Homeowner Insurance Feed

5 Tips For Closing Your Cottage For The Winter

Winterizing - Closing up your cottage - Quebec - Ontario for the winter

Fall is the most beautiful time of year and the perfect season to spend a long weekend in the country. I was away just last weekend and caught some incredible scenery!
In Montreal, Ontario and Quebec, we are lucky to live in picturesque regions that truly spoil us this time of year. With a diversity of areas to enjoy this natural beauty, many locals own cottages or cabins where they can enjoy the summer months into the fall.

How do You Protect Your Seasonal Home or Cottage?

Some cottages are winterized, however many are not. This weekend marks Thanksgiving in Canada, a perfect time to take advantage of the natural beauty in the Quebec and Ontario countryside on our last long weekend of the year!

Quebec and Ontario Tips for closing down the cottage for the winter - beautiful chalets

For many seasonal cottage owners, this weekend also marks the date for the closing of the cottage for the winter season. 

The Most Common Causes Of Damage To Cottages

Every spring, people return to their cottage with the hopes that there is no damage, however statistics would indicate that the top claims for cottages usually include water or wind damage caused during the winter or early spring months.

5 Tips For Closing Up Your Cottage

Here are some tips to help keep the cottage safe during the winter months while you are away:

1.    Avoid Water Damage:

Any time you leave your home during months that temperatures will drop close to zero Celsius or below, you should take precautions to avoid water damage. *

Did you know that almost 50% home claims paid in Canada this past year were related to some sort of water damage

The best way to avoid water damage is to drain the pluming and turn off the water so the pipes don’t freeze. 

•    Shut off the main water valve and any water supply valves like for example on a toilet, dishwasher or washing machine.

FamilyHandyman.com has some awesome detailed explanations on how to do this, if you want more details, you can check them out here.

2. If you have a sump pump, check it to make sure it is working.

Often the water will rise in the spring when the snow melts. If you will not be at the cottage when this starts to happen it is critical to make sure you have left everything ready to go. 3. Bring in all your décor and other items like lawn chairs, boats and BBQ’s from the garden and property. These items will preserve better indoors and you will also avoid the possibility of them flying off causing damage to property or others in heavy winter storms, or fall and spring winds.

Did you know that there are 80 confirmed and unconfirmed tornados that touch down in Canada each year? Most occurring in southern Ontario, the southern Prairies and southern Quebec? Learn more here.

How to take care of your wood stove and tips to close the cottage for the winter Photo Copyright Mila Araujo 2013

4. Close the flue or block the stove pipes on your fireplace, chimneys or woodstoves.

These make good places for animals to get into your home, or make nests in. This may also be a good time to have your chimney cleaned, the build up within a chimney can cause chimney fires and if left for the winter, you may have a nasty surprise in the spring when you go to use them again. 

If you have a BBQ make sure you disconnect the propane tank and store it in an appropriate location out of direct sunlight – you may want to refer to your BBQ manual for specific details for your tank. Remember that the BBQ tank carries contents that are explosive – handle this with care.

 

5.    Trim any branches hanging over the cottage, and inspect the roof and gutters to make sure there are no areas that will be vulnerable.

Weight of snow and ice in various circumstances, or blocked up drainage systems can create significant damage while you are away. Prevention is your best option. Clean out eaves troughs. Make sure they are clear of leaves and that the drainage is directed at least several feet from your home (the distance depends on the slope of the land and specifics of your property, however we recommend you look into this to avoid any issues with water damage).

How do you prepare the cottage for winter?

Everyone has specific lists of how they lock up their cottage for the winter, after you’ve enjoyed your final weekend away, we hope these tips help keep your property safe so that next year when you open the cottage, you’re ready to enjoy a  glorious spring!

That’s my list – what’s on yours?

 

*Please note that insurance coverage varies from state to state or province to province, the information in this article and on this site is given to serve as a information to empower consumers, and as a bouncing board to lead to a discussion with a licensed broker or agent that can review your specific needs and explain various coverage options to you. Every insurance company has their own policy wording, in all cases the policy wording will take precedence over any blog discussions or examples. Empower yourself with information, so you know the questions to ask, and take charge of your insurance to save money!

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Who Pays For Damage When The City Tears Up Your Lawn - Water Service Pipe

Typical PVC municipal water main being install...Typical PVC municipal water main being installed in Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The water service pipe is the pipe that brings the water from the city's water main to your home. The pipe is partially located on city property and although the city may be responsible to make repairs to the pipe for various reasons, when they have to do work on the parts of the pipe that is on your property, they are not necessarily responsible for repairing your property and land they damage in the process. This means that your trees, shrubs, walkways, driveways - basically anything they need to get through to fix this water pipe is at risk of being destroyed. The lawn may be all dug up and landscaping could definitely be affected. The city is not always obligated to pay for these repairs. Home insurance policies do not all automatically cover this kind of damage, however some companies do with a water service pipe endorsement. Usually the cost is under fifty dollars per year, and if you think about the hassle of repairing all your property after the city comes in to do repairs, you just may find this is one coverage that is well worth it.
Water Service Pipe Endorsement Information
Photo From http://mississaugaelectricalcontractor.blogspot.ca

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3 Steps To Protect Your Home From Oil Tank Damage and What's covered by insurance

Abandoned Oil TankAbandoned Oil Tank (Photo credit: massmatt)

Oil is a popular fuel source for heating, heat pumps/air conditioning. During the summer months, we aren't thinking of heating too much, and it's not unusual for people to just forget about the tank unless something goes wrong...

Can an Oil Tank Leak Really Cause That Much Damage In My Home?

According to The IBC,

  • One litre of leaked oil can contaminate 1 million litres of drinking water.

  • A pinhole in your tank can empty 1,000 litres of oil.

  • Cleanup of an oil spill can involve everything from replacing the tank and supply lines and removing contaminated soil, to replacing your home’s foundation.

 

Who Pays for damage resulting from an oil tank leak or spill?

 

If you have an oil tank and it leaks out due to a malfunction, maintenance or simple wear and tear you are responsible for the damage caused, not only to your own property but to the surrounding areas (such as your neighbours property) if it spreads. I have seen claims where people had an oil tank and it leaked causing damage to the neighbouring land - these situations are very stressful and require experts to come in and do soil evaluations as well as specialized removal and other tests.

 

Outdoor and Underground Oil Tanks

Note: 

Outdoor oil tanks must be declared to insurance companies because of the fact that they have a higher incidence of leakage, corrosion and spills.

If you have an underground oil tank, or are considering buying a property with an underground oil tank, call your insurance company first, many insurers will not insure a home with an underground tank (even if it isn't being used). Underground tanks should be removed and never left to "rest" on the property.

 

3 Steps in Prevention

How to make sure your oil tank is safe:

  1. Make sure your tank is installed properly by a professional and is ULC or CSA certified. Poor installations are a major cause of damage. Never purchase a used oil tank - the risks associated with taking an old tank are high. The most serious damage to oil tanks (and hot water tanks) occur from the inside out.
  2. Have your furnace and tank professionally checked and serviced at least once a year. Make sure they change the filter, inspect the integrity of the tank, and remove any excess water or sludge to avoid/reduce corrosion. 
  3. Don't wait for a problem before you replace the tank.  The average recommended time line to replace a tank is about 10 -25 years depending on the tank itself and its location  - make sure to check the specifications for maintenance and expected lifespan for your tank specifically. Even 10 years sounds like a safe number, but if we look at the data in this study (p.6), there is a very high incidence of damage and claims from oil tanks in the 6-10 year range - up to 44% of claims.  That's not a small number. 

Just because you have home insurance, doesn't mean you are covered for oil damage!

Every home policy is different, however in many cases there is no coverage included in your policy.  Many insurers offer an option to add the coverage up to a certain limit on your policy for a small charge. Having this coverage could help you dramatically in the event of an incident, so please be sure and contact your insurance provider and ask them if this is available to you, and find out what your policy will provide you with.

Bonus step: Add Oil Coverage With Your Insurance Company

Those are three easy steps to reduce risk and keep your home safe from oil damage. Even in the best of conditions, things sometimes go wrong, so your bonus step is to make sure and call your insurance company and ensure you add coverage wherever possible for damage resulting from the use and ownership of an oil tank.The coverage is usually not expensive - a few dollars a month, and well worth investigating.

Summer Tip:

Did you know its recommended to keep the oil tank mainly full during the summer to minimize condensation?

 

Taking care of this now will save you money and a lot of problems later!

If you've had an oil spill, I'd love to hear what your experience was, and  if there was anything you  would recommend to prevent spills in the future. 

You can share your story in the comments below!

  • Do you have an oil tank at home?
  • When was the last time you checked it?

 

 

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Did You Feel That #Montreal? To celebrate 371 Years : How About A Birthday Quake | When You're Shaken By An Earthquake - Do You Know If You're Covered?

"On May 8, 1642, Maisonneuve embarked from St. Michael, and on the 17th his little flotilla, a pinnace, a flat-bottomed craft moved by sails, and two row-boats, approached Montreal, and all on board raised in unison a hymn of praise." - CanadaHistory.com
Montreal is a city of culture, fun, adventure - definitely a place to shake things up and live the most out of life. Today we had a little shaking up of a different sort. Montreal is 371 years old today, and seems like we've started this year out with a little birthday quake!

Does your residential policy provide you with Earthquake coverage?

The following article was produced in an earlier blog, however given the number of earthquakes in the Quebec - Ontario region, and our most recent earthquake of today, felt in Montreal, I thought the info might be fun to look at again, and help you if you're wondering what the risks are and if you're covered.

How Many Earthquakes Do You Think Happen Every Day?

You may not be in one of the zones highlighted on the map below, but earthquakes are shaking our world more and more each day. Do you need this coverage? Read more below...

Earthquake insurance is a coverage that people buy based on their own personal experience.  In Canada, there are several hundred earthquakes with a magnitude 3.0 or less per year.  At this magnitude, the effects are rarely more than "a low rumble heard".*  Naturally, these have not been a concern for individuals.

Starting at 4-5 on the richter scale, people start to notice effects of earthquakes. According to Natural Resources Canada, the effects of earthquakes start to be noticable by humans on a larger scale - over 5.0, where vibrations start to be felt and the impact is enough to move light objects.

Does your home policy cover earthquake insurance?

It is essential to ask your broker or insurer this question. Most policies do not cover earthquake insurance on buidlings automatically, this coverage must be purchased as an additional coverage for additional fees.

I live in Canada, what are the risks?

Clients often ask me to tell them what they should do, based on my knowledge. Should they purchase earthquake insurance, given we hardly ever, if ever experience them ourselves first hand in this region. How do you decide? The only person who can assess if you should or should not buy earthquake coverage is you.  It is your insurance, and your investment in your home that you are seeking to protect. "But do you think I should buy it?".  I always recommend, better safe than sorry - buy it to make sure you are protected. However, given our experiences living in Canada, and the fact that we rarely feel earthquakes, at times it is hard to say. I wish I had the answer, it is an individual choice, however, to help make the decision I can offer some facts.

Historically, in Eastern Canada, there have been records of ten earthquakes between 1663 and today measuring over 5.0 on the richter scale. In this range, one can expect anything from the movement of objects, to fallen chimneys and destruction of old buildings. In the 6.0-7.0 range rockfalls and landslides also become issues. Furthermore, as the intensity reaches closer to the 7 on the scale, tsunamis become risks if the epicentre is off shore.*

How much does it cost?

Earthquake insurance rates vary from insurer to insurer. Usually a higher deductible than your homeowner policy applies (somewhere around 5% of the value of your building is usually a starting point for the earthquake deductible on the building). I have seen rates as low as $50-$100 per year to as high as $1000+ per year. Remember, it depends on the value of what you are insuring.

I don't own a home, is Earthquake covered on my condo or tenant policy?

No. Earthquake insurance is not automatically covered on a condo or tenant policy. Some insurers may offer this, but most of them exclude the damages to your property caused by an earthquake. The rates of adding the coverage onto a tenant policy are usually significantly less than a homeowner policy. You could expect to have it for as little as $30 per year. Again, this is based on the amount of coverage you need, your region and the insurance company. Please note that the company who offers you the lowest price on your policy without earthquake, is not necessarily the one who will offer the lowest price when you include earthquake coverage. Have your broker check all the companies to make sure you are getting the best rate. I have seen comanies charge twice the price for the same home, simply because their earthquake rates are different. Always remember, the price goes up as your contents amounts go up.

For Condo's the coverage may be more expensive since you are insuring the additions and alterations to your unit as part of the coverage. I have seen it as low as $50 per year, but it can also range upwards of $200 per year, again depending on the location and other standard rating factors.

It would be essential for you to contact your insurer or broker for a quote, as well as a brief discusion to find out what is covered in all cases.

Don't leave yourself unprotected, learn about the facts, find out what is available from your broker or insurance company, then make an informed decision. Never assume you have the coverage, it is excluded on most policies in Canada, unless specifically added to the policy upon request.

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*Statistics in this post come from Natural Resources Canada where you can learn more detailed information on your area here including an up to date listing of the most recent earthquakes.

For information on global earthquakes, visit:

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Give me quick & easy, personalized and confidential Feedback here or be part of the discussion by commenting below.

 


Cut Your Costs: There's always room for more discounts. Do you have all of yours?

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The easiest option to save money on insurance is making sure you get all the discounts you are entitled to.

Does your insurer have all the information they need to give you all the best discounts? Here are some items that many insurers will credit your policy for:

  • For automobile, Conviction Free Discount (haven't gotten a ticket in years? why not benefit?)
  • Credit Check - this is not a discount per se, however it results in favorable rates for many people. In our offices we have seen rate adjustments up to 50%. Make sure you have authorized your credit scoring - it could really help.
  • Non-Smoking discount. Yes, you heard it, insurers even give discounts for things like being a non-smoker. It does not apply with all insurance companies, but its worth an inquiry. Not smoking is not only good fro your health, its good for your insurance too ! Every bit counts!
  • Group membership discounts - many insurance companies have group discounts. Find our from your employer if you have a group insurance plan for home and auto. There are also group discounts for members of certain professions or organizations like CAA, as well as professional discounts, and even university degree discounts. We have one insurance company who even gives a discount if you work for a company with more than 5 employees. It doesn't hurt to ask. Not yet graduated? Students get discounts with some companies as well. Seniors and Retirees also have special plans with some companies. There is something for everyone somewhere.
  • Alarm system discounts. Often people upgrade or install alarms and then do not think to update the insurance company. The difference between different home alarm systems can be from 5% to 40% depending on the insurance company. Make sure they have all the information they need to give you the best rate.
  • Insurance to full value on homes. Depending on the insurer, sometimes they will allow you to "save money" by only insuring to 85% of the estimated reconstruction value of the home, however, some insurance companies will give a special discount to clients who recently allowed a review of their home reconstruction value and chose to insure to 100%. Your insurer has to indicate this in the policy to allow for the discount code. Make sure that if your insurer offer this advantage, you have that discount on your policy.
  • Renovations: There are also discounts with some insurers when there are recent upgrades on the heating, hot water, oil tanks. Inquire.
  • Multi Policy discounts. We have all heard about the idea that if you have all your insurance with one company, you will get discounts. You might be surprised at how this doesn't automatically get assigned every time. So make sure if you have your policies through different companies, you get quotes to see how much it would be to combine them, you will see savings. Then make sure once you have them all together, you see the discounts listed on your policy, or call to make sure they are there. This can save you up to 25% per policy. That's significant savings. 
  • Mortgage Free Discounts. People often forget to advise when they have paid off the mortgage. When you have no mortgage on your home, most insurers give a discount - don't forget to make sure you have this , if you are entitled.
  • Winter Storage - People often put a car away for the winter and do not drive it at all. Did you know that insurance companies can often add a clause to your policy to limit the coverage during that time and therefore give you money back for the time the car was not on the road? A lot of people delete the insurance on their cars to save that money, however this leaves you unprotected for liability, or theft as well as many other possibilities. Find out about the storage discount, it will save you money but keep you covered.

Remember the insurance companies are very competitive and they are constantly developing plans to offer value and savings. They know no one wants to pay more for insurance than they have to. Take a few moments, review your insurance with your representative and there is a good chance they will have ways to give you great coverage while still saving you some cost.

 

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Put money back in your pocket by making smart insurance choices. #insurance #savings

ChristmasThe holidays are a wonderful time of year where people from all over the world get to take some valued time off with the family, enjoy a few days off and plan for the year ahead.

Unfortunately this time of year can be very stressful for many as we increase our expenses on vacations, gifts and events. One of the things I try and do year round is find ways to save people money on their insurance while still providing them with high value products that offer good protection.

So here are some cost saving tip ideas to ask your insurance representative about, I hope it will help you save on your insurance, and maybe even get you a refund on your annual premium if you make the changes now:

Here are some areas to explore

Children in College - you are paying a great deal for their school, take advantage of any benefits your policy may allow.

People Walking at Rockefeller Center Holiday lights and angels

Exploring what coverages you can get for free -  ex:  Identity Theft, Legal Assistance, Roadside Assistance, Home Care. So many companies have come out with little mini plans to offer you these services, find out what you may already have in your policy, or what you could get at no cost, and save the cost off all your other plans (like credit card companies, banks, Roadside plans, etc).

Auto Insurance  - How to cut costs, get all the discounts you're entitled to

Travel Insurance  & Car Rental Insurance Learn About what is already covered on your home and auto policies so you do not have to pay more than you need when you go on vacation!

The Deductible
"I am not going to have a loss, so I don't want to pay a lot on insurance" - Great plan, so consider increasing your deductible. It can make a difference.

The easiest option to save money on insurance: Make sure you have all the discounts on your policy that you are entitled to.

Remember the insurance companies are very competitive and they are constantly developing plans to offer value and savings. They know no one wants to pay more for insurance than they have to. Take a few moments, review your insurance with your representative and there is a good chance they will have ways to give you great coverage while still saving you some cost.

You do not want to find cheap insurance and sacrifice value, you want to find good products, that respond to your needs and protect you.  Everyone is different, every situation varies. Make sure your insurance packages give you what you need to keep your home and family safe for the holidays and always!

If you are going away for a holiday vacation, don't forget to check out my vacation tips for safety, prevention and savings!

  Times Square Holiday Angels and snowflakes Christmas scene
Wishing you all the happiest of holidays and a year ahead full of success, health and all things good!



The Deductible - Increase it and save some money on your insurance.

The Deductible

  • You have probably heard about the option of increasing your deductible to pay less on your insurance. This works for all kinds of home, auto, watercraft insurance. Often people want the "lowest deductible" because they don't want to pay very much in the event of a loss. On the flip side, every time I sell an insurance policy people love to say "I am not going to have a loss, so I don't want to pay a lot".  Well, this is a great time to reflect on how much you are paying on insurance, and if you truly do not believe you are going to have a loss, then why not take on more of the risk yourself and increase your deductible.  Just ask yourself this first, if you have a loss are you able to come up with $500, $1000, $2500, $5000, etc right away to cover your part of it? If you are, and you aren't going to suffer in covering the first part yourself, then take the higher deductible and as long as you are comfortable with esentially self insuring for that first amount (the value of the deductible you choose) then you can pocket the savings on taking on the higher deductible. On home insurance for example, we often see people saving up to $500 per year for taking a $2500 or $5000 deductible. 

Something to consider.

However, please do not put yourself in a financial strain to increase your deductible. The possibility always exists that you can save $500 on your insurance premium this year, and then all of a sudden, three months down the line you have a loss and you end up paying out $2500 on a deductible - or worse yet, you have a $2000 claim, and you can't get any help from your insurance. Take the time to evaluate where you are really at and make the right decision for you.

  • Look for discount Opportunities or Policy packages that give you advantages you need at no additional cost.

Is being with the wrong insurance company costing you money? Find out what companies will give you for free.

Insurance is competitive. As brokers we get the opportunity to compare products and advantages daily which allow us to try and give our clients the best options.

From the consumer side much of this information may not be evident especially if you are not dealing with a broker, or you do not have a specific agent representing your family.

Here are some tips to try and help you as you look at your own insurance needs, perhaps there are some ways by looking at these points and having a discussion with your insurance company or representative that you can save some money.

Look for discount opportunities or policy packages that give you advantages you need at no additional cost. All insurance companies and policies are not the same.  

Some examples of coverages that are often offered at no charge by some insurance companies - and charged for with others are:

  • CAA or Roadside assistance - we have one company that offers it for free - however it must be requested or offered. This saves our CAA members $75 per year, simply because they went with the insurance company that offered it. They could be with another insurance company all along and not even realize this option is available. Make sure you find out if you could have similar perks - all you have to do is ask.
  • No obligation to replace with full replacement value on your building, or contents. This can be a huge advantage.  Some insurers charge higher premiums to include this in your policy. it used to be that only VIP , expensive and high end policies offered this option. It has now become a competitive advantage point for many carriers. Some companies offer it for free if you insure your home and car with them or  if you are of a certain age (we have one company that gives it to anyone over 45, another who gives it only if you're retired, another who gives it if you are a CAA member) Just examples but something to think about.

One of our companies, Aviva Canada, for example offers their policy holders between 45 and 75 years old, who have their home and car insured with them (under their Connexion Plan) the following amazing advantages, which other insurers charge for individually:

  1.  Health assistance
  2. Telephone assistance services
  3. Legal assistance ~ever need to speak to a lawyer? This gives you access, included for free.
  4. Home assistance
  5. Support and home care (following a 5 day hospital stay) ~what a huge advantage!, 
  6. Replacement cost with no obligation to replace &   2-year guaranteed premiums

There are advantages with almost every insurance company, the key is finding out and asking about it.

  • We have another company that offers free legal assistance with every home policy.
  • Most companies are now offering some form of Identity theft coverage. Do you have this included now, are you paying for it and is there an opportunity to get it for free?
  • Another company that includes coverage for rental cars worldwide, as opposed to "limited to North America". This may be important to some who travel often to Europe or worldwide, and totally irrelevant to others. It is worth knowing about, and if it doesnt appeal to you, maybe this is one of those value added's that you don't really want to be paying for.
  • Some companies automatically extend your contents coverage to other properties that you may own or rent, others charge for this.  

Have a conversation with your insurance representative to make sure they really know you and what your needs are.

Often when you speak to a direct insurance company, there is no opportunity for the agent to really know you. Ask the questions and you may be surprised at how much you can save and benefit when you really look at the big picture.

As brokers, we do our best to do this all the time for our clients because it's not just insurance - its finding the best fit to protect your assets, save you money and serve your individual needs.

Do you have any tips to save on insurance that allow you to save and keep the coverage you really need in place? What have your experiences been?

 


Water - Vital to life, but a potential hazard to your home.

Nothing beats a fresh glass of cool water after a work out, or on a hot summer's day.

Westmount water stream park quebec

Water is key to our vitality, and yet, when it comes to home insurance and property damage, water is a whole other issue.

Water gets into our homes and apartments from various sources: appliances, leaks in pipes, storms, weight of snow, and more. When the temperatures start to drop, water freezes bringing more opportunity for damage to our homes in the heating season.

We can all think of various examples of situations where water damage can occur, but recently  we have noticed more and more calls coming in for one very specific water related issue : Mold.

Mold thrives in humid places, it likes to hide in darkness - and because of this, very often people may not notice it for some time.

A dark hallway wood antique westmount quebec

Mold is dangerous for your health. Once mold has developed, it is extremely difficult to treat and get rid of and very costly.

Did you know that Mold damage is not covered by insurance?  Many people think that damage from mold is covered because it originates (usually) with a humidity or water leakage problem. However, it is important for you to note that insurance is for sudden and accidental losses - and there is nothing sudden about mold. In order for mold to grow, it must have humidity, but also time. Gradual damage is not covered by most insurers. Overall, over the past several years, it is also now a specified exclusion with most insurance companies - for all of the above reasons.

How can you avoid this issue?

When you notice a leak or damage in your home that is caused by water, don't just treat the leak, this wont remove the water from the materials around it. Fixing the leak or damage won't remove the humidity - mold needs this humidity to thrive. Always remember to dry out any areas effected by water damage or leakage. If you are inclined to make a claim for something, the sudden or accidental discharge of water is something that may be covered depending on the source and your insurance company.

Get some advice from a professional as soon as you see signs of water.  Sometimes we may repair the broken pipe and not realize that water has sunk down the walls, or soaked into floor boards.  This is where mold will find an opportunity and unfortunately due to the nature of mold itself  (it is is not sudden or accidental), you will not be covered.

We had a case recently of a client who purchased a new home. They paid quite a bit of money to have the home inspected, and assumed everything was verified. Getting a clean bill of health on the home, they proceeded with the purchase. Not long after taking possession, they discovered dampness on one of the inside walls of the home. They contacted the vendor, and the vendor

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Summer in the Garden - Beautiful Days & Some Helpful Tips to Protect Your World

 

Beautiful garden Victoria Day weekend traditionally marks the start of summer for Canadians. Time to get out and enjoy!

By now, many of us have started work on creating our own private paradise in the back yard, terrace or even balcony. Some people hire landscapers and others do it themselves. However you do it, here is nothing more rewarding than finally seeing all our plans realized and  sitting back to relax in our own garden paradise - the perfect escape from city life on the weekend.

As you sit there and enjoy, insurance is probably the last thing on your mind,  but as I sit here and look at my favorite spot, I realize insurance does come into play at some point. So, to protect you and ensure you don't have any sorry surprises if ever anything unexpected should touch your little piece of paradise, just a few tips:

1. Outdoor installations are not always automatically covered on an insurance policy. Make sure that if you have built structures in the back yard that you call your broker or insurance company to find out if it is automatically covered or if you need to add a small amount of coverage to insure your hard work. Remember all those parts and pieces, the special spotlight items you purchased to make your garden just right? A lot goes into these set ups, fountains, mechanical equipment, pumps, special trees and flowers, bird houses, gnomes...even the cost of wood or other materials used in these constructions can be high, keep yourself informed - it was a lot of hard work to get to where you are at.

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