Most people know the basics of what they are covered for under their home insurance policy. We know, for example, that we are insured against fire, but do you know what you’re NOT covered for? You may be surprised that a number of things for which you thought were covered but are actually not.
With the recent damaging weather across Canada within the last year, don't wait until damage occurs to find out that you are not covered, if something happens to your home. Knowing what you are not covered for is as important as knowing what you are covered for.
If you know what is not covered, there could be coverage you can purchase and add to your policy that will protect you. For example, most homeowner’s policies exclude damage caused by a sewer back up as part of the standard homeowner’s policy. There is, however, specific sewer back up coverage available with most insurance companies for an additional charge. These additional coverages are called "riders" or "endorsements".
Every home insurance policy contains what are called "Exclusions", meaning that these are the types of things that you are not protected against with your policy. Some of the more common Exclusions include the following:
- Wear-and-tear. A home insurance policy is not a maintenance fund for your home. You still have a responsibility to keep you home in a state of good repair. If you have not replaced your roof in 30 years and the wind blows off shingles during a storm, you may not be covered for this damage because your roof was in need of repair before the shingles blew off.
- Water damage caused by flood. A flood is not the same thing as a sewer back up. Flood exclusion is intended for overland flooding, like from a lake or river. There is no coverage offered by any insurer for flood damage in Canada.
- Damage caused by freezing of indoor plumbing. There is a point to note with this exclusion: If you are going to be away from your home for more than four consecutive days during the winter, you should shut off your water and drain your pipes or arrange to have your home inspected daily by someone to ensure that heat is on and functioning properly. If freezing-related damage happens despite taking these precautions, damage might be covered under some policies. So, it’s best to check with your insurance agent or broker.
- Damage caused by snow slide, landslide, and other forms of earth movement (e.g., earthquakes). Damage from a fire or explosion caused by earth movement may be covered. Some insurance companies offer earthquake coverage. So if you live in an area where earthquake is a concern, check with your insurance professional.
- Damage caused by insects and rodents (e.g., termites, squirrels, mice, birds). If racoons or squirrels get into your attic and cause damage, you will not have coverage. Check your roof occasionally to make sure that there are no holes where animals can get in. If you find a hole, patch it up to protect your home.
- Intentional or criminal acts (fraudulent claims).
Your insurance representative is there to help you and answer all of your questions. If you want specific information about your policy – what’s covered and what’s not covered – contact your agent or broker to discuss. Better to be safe than sorry.