Creston Valley Insurance - Prepare Your Property for Spring Thaw

Spring Is In the Air – Prepare Your Property for Spring Melt!

After a tough late winter – oh-so-cold! – spring is officially in the air! Just be sure you’re prepared for the spring melt!

Whilst we all welcome spring, particularly after a horribly cold February, the change of season can pose some hazards, however. Spring melt primary among them – be sure you’re prepared and that your home and property is protected.

As we anticipate and enjoy the gradual increase in temperatures, further and further from freezing, over the coming weeks, it’s vital to ensure that this pleasant turn doesn’t cause damage to our homes.

According to Don Thompson, Chief Operating Officer for SGI Canada,

“There’s a lot you can do to make sure that when the snow melts, water makes its way to the drain and not into your home. A little time spent now could save you a big headache as the weather warms up. This much snow so late in the season could result in a very fast melt.”

To protect the safety and integrity of your home and property during the spring melt, particularly if you’ve been the recipient of ample snow, requires some keen observation, just a little planning, and a few proactive measures. Here are a few easy tips to help you take the appropriate preventative steps to better assure the health and safety of your home:

  • Inspect the entire property as soon as possible. Inspect your home’s surroundings – foundation and basement, decks and patios, sidewalks, and driveways. Ensure that they are able to resist water and, as best you can, water can be directed away from dwellings and buildings.
  • Tidy and clean up around your home as early as you can.
  • Inspect downspouts and eaves. Be sure that all downspouts extend away from structures and walls so that water drains safely away from your home and into your yard.
  • Do you have a sump pump? Be sure that it’s functioning properly. If it’s working as it should, your sump pump will prevent flooding in your home. You might want to consider adding back-up battery power to ensure that it continues to do its job even in the event of any electrical outages. If you tend to get heavy snowfall and don’t have a sump pump, you might want to think about getting one.
  • Backflow valves will close automatically to prevent water and sewage from overflowing into your home in the event of a sewer backup. A great preventative solution, backflow valves are installed on your basement sewer connections such as toilets and drains.
  • If there is damage, don’t throw anything out! Keep any damaged items in a safe place until the adjuster can assess them. If any belongings are wet and/or damaged due to flooding, move them to a dry area with good ventilation.
  • When you have a furnace or other appliance that has come into contact with water, before you use it, be sure to have it checked for damage and safety by a qualified dealer, technician, or service person.
  • If moisture, water, or sewage has overflowed into your home, don’t touch any electrical panels or systems until you know it’s safe.

Be sure that you record any cleaning or repair expenses as you’ll need to include them in an insurance claim. For extra protection, we encourage our customers to take pictures or video of damages to provide to the insurance adjuster.

Yes, your home insurance is designed to cover you in the event of damage to your home during a spring melt. But, it’s terribly inconvenient to incur damage due to water and other possible flooding. Spare yourself the headache – be proactive! Take even a few precautions to ensure your home is prepared for a dramatic change of seasons.

Do you have questions about your home insurance and exactly what’s covered? Talk to us!

Creston Valley Insurance shovel safely

Clear Your Walks and Driveway of Snow – How to Shovel Safely!

Keep your property safe from accident liability by clearing snow and ice. Keep yourself safe from pain and injury – shovel safely!

Our British Columbia winters are typically all over the place when it comes to weather. It can be dumping snow one day, raining the next, followed by a drop into the deep freeze within hours. It makes keeping your property safe – clear of ice and snow – a challenge.

It’s vital that you take the time to do so, however, to protect yourself from possible liability in the event of an accident by someone visiting your home or property.

One of the most common practices to keep our homes accessible and free of snow, of course, is shovelling. Unless you’ve made the investment in a blower, many of us will spend countless hours with a shovel in hand, removing snow from our walk- and driveways.

If you’re not physically prepared for the demands of snow shovelling, you could leave yourself vulnerable to pain or injury – over-exertion, a pulled muscle, or a slip and fall. There are even more dire possibilities known to occur while shovelling snow. A study from the Canadian Medical Association Journal found a link between the exertion of shovelling snow and heart attack.

It’s not unusual for our cold Canadian weather to increase heart rate and blood pressure. It also causes blood to clot more readily and makes the arteries constrict, and restrict blood flow. Add to that the sudden exertion of moving seemingly endless pounds of snow, and it can, for some, put extreme strain on the heart, putting you at risk of a heart attack.

This isn’t necessarily reason to give up shovelling! There are ways to shovel safely to ensure you get the job done and do it in a way that you protect yourself:

Prepare yourself to shovel safely

To ensure that you begin your shovel safely, there are a few things you can do to prepare:

  • Start moving your body. Light stretching – arms, shoulders, and legs – can help prevent injuries.
  • Layer your clothing to keep warm, but also to allow you to shed as you need.
  • Avoid cotton underlayers as they will only dampen as you sweat and make you cold.
  • Remember to breathe. As with exercise and yoga, exhale on the exertion.
  • Allow yourself to take a break when you need to. If you push through, you run the risk of over-exertion or potential injury. If you maintain a more sedentary lifestyle, this is especially true.

Shovel preparation

After you’ve prepared yourself physically for shovelling snow, be sure to consider prepping your shovel, too.

Spray the shovel with cooking spray or wipe it down with vegetable oil or paraffin wax before you get started to prevent the snow from sticking. When you help keep the shovel clear of clumping you can shovel easier and faster.

Shovel safely with proper technique

It’s critical that you are conscious of your shovelling form and technique:

  • As with anything you lift, be sure to bend the knees and lift the load with your legs – NOT your back!
  • As you lift the shovel, keep its blade close to your body to help reduce any strain on the back.
  • Remember to be ambidextrous! Alternate between shovelling with your right hand and left to balance the workload and exertion on the body.
  • Switch up the grip of the hand that holds the bar – palm over vs. palm over, for example.
  • When you’re clearing more than a foot of snow, don’t attempt to clear right to the ground with one shovelful. Start with the surface six inches, then move the lower six. Lifting too much in one scoop makes you vulnerable to injury.
  • Shovel while it’s snowing? Yes! Don’t be afraid to get a headstart on your shovelling. It may mean a bit more time with a shovel in your hands but the job will be easier than waiting to do it all at once.

How old is too old to keep shovelling?

The age to stop shovelling snow depends entirely on the condition of your overall health. Certainly, if you have any concerns be sure to check with your doctor before the first snowfall.

Like every activity, everyone comes with a different level of fitness and health. To ensure that you’re able to safely shovel snow for years to come, ensure that the rest of your life is one of healthy choices and activities to maintain your health.

Young or old, there are a few ways to make snow shovelling safer and easier:

  • Enlist the kids! There’s nothing wrong with including the whole family — make it fun and with more hands, it will go that much faster. Offer a tasty reward when it’s done – hot chocolate all around!
  • As mentioned, don’t hesitate to begin while it’s snowing. There’s no real advantage to waiting till the snow stops. In fact, it’s only likely to be more work and you increase your chances of over-exerting yourself.
  • Drink water. Like any exercise, proper hydration is vital to keep you energized.
  • Pay someone to do it. It may be that you’re better able to stay on top of the job when you hire it out – the kid next door or a professional service. Ultimately, it’s the safety that’s important and if you’d prefer not to do the grunt work, hire someone that will.

Be proactive. Take precautions before it snows.

To help manage the impacts of snow and ice, take a few preemptive steps to help keep your walks and driveway clear. This may surprise you, but for maximum effectiveness, salt is meant to be spread before it snows. Many of us have been laying salt after we shovel, but it’s actually meant to be used before the snow falls to prevent it from sticking. It will make your snow shovelling safer and easier, too!

Other pre-emptive measures to ice-proof can be achieved with ingredients you likely already have in your home:

  • To keep your steps, sidewalk, or driveway from collecting ice, make a treatment of brine the day before an anticipated snowfall or winter storm. Dissolve salt in hot water 24 hours in advance and simply pour a thin layer onto your walkways and steps to not only keep ice from forming but also to help make the snow easier to remove.
  • Likewise, to prevent ice from forming on your car’s windshield and windows, spray a mixture of 3:1 distilled vinegar and water before winter precipitation. Spray after ice collects to help melt it more rapidly.

Questions about your home insurance and seasonal risks? Talk to one of our knowledgable insurance brokers! 

Creston Valley Insurance protect against snow and ice

Protect Your Home and Yourself on Snow and Ice This Winter

If the snow hasn’t arrived yet, it will soon. Protect yourself and your home from potential accidents on snow and ice – and possible liability! 

Winter is descending upon us. Brrrrrrrr. And with so many more people staying home instead of heading south this winter, the chances for potential accident and injury associated with snow and ice around our homes are just that much greater.

It’s important to realize that, as a homeowner, you are responsible for the safety of your home and property. To ensure the safety of visitors to your home, it’s up to you to ensure that your sidewalks and other walkways, stairs, and your driveway are kept free and clear of snow and ice.

As the cold weather brings us the stark, sparkly beauty of snow and ice you should be aware of the most common winter hazards that come along with it.

For instance, any walking surfaces around your home need to be managed with salt and/or sand and frequent shovelling when necessary. In many communities, there are bylaw timeframes that dictate when you need to have walkways clear. Be aware of them. Also, evaluate your property for unexpected elevation changes and surface gaps or cracks – uneven sidewalks are a good example. These present the potential for trips and falls so be sure to fix any issues that lie on your property. If you notice issues with municipally-owned land and property, be sure to report them.

At this time of year, as we transition from fall to winter conditions, natural debris such as wet leaves can also present a slipping or tripping hazard. If you have deck- or handrails, be sure that they are in good repair – none are loose or missing – and don’t pose an unexpected danger.

Ensure that all of your exterior lighting is operational and adequately illuminates the surrounding area, including the walking surface.

Don’t forget your indoors at this time of year. Your foyer could pose an unnecessary risk to visitors if your walking surfaces are wet. Prevent the chance of slips or falls in your home with a simple fix – a non-slip mat or rug.

What do I do if an accident happens?

While you’ve taken all the precautions, there’s is still the chance that something unexpected could happen. But, to help protect yourself, here are various steps to take if a snow- or ice-related mishap occurs:

  1. First, of course, is to provide assistance to the injured individual. Find them the appropriate medical treatment, if needed and certainly, call an ambulance, if required.
  2. Collect all of the necessary information – names and contact information of both the injured party as well as any witnesses. Be sure to detail everything that happened – descriptions of the incident from the victim, yourself, and any witnesses.
  3. Be sure to refer the claimant to your insurer. DO NOT ADMIT LIABILITY!
  4. A picture is worth a thousand words. Take photos of the scene. If you can, take pictures of the injured individual’s footwear.
  5. Document, document, document. In the event you need to provide a defence for a claim,  thorough documentation will assist your insurer to analyze the incident and the potential cause.
  6. You need to report the incident and details to your insurer. As much as possible, provide:
    1. Incident details —  a thorough description with photos, whenever possible.
    2. Any information you may have regarding your preventative maintenance preceding the incident. You’ll want to show you were acting responsibly to prevent any issues on your property.
  7. Thoroughly evaluate your home and property and explore the potential causes. Important: take all necessary steps to ensure you prevent any similar incidents from happening again.

In the event of a mishap… what is my legal liability?

Of course, you’ve tried to manage the winter maintenance of your home and property, particularly walking surfaces, to the best of your ability. But… if something has been missed, or if you’ve been a little late to keep up with a basic standard of seasonal maintenance, depending on the victim, you could be held liable for any trips, slips, or falls due to snow and ice.

If you rent your home, this liability could be shared with the owner of the property, your landlord. It will depend on the circumstances surrounding the incident to determine the ultimate responsibility. When it comes to shared or community space on the property, as the tenant, be sure that your rental agreement outlines very clearly your responsibilities.

Here are factors that will be considered:

  • Was this a hazard that could have been foreseen?
  • Did the homeowner, in fact, maintain the property according to acceptable standards?
  • Had this been a hazard for an unreasonable or extended amount of time?
  • Could the hazard have been prevented?

Prevention is key to ensuring your home is safe for everyone who visits – the babysitter, the postal worker, your furnace repairman, visitors to a Holiday gathering, it doesn’t matter who. Be vigilant as you evaluate the conditions and how your property can be kept free of dangers. Maintain your property to the highest safety standards to prevent any unforeseen accidents or mishaps that could lead to costly litigation.

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

Creston Valley Insurance protect your home and family from COVID-19

A COVID-19 Guide – 12 Ways to Protect Your Household

Back to work and school. How to protect your home and family from COVID-19 in this age of the new normal.

This week marks back to school for many local youngsters. And while most of us seemed to resume some degree of normalcy throughout the summer, the spectre of COVID-19 still continued to influence our social behaviours.

Many of us are now wearing masks when we enter into public spaces. We dutifully bring our grocery lists so we don’t spend too much time browsing the store aisles. We are now always washing our hands and sanitizing – everywhere we go, and seemingly constantly.

And there’s no end in sight. COVID-19 will continue to be part of our everyday consciousness. With our kids going back to school and workplaces allowing more and more employees back into the office, chances are we’ll continue to be on high alert for the days, weeks, and months to come.

While we may provide home insurance to help protect your home, the presence of COVID-19 and protecting your household will be up to you, with the support and cooperation of the rest of the community.

To keep your home and family safe and healthy over the next many months, it’s critical to continue to follow the recommendations of our public health authorities, experts, and officials.

The following checklist will help you do your part to help reduce exposure and slow the spread of illness as the pandemic persists:

      1. Keep up-to-date with factual information from local health authorities and experts.
      2. Keep up with school closures in the community – rely on local news sources that report on school alerts.
      3. If you get sick, stay home from school, work, and any other activities where you would be at risk of exposing others.
      4. If you learn about others who are ill, steer clear! Help where and how you can, but don’t risk exposure.
      5. Continue with physical distancing measures as best you can when out and about – stay at least two metres apart.
      6. Practice prevention:
        • Frequent handwashing with water and soap for the length of time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’. When soap and water are unavailable, keep hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) nearby – in your purse and in your car, for instance.
        • Always cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze – the inside of your elbow provides good protection. Dispose of any tissue you may use immediately and don’t use it again.
        • Wipe and sanitize items such as mobile phones, television remotes, laptops, and other electronics – as recommended by the manufacturer.
        • Keep high touch zones and items as well as high traffic areas clean and disinfected using household cleaner and water. Your typical EPA-registered household disinfectants are just fine. Utilize disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface.
      7. If a member of your household gets sick, isolate them as best you can, including a separate room as well as a separate bathroom, if you can.
        • Provide ill family or household member with clean and disposable masks to wear at home
        • Do not share personal items – drinking glasses, silverware, food, or drink.
        • Keep the room and bathroom used by sick household member clean, sanitized, and disinfected.
      8. Keep in touch with friends and family to check in on their health and well-being – phone, text, email, video-conference.
      9. Keep lines of communication open with family members and your children – talk about the pandemic. Offer calm reassurance that they are safe and what they can do to help contain the spread.
      10. If you find yourself or a family member is sick, notify school and workplace immediately. Request to work and school from home if you are able.
      11. If a child has to be home from school, keep communication open with school administration and teachers to ensure your child doesn’t fall behind in schoolwork.
      12. Teenagers and young adults may find it particularly difficult to maintain recommended protocols.
        • Keep communication open with your older children and discourage kids’ gathering after school hours.
        • Let them choose a mask they like and stress the importance of wearing it when they’re outside the home.
        • Make it clear how their behaviour could potentially impact the spread of COVID-19 in your community as well as your household.
Creston Valley Insurance wildfire season

How to Protect Your Home During Wildfire Season

A dry, hot spell means wildfire season isn’t far away. Do what you can NOW to help keep your home protected.

Despite the long, wet spring the recent run of hot weather means that wildfire season can’t be far behind. As the world witnessed the savagery of wildfires as they devastated Australia late last year and early into 2020, it wasn’t hard to imagine what Australians were feeling, living where we do.

We’ve seen recent examples of devastation by wildfire closer to home: the Fort McMurray fires that ravaged a whopping 590,000 hectares and destroyed 2,400 homes in 2016; the state of emergency declared in British Columbia in 2017 and 2018 due to record-setting wildfires.

It’s important, with increasing evidence of climate change, to understand how vulnerable our surrounding forests and environments are to lightning strikes. Add increased human activity in remote areas and increased risk of fire caused by people (unintentional and arson) into the mix, and a hot summer becomes a literal tinderbox of potential wildfire risk.

This summer, Natural Resources Canada (NRC) has predicted a wildfire season that is “well above average,” throughout the nation – from British Columbia to Northern Ontario and the territories. NRC is anticipating that parts of the prairies and B.C. could even see fire season and an elevated threat of wildfires extend well into September.

In a situation that seems so beyond your control, what can you do to be prepared? While saving your home is not a sure thing in the event of real wildfire threat, there are a few things that can help you protect your home as best you can:

Identify if yours is an area of high-risk for wildfires

Did you know? Approximately nine per cent of the world’s forests are here in Canada. Given that, it’s important to understand that wildfire is as vital for forest renewal as the rain and the sun. Forest fires release vital nutrients that exist on the ground and they clear the canopy above for sunlight, which helps to stimulate new growth.

But, as critical as fires are to renewing our forests, more and more are sparked and burn closer to communities and individual homes. According to NRC, over the past 30 years, Canadian wildfires have consumed approximately 2.5 million hectares per year. Not only is this at tremendous cost to land and property, but it’s also a tremendous amount of money in fire suppression efforts, to the tune of $500 million to $1 billion a year.

How do you know if your area is one at high-risk? Is your community or home surrounded by forest, brush, or grassland? You are at higher risk for wildfires, particularly during the summer months. The Canadian Wildland Fire Information System by NRC monitors the fire danger across Canada constantly and offers an interactive fire map with up-to-date reports.

Consider your building materials very carefully

If you live in a high-risk area like ours, particularly with the elevated wildfire threat this summer, the best protection against loss, damage or injury is prevention and mitigation is your building materials, according to the Institute of Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR).

According to a report by the ICLR on trends in North American wildfire events, “The knowledge exists to make homes less vulnerable to wildfire. Firewise homes have a survivable landscape and use appropriate building materials. Investments of a few hundred dollars can significantly reduce the risk [of] wildfire damage.”

Fortunately, there are organizations that work alongside insurance companies to provide resources to homeowners and builders and homeowners to construct fire-resistant homes.

As an example, the ICLR has supported the adoption of Wildland Urban Interface provisions in national building codes, working closely with partners like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and FireSmart Canada.

A huge concern for homeowners is flying sparks and embers that can ignite your home. According to FireSmart, this burning debris can be thrown up to two kilometres ahead of a wildfire. A wildfire’s radiant heat, alone, can even break windows and melt vinyl siding. Of course, any flammable items in the fire’s path will ignite in direct flames.

It is recommended to establish a non-combustible zone up to 1.5 metres around your home – clear of any materials that could easily ignite. FireSmart suggests reducing evergreens, shrubs, and highly flammable junipers, within 10 metres of any structures. Thin and prune trees within 10 to 30 metres of your home and ensure that powerlines are free and clear of any tree limbs.

If you’re building new or renovating, ask your contractor about those materials that might help mitigate damage and loss from wildfires. Construction materials that are fire-resistant include products such as fibre-cement siding instead of wood shakes or vinyl siding, asphalt shingle roofing rather than wood shakes, and concrete decking material in place of wood.

In today’s buildings, materials such as concrete and steel can be made with a wood grain appearance. Modern, innovative building materials allow homeowners to enjoy the best of both worlds – beautiful aesthetics and safety.

A checklist for a more fire-resistant home

The prospect of wildfire is terrifying to most homeowners but there are a variety of ways you can help to protect your home:

  • Gutters and eaves: It’s very important to clear gutters of buildup from leaves, branches and other debris regularly – these are easily ignited by embers or sparks.
  • Windows: Replace any single-pane windows with tempered, thermal (dual-paned or multi-paned) windows, as the intense heat from approaching wildfire can break single-pane windows. Metal screens help to reduce radiant exposure and can protect against any entry of sparks or embers.
  • Doors: All doors should be fire-rated and have a proper seal. Not just your home, but garage and outbuildings, as well.
  • Vents: Vents offer an entry point for sparks and embers into your home. Install fire-rated vents and screen any vents or other openings to minimize the risk of drifting sparks or embers getting into your home.
  • Siding: Vinyl siding and untreated wood products provide little to no fire protection. Consider products such as stucco, brick, and metal or fibre-cement siding, that all offer good protection from fire.
  • Roofing: As with siding, consider a fire-resistant roof material such as metal, asphalt, clay or composite rubber tiles. Untreated wood, like shakes, is easily combustible and it can also leave crevices where sparks or embers can get into your home.
  • Chimney: Minimize the chance of your chimney starting a fire outdoors onto nearby buildings and brush – install a spark arrestor.
  • Decks: Choose a non-combustible decking product.
  • Landscaping: Keep your landscaping tidy with the lawn kept short. Grasses that are allowed to dry out along your fence become an opportunity for a wildfire to catch on your property.
  • Sheds and outbuildings: Follow this checklist for those buildings within 10 metres of your home – garages, sheds, workshop, guesthouse, and even outhouses.
  • Fence: A wooden fence can lead a wildfire directly to your house. Install a metal gate as a separation between your house and your wood fence.

Chances are, your home insurance policy (as well as auto, condo, tenant, farm and commercial) protect you from damage caused by wildfire.

Questions about home insurance or other policy? We can help — TALK TO US!

Creston Valley Insurance Insurance Quick reference Guide

Your Quick Reference Guide – 32 Insurance Terms to Know and Understand

When you go to buy coverage – as we all need to do – it’s very helpful if you’re familiar with the terminology. Here are 32 insurance terms to help you navigate the murky policy waters!

We’ve all stood in front of our insurance broker and nodded in agreement, even if we don’t fully understand what it is we’re actually purchasing. The terminology can be confusing and isn’t language that we often use in our day-to-day.

To help, here’s a quick reference guide to 32 of the most used insurance terms and what they mean:

  1. Actual cash value (ACV): What your property is worth. It takes into account factors such as the cost of replacement minus depreciation.
  2. Adjuster: The person assigned to identify the extent of the damage or loss so they can determine a settlement amount.
  3. Bareland condominium: A detached home built on commonly-owned land. The owner possesses both the structure and the plot of land on which it’s built. The condo corporation receives fees from the owners to maintain those common areas within the community.
  4. Claim: The request you present to your insurer after loss or damage to your property.
  5. Comprehensive coverage: Coverage for all risks, other than those that have been specifically excluded.
  6. Deductible: The amount you have agreed, and are required, to pay before your insurance company fulfills your claim. Once you have paid the deductible, your insurer covers the rest.
  7. Depreciation: The inevitable decrease in value over a period of time due to age and wear and tear.
  8. Effective date: The date your insurance policy goes into effect.
  9. Endorsement: Any addition to your insurance policy.
  10. Exclusion: A term that refers to those incidents or losses that aren’t covered by your insurance policy.
  11. First party: Also referred to as “named insured”. The primary policyholder identified in the insurance policy.
  12. Indemnity: An agreement between your insurer (in your insurance policy) and you where your provider is required to compensate you for loss or damages and return you to your status prior to the incident.
  13. In force: An insurance policy that hasn’t been canceled or hasn’t expired and is still active.
  14. Insurable interest: If the loss or damage of something causes you to suffer financially or otherwise.
  15. Liability/Liability coverage: Addresses risk – you’re protected financially if someone has an accident and gets hurt on your property. Expenses for any damages, losses or injuries are covered.
  16. Lienholder: A lender who legally owns your property (e.g. a vehicle).
  17. Limitation period: The defined period of time in which you are able to take legal action against your insurance company.
  18. Loss assessment: If you own a condo, you are responsible financially for covering part of the cost of damages to anything in the common areas of the condominium property.
  19. Mortgagee: An entity (e.g. bank) who lends money to an individual for the purchase of a property.
  20. Mortgagor: The individual who borrows money from a lender.
  21. Named insured: The individual to whom the insurance policy has been issued.
  22. Overland water coverage: Additional coverage (if available) that you add to your home insurance policy to protect you financially from loss due to damage from overland water – freshwater (from rising rivers or lakes and rainstorms or melting snow and ice). Damage from coastal water (saltwater) will not be covered under overland water insurance. Overland Water Coverage varies from market to market.
  23. Personal liability: Protects you and others in your home in case you’re sued – if someone trips on your stairs and gets hurt during a visit to your home, for example. Typically included in your home insurance policy. It can also protect you if you happen to damage someone else’s property.
  24. Policy: The legal and binding document that details all the information about your insurance coverage, including terms and conditions.
  25. Premium: The rate that you pay for your home insurance coverage.
  26. Pro-rata cancellation: If you cancel your policy before it renews, you receive back any unearned premium – that is, premiums you’ve paid for but not yet used.
  27. Replacement Cost: The cost to repair or replace your home or personal belongings after an incident, including materials and labour, without any deduction for depreciation. (For homeowners, this isn’t the same as market value which includes the cost of the land.)
  28. Risk: The probability of loss, damage, injury or liability.
  29. Seasonal dwelling: Typically defined as a vacation home – cabin, cottage, or chalet that isn’t occupied full-time.
  30. Sewer backup coverage: Additional insurance coverage to protect you financially for any loss or damages if your sewer system backs up.
  31. Specialty belongings: Items that might require separate coverage as their value exceeds the limits of standard contents coverage. This includes items such as jewelry, artwork, silverware, furs, and collectibles (rare books, stamps and coins, sports memorabilia, and comic books, for example.
  32. Specified perils: Losses experienced as a result of events specifically defined in your policy: lightning, fire, hail, windstorm, earthquake, theft, explosion, and riot/civil disturbance.

Questions about home insurance or other policy? We can help — TALK TO US!

Creston Valley landlord insurance policies for homeowners

Minimize Risk With Your Investment Property. Purchase Landlord Insurance to Be Prepared

If you are the owner of an investment property and take on renters, you have to be prepared for the unexpected. Get landlord insurance to make sure you’re protected.

Most often identified as ‘Rented Property Insurance’, Landlord Insurance is specifically designed for those who own a property and rent it out to others – condo or apartment, full or partial house, for instance – to provide coverage for personal belongings as well as potential exposure to liability.

A great way to earn money, renting property is a popular investment for many. As such, it’s important for the owner to be properly insured with a policy that addresses the unique needs and requirements of rental properties in order to protect this source of income.

You may already know that some homeowner’s insurance covers renting out only a portion of the homeowner’s property. But did you know that this only applies, however, if the homeowner actually occupies part of the same home? If the property owner decides to rent out the entire house, a new policy – Rented Property, or Landlord Insurance – is required to be properly covered.

What is covered by Rented Property or Landlord Insurance?

Landlord Insurance covers several things depending on whether the property is a stratified condo or a detached home. Typical basic coverage will likely include:

  • Buildings
  • Rental Income
  • Landlord Property (contents insurance)
  • Landlord’s Liability

What kinds of Landlord Insurance are available?

When you talk to your insurance broker you will discover that there is a range of Landlord insurance policies available and each will provide for different degrees of associated risk. However, the coverage recommended will depend on the situation.

For instance, a single student renting a space short-term presents a different degree of potential risk than a family who rents a home for a longer span of time. Research has shown that short-term rentals tend to be riskier rental arrangements than those that are longer-term.

Landlords will look at a variety of criteria to determine what kind of risk is involved. These will often be a major deciding factor in which tenants they choose.

The most common types of Landlord Insurance are as follows:

Residential Rental Property (Rented Dwelling)

Developed to protect single or multiple-family dwellings – designed for long-term leases or per rental agreement basis.

Rented Condo Insurance
Another common kind of rented property insurance is Rented Condo Insurance – the homeowner owns a condo that he or she rents out. It’s a policy that is specifically created to bridge the gap left by the Strata Corporation’s insurance policy.

Rented Condo Insurance is often delivered on a case-by-case basis so that coverage is individually tailored to the risk in question.

Homesharing rentals: Airbnb, VRBO, etc.

Without doubt, home-sharing has taken off the world over. This popularity in home-sharing platforms has resulted in new and creative insurance instruments to deal with the demand. Be sure to ask your broker about the specifics of your situation.

Your agent will present the policy that best addresses your short-term rentals and the platform you’ll be using. This type of short-term rental homeowner’s insurance can also be used to protect those landlords who own remote properties, those who rent seasonally, and landlords who accept boarders into their own home.

Landlord Insurance Coverages

Case-by-case, most Landlord Insurance coverage is customized to meet the requirements of each different circumstance. But, there are some insurance options that help protect landlords from financial tragedy. These include:

  • Structure coverage: This is liability protection for the actual structure or portion of the structure, you are renting out. You can also get associated structure coverage for garages, sheds, and other structures on your property.
  • Vandalism protection: While it’s natural to want to trust your tenants, a smart, professional landlord will take into consideration every contingency. Vandalism protection will make sure that you are covered if you house a tenant who does not respect your property.
  • Fair rental income protection: If your property becomes uninhabitable for any reason and your tenants are forced to vacate and you experience a loss of rent, you can still get paid your rental income up to a predetermined amount.
  • Under construction coverage: Protects your property as it is being built, or while being renovated prior to allowing tenants.
  • Condo liability protection: As a landlord, never rely on your condo association insurance to protect your investment. For example, any updates or improvements you make to your condo are not covered by the condo association policy if there is a fire or some other kind of damage. You will need to protect them yourself, and that is why you need comprehensive condo coverage.
  • Theft coverage: If you rent out structures that include furniture and appliances, theft coverage is a smart choice in order to protect your property.

Do you have questions about properly protecting your investment or rental property? We can help – talk to us!

Creston Valley Insurance tenants coverage

Renting Your Home? Get Tenant’s Insurance!

If you rent your home, don’t risk potential liability. Be sure to have Tenant’s Insurance to ensure coverage of yourself as well as the things you own.

Renting a home offers such freedom – no worries about landscaping and home maintenance, for instance, or the burden of a multi-decade debt commitment. But, when you don’t have to concern yourself with the details of homeownership it’s easy to overlook certain particulars that are required by homeowners but can also be of benefit as a renter.

Even if you are renting, it’s vitally important to protect yourself and be prepared. In other words, to expect the unexpected. And that means not simply relying on your landlord’s property insurance policy.

If you’re making assumptions as to the scope of your landlord’s insurance coverage, and how it takes your unit – including your personal liability and belongings – into consideration, think again.

Take nothing for granted when it comes to protecting yourself and what you own. That’s why there’s Tenant’s Insurance.

Tenant’s Insurance is intended to address potential shortfalls and discrepancies in the insurance coverage your landlord maintains for the property he or she owns and in which you live.

If there are any parents of young adults attending college, given the increased chances of mishaps (some potentially quite costly) Tenant’s Insurance is a must to protect your child (and, quite likely, yourself) while providing just that little bit of extra peace of mind!

As a renter, there are several reasons to seek the coverage of Tenant’s Insurance. Chief among them is to ensure that you and your belongings are adequately protected in the event of the unexpected.

Even if you are renting on the most temporary basis, Tenant’s Insurance ensures you can replace your belongings and the contents of your unit in the event of an insurable loss. This includes everything from dishes and housewares to expensive electronics such as TVs and laptops to furnishings.

Despite not owning a home, you may actually own more than you think! You might be surprised at how much you have accumulated and how much it would cost to replace it all at once. It’s helpful to keep a consistently updated record of all that you own – photo and video documentation works if you aren’t one to keep a written list.

Understand too, that Tenant’s Insurance doesn’t just cover the loss itself. You can purchase coverage that will cover potential additional expenses after the loss as well.  For example, if you are the victim of an apartment fire, you will somewhere else to stay temporarily. Your insurance will cover the necessary expenses like this as you await the repair of your unit.

Anything can happen. If you’re unfortunate enough to damage your landlord’s, or a neigbouring tenant’s, property in your building, with Tenant’s Insurance, you know you’re protected. When you’re renting, if you haven’t thought to protect yourself with additional coverage, you could be liable for damage caused to not only damage to your rental unit but, in some instances, the building as well. Tenants are held responsible for any harm or damage they cause to any portion of the building and Tenant’s Insurance ensures you’re able to cover any damages.

Tenants can be held responsible for any harm they cause to others who visit or live in their unit. If you have the tremendous misfortune to accidentally cause someone harm in your rental or even your building, Tenant’s Insurance provides the coverage and protection you need. Tenant’s Insurance assists, covering the costs related to this type of claim.

Additionally, Tenant’s Insurance provides the coverage you need in the event of any legal action associated with your rental unit. In the case of a lawsuit initiated by a third party, a standard insurance policy will provide coverage, including defense fees and potential settlements.

Keep in mind, as well, that Tenant’s Insurance contributes to your claims-free history. If you have a clean record, with several years of insurance history without making a claim, a tenant’s policy can help you establish that positive insurance history. Bonus: as a result of being claims-free, most insurance companies will offer a discount on your insurance.

Questions about insurance as a renter? Talk to us!

Creston Valley Insurance winterize your home properly

Winter is Here – It’s Not Too Late to Winterize Your Home!

Prevent possible cold weather disasters – protect and properly winterize your home to stay warm, comfortable, and safe all season long.

Disaster often strikes at the most inopportune time (as if there’s ever a good time for a crisis?!) but winter is perhaps the worst time of year to encounter issues with your home. It’s also one of the most common.

Certainly, the best time to take winter precautions is before the weather gets cold, but for the procrastinators out there, we call on the old adage, “better late than never”.

So, before it gets too cold, be proactive and take care of things before a winter-related disaster strikes. Ensure you’ve taken the proper precautions to help your home be ready for the cold.

Here are 10 must-do essentials to properly winterize the home that will provide you not only with peace of mind but more comfort and energy savings, too boot, no matter how far the mercury drops.

  1. No matter your source of heat – furnace, wood stove, electric baseboard heaters, etc. – check them over to be sure they are in good operating condition. Have them maintained, inspected, and cleaned on a regular basis. You may have to clean, or even replace, furnace air filters more frequently through the cold winter months.
  2. Test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors frequently and keep them well maintained.
  3. Broken water pipes due to freezing is no fun! Keep water running through them. It’s not unusual to have several plumbing fixtures and taps in our home, even some that don’t get much use. Be sure to turn them on regularly and allow water to run through. Also, test the shut-off valves.
  4. The attic can be a place where frost accumulates. Inspect your attic for any air leaks and any accumulation of frost. Proper insulation will prevent cold air settling in. Boost your insulation power easily – lay batts of fibreglass insulation or mineral wool on top of what you already have there; tighly fit them side by side to help prevent any gaps for air.
  5. Check your roof and eavestrough for icicles and possible ice dams.
  6. Fill in the gaps! Small openings and cracks around your windows can let in a surprising amount of cold air. Caulk the exterior of your windows. It’s a fast and easy way to keep more warm air indoors.
  7. Prevent exposed pipes from freezing. Cover or wrap with insulation or insulating sleeves.
  8. Keep your sidewalk and steps clear of snow and ice.
  9. Don’t allow snow to collect and block gas meters and appliance vents, exhaust vents, or basement windows.
  10. Keep your outdoor electrical wires clear of nearby branches – trim your trees and shrubs.

An important note to anyone planning a winter vacation (even just a few days): leave your heat on and entrust a friend or neighbour to make regular checks of your home while you’re away.

Questions about how to best protect your home from seasonal disaster or damage? Talk to us!

Creston Valley Insurance home checklist

Vacation Time! Your Handy Home Checklist

Protect your home when you’re away on vacation. Follow this handy home checklist to leave, stress-free, with everything in order before you leave.

We all put a lot of time and money into planning the ultimate vacation. For many of us, more attention than we put into preparing and protecting our home and valuables in our absence.  Taking a lot for granted, we rush out the door in excited anticipation, neglecting to take the proper precautions that the place we live will be safe and ready for our return.

Creating a home checklist to keep track of your to-do list in preparation for departure is a great idea to help not only keep you organized, but also ensure you’ve taken the necessary precautions as you leave your home sit empty during your travels.

According to Steve Kee, spokesperson for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, “People spend a lot of time planning their vacation, but they don’t plan as much around their house. When you’re rushing to get out the door, you’re bound to forget to do things around the house.”

Here are some expert suggestions to help you prepare your home before you leave on vacation – stress-free and with peace of mind.

Touch base with your home insurance agent

As you’re making calls to your creditors to let them know you’ll be making charges abroad, check in with your insurance broker to let them know you’ll be away and that your home is going to be vacant.

It’s not unusual for insurance policies to contain clauses that may void coverage if your residence is unoccupied for extended blocks of time.

Call your broker and take the opportunity to double-check that you’re covered in the event of the unexpected.

Ask someone you trust – or hire someone – to check your home

As you chat with your insurance broker, you can confirm if you need someone checking in on your home in your absence. Your policy may have distinct language outlining what’s required.

Have this trusted individual check for water leaks – outdoor spigots, basement, ceilings, etc. This should absolutely be on their respective check-list during your winter absence, when pipes can be known to burst with sudden drops in temperature, but leaks and flooding are also possibilities during the summer, too.

Make sure your home looks lived-in

Be sure to set at least some of your indoor lighting on a timer so they switch on and off throughout the day. Don’t forget to install fresh bulbs so they don’t burn out during your trip. For additional protection, install motion-detecting outdoor lights to deter potential prowlers. If you receive a newspaper, put it on hold. Either have your mail put on hold as well, or ask a neighbour to collect it.

Set your thermostat to an appropriate temperature, depending the season

Whether for heat or for cool, be sure to set your thermostat accordingly. A safe bet is to set it four degrees above the temperature you’d normally keep your home. Avoid the possibility of mildew and mould taking hold and save energy as well.

Modern tech has some innovative solutions when it comes to modulating the temperature of your home with the touch of a finger while you’re away. There are a variety of products with corresponding apps available. Just be sure to take the time to become very familiar and take it for some test runs in advance of your travels.

Unplug the toaster, the microwave, and all other non-essential appliances

Unplugging is a huge energy-saver and protection, as well. “This will help you save on energy and protect from power surges,” Kee says.

Those appliances that ought to be unplugged while you’re away should include your televisions, power strips, computer chargers, coffee makers, and those lamps that aren’t included on the timer.

Empty the trash

This may seem so simple as not to be a necessary addition to the list. But, you’d be surprised how many people have returned home to the foul smell of trash infusing their indoor air. Be sure to empty all garbage, recycling, and compost containers as you’re heading out the door.

But, if you leave your bins out for trash day, don’t forget to ask a neighbour to put them back.

“Ask someone to take the trash to the curb on collection day and be sure that they come back to put the bins away,” Kee recommends. “All you have to do is drive down a street a see one house with an empty bin in the driveway to know that those people are very likely out of town.”

Safe-deposit box for valuables.

Most of what you have in your home is likely covered by your home insurance. However, consider those items that hold sentimental worth that can’t be covered by an insurance policy. Certainly, though, ensure that valuables such as important documents or precious jewelry are stored safely away.

A car in your driveway

If you’re in the habit of keeping your car in the driveway, be sure this is continued while you’re away. If you don’t, perhaps ask a family member, friend, or neighbour to park their car in front of your home.

If you’re traveling during winter months, keeping your car and driveway free of snow and ice helps to convey that someone is, in fact, at home.