Key Insurance Tips for Canadian Homebuyers
You just bought a home but before you think about paint colours and planning that house warming barbecue, there are some tips you should consider to prevent costly disasters.
“Buying a house is one of the most important investments you will ever make,” says Ian Wilson, Claims Innovation Director at RSA. “And although it's really easy to get caught up in the excitement, it's important to take the proper measures to keep that investment safe, particularly if you are buying an older home.”
Most people wouldn't consider buying a house without first having a home inspection done to uncover any hidden hazards or potential disasters lurking. But even a good inspection won't eliminate all risks.
RSA recommends the following tips:
• Replace all external locks –This should be an immediate action upon moving into your home. You never know who else has a spare key to your house.
• Oil tank maintenance- Oil tanks are very common in Atlantic Canada but less so elsewhere in the country. Oil tanks rust from the inside and the resulting damage can be extremely costly. As a homeowner you are responsible for the environmental clean-up of the soil and the water-course. Insurance companies generally won't insure a house with an external oil tank that is older than 10 years or an internal one that's much older than 15 years. It's wise to spend a few hundred dollars and install a fibreglass or plastic tank. Most of these have warranties of around 25 years.
• Check your roof and your eaves troughs- The home inspector will do this but if you bought the house while the roof was blanketed in a thick layer of snow, you may not get the full picture of its overall condition. Look out for curling shingles which may indicate an old and weathered roof that could leak. Make sure your gutters are secure and sloping toward the downspout without any dips or curves. All downspouts should also direct water away from your home's foundations. This will help prevent water from leaking into the basement.
• Mould- Often home inspectors can't access the attic or crawl spaces during the inspection, yet these areas can be sources of mould. Check your attic, crawl spaces and closets for mould. Signs include, a musty smell, water stains, swelling of the baseboards or white patches under carpets.
• Avoiding water damage - Sewer backups, burst pipes, and leaky foundations and roofs is a common cause of home insurance claims across Canada. Checking the state of your plumbing on a regular basis will help. Look at the water pipes and waste pipes which over time can wear out and need replacement. Consider installing a backwater valve in your basement. If your sewer unexpectedly backs up, it is designed to close automatically and helps you avoid a costly mess.
• Check your electrics - Look out for missing or faulty GFCI outlets (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter). GCFIs should be installed in external locations or internally where water is close by, such as in bathrooms and kitchens. They are equipped with a “test” button and they should trip, cutting off the electrical supply, when tested. If the GCFI doesn't trip, replace it. You could save a life.