Depending on your policy, home insurance covers a broad range of risks or perils your dwelling may face. But sometimes, strange or unexpected things happen that may leave you wondering whether or not your policy covers the related damage. Life, after all, is unpredictable at times.
Here are a few things that have happened and how a home policy may cover them:
A vehicle crashes into your house
It sounds bizarre, but it happens. For example, a woman in London, Ontario, was driving while impaired when she lost control of her vehicle and smashed into a home. The crash caused a fire to the dwelling that left about $800,000 in damages. In this instance, the driver is at-fault for the crash, and her auto policy’s third-party liability coverage pays for damages to the home up to that policy’s limit. After that, the homeowner’s policy kicks in to pay for the remaining costs provided you have an all-perils policy.
Lightning strikes your house
If lightning strikes your house and ignites a fire as it did to two Ottawa residences last summer, most policies will cover the cost of damages resulting from it unless it is excluded. Whether the lightning strike triggers a fire, destroys your appliances or home’s electrical wiring, or injures anyone in the abode, a typical policy includes coverage for the dwelling, the contents of the home, and personal liability if someone is injured.
A tree falls onto your home
Suppose a windstorm causes a tree or branch from a tree to damage your home. If the tree is on your property, a standard policy covers falling objects including trees (but it does not include coverage for damages because of an earthquake, landslide, or snow slide; you need to purchase additional coverage for those perils). What if the tree that damaged your home is on a neighbour’s property? The same protection applies, only it’s your neighbour’s policy that is subject to cover the cost of the damage as part of its insured perils.
Wildlife damages your home
Different kinds of wildlife can potentially wreak havoc on a home. According to All Wildlife Removal and Pest Control, the most severe damage caused by wildlife includes ruined insulation, frayed wiring, damaged pipes, as well as structural damage to the home and roof. However, home insurance policies might exclude damage caused by vermin that find a way into your home, such as racoons, squirrels, or mice.
Someone slips, falls, and is injured on your property
Winter is upon us, and that ups the chances of someone visiting your home or walking past your property slipping on ice and injuring themselves. You could be held liable for that if you don’t provide a reasonable standard of care to keep your property free from hazards like ice and snow, debris on walking paths such as wet leaves, or even cracks or gaps on your property or the sidewalk. That’s why it’s important to take steps to prevent someone from falling and getting hurt. Should it happen, though, your policy’s third-party liability coverage comes into play. It will cover the cost if someone is injured on your property up to the policy’s limit.
Your pet triggers a flood inside your home
Many Canadian families are pet owners. According to the Canadian Animal Health Institute, 8.3 million cats live in approximately 37% of Canadian homes, and 8.2 million dogs live in 41% of Canadian households. One cat owner in the U.K. came home to find her cat, which learned how to turn on the sink faucet in the bathroom, plugged the drain, in turn, triggering a flood. While a standard home policy usually covers internal flooding damage to a house, it is unlikely to pay for damages your dog or cat caused since you are responsible for that animal’s behaviour.
Your dog bites someone on your property
If you’re a dog owner and fido decides to bite someone on your property, or while you’re taking it for a walk, your policy’s third-party liability coverage will cover you if that individual sues for damages. But check with your broker since some breeds of dogs may not be covered.
A golfer damages a home or injures someone
Let’s say you’re an avid golfer and you decide to practice your shot in the backyard. Unintentionally, you slice the ball, or it hooks in the wrong direction, and it sails over the property line, shattering a window on your neighbour’s house or plunking your neighbour on the head. Here’s the good news: your policy’s third-party liability coverage will pay for damages you caused to the property next door or your neighbour’s medical bill (it also covers you should a similar event occur while you’re on a golf course). The bad news? Your neighbour thinks you’re a terrible golfer and may be quite sore about it. Friendly tip: stick to putting practice in the backyard and head to a driving range to work on your swing.
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Airplane parts fall onto your house
Imagine relaxing at home when a piece of an airplane crashes through the roof. That’s what happened to an Ottawa-area woman when a chunk of frozen sewage from a passing aircraft punched a hole through hers, causing significant damage. Thankfully, no one was injured, and a standard home insurance policy covers damage to the dwelling, including protection for damage resulting from aircraft.
Water leaks from your condo into another unit
If you own a condominium, have condo insurance, and a water leak originating in your unit damages your neighbour’s unit below yours, many factors come into play. For instance, are you at-fault for the incident? Does the water damage extend to other units or common areas in the building? And was the source of the leak an appliance or a pipe in the wall?
In any condominium building, two types of policies exist:
- The master policy, which is obtained by the corporation managing the building to cover its common areas, infrastructure, and the ‘as-built’ interior of your unit.
- The unit owner’s policy (that’s you) which insures any upgrades you make, your possessions, and provides you with third-party liability coverage.
Assuming you have been proactive maintaining your unit to prevent any possible damages from happening, a standard condo insurance policy typically covers the cost of flooding due to burst pipes or a leaking appliance. For water damage resulting from a sewer backup or an overland flood, you will need to purchase additional coverage.
A tenant sets a condo you rent to them on fire
Do you own a condo unit that you lease or rent to a tenant? Suppose you do. If you lease or rent a condo unit to a tenant, there are two types of coverage you may need to add to or enhance your condo policy with to ensure you’re protected. One is known as “Additional Living Expenses and Fair Rental Value” that protects your rental income if the unit becomes uninhabitable.
The other has to do with protecting the unit if, for example, the tenant causes a fire that damages it, and possibly, neighbouring units. That may require upping your replacement value and liability coverages for a rental property. Moreover, what if your tenant is growing or smoking cannabis in your unit? That raises the stakes significantly since it means a higher (no pun intended) probability of fire, and an increased risk of mould. Have a chat with your insurer before renting out your unit and leave no stone (again, no pun intended) unturned.
How is home insurance calculated in Canada?
Insurance companies consider multiple factors when determining what your home policy premium is. Different insurers’ rating factors may vary. To ensure you’re getting the right level of protection you need that meets your budget, take a few minutes to compare policies and premiums to find your best option.