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Written By Taras Trofimov


Home insurance in B.C.

In B.C., having home insurance coverage is not mandatory. But if you purchase your home with the help of a mortgage, your lender may require you to have adequate home insurance coverage to protect the collateral. Having home insurance coverage in general is a smart choice, as your home is most likely going to be one of your biggest investments.

Home insurance allows you to be ready for any sudden home-related costs caused by a variety of factors such as natural disasters, fire, theft, injuries etc. which can be expensive and may put your assets at risk when lawsuits and bills pile on. You don’t want to be solely responsible for the cost of repairs, displacement bills and liability claims, when they can be easily covered by an insurer. Your premiums are a small price to pay for such coverage, as you’ll be covered for a variety of risks. Best of all, you can choose to customize your policy according to your personal home insurance needs.

Common risk factors homeowners face in B.C.

Most B.C. homeowners are aware that the province is an earthquake prone zone, with Victoria and Vancouver being densely populated cities situated on two major tectonic plates. Offshore earthquakes also occur frequently.

Earthquakes can cause extensive property damage. Even weak tremors can severely impact the structure of your home, as well as damage its contents. Damage to the structure of your home is a very dangerous problem and you cannot avoid repairing it after it occurs. A weakened structure can lead to potential injuries or deaths. Having earthquake coverage is crucial if you are living within or near an earthquake prone area. Please note, earthquake coverage is usually offered as an add-on by most home insurance companies. Ask your insurer for more details on earthquake coverage.

Forest fires are also quite common in the province which is why most home insurance policies will cover such forms of unintentional fire damage. Vancouver Island, Kelowna and Penticton face a high risk from forest fires because of the close proximity to dense forest areas. If you reside in an area that faces a risk from frequent forest fires, check if your home insurance policy includes adequate fire coverage. You can always ask your home insurance provider about the most optimal policy coverage for your home.

Types of home insurance in B.C.

A standard home insurance policy in B.C. will include the following:

Property coverages

  1. Property: Property coverage is based on the overall replacement value of your home’s main dwelling and provides protection from common perils such as fire, theft and storms (perils specified in your policy). Please note that this amount is not the total market value of your home, but the replacement value. Exterior parts of your home such as a fence or driveways may require additional coverage. Ask your insurer for more information.
  2. Contents and personal property: This coverage includes your home’s contents such as laptops, furniture and appliances in case they get damaged, lost or stolen. Make sure the amount of this coverage matches the value of your belongings. You don’t want to have a policy figure that is too high or too low.
  3. Additional living expenses: If you or your family are temporarily displaced from your home due to extensive damages, additional living expenses coverage can help you claim temporary accommodation and food costs for that period.

Liability coverages

  1. Personal liability: Many home insurance policies, whether basic, broad or comprehensive, come with personal liability protection. This protects you from lawsuits and claims that may occur after someone suffers an injury on your property.
  2. Voluntary medical payments: Covers medical costs when a person suffers an injury on your property and requires necessary medical attention. Most insurers will pay out the specified amount for up to one year from the date of the accident.
  3. Voluntary property damage: Voluntary property damage coverage covers unintentional direct loss you cause to somebody's property, even though you are not legally liable to cover such damages. This can include situations such as accidently damaging a neighbor’s fence while mowing your lawn etc.

Add-ons to home insurance coverage in B.C.

Homeowners in B.C. can customize their home insurance coverage by including add-ons to increase their coverage. Here are the most common home insurance add-ons B.C. insurers provide:

  1. Overland water: This add-on covers damage occurring from overflowing water stemming from rivers, streams, lakes and thawing snow which enters your home, most commonly through your basement. Please note that not all insurers may offer this add-on.
  2. Sewer backup: This will protect you if a main sewer backs up and damages your home. To prevent such issues, you can install a backflow preventer in your home.
  3. Earthquake: If your home is situated in an earthquake prone zone, having this coverage is crucial because earthquake damage can be very costly to repair as it can greatly affect your property’s structure. Usually earthquake damage is not always covered by a standard home insurance policy, so make sure you add it to your policy.
  4. Mass evacuation: This add-on covers mass evacuation when disasters, such as wildfires or floods occur in your area. It will help pay for some of the temporarily displacement costs when you are evacuated from your home due to a disaster.
  5. Identity theft: Identity theft coverage covers the cost of replacing important personal ids and documents such as your driver’s license and passports when they are lost, stolen or misused.
  6. Lock replacement: This add-on covers the cost of replacing your house locks if they are damaged.

What a standard home insurance policy may not cover in B.C.

Your standard home insurance policy will not cover any of your property dues such as taxes or mortgage payments. Some insurance companies will also exclude coverage for natural disasters and/or outer structures built on your property. Carefully read your home insurance policy and ask your insurer for more information on policy exclusions.

What determines the cost of home insurance in B.C.?

B.C. insurance providers will look at the following factors to determine your insurance premium:

  1. Property type: Your home’s structure and size will directly impact your home insurance premium. For example, a semi-detached house involves includes more risk and liability because it is attached to another home.
  2. Credit score: Most insurers use credit scores to determine insurance premiums but please note that having a low credit score won’t negatively impact your premium. A great score, however can earn you a home insurance discount.
  3. Replacement cost: The replacement cost of your home affects your home insurance premium. This cost is estimated by calculating how much it would cost to rebuild your home and restore it to its previous state using similar materials. If you complete any home renovations, always inform your insurance company so the replacement cost can be updated to reflect the new changes.
  4. Location: The risk factors that come with your property’s location are taken into consideration by the home insurance provider when calculating premiums. This includes crime rates, proximity to fire hydrants, water sources, airports among other things.
  5. Internal construction: Your home’s construction affects your insurance premium. Old wirings and pipes can increase the cost as such old parts are more damage prone. Old wiring and fuse boxes can increase the risk of fire. Similarly, old lead pipes can burst during winter and cause extensive water damage. To avoid higher premiums due to old materials, try upgrading them.
  6. Roof: The age and condition of your roof influences the cost of your home insurance premium. An old or damaged roof will most likely increase the cost of your premium as it is more prone to leaks and further damage during the wet and cold months. Getting your roof professionally replaced or repaired will help you reduce your home insurance premium. Although they are quite expensive, metal roofs can be more resilient in the long run.
  7. Past claims history: Insurers usually pull up your claims history to determine your new home insurance premium. This includes looking at how many claims you’ve made in the last five-10 years. The more frequent or failed claims you have, the higher your insurance premium may be. Try asking for a claims forgiveness discount from your insurer.
  8. Pets: Having pets on your property can increase your liability, causing your insurance premium to go up. If you own an exotic and valuable pet, like a boa constrictor or fennec fox, they will further raise your premium.
  9. Special/commercial use: If you use a part of your home for a special or commercial purpose, it will raise your insurance premium. This includes Airbnb rentals, daycare rooms etc.
  10. Pool and other accessory dwellings: Additional structures and accessory dwellings such as a swimming pool or treehouse will increase your premium because they come with both an added risk and liability. If you have a pool on your property, you face the risk of people drowning or injuring themselves in it. To lessen this risk, you can have a fence installed around the pool and inform your insurer about the safety addition to slightly lower your premium. You can take similar measures with a treehouse and/or other added structures on your property.

How we get you a B.C. home insurance quote

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Frequently asked questions about home insurance in B.C.

Here’s everything you need to know about home insurance in B.C.

How do I save on home insurance in B.C.?

If you want to save money on home insurance, you shouldn’t go with the first rate you find. Try using an online marketplace like RATESDOTCA to find the best rate possible. You will also receive a discount if you bundle your home insurance policy with your auto insurance policy. Bundling can save you anywhere from 10-15% on your overall insurance premium. Ask your insurance provider for more details on insurance bundles.

Will I be charged if I switch home insurance providers?

If you decide to switch home insurance providers to reduce your premium or extend your coverage, you may be charged a cancellation fee by your existing provider. If you want to avoid paying such charges, try switching providers after your existing policy expires.

How is home insurance regulated in B.C.?

In B.C., home insurance is regulated by the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA). The BCFSA regulates both insurance companies and rate changes.

If I use my home as an Airbnb, does my home insurance cover it?

More and more people are now renting their home, or parts of their home out as a short-term Airbnb. If you decide to do so, ask your home insurance provider if your policy coverage applies to such rental use. Some policies become void when you use your home for such commercial purposes. You’ll be most likely required to purchase additional coverage for Airbnb usage. Please consult your insurance provider to learn the coverage options.

Is home insurance mandatory in B.C.?

As a B.C. homeowner, having home insurance coverage is not mandatory. But if your mortgage lender requires you to have home insurance as a condition for the loan, you will need to have a policy in place. Home insurance is highly recommended to have as its advantages outweigh the costs.

*Shoppers who obtained a home insurance quote on RATESDOTCA from January to December 2023 saved an average amount of $417. The average savings amount represents the difference between the shoppers’ average lowest quoted premium and the average of the second and third lowest quoted premiums generated by RATESDOTCA. Excludes tenant and condo insurance.

Taras Trofimov ,
Content Manager

Taras is a content manager at RATESDOTCA, specializing in home insurance. He has worked at the company for a year and has since collaborated with multiple experts to fully familiarize himself with the intricacies of the insurance industry.

He has over nine years of content marketing experience across multiple industries in B2B and B2C spaces. He has produced thought leadership content for organizations like Constellation Software, Facebook and Yellow Pages as well as outlets like Huffington Post and MSN Canada.

He has graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film Studies and has also studied Technical Communication at Seneca College – the co-op program that introduced him to the world of content marketing.

  • Home Insurance
  • Bachelor of Arts at York University

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