Home insurance

Home insurance myths you need to know about

March 9, 2017

By Sheryl Smolkin

If you’ve have ever had a fire or theft, you know how important home insurance is. But you may have had a shock when you learned that the policy did not cover the full replacement cost of your home or that you would not be reimbursed for the antique car stored in your garage when the house went up in smoke.  That’s why it’s important to clear up some home insurance misunderstandings, so you are fully aware of what your policy does and does not cover.

Insureye has compiled a comprehensive list of home insurance myths.  Here are 10 of my favourites:

1. You must have home insurance. Unlike auto insurance, home insurance has not been made mandatory by the government. however, if you own the property and have a mortgage on it, often, your bank or lender will require that you hold an active home insurance policy and name them on that policy. If you do not own the property but are renting it, your landlord may require insurance coverage.
2. If I have a home insurance policy, I am protected against sewer backup. Sewer backup damage occurs when the sanitary and storm sewer systems cannot handle high volumes of water, which causes water to back up into your home through toilets and drains.

As is the case with freshwater flood protection, most providers offer some sort of OPTIONAL sewer backup protection, but just a few providers include it in their standard default home insurance policies.

3. If I am away on vacation, my house is covered. If you simply leave for vacation without taking precautions, you are not always covered. Thus, if you go away during the “usual heating season” then you usually need to either:

  • Shut off the home’s water supply and empty all pipes;
  • Take steps to ensure the home’s heating is maintained.

If you don’t take one of these two precautions, then you may not be protected against water damage resulting from frozen pipes that burst.
Check with your provider to determine what length of vacation requires you to take extra precautions, such as somebody visiting your place on a regular basis in your absence. Different policies may require different frequency of those visits, but in general it is every 3-7 days.

4. If I have valuables, they are covered. A standard home insurance policy covers your personal property and most valuables up to the selected limit of insurance. It’s important to note that sub-limits often apply to specialty property, like jewellery or furs. For these items, you have the option of adding coverage to your policy. Often, you will need to provide proof of value (e.g. an appraisal or a receipt).
5. Home insurance covers the market value of my house. Home insurance does not cover market value, only the rebuilding or replacement value of your house. If your house burns down, the purpose of home insurance is to cover the costs required to re-build the house as it was before the loss. Rebuilding value is typically lower than market value because it does not include the value of the land.

An insurance policy can often include costs to clean up the debris, such as after a fire.

6. Home insurance automatically covers upgrades to the home or condo. Home insurance will not automatically cover your kitchen, washroom or other upgrades. Typically, you must advise your insurance provider of these upgrades when they happen. You need to find out how your policy treats upgrades and, eventually, add them to the policy.
7. It is fine to overstate the value of the damage. Overstating the value of damage is a dangerous thing to do. That’s because your insurance provider will conduct their own assessment/ investigation to check your claim. If they determine that you were overstating your claim, your entire claim can be denied and your policy can be cancelled. You risk ruining your credibility and your ability to get home insurance elsewhere.
5. Condominium corporations provide insurance that covers my condo. Condominium corporation insurance will cover the overall building structure, its exterior finishes, roof, windows and common areas like elevators and hallways. It does not cover the contents of your condo, its upgrades and 3rd party liability should you cause damage to other condo units (e.g. flooding).
9. If my dog bites and injures someone, my home insurance will not protect me. I need a special insurance policy. As long as you properly answered any questions relating to your pets in the application and investigation process, then your policy will cover costs associated with your dog biting and injuring a third party.
10. My belongings, left in a storage locker that I rent, are protected by my home insurance. Not necessarily. Most insurance providers specifically exclude personal property left in a rented storage locker (unless that locker is in the basement of the apartment building that you live in).


Insurance college students need

September 5, 2013

By Sheryl Smolkin


When you are budgeting for your child’s college or university education, tuition, books, accommodation and food are at the top of the list. But don’t forget to consider whether or not your child will require individual health, home or automobile insurance once he/she comes from or is moving to a different city, province or country.

Health Insurance:

The Government of Saskatchewan’s Health Plan provides basic hospital and medical health coverage to residents of Saskatchewan at no charge. If an international student arrives directly from his/her home country, coverage starts on the day of arrival.

The student must have a valid study permit, proof of registered, full time status and a Saskatchewan resident address. A spouse or dependant living with the student at a Saskatchewan residence with immigration documents allowing a stay longer than six months is also eligible for coverage.

Generally students who go to school in another province but intend to return to their home province to live after graduation continue to be covered by the provincial medicare plan of their home province.

However, a student from another Canadian province who becomes a resident in Saskatchewan will be eligible for Saskatchewan Health coverage three months after setting up a residence in the province. Similar eligibility requirements apply for students moving from Saskatchewan to other Canadian provinces.

If the health plan of the province a student is leaving does not cover health cost during this three month period, he/she should have private health insurance.

Students will also require supplemental health care insurance that covers medical, dental and drug expenses not covered under the provincial medical plan. Children under 21 can be claimed as dependants under a parent’s employer-sponsored group benefits plan.

A full-time student attending an educational institution recognized under the Income Tax Act (Canada) is also considered an eligible dependent under an employer-sponsored group benefits plan until the age of 25, as long as he/she is entirely dependent on the parent for financial support.

Colleges and universities typically have group health insurance for students with the premium included in the tuition fee. It may be possible to opt-out with proof of other coverage. In cases where your child is covered under both your employer’s plan and the university’s student health and dental plan, the university plan is the first payer.

Auto insurance:

If a student with a car moves from Saskatchewan to another province or vice versa, it is important to follow the proper guidelines to fulfill the licensing and vehicle requirements of the province and ensure insurance coverage continues without interruption.

The Kanetix website has a handy cheat sheet which includes the government ministries, agencies or departments you should contact to ensure you know the applcable licensing and vehicle registration rules.

First of all, students should notify their current insurance supplier that they intend to take a car to another province to attend school. Policies and rules vary by company so they should speak with their licensed representative before leaving to avoid any lapses in coverage.

Students can learn more about the requirements of the province where they will be attending school at the links below.
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, OntarioQuebecNewfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island 

Home insurance:

An August 2012 TD Insurance poll found half of Canadian renters under 35 do not have tenants’ insurance. In a press release announcing the results of the poll, Dave Minor, Vice President, TD Insurance sets the record straight for renters by debunking the five most common renter’s insurance myths:

Myth #1: If something happens, it will be covered by the landlord’s policy

Nearly one-third of Canadian renters under 35 (32%) incorrectly believe they are covered under their landlord’s insurance policy. But Minor says your landlord’s insurance likely only covers the building you live in and not your personal possessions or your liability for accidents.

Myth #2: My roommate has insurance, so I should be covered too since we live together

“Generally, renter’s insurance does not cover your roommate and instead only covers your own personal belongings,” says Minor. But if roommates are considering purchasing joint insurance, they should discuss how they will pay for the policy and have a clear understanding of what each roommate’s valuables are worth.

Myth #3: The chances of something actually happening are so small it’s not worth the cost

Accidents can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere, and the financial impact can be significant. A number of common incidents and simple mistakes that are generally covered under renter’s insurance, including:

  • A break-in.
  • A party where there is accidental damage to a neighbour’s property or a neighbour’s property.
  • A pipe freezes and breaks.

Myth #4: Renter’s insurance isn’t affordable

Renter’s insurance can be very affordable, and there are several ways to save. Purchasing auto and renter’s insurance with the same insurance provider, or through a student association can often yield discounts.

Myth #5: I’m covered under my parents’ insurance policy

Students may be covered by their parents’ policy if they live away from home while at school, but this coverage can be limited. Speak with your insurance provider to find out what coverage your child will need. Renter’s insurance is inexpensive and you may decide that it is best if your kids have their own policy.

Do you have tips for college or university students about insurance they may need once they move out?  Share your tips with us at http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card. And remember to put a dollar in the retirement savings jar every time you use one of our money-saving ideas.

If you would like to send us other money saving ideas, here are the themes for the next three weeks:

12-Sept Kid’s allowance How much and what your children have to do to get an allowance?
19-Sept Extracurricular activities How many and how much?
26-Sept Employee benefits Getting value for your employee benefits

Protect your valuable bling with insurance

January 24, 2013

By Sheryl Smolkin


So your guy finally popped the question at Christmas and now you are sporting a shiny new bauble on your left hand. I hope after you called your parents, your next call was to your insurance company.

Whether Santa brought you a sparkling engagement ring, a stunning piece of art, a new set of golf clubs or a fast new bike, it is important to to make sure the items are properly insured.

When my husband and I got engaged he was still a student. The ring he gave me cost $300 and I almost got run over crossing Bloor St. in Toronto because I was so busy admiring it. In spite of its sentimental value I never worried about insurance for that ring, but 25 years later he bought me a much more costly replacement for our anniversary.

We are insured with TD Insurance through Security National. TD’s entry level gold policy limits recovery for theft or loss of jewellery to $4,000. Although we have the platinum policy which covers jewellery up to a value of $12,000, by the time I added up the bits and pieces I’ve acquired over the years including my newest acquisition, I realized our coverage wasn’t nearly enough.

So I decided to bite the bullet and purchase an additional floater (also called an endorsement) to cover my ring at the annual cost of $18.78/$1,000 of coverage. And I’m very glad that I did.

Several years later we were in Stratford for the weekend and went to a local gym on Sunday morning. I looked down at my right hand as we left the parking lot and was horrified to see the pear shape solitaire was missing from my ring. Even after searching in all the obvious places including a bin of wet, dirty towels, it was nowhere to be found.

I reported the loss to my insurance company and within a few weeks they calculated the replacement value of a stone of similar size and quality and paid that amount to my jeweller, inclusive of taxes. If I hadn’t intended to replace the stone, I could have received a personal cheque minus the taxes.

Prices for floaters and endorsements vary depending on the item, the insurance company you choose, where you live and where the item will be kept. There are no deductibles and frequently you get the option of having the insurance company replace the item for you.

To make sure your recently acquired valuables are adequately protected, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I) makes the following five suggestions:

  1. Contact your insurance company immediately: Let the company representative know that you now own a new piece of jewelry or other expensive item. Find out how much coverage you have under your current policy and whether additional insurance is needed.
  2. Keep a copy of the store receipt: Forward a copy of the receipt to your insurer so that the company knows the current retail value of the item. Keep a copy for yourself and include it with your home inventory.
  3. Have jewelry appraised: New jewelry should come with an appraisal. Heirlooms and antique jewelry will have to be appraised for their dollar value. It is important that expensive items be appraised properly because if you purchase a floater, you will pay a premium based on the appraised value and, in the event of a claim, be compensated for this dollar amount.
  4. Take a photo or video of the item: With a camera in every smartphone, keeping a visual record of all of your personal possessions is easier than ever. If you use a video camera, you can also provide a verbal description of the item or collection. This helps to document your loss and speed up the claims process. It is also useful for documenting antique and unusual items.
  5. Add the item to your home inventory: A home inventory can help you purchase the correct amount of insurance and speed up the claims process when there is a loss. To make creating your inventory as easy as possible, you can use the I.I.I.’s free Web-based home inventory software, Know Your Stuff® – Home Inventory. You can also download the free app for iPhones and Androids.
  6. Store valuables in a secure location: Protect your jewellery by storing it in a secure location in your home. If you don’t wear the item regularly or are saving it for a family member, consider keeping it in a safe deposit box. You may save money on the cost of insuring it, as some companies offer “in vault” coverage.

Do you have any other ideas how to protect your valuables?  Send us an email to socialmedia@saskpension.com. If your idea is posted, your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card. And remember to put a dollar in the retirement savings jar every time you take steps to ensure your valuables are properly documented and stored in accordance with the suggestions above.

If you would like to send us other money saving ideas, here are the themes for the next three weeks:

31-Jan Winter vacation How to protect your credit cards on vacation
7-Feb Valentine’s Day Budget-friendly Valentine’s Day ideas
14-Feb Retirement savings Pros & cons of available savings vehicles