Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Can we call the insurance about the leak in our basement. And if we claim it, will our rates go up?


This tweet recently put me in touch with @mapsgirl, also known as “Wendy” (what a world we live in where someone’s twitter handle is the main name and the real name is the one in quotations!). One of my handy tweeple (that means twitter friend to you twitter abstainers) sent her my way. Her question was:

“Can we call the insurance about the leak in our basement. And if we claim it, will our rates go up?”

So, as I was writing a response to her, I realized that many other people might have the same question. So in general terms here is my response.

Firstly, I am an insurance guy – so here comes the disclaimer …. Unfortunately, to give specific advice, you have to be aware of an individual’s specific circumstances and a bit of the background, so none of this should be considered specific insurance advice, but here are a few general comments that I hope will help:

- Are you insured with an insurance broker? If so, you should never be concerned about contacting them directly to ask questions about a potential claim on your home insurance. As independent insurance brokers, we work for you, not the insurance company - so that is our job... and being your advocate in the event of an insurance claim, is a big part of that! It also allows us to better understand what has happened and council you about the likelihood of it being a loss covered by insurance (some water losses are covered and others are not, see link below to an article on this subject).

- If the leak has caused significant damage, you should report it (knowing that there are various types of causes of leaks, some of which are covered by insurance and some of which are not - see the article, "Flood, sewer backup, ground water, OH MY!" on our Rhodes & Williams facebook page) - that is what insurance is for. If it is a minor mishap and you can look after it yourself, or afford the minor repairs yourself, you should at least consider that (again, I don't have any details on the problem itself or any of your insurance details (i.e.. your specific coverage for that type of loss) - you should definitely speak to someone familiar with your situation - and make sure there aren't more serious underlying problems - like mould! You also want to know what your deductible is. If the damage is not much more than the deductible, it might not make sense to claim it). Insurance is meant to be there for those times when you really need it. Numerous minor claims can result in increased premiums as well as difficulty in finding appropriate coverage in future renewals. So the short answer is, "if you need it, use it, assuming it is a covered loss".

-Another suggestions - find out what caused the problem and if possible, fix it. Water damage is a major problem these days and it is definitely worth trying to prevent future problems.

- Wendy, I find it difficult commenting to people, who are not my clients. Unfortunately, I don't have enough details and background to give professional advice in those circumstances, so none of this should be considered as specific insurance advice, but I do hope that it has at least given you some direction. If I am able to be of any more help, please don't hesitate to contact me. (heehee – see how I snuck a second disclaimer in there)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Insure Blur - Episode #2

Although many direct writers of insurance (as opposed to independent insurance brokers) would like you to think that insurance is a simple thing to understand and anyone can understand it by themselves ("You pump your own gas, bag your own groceries….. why not buy your own insurance"….. Last time I checked, choosing the wrong gasoline or improperly bagging your groceries, didn’t put you at risk of not being covered in the event of a disaster, and losing hundreds to millions of dollars), it is not simple. There are many facts that I discover consumers are not aware of until it is too late.

So in an effort to educate our clients and all insurance clients in Ontario, Here is episode #2 of the Insure Blur series:

Your Automobile Insurance Coverage Changed in September 2010 - Did you Know?

There were some significant changes to car insurance in Ontario in September of last year.  It is a big deal and one that is discussed at length in the insurance industry.  We spent months preparing for it and rolling out information to clients.  It is for this reason that I am amazed when I talk to the general public, and they have no idea about the changes to their coverage.

The maximum amount available to you as an insured driver in Ontario, was in many cases decreased with these changes.  The reason is to try to minimize cost increases for most drivers.  The important part to understand though is that higher limits can be purchased, if they are required for your unique set of circumstances.

  • Not covered under an employee benefits program?
  •  Don't have family or someone who can look after housekeeping and maintenance if you are laid up after a car accident?
  • Have elderly parent's or young children who depend on you for care?
These are just a few of the circumstances in which you may want to consider buying increased limits.  Please talk to your broker and understand how these changes could affect you in the event of an accident and the options available to  protect you!

For a much more in-depth explanation of changes, please review the Auto Reform Guide on our website at http://www.rhodeswilliams.com/