Travel Insurance Essential for Your Canadian Adventures

Travel Insurance: 5 Reasons It’s Essential for Your Canadian Adventures

Think you only need travel insurance when you leave Canada. Think again! Prepare yourself even for your Canadian travel.

Travel is always such an exciting experience. Whether you’re exploring distant lands or discovering hidden gems closer to home. But, even when exploring the beautiful landscapes of Canada, unforeseen circumstances can disrupt your plans and put you at risk. That’s why having travel insurance is crucial, even when exploring the magical and picturesque destinations right here in our nation. Travel insurance can safeguard your well-being and finances during your Canadian adventures. Here’s how:

  1. Travel insurance protects your health and well-being

    Canada boasts an excellent healthcare system. But your provincial health insurance plan may not cover all medical expenses while travelling elsewhere in the country. Travel coverage ensures that you have access to quality healthcare without incurring exorbitant costs. In the event of an unexpected illness or injury, travel insurance provides coverage for medical emergencies, hospital stays, doctor visits, and even medical evacuation if necessary. It gives you peace of mind, knowing that you have protection wherever your journey takes you.

  2. Trip cancellation and interruption coverage

    Sometimes, unforeseen events such as illness, family emergencies, or natural disasters can force you to cancel or cut short your trip. Without travel insurance, you risk losing a significant portion of your non-refundable expenses, such as flights, accommodations, and pre-booked activities. Travel insurance offers trip cancellation and interruption coverage, reimbursing you for these non-refundable expenses in case you need to cancel your trip or return home unexpectedly. It acts as a safety net, ensuring that you’re not left financially burdened due to circumstances beyond your control.

  3. Protection against lost or delayed baggage

    Losing your luggage or experiencing delays can be frustrating, especially when you’re far from home. With travel insurance, you’re covered for the loss, theft, or damage to your belongings, including luggage, personal items, and valuable possessions. This coverage provides peace of mind, allowing you to replace essential items and continue enjoying your trip, even if your baggage takes a detour.

  4. Emergency assistance and travel support

    When travelling, being in unfamiliar surroundings can be daunting, especially during an emergency. Travel coverage offers 24/7 emergency assistance services, including access to multilingual support, medical referrals, travel advice, and emergency cash advances. Whether you’re dealing with a lost passport or need guidance in navigating local healthcare systems, having travel insurance ensures that you’re never alone in times of crisis.

  5. Coverage for adventure activities

    Canadian provinces and territories offer a wide array of thrilling adventure activities, from hiking in the Canadian Rockies to kayaking in Peggy’s Cove. However, some of these activities come with inherent risks. Travel insurance provides coverage for adventure sports and activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking, giving you the confidence to embrace these exhilarating experiences without worrying about potential mishaps.

Travel coverage is a vital investment, even when exploring the remarkable landscapes and landmarks here in Canada. It protects your health, finances, and overall well-being, ensuring that unforeseen circumstances don’t dampen your travel experience.

Whether it’s medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost baggage, or adventure mishaps, travel insurance offers a safety net, allowing you to explore with confidence and enjoy every moment of your Canadian adventures worry-free. Remember, when it comes to travelling, being prepared is the key to a truly remarkable journey.

Contact your broker about any and all coverage included or available to enhance your travel insurance policy coverages.

HGINS - Hot Work Operations - Minimize Possible Losses

Hot Work Operations? Minimize Hazards and Possible Losses

Do your business operations require hot work? There are ways to prevent hazards and potential losses due to fire and even explosion.

Did you know? Among the top three reasons for mid-size industrial and commercial property losses, and one of the leading causes of fire in Canada is operations involving hot work.

We define hot work as any activity that includes work with sources of ignition in the vicinity of flammable materials – welding and soldering, cutting and grinding. When this work happens near flammable gases, liquids or combustible materials such as dust, the risk of fire or explosion is increased.

There are considerable property losses attributable to this kind of activity. But, there are safety protocols and procedures that, when properly followed, can help to significantly reduce dangerous fire hazards and potential subsequent losses.

One little spark… is all it takes

Often, light manufacturing, industrial, and commercial operations dedicate space specifically to activities involving hot work. That’s because it only takes one spark – a small one, in fact – to have a catastrophic impact.

The devastation can include damages to equipment and property, a costly interruption of business operations, and even job losses for your employees. The worst case is lives at risk. An added unfortunate part of this catastrophic picture is, as the business recovers and gets back on its feet, the loss of customers to the competition. The losses are immediate but can also be long-term.

One tiny spark from welding, soldering, grinding or cutting in the wrong conditions can result in untold destruction and devastation.

Minimize the risks of hot work

You may think fire starts immediately. In fact, it’s the opposite – a stray spark can sit in a pile of debris and smoulder over hours before becoming a full-blown fire. In the middle of the night, when there’s no one near to stamp it out.

To manage and minimize the many risks of hot work, there are protocols and best practices you can follow:

  • Check that any and all equipment functions properly – before starting work.
  • Regularly inspect fire suppression equipment to ensure it’s working properly. Keep it close-at-hand.
  • Appropriately clean and store personal protective devices. Have them onsite and readily available. Train staff to use them correctly.
  • Inspect the area before starting the work. Inspect for flammable surfaces nearby – the ceilings and walls, any partitions, for instance. Cover them with a heat-insulating or fire-resistant material to minimize heat accumulation and possible ignition.

Work zone – check for combustibles

  • Move all combustibles away from the work zone as best you can.
  • If flammable items can’t be removed, cover them with fire-resistant blankets or some type of shield. Protect nearby exposed equipment and utility or gas lines from flying or stray hot materials and sparks.
  • Tidy any flammable materials from the floors of the work zone. Don’t forget the surrounding area! Are your floors at risk of combusting? Try to cover them with damp sand or fire-resistant blankets. Alternatively, you can keep them wet. Prevent electrical shock – ONLY use water if electrical circuits are de-energized.
  • Remove and clean up spilt grease, oil, or other flammable substance.
  • To prevent igniting a fire, vacuum flammable or combustible debris from any nearby duct openings inside the ventilation and ductwork. Cracks in ducts? Seal them to ensure that no sparks can get inside.
  • Store well-stocked first-aid kits nearby so they’re easy to find.
  • For more helpful best practices, CLICK HERE.

A fire watch is essential for safety

With a well-prepared zone for welding, soldering, and other activities, you then need to conduct a fire watch following any hot work.

In the minutes and hours following, assign someone to look for hidden sparks or fire that might smoulder and ignite after hours. You may have to pay a staff member, properly trained in fire suppression and related equipment, to remain on the premises to keep watch.  Many businesses that rely on this kind of work understand this is a worthwhile expense to prevent a catastrophe. Choose to forgo the fire watch, you risk potentially devastating consequences.

If you don’t have the budget for a proper fire watch, try your best to limit hot work to the early hours of the day. This gives time to discover any stray sparks or smoulders during the workday. It’s recommended to monitor for approximately one to four hours following any hot work activities.

Permits for hot work

An important component of reducing hot work hazards is a system of hot work permits. It’s a two-part tag system, which requires the operator to complete a safety checklist before they get started with any work beyond the designated hot work zones. One portion of the two-part tag gets affixed near the work area and remains until the completion of your fire watch. The business keeps the other portion of the tag on file, where it stays for auditing by management.

The hot work permit system helps to ensure that those who perform the work follow the required safety protocols. They have to sign off on a checklist before work and again after completion of the fire watch. The permits are available for purchase from many safety supply retailers.

Specific hot work fire safety program

Included in the overall commercial and industrial safety program should include permits for hot work. The policy should include all hot work operations and activities that occur on the premises,  whether conducted by staff or third-party contractors.

A hot work section of the safety policy doesn’t need to be complicated – a simple page or two detailing the necessary safety procedures required to perform hot work.

Do you or your business perform hot work? Let us answer any questions you have about your commercial insurance. Talk to us!

heritage general insurance - Rising Canadian Home Insurance Rates 2022

Rising Canadian Home Insurance Rates in 2022 – Why!?

Thanks to increased inflation and a range of other factors, Canadian home insurance rates have increased in 2022. Let’s take a closer look…

According to a RatesDotCa report, homeowners have seen an average 5% home insurance rate increase this past year. If we look at our friends and family in Ontario last year, the average cost of homeowners coverage was $1,342. This year, with the 5% increase, that means an additional $67 per year – a total of $1,409 for home insurance in 2022.

There are a variety of reasons for the increases in homeowners’ insurance coverage this year. They include renovations and rebuilds, of course. But there are also the impacts of climate change and, not surprisingly, inflation.

Inflation and home insurance rates

We can’t talk about any recent price hike without exploring the impacts of inflation. Before we look at its impact on rising home insurance rates, let’s take a quick look at how the rate of inflation is calculated. The Canadian government uses a monthly consumer price index (CPI) to record the changes in prices from a fixed collection of goods and services. Each item in the basket is categorized – food, shelter, furniture, clothing, transportation, and recreation. Each group is then weighed accordingly to determine the nation’s overall inflation rate.

As with so many other economies around the world, the rate of inflation in Canada has climbed very quickly. In June, inflation hit a high of 8.1% before we saw a slight reprieve in the months following. According to Statistics Canada (StatsCan), this year, Canadians have experienced the most rapid annual cost of living increase in almost forty years. As you already know, we consumers bear the impact of higher prices on everything we need to live, from groceries to gasoline. And, of course, the cost of building materials.

Home improvements and increased insurance rates

Those of us who could literally sheltered in place for months, if not years, during the pandemic. In a matter of weeks, we found ourselves doing everything from school to work to exercise and recreation in our homes. Remarkably, it sparked a mad rush on home improvements and rebuilds. As a result of all of the home construction activity and the increased costs associated, it has had a significant impact on what we pay in home insurance.

With the sharp increase in the price of building materials, so goes the cost of insuring your home. The CPI recorded early this past summer identified that home and mortgage insurance rates across Canada increased by an average of 4.9%. The expenses that directly impact insurance premiums increased dramatically. For example, home replacement costs grew by 10%, and property repair and maintenance went up by 7.2%. Rental properties, usually protected by policies if a dwelling becomes uninhabitable due to an insured peril, also jumped 4.3%.

Home renovations

Home renovations increase what it will cost to rebuild, driving up insurance premiums. According to StatsCan, in 2021, Canadians applied for almost 213,000 residential alteration and improvements permits. Whether it’s finishing a basement or building an addition, any upgrades increase the overall replacement cost of your home. So, as your replacement cost increases, so do your premiums.

Rebuilding your home

There have been changes in consumer purchasing behaviour and many pandemic-induced supply chain issues. These factors combined initiate a surge in primarily lumber costs which helped to increase the rates for homeowners insurance coverage.

Insurance rebuilds tend to be more costly than construction costs arranged through private contractors. Insurers have to rebuild quickly to help get the homeowners to return safely to their homes. It’s not unusual for the insurer to pay for displaced homeowners’ accommodations during the rebuild, only adding to the costs incurred and requiring faster construction timelines.

Along with the usual factors such as the age of your home and where you live, among others, the inflationary costs of materials will have an impact on your insurance premiums.

Impacts of climate change

British Columbians, as in other parts of Canada, have seen first-hand significant weather events as a result of the effects of climate change. The impact? Losses resulting in millions of dollars of insured damages have increased insurance premiums. While there were many devastating weather events across the country, two catastrophic examples were the epic flooding in BC last fall that incurred costs estimated at more than $450 million and the tornadoes that twisted through Barrie, Ontario, last summer, resulting in $100 million in insured losses

Whether it’s flooding or tornadoes, wildfires, hail, or the recent hurricane that battered Newfoundland, extreme weather events will only continue. And result in untold insured losses, ensuring that home insurance rates will only increase.

Can you do anything about rate increases?

It’s nearly impossible to predict how much home insurance premiums will go up. Due to the range of factors that influence the price of insurance, they can also vary depending on where you live.

While there’s no way to control increasing rates, there are ways homeowners can take a bit of the edge off how much they pay:

  • Discounts: There are discounts available from some insurers. The savings can help reduce the price of premiums. Examples of discounts include properly installed fire alarms, monitored security systems, and reductions if you are claims-free.
  • Higher deductibles: Often, you can reduce your home insurance premium when you opt for a higher deductible – the amount you pay in the event of an insurable incident.
  • Soft credit checks: If you maintain good credit, your broker can run a soft credit check that can potentially lower your premium. This check is merely an inquiry and will not impact your credit score.
  • Bundling: Look into grouping your insurance purchases – home and auto, for example – together with the same provider to possibly save money.
  • Membership or employment discounts: In some cases, professional organizations and businesses offer group insurance rates for members and employees. For example, if you are an alumnus of a university.

Be sure to review your home insurance policy every year to make yourself aware of any changes. And, certainly, be sure to inform your broker if you make any upgrades to your home. And don’t be afraid to ask if there are any discounts or if there are ways you can bring down your premium.

Do you have questions about your home insurance premiums? Talk to us!

HGINS - Home Renovations and home insurance

Why You Need to Tell Your Broker About Your Home Renovations

Recent home renovations? It’s important that you update your insurance broker and your policy to reflect the changes.

Who would have thought that home renovations would have been in such demand during, of all things, a global pandemic?! But, with so much time in lockdown and far less spent on vacations, it seems Canadians had a little extra to invest in home improvements. Regardless of the scope and scale of their home renovations, over 14% of the improvements were done on impulse. This begs the question, did they bother to inform their brokers and update their home insurance policies?

According to the How We Live report conducted by Aviva, many improvements made during the pandemic were not completed as part of a grander, long-term plan. Yet, in order to maintain coverage provisions, a homeowner must inform their insurance agent about any renovation plans that exceed $5000. These changes can include building an addition, completing a basement, or removing structural supports. Changes like these can change the rebuilding or replacement value of a home and may impact insurance coverage.

Home renovations? Update your insurer!

So, for the many Canadians who renovated in 2021, 11% to be exact, did they update their insurance brokers on the changes they made to their homes?

In the first quarter of 2021, home renovations increased by 47% compared to the quarter before. On average, in 2021, Canadian homeowners spent about $4,500 on home improvements. Nationwide, 13% of home improvements ranged from $5000 to $9,999; 6% spent between $10000 and $19,999; and 7% spent in excess of $20,000. That’s approximately 25% of home renovations that exceeded the $5000 threshold on most homeowner’s policies.

As for the breakdown of what the home renovations entailed in 2021, 56% were to backyards, 29% enhanced or built home offices, 23% completed their basements or added an entertainment area, 12% built playrooms, and 3% chose to build an addition. Non-essential upgrades, such as bathroom and kitchen improvements, and smaller projects that included flooring, windows, and doors, increased significantly as people, spending so much more time in their homes, were more inclined to notice imperfections.

According to previous Canadian Underwriter reporting, broken down by province, only 6% of British Columbians claimed to have reviewed their policies before beginning a home project. The same number of Ontarians looked into their coverage and only 5% of Albertans. Respectively, only 17%, 13%, and 14% got in touch with their insurance providers with updates after they completed their improvements.

Home improvements continue through 2022

Despite increasing inflation, rising interest rates, and volatility in the stock market, a new survey from HomeStars reports that Canadian homeowners have spent more on renovations over the past year than in those previous. Since mid-2021, homeowners spent, on average, $13,000 on indoor home renovations – almost $5000 more than the year before.

While more Canadians intend to pause home improvements this year, even with increased material and labour costs, it’s estimated that Canadian homeowners will double their total home renovation spending in the next 12 months.

Have you recently made upgrades to your home valued at more than $5000? Do you have home renovation plans? Talk to us!


Tenant Insurance

Many Canadian Renters Don’t Have Tenant Insurance – Do You?

Almost 50% of Canadian renters don’t have tenant insurance. Do you? Regardless of how much you own, it’s a good thing to have.

A recent survey found that almost half of renters in Canada don’t have tenant insurance leaving them at risk of costly repairs or replacement of important and valuable personal belongings.

Conducted across the nation in August, 2021, TD’s Tenant Insurance Survey identified that, out of the 491 Canadians surveyed, a whopping 41% did not have tenant insurance.

What is tenant insurance?

As a tenant, it’s possible for you to be liable for damage caused to the unit you are renting – any part of the building. If you are responsible for the damage and don’t have insurance coverage, you could be on the hook for significant repair or replacement costs.

Tenant insurance was designed to protect not only your belongings but also any personal liability that your landlord’s coverage doesn’t.  Even if you rent for a short time, tenant insurance will ensure that you can replace the contents of the rental in cases of an insurable loss.

Tenant insurance protects you in the case of damages, but it also helps to contribute to your claims-free history. When you have several clean years without a claim, chances are, many insurance brokers will even offer you a discount.

Why Canadian renters are uninsured

Many may not know, but the purchase of tenant insurance isn’t an automatic one after renting a property. Even though it ought to be. Some renters feel like they don’t own enough that’s of value to insure or consider what they do own too costly to cover. Many feel that they have coverage under their landlord’s homeowner’s or roommate’s policy. Consequently, Canadians are putting themselves at financial risk by forgoing tenant insurance. 

When it comes to the landlord’s property insurance, it covers the building or structure only. Your landlord’s policy does not cover the contents of the rental units. And, when it comes to common risks such as fire or water damage and theft, tenants are left holding the bag.

While not a legal requirement for Canadian renters, some landlords include it as mandatory in their rental agreements. 49% of survey respondents, in fact, stated that they had to purchase tenant insurance as required by their landlords. 

43% of the survey respondents identified personal electronics, such as laptops and mobile phones, cameras, and televisions, as their most valued possessions. Possessions they would like protected against loss or damage. For 22% of respondents, furniture was next on the list, followed by jewellery, clothing, and recreational equipment.

Renters need protection

The risk of being uninsured is that renters risk being held financially responsible for damage to the rental unit. They could face significant repair expenses in addition to the steep costs of replacing their valuables. About 20% of the respondents claimed that they could replace most, if not all, of their personal belongings without the help of insurance. However, the majority – 51% of the survey respondents – stated they would struggle to replace their belongings if they had no insurance.   

The findings of the survey confirm how important education is when it comes to the benefits of tenant insurance. By nature, people tend to underestimate or brush off potential risks such as property damage or theft. We tend to think, “it couldn’t happen to me…”. Particularly if it means spending money to get out ahead of possible catastrophe if we don’t have to.

But, think about how costly it can be to replace or repair your belongings. Or worse, consider the potential costs of covering repairs or replacement to the home you rent. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. After all, protecting a home with insurance isn’t just for homeowners. It’s a smart solution for renters to protect their valued personal belongings if their damaged or stolen as they protect themselves from possible costly damage to their rental unit in the event of the unexpected.  

Consider, too, that under a tenant’s policy, there is also liability coverage. In the event someone gets hurt on the property, liability coverage protects the insured. Remember that both the tenant and the landlord can be held liable if someone hurts themselves and seeks compensation.

Do you have questions about tenant insurance? Talk to us!

Insurance - Protect Your Home From a Flooding Basement

Warm Weather Thaw – Protect Your Home From a Flooding Basement

Welcome spring – buds, warm weather and… rain. Protect your home from the dangers of spring thaw – a flooding basement!

Spring is always such a much anticipated time of year. As the weather gets warmer, we enjoy longer days, buds on trees and seedlings emerging from the earth – hello, crocuses! – and more time outdoors. But, to help make our worlds green again, also comes the rain at the same time as everything melts.

And that makes for a lot of water around our homes. If you’re not prepared, this can mean the possibility of disaster – water seeping into the walls of your foundation. A flooding basement is often the frustrating and costly result of rain and winter runoff.

Flooding basement? What you can do

If you find water seeping into your home as the snow retreats, here’s what you should do:

    • The priority is, of course, to remove the water. If the water goes unnoticed and isn’t removed immediately, there can be costly and dangerous consequences – and that means mould!
    • With the water removed, you have to dry everything very thoroughly. Ensure the space has ample ventilation to help dry everything as quickly as possible. And to help prevent mould. Do you have windows you can open? Do so, and bring in fans if necessary to increase the circulation of air.
    • Quite likely, soaked, porous items such as paper documents, newspapers, and cardboard boxes will need to be tossed. Saturated porous items are highly vulnerable to mould.
    • Are your carpets and rugs saturated? If they can be dried thoroughly and quickly, you can keep them. If not, you’ll have to remove and replace them.
    • Is your drywall saturated? Likely, you’ll have to replace the damaged areas.

It is very hard work to clean up the results of a flooding basement. It can also be very expensive. To prevent expensive losses, read on to protect your basement before a disaster.

Protect your home – talk to us!

Prevent costly basement flood!

From an insurance perspective, we can’t stress enough how important it is to always have a list of the contents of your basement. It’s often a dropzone of things, from keepsakes to important documents. What is the condition of your basement? Is it finished – drywall walls and ceilings? Carpet or laminate flooring? The state of your basement can significantly impact the cost of fixing and replacement in the event of basement flooding.

But, not to worry, if you invest the time and a little money into some valuable prevention, it can save you a tone of time, work, and costly repairs, not to mention possible heartache if you lose those items you hold dear.

What can you do to protect your home from basement flooding? Here’s a brief checklist to help you prepare:

1. Cracks in your foundation – repair them!

Spring is in the air! This is the time to examine the foundation around the exterior of your home. Thoroughly inspect the interior basement walls and floors. You can fill them with crack filler for masonry concrete applied with a caulking gun if you notice cracks. To differentiate the tiny shrinkage cracks that occur in homes of all ages from more significant and troublesome cracks, consider hiring an experienced contractor to identify and repair any problems.

2. Keep your gutters and downspouts clear

Gutters collect dirt and debris all year long. Once you can access them safely in the spring, clear your gutters of anything that collects. Position your downspouts so they effectively direct any water away from the foundation of your home. A handy guideline is to direct the water no fewer than three feet from your home’s foundation. You might need extensions to ensure you can achieve this distance.

3. Inspect your window wells

Most basement windows are below the grade of your property. These windows can pose problems during spring melt and the source of basement flooding. But, to protect your windows from water, install window well covers that fasten securely to the foundation. They’re typically made from clear acrylic to allow light into your basement as they help protect the wells from leaves, pests, and, of course, rain.

4. Check your sewer or septic system

If you haven’t done it recently, springtime is a good time to have your septic field checked and possibly pumped. Keep in mind that, during periods of increased rain, an overtaxed septic system or a blocked sewer is simply a potentially costly disaster waiting to happen.

5. Sump pump? Check it!

If you use a below-grade sump pump, keep it free of debris. If yours is a portable pump, it should be located in the lowest part of the basement. Check to ensure that it’s plugged in!

6. Check your home insurance policy

It never hurts to review your home insurance policy. Do you have coverage in the event of basement flooding? If you feel vulnerable to seasonal flooding? Additional coverage, especially if you have a fully finished basement, might be a good idea.

Do you have questions about flood protection? Talk to us!

Heritage General Insurance Personal Property Inventory

Do You Know What You Own? A Personal Property Inventory

An updated personal property inventory will make your life a lot easier if you have to make a claim. Here’s how to create one.

When you have to make a home insurance claim, a current personal property inventory will make the claims process just that much easier. Keeping that inventory off-site in the event of fire or flood ensures you always have it when you need it. Consider updating it regularly, each fall or spring, for instance, and advise your agent of any major changes.

We want to make starting a personal property inventory a no-brainer. Read on for the information you need to get your list started!

Why is it important to keep a personal property inventory?

We’ve all seen the increase in incidents of severe weather, here in British Columbia and across the country – forest and wildfires, ice, rain and floods. The bottom line:  severe weather is, more and more, part of our lives, no matter the season. Such events, and their increasing frequency, make it critical that you properly insure your property – and the contents of that property – with insurance.

It’s vital to expect the unexpected – to be prepared. You want to make sure that if your house is damaged or destroyed, it’s insured for an accurate replacement value. To do so, you need to have a thorough personal property inventory of the contents of your home that states the associated value of those contents. This information will assist both you and your insurance agent to confirm the appropriate insurance coverage. In the event of a claim, this inventory will help ensure you receive the proper compensation.

Creating a home inventory

The first step, be sure to copy and print this handy Personal Property Inventory Checklist or download the Excel sheet. These documents will help you to keep track of your possessions room by room. As you take stock of what you own, consider the following.

  1. Store all of your receipts and records in a safe place. A secure online resource or a safety deposit box – a safe place off-site from your home.
  2. Keep any receipts, bills, warranties, and instruction manuals for those possessions that are more valuable. They will help to prove ownership should it come into question.
  3. Review your personal property inventory every year and when you purchase new items. The more you acquire, the more your list will increase in value.
  4. As best you can, take photographs or videos of those possessions that have a high value. A shot of each room, from a few different angles, is helpful.
  5. As with your other documentation, store records such as taxes, credit cards, government and other important household documents in a location safely off-site.

When to update your home inventory

We can often feel motivated to do big housekeeping projects in the spring and fall. Either of these times of year is great for preparing or updating your personal property inventory list. When you do anything to increase the value of your home – a renovation or expensive houseware purchase – you should update your inventory. And inform your insurance agent, too!

When you have a thorough, updated inventory of the contents of your home along with the associated value of each item. This information will help confirm that you have the appropriate coverage, and in the event of a loss, help you receive the proper compensation.

What to provide your insurance agent for a claim

It’s a sad fact, but no matter what we do, or how careful we are, losses can still happen. If your home or its contents are damaged or destroyed, contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. As best you can, have the following handy:

  • Insurance policies
  • Home or personally property inventory (or similar records)
  • Credit card records (some creditors provide limited insurance for purchases)
  • Photos (and/or video)

Questions about your home inventory or your home insurance coverage? CONTACT US or GET A QUOTE!

HGINS - How Old Knob and Tube Wiring Can Impact Home Insurance

Buying An Older Home? Old Knob and Tube Wiring Can Impact Home Insurance

Looking to buy a vintage home? Check the electrical! If it has knob and tube wiring, there could be complications both for safety and home insurance

The idea of purchasing a vintage home is a dream for many of us. A home with a long history that has a unique character and individuality that you just can’t find in newer construction is super appealing.

The practicalities on the other hand can pose some serious challenges. The electrical wiring is chief among them. If it’s a home that was built before 1940, there’s a good likelihood that it was wired with old-school knob and tube wiring.

What’s wrong with knob and tube? Well, simply, it can pose a fire hazard and pose problems when you try to insure the home. If this is an investment property and you are the landlord, the same goes – insuring the home could be a challenge if you’ve got knob and tube wiring.

Understanding knob and tube wiring

Between the late 19th century and the late 1930s, the knob and tube wiring system was the industry standard for electrical wiring in homes and buildings. It consists of a series of copper conductors that run through walls and ceilings via an insulating tube made of porcelain. The wiring is nailed down and supported by white porcelain knobs.

Two copper wires – one hot and one neutral – pass through insulating knobs and tubes. The knobs hold the wiring in place. The tubes prevent the wires from fraying or unravelling and coming into contact with nearby surfaces such as wood or other flammable materials that could ignite if overheated.

To power switches, lamps, and other electrical fixtures, the conductors were fed into them, protected by an insulating cloth known as loom.

How is it different from modern electrical? The old knob and tube wiring has no ground wire. There is very little protection against shock if you touch it and there’s also a greater likelihood that it will cause a fire.

However, during the years it was in use, early in the era of electricity technology, knob and tube wiring was the best way of providing electricity to homes and buildings.

When Did They Stop Using Knob and Tube Wiring?

Expensive to install, knob and tube wiring slowly phased out of use, particularly as more modern electrical systems and technologies were put into place across North America. By the 1940s, it was slowly replaced with electrical wiring systems that bundled hot and neutral cables. The new systems also provided a new level of safety: grounding.

As a result, it’s hard to find a home built after 1950 with a knob and tube wiring system. And, most of the homes with the old system were renovated to remove it because the insulation, made of either porcelain or rubber, eventually wore away, leaving the wiring dangerously exposed.

Dangers of old wiring

Knob and tube wiring is not, inherently, a danger. But, modern electrical practices are, by far, much safer. Given the advanced age of the system, the insulation tubes just deteriorate over time. And with enough deterioration, the wires can become exposed, posing a significant risk of fire to the home or building. There are five primary risks when the home uses knob and tube wiring.

  1. Brittle insulation. Naturally, over many decades, the porcelain tubes that insulate the copper wiring lose strength over time and become brittle. Once it’s brittle, it cracks and flakes, leaving the wires exposed. If they’re close enough to wood or other flammable, they can ignite.
  2. Damage. When there is damage to the system it can cause serious safety concerns. Whether it’s age, modifications made or any other situation that has damaged the porcelain tubes, the result is frayed and exposed wiring that can easily cause harmful shock when touched or ignite nearby flammables.
  3. Modifications. Most of the problems that homeowners experience with their knob and tube electrical stem from improper DIY modifications made to the wiring. Given how old and obsolete the system is, finding replacement components and parts can be difficult. Consequently, some homeowners take things into their own hands and improvise potentially dangerous fixes. For example, splicing old tube wiring into new can create a potentially risky result.
  4. Excess use. At the height of knob and tube wiring use, compared to today, there really weren’t that many electrical components to support. At most, there were lights, the telephone, and maybe a radio to power. The system wasn’t designed to handle the electrical demands of 21st-century life! Everything we do – television, refrigerators and freezers, device chargers, game consoles, washers, dryers, and all the other appliances pose a significant risk to such an archaic system’s ability to function. When the knob and tube system is tapped out in the amount of power running it can handle, it will overheat and combust, creating a serious risk of fire to your house.
  5. Insulation that covers the wiring. Household insulation is made from highly combustible fibreglass material. If it is inadvertently installed over the copper wires of a knob and tube system, it essentially turns your attic or basement into a huge tinderbox! Electricity produces heat and it needs a lot of space in which to disperse it and prevent it from becoming a hazard. Insulation impedes the process of heat elimination and can create a very dangerous situation.

Consider, too, if your old wiring system is close to the water system of your home. Water and exposed wiring and water is a volatile combination!

Should you purchase a home with old wiring?

Can you say, deal-breaker? it’s common for homes with old-style wiring to be a difficult sell. Prospective buyers understand the complications – time and cost – associated with an old electrical system. Outdated wiring means increased fire risk.

But, you shouldn’t simply dismiss a desirable home that has old wiring outright. Before you decide, get the wiring inspected and assessed by an electrician. There are vintage homes that still have the old wiring, but it’s not in use. If the old wiring is still in use, you might have to replace it.

NOTE: Many insurance companies will require you to replace it within 60 days or they won’t insure the home.

Before you purchase an older home, get all the information you need! Contact a qualified electrician for an assessment of the electrical system and what might be involved to fix it.

Questions about your home insurance or purchasing home insurance for a vintage home? GET IN TOUCH with an HG Insurance representative to get the answers you need!

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!