Home insurance started out many years ago as a very simple policy that covered fire. Over the years insurance companies have added more coverage to their policies at the request of their customers. As more perils were covered insurance companies were challenged when determining whether a loss was covered or not. The industry came up with the solution that home insurance would cover everything, except for specific items & perils outlined in the policy. This is known as a comprehensive homeowners policy. These perils are known as policy exclusions, and they are very important to be aware of, as they dictate what is covered and what is not covered under your policy.
Here are some common homeowners exclusions in Ontario:
1) Earthquakes – this exclusion typically includes snow slides, landslides or earth movement (includes sinkholes). Most companies will allow you buy this coverage, but it is important to know that deductibles tend to be very high.
2) Damage caused by skunks, raccoons, birds, vermin, rodents, bats and insects. As an example a raccoon chews through the wiring in your home or carpenter ants eat through your roof.
3) Damage caused by wear & tear, defect, or lack of maintenance. As a homeowner it is your responsibility to keep your home in good condition. Insurance companies will not pay for claims resulting from poor maintenance. As an example, if the shingles on your roof have passed their life expectancy and are now leaking.
4) Intentional acts – The most common example is if you intentionally try to burn down your home there is no coverage under your policy.
5) Freezing in the unheated portion of your home – As an example if you have a pipe in your unheated garage that bursts there is no coverage. You should either add heat to your garage or ensure the pipe is fully drained during the winter.
6) Repeated leakage or seepage of water – In order for your policy to respond to damage something must have caused the damage, such as wind blowing shingles off your roof, or a tree falling on your home that causes water to leak. Insurance policies will not cover if there was no cause beyond wear and tear, or poor building quality.
7) Major Renovations – if you plan on doing a renovation to your home, you should check with your insurance company to make sure that your home will still be insured during the renovation.
8) Vacant – If you leave your home for 30 days with no intention to return you must let your insurance company know.
9) War, Nuclear, Terrorism – These risks are considered uninsurable, as damage from these perils would bankrupt the insurance companies. There are some government run programs that provide some relief.
10) Illegal activities – If you commit an illegal activity at your home you may have your claim denied. An example is growing more than four cannabis plants that causes a fire.
11) Commercial use – If you run a business from your home you must tell your insurer in order to be covered. As an example if you run a welding company from your garage and your house burns down, there is no coverage.
12) Sewer Backup, Flooding & Ground Water – If your toil Want to add a caption to this image? Click the Settings icon. ets back up or a flood occurs there is no coverage under your policy. Most companies now give you the option to buy coverage for these perils.
13) Mould, fungi, spores is not covered under most policies.
14) Bylaws – After a loss the city or municipality may require you to make updates to undamaged parts of your home before issuing the building permit. As an example the trusses on your roof may not be up to code and need to be replaced.
Although this list may seem long, it is important to remember what is not excluded under a comprehensive policy is covered. Most of the exclusions can be purchased back at your request and some just require approval by your insurance company in order to be covered. Every policy is different so it is best to ask for a copy of your policy wordings that will state what is covered and excluded under your policy.
It is important to note that this article deals purely with comprehensive homeowner’s policies and not other forms which may offer less coverage. If you are unsure of what type of policy you have, please contact your insurance company. If you are uncertain as to what may not be covered, or would like to discuss additional coverage, please contact your insurance broker.
If you have any questions please don’t be afraid to give us a call 905-623-4406 and let us help you.