When you’re moving to a new home, be sure to advise your insurer promptly. Your risk and insurance needs may change substantially – and your premium as well.
What affects the premium cost?
Whenever a client moves, insurance companies may revise their coverage depending on risk factors associated with the new property or home. Here are the main factors:
- Region (risk is generally higher in urban rather than rural areas)
- City and neighbourhood (according to crime rates for break-ins or vandalism)
- Number of building units
- Construction type (including age, area, condition, building material)
- Heating system, the presence or absence of a wood-burning stove
- Distance to the closest fire station
- Municipal infrastructures (risk of sewer backup)
- And, of course, the dollar value of the insurance requested. Also, the purchase of a particular asset (sound system, artwork) or the installation of a fireplace or pool will almost certainly increase the amount of coverage required.
What does your policy cover?
Residential insurance covers the personal property and liability of the insured, including his or her spouse and any children. The policy also covers minors (less than 18 years old) in the insured’s care as well as other dependents attending school full-time, even if they are living away from home.
But note that a spouse is defined as someone who is married to the insured, or who has cohabited with the insured for at least three years – or one year if the couple has given birth to, or adopted, a child.
And what about a couple newly living together?
If you are about to move in with an insured partner and are not recognized as his or her spouse according to the aforementioned definitions, your property will not be covered by his or her insurance. In the event of a claim, the insurer will compensate the insured – up to the amount established in the policy for his or her lost or damaged property and that of his or her offspring – and will issue a cheque only in the name of the insured. Hence the importance of putting the names of both partners on the residential insurance policy and including the total value of all your combined possessions.
Protection during a move
You’re moving yourself. Most all-risks home insurance policies cover the property for a period of 30 days during an actual move, as well as in both the old and new dwellings (within Canada). So you can start moving all or some of the contents of your home up to 30 days ahead of the move. The sole condition is that your insurance policy must be valid on the date of the move. Remember to read your policy carefully, because not all basic policies offer a full range of protection.
What if a friend injures himself as he’s helping you move? Your home insurance policy very likely includes liability coverage, so your friend should be compensated. But here again, it’s better to check for exclusions in your policy. Also remember that the insurance company will only compensate non-professional movers if the insured can prove there has been no negligence on his or her part. So be sure to choose your helpers carefully. For example, a friend with a bad back shouldn’t be lifting a heavy piece of furniture. Forewarned is forearmed.
You decide to hire professionals. Make sure they carry professional civil liability coverage. Ask for a copy of the policy or, at the very least, the insurer’s name and policy number so you can double-check yourself. After all, the mover’s insurer is the one that would pay compensation in case of loss or damage to your property.
Most all-risks home insurance policies cover the theft of stored items for a period of 30 days. Naturally, the insurer must be notified. It will regard the property as temporarily away from the home and will add a rider to the policy to this effect. Note that some restrictions may apply, depending on the type of storage facility (a neighbour’s garage or a proper storage rental facility, for example). Be sure to get all necessary details before entrusting your possessions to a third party.
In short, as soon as the moving date is fixed, contact your insurer. It will let you know precisely what your policy does and doesn’t cover and, at the same time, will update your file so that your new home will be properly insured as of the proper date. Then you can move with peace of mind.