Home Insurance Gotchas

A CBC story of a local woman, who was in Ottawa for Cancer treatment and got a rude surprise from her home insurance policy (when she got home), highlights the importance of reading your entire insurance policy and understanding all of the “ins and outs” of your policy.

The lady was in Ottawa for cancer treatment, and left a neighbour to check her mail, but the neighbour never went into the house. Since the poor woman was undergoing cancer treatment, she was away from her home for more than three days, and unfortunately her furnace “scrammed” (i.e. turned off, to protect itself), the house froze, the pipes exploded and her insurance company is now saying, she is not covered. Sounds awful doesn’t it, but the same thing is true of your home policy as well, go read it and you will see that if you are away from your home for a period of 2 days or more (especially in the winter) if no one checks your house, any damage done to your home is your own responsibility.

Home Insurance

Home Insurance is Important, but if it doesn’t pay out, that is a bad thing

The CBC was also kind enough to post a good article 6 Big Home insurance Misconceptions, that is well worth reading, but I will paraphrase some of the areas they cover in their article.

  • Rare or exceptional things in your house are covered under your insurance. No, unless you have told your insurance company about art, jewelry, or other cool things, your fancy things may not be covered under your home insurance policy. If you tell them, they will most likely raise your rates, but at least you will be covered.
  • Sewer backups, floods, earthquakes and maybe even forest fires are covered. Maybe, but you had better see that they are explicitly mentioned in your policy (yes read your entire policy). If they are not mentioned, ask your insurance provider the exact question, to ensure you are in fact covered, or you may get a rude surprise. Basement sewer backups were covered, but not necessarily any more. Will the city pay? If they think it is their fault, maybe.
  • If you are not taking care of your house, and that neglect causes damage to your house (and it can be proven), you might end up paying for the damage yourself. Keep your property well maintained.
  • Did you upgrade your house? Did you finish the basement, and did you tell your insurer it is now “finished”? If you added a room, is your insurer aware of it? If the answer is “no”, do you think they will pay out? They might, but it is better to be clear with your insurer, than hope they do something out of the goodness of their hearts™.


Also remember with home insurance, 3 Strikes and You are Out, so careful what you make a claim on (as well). Check with your insurer, and read your policy closely.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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