If mature neighbourhoods are more your style over new subdivisions, and you’re in the market to buy a new home, chances are you’ll be looking at houses that have been around for 30 years or more. Some older homes, however, haven’t been maintained as well as others in ensuring that all systems are up to today’s standards. Before making a "new to you" house your home, there are a few details about the home you’ll want to make sure you know because it may affect your home insurance rates, and in some cases, getting coverage.
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Insuring an older home: Five possible issues to consider
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario highlights the following as potential home insurance coverage issues.
Galvanized steel plumbing
Commonly found in homes built prior to 1950, galvanized steel pipes only have a life expectancy of 40-50 years. These pipes will rust or corrode over time, increasing the chance of leaks, ruptures and flood damage. Your home insurance provider may require that you replace galvanized steel pipes with copper and plastic.
60-amp electrical service
Once common, 60-amp electrical service today poses a threat of overuse and overheating, increasing the chance of an electrical fire. Most homes today have 100 or 200-amp service, which adequately operates a home with all the electrical conveniences we’ve come to rely on: electric stove, oven, clothes washer and dryer, air conditioner etc. To accommodate all these modern conveniences, safely, your home insurance provider may require that you up your amps.
Knob and tube wiring
Installed in houses up until the 1950s, many home insurance providers will require that you replace knob and tube wiring. It is considered, by home insurers, to be a higher risk than what’s found in today’s modern electrical installations. Knob and tube wiring may not have the capacity to meet today’s electrical needs, and is considered a higher risk because the wires are not grounded and wires are susceptible to wear and exposure.
Wood burning stoves
A house with a wood burning stove, won’t on its own stop you from getting coverage, but your home insurer may require that you have it inspected to ensure it has been properly installed and maintained, and may require that you annually have it cleaned and checked out before each year’s renewal.
Like wood burning stoves, a house with an oil tank does not automatically mean you’ll have to have it replaced with an electrical or gas furnace. That is, unless the tank is 25 years old or older. Tanks that have been around this long are vulnerable to rusting, deterioration and leakage which can be costly. If your tank is newer, you may simply have to have it inspected to allay your home insurer’s concerns.
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This old house—older home insurance
For many Canadians, nothing is more comforting than having a home to call your own, and buying an older home typically means you’ll be living in an established neighbourhood, with a community that already has existing infrastructure, schools and businesses fulfilling the needs of the area. Resale homes have a lot to offer so long as you’re buying with the understanding that times have changed, and that you may need to do some upgrades in order to get home insurance to bring the home up to today’s standards.