your home, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve installed backflow valves that close automatically to prevent them from overflowing. If you’re unfamiliar, backflow valves are installed on any sewer connections such as toilets and drains. They’re great potential disaster prevention!
  6. If you have a sump pump, this is the time to get out ahead and make sure it’s in good working order. Consider backup power in case of a power outage. If your property is one that enjoys plenty of snow, and you don’t yet have a sump pump installed, you might consider doing so.

If you’re a little late with your springtime home preparation and your belongings do get damaged, keep them in a safe place until you can have an adjuster assess the ruin. Do NOT throw anything away! If things are wet but salvageable, move them to a place with good ventilation where they can dry out. If your furnace or other appliance experienced contact with water, before using it, have it inspected by a qualified technician for possible damage.

Record all damages – pictures and video. You’ll also want to keep records of any repairs and/or cleaning expenses you incur as a result of the flooding to include in your insurance claim.

In all likelihood, your insurance covers damages due to a melt and resulting flood. To spare yourself damages and losses – and significant inconvenience and headache – get out ahead of it. Identify the risks and take the necessary precautions to protect your home.

We want to help you stay as informed as possible about your home insurance coverage. Questions? Get in touch!

 

HG Insurance drivers license

Driver’s License Guide for First Time Drivers

New drivers can successfully receive their driver’s license in BC. Here are some helpful tips – advance planning and good preparation among them.

During this time of COVID-19, all ‘normal’ activities have been turned on their heads and that includes the exciting milestone of achieving a license to drive. With so many restrictions, including physical distancing, there have been more challenges to getting new drivers licensed and on the road. To the frustrations of eager new drivers, teens, and their parents.

In rural areas like ours, with fewer resources including fewer road test examiners, it can be just that much more challenging. But, it can still be done. You just have to plan well ahead of time and make sure that, as a new driver, you come very prepared!

FOR DRIVERS LICENSING INQUIRIES CALL: 1-800-950-1498

A first driver’s license is an exciting time in a new driver’s life – a whole new sense of freedom and independence! And so much more responsibility. Exciting and scary at the same time, driving independently can be daunting to a new driver. From passing the exams and road tests to purchasing your first auto insurance policy, here are a few things to keep in mind to help ease the way:

Testing the knowledge of new drivers

Each province has different rules and requirements to become a legal driver. In most cases, however, a knowledge test is the first step in the licensing process – the Learner’s permit.

In British Columbia, to receive the first stage in the driver’s licensing process – the “L” – a new driver must get 40 out of 50 questions right on a multiple-choice knowledge test. Passing this test ensures the new driver understands the various rules of the road. It also means the driver is beginning to develop a consciousness around safe driving behaviours. Here are a few elements of the test to be aware of:

  • You will be charged a fee.
  • The test is typically completed on a computer at an insurance agency office.
  • Questions will often include driving laws, road sign familiarity, and safe driving practices.
  • Upon successful completion, you will receive a Learner’s driving permit and an “L” magnet for your vehicle to indicate your status to other drivers and authorities.
  • This permit is not a full driver’s license. It is required to progress to future exams and licensing.
  • When the new driver passes this test, they can legally practise driving with a licensed family member or friend or recognized driving school.

Knowledge tests are available by appointment only​. Book an appointment using ICBC’s new online service.

BC’s Graduated Licensing Program

No matter the age of a new driver, everyone pursues their driver’s license through the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP).

By going through the GLP, new drivers learn the information, skills, and attitudes that will help them become a more knowledgable, confident, and safe driver. It’s a process that helps inexperienced drivers ease into driving independently, first with supervision and then gradually independently.

To proceed successfully through GLP, there are three tests—one multiple-choice test followed by two road tests. If the new driver drives safely and with proven knowledge, it takes about three years to complete. That means ample time to study, practice, and take driver training to develop your knowledge, skills, and comfort on the road.

The following phases highlight the key components of the ‘Learner’ and ‘Novice’ phases of British Columbia’s GLP program:

Phase 1: Learner’s (L) Permit

A new driver can get your L on or any time after their 16th birthday.

How to get an L permit:

Knowledge tests are available by appointment only​. Book an appointment using ICBC’s new online service.

Learn more about getting a Learner’s licence

Phase 2: Novice (N) Driver Permit

After a minimum of a year practising under the supervision of an experienced, licensed driver, the Learner can take their first road test.

Here’s how to get an N permit:

  • Book the Class 7 road test well ahead of time
  • Take the Class 7 road test. The road test appointment — including time following to review performance — should take about 45 minutes. Your assigned examiner will sit beside you as you drive a predetermined route that will test your driving skills.

Learn more about getting your Novice licence

Phase 3: Driver’s License

Finally! The new driver gets their full license to drive independently and without supervision. Also, no more GLP restrictions, tests or L and N magnets on the back of your vehicle.

A new driver can apply for their full licence after driving with an N for at least 24 months of safe driving with no prohibitions (potentially, 18 months, if the driver learned through an ICBC-approved driver training course in the L phase and was a safe driver throughout that period). To successfully achieve a full driver’s license, the driver must:

  • Be suspension free for the last twelve months of the L phase.
  • Book the Class 5 road test well ahead of time
  • Take the Class 5 road test. Pass the advanced road test. As a more experienced driver, the test will include more advanced and challenging driving environments than that of the Class 7 road test. The test and examiner feedback should take about 45 minutes.

Learn more about getting your full licence

FOR DRIVERS LICENCING INQUIRIES CALL: 1-800-950-1498

Car insurance coverage for young drivers

It’s important to understand that, when it comes to young drivers, there are different factors taken into consideration when determining auto insurance. An insurance provider will determine the rate using the following:

  • When it comes to car insurance, a young driver is defined by any individual who is under the age of 25.
  • There are multiple risk factors by which an insurance company will determine rates, including the increased likelihood the young driver will experience an accident.
  • Young drivers make up approximately 10 per cent of Canadian drivers. Unfortunately, the reality is young drivers account for about 25 per cent of all accidents resulting in serious injury or death.
  • Consequently, for drivers between the ages of 16 and 24, they are thought to be higher-risk.

If you have any questions about a driver’s license for new drivers, auto insurance for young or new drivers, or any other insurance information, we can help! CONTACT US!

 

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!