Frequently Asked Questions

Auto

There is no hard-and-fast rule about this. Each driver's circumstances are different. Liability insurance is mandatory, but you can adjust the level to make sure your needs are met.

Liability insurance covers the cost of damages (for accident benefits, medical costs, lawsuits and awards) in the event of personal injury or death from an accident involving the insured party.

In other words, you are financially protected if you are held liable for an injury or loss by others arising from the operation of your vehicle.

Many Canadian provinces have some level of no-fault insurance in which each person's own insurance company pays for injury or damage up to a certain limit. This applies regardless of whether or not the insured person was at fault.

In Quebec and Manitoba, for example, there is a pure no-fault.

In Ontario, however, there is a threshold system in which the no-fault clause only applies up to a certain threshold of liability.

If you are involved in an accident and injured, your own insurance covers the associated costs of treatment, living expenses, loss of work and pain and suffering. This means injuries that are not "serious and permanent" are covered by your own insurance.

Your insurance also covers the associated costs of treatment, living expenses, loss of work and dependent care.

The recommended level of liability insurance coverage is usually about $1 million.

There are some situations in which you might want to increase your liability limit depending on the use of your vehicle.

  • If you drive into the U.S. on a regular basis, where liability settlements are generally higher than in Canada, you might want to consider higher coverage.
  • If you carpool to work or drive groups of children in your car to school or after-school events, you might want to increase your coverage to reflect the higher risks to which you are exposed.

Every policy is different, but there are some common situations to be aware of.

Your vehicle insurance policy likely has some flexibility built in to ensure you are covered in different situations.

Ask your Southland broker for more information about liability insurance and how to obtain the right level of coverage.

If you drive a rented car or any vehicle that is not owned by you, your existing policy automatically extends accident benefits and third party liability coverage to your rented car. These limits are the same as those on your own car.

You can purchase additional coverage by way of an annual endorsement to your own policy that provides physical damage insurance for any rented vehicle during the policy term. It is important to note that this endorsement usually has a limit of $50,000.

So, if you rent a luxury car, you should be aware that the cost of repairs is limited.

This endorsement is simple to arrange and far more economical than the costly damage waivers offered by the rental companies.

Your insurance applies if you take your car on short trips to other provinces or into the continental U.S., as long as you engage in normal use of the vehicle.

If you are relocating long-term or permanently, you must inform your insurer and arrange for new coverage that reflects the risks in your new location.

Under most insurance policies, you are not entitled to a replacement vehicle while your car is in the shop for normal maintenance or repair. If you lose the use of your car because of an accident, then you might be entitled to a loaned vehicle depending on the situation.

If you borrow someone else's car, you are covered by the insurance on that car. However, if you are involved in an accident, the owner's record, not yours, will be affected. If you borrow a car on a regular basis, ask your Southland broker to arrange a special clause in your policy to cover your use.

Remember that when someone else is driving your car, you are still responsible for it. Any at-fault accidents or claims will go onto your driving record and affect your future premiums.

Ask your Southland broker for more information about liability and how to obtain the right level of coverage.

  • Avoid car accidents by driving defensively and never while impaired
  • Install an anti-theft system
  • Never leave valuables in the car
  • Keep your driving record clean

Home

Take the time to ensure that your most precious things are protected.

Most policies limit payments for certain items and categories

It is common practice for policies that cover personal property to have special limits on the amount that will be covered for specific items or items within specific categories.

If you require the full replacement or market value to be insured, you will have to arrange for additional insurance and pay the appropriate premiums.

The rationale behind this practice is to ensure that everyone is provided with a base level of insurance at reasonable rates and those with high value items cover their own extra costs. Examples include:

  • Jewelry, watches, gems and furs
  • Coin collections
  • Silver and gold ware
  • Money or bullion
  • Business property

A thorough home inventory will tell you where you stand

One of the best ways to know if your belongings are covered is to do a complete inventory of your contents and review it with your Southland broker.

A home inventory will help you itemize your property if you need to make a claim, and it is a good way to test if your overall policy limits are adequate.

You should include a list of contents, a brief description or photograph and an estimate of the replacement value of each item.

Consider making a video of your rooms, cupboards and shelves and store it off-site. You can also take advantage of inventory tools such as the Southland Home Inventory Form available online.

With a professional appraisal, you can arrange the extra insurance you need

If you have high value items that exceed the limits in your policy and you want to have them separately insured, you will probably need to have the items valued by a professional appraiser so that you know what limits of coverage to purchase.

Depending on the type of property and how much information you can provide, an estimate of value can be determined. There is a fee for this service.

Knowing the value of the contents of your home is vital to being properly insured. Your Southland broker can help you find the tools and resources you need.

The short answer is "Yes." The best way to know what is covered is to talk to your Southland broker.

More and more people are starting home-based businesses, for everything from marketing homemade products to keeping a home office for a consulting business.

From an insurer's perspective, this adds new types of risk to your home, and therefore, may require additional insurance.

Residential policies provide limited coverage on business property

Anything you use in running your home-based business is subject to the limits of insurance and/or might not be covered at all.

Be aware that:

  • Dollar limits apply on business property, computer and software. This limit might be as low as $2,000 in total, which would not cover even the most basic home office.
  • Your policy might completely exclude any special equipment that you keep in your home for business purposes.

Items that are covered for business use are only covered while in the home. So, for example, if the computer you use for your home-based business is stolen while on a trip, it will not be covered.

Some home businesses may require added liability insurance

The operation of your home-based business might mean that you have more people coming and going, and therefore, more risk associated with the activities in your home.

If this is the case, not only will a basic liability limit of one million dollars likely not cover you, but also, some insurers might refuse to cover a third party claim by a customer or employee who is injured in your home.

If you think this situation applies to you, be sure to tell your Southland broker about your home business and make sure your insurance company is made aware of your home-based business activities.

Your Southland broker can tell you more about the basics of insurance and can help you make sure your needs are covered.

Make sure you purchase a policy that reflects the unique qualities of your home, its contents and the people who live there.

Your home should be insured from the moment you take legal ownership-even if it is under construction. Your Southland broker's expertise is particularly useful at this stage when you really need to match policy features with needs.

Here's a primer to get you started:

Home insurance covers the building, its contents and liability

There are usually three parts to your homeowner's policy. For condominium owners and tenants, just the contents and liability coverages apply:

  1. Building insurance covers the main dwelling, garage and any out buildings.
  2. Contents insurance covers the cost of replacing furniture, carpets and personal possessions. Valuables such as art, jewels and furs may require additional coverage. Note that most contents are insured even outside the home, for example, if stolen while you are on a trip.
  3. Liability policies insure against the costs incurred if, due to negligence, you are held responsible for an act causing injury or property damage to others. Policies range from offering comprehensive to "bare-bones" coverage

You can save money by scaling down your policy, but be careful not to underinsure. Basically, there are two common types of protection.

  1. Named Perils coverage provides coverage for specific basic perils outlined in the policy. This coverage is usually less expensive, but places more risk to financial loss on you.
  2. All Risks coverage provides you broader coverage for normal risks to which your home exposes, except those which are specifically excluded, such as acts of terrorism or flooding.

There are three general policy categories from which to choose:

  1. Basic/Named Perils policies which is the most basic policy you can buy, providing "Named Perils" coverage only for both your home/outbuildings and its contents.
  2. Broad Form policies provide slightly broader protection, offering "All Risks" coverage on your home and outbuildings and "Named Perils" coverage on your contents.
  3. Comprehensive policies provide the most thorough coverage available by offering "All Risks" coverage for your home/outbuildings and also your contents.

Regardless of which policy you select, some coverages can be increased and certain items insured separately. Your Southland broker will be happy to sit down with you to review your coverage needs.

Ask your Southland broker to explain your options, and to help assess what's best for you.

Your insurer considers an unoccupied dwelling riskier than an occupied one.

Depending on how long you are away from your home, you need to make arrangements to ensure your dwelling is checked regularly, especially through the heating season. In some circumstances, you may need to inform your insurer.

When away for a short time

If you will be away from your home for fewer than 30 days, you do not need to inform your insurer. However, you do need to arrange for a competent person to look in on your home everyday or two to make sure that everything is in good order. If a deep freeze and/or a broken furnace results in exploding pipes and water damage that goes unnoticed for several days, your insurer could refuse to cover the costs if no one was looking in on the house.

For longer absences

If you are away for more than 30 days, your home is considered "unoccupied" because you plan to return. In this case, you should contact your Southland broker to determine whether you will need to inform your insurer and obtain a special permit to leave the house empty.

You will still need to arrange regular checks on the property, and you might want to consider draining water pipes and installing a good security alarm system.

If the property is empty

A fully vacant property is one with no occupants and no contents. This may occur if a house sale is delayed and the property remains vacant until sold. In this case, you need to obtain a vacancy permit from your insurer. This permit will maintain most of your coverage, except for risks associated with vacancy such as broken water pipes, broken glass or vandalism. These permits can be obtained for up to three months.

Before you leave your dwelling unoccupied, check with your Southland broker to be sure that you are covered.

In your home

  • Consider a home security system
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Clear the snow and ice off your walk
  • Install good quality locks on your doors and windows

These are just a few examples of ways in which lowering the risk can mean lowering the cost to you.

Ask your Southland broker for more information about how to keep your premiums under control without compromising on coverage.

General

Four good reasons to insure

In some cases, insurance is mandatory to obtain a mortgage, for example, or to drive a car. Otherwise, the choice is yours. Here are four reasons why it’s a good idea:

  • Reduces worry. With the right type and amount of insurance, you can be protected from the risks to property and person that are inherent in everyday life.
  • Makes it easier to obtain credit. Lenders may be more willing to extend personal or commercial credit if they know that proper insurance is in place.
  • Helps to prevent loss. Southland brokers and insurers work to help prevent loss with information and advice on road safety, anti-theft, fire prevention and fraud reduction.
  • Frees up capital. Because insurance protects your assets, you do not have to put money aside in case of future losses. This security applies to individuals and businesses.

In addition to life and health insurance, there are three main types of property and casualty insurance in Canada:

  • Automobile insurance whereby vehicles and their equipment are covered in cases of accidents and theft.
  • Property insurance in which home and business assets and property are protected from perils such as fire, theft and accidental damage.
  • Liability insurance that protects people who are responsible for injuries or damages to third parties.

Two key players: your insurer and your Southland broker

Insurance is sold in a number of ways, some of which make it easier for customers to get objective advice and rapid service.

Some insurance companies will sell directly to customers through their sales forces or agencies. Southland brokers, on the other hand, are not tied to any one company, but are independent advisors whose best interest is long term customer satisfaction.

Southland brokers can comparison shop across insurance companies to find good rates or special insurance products and assist in assessing your risk.

Your Southland broker can tell you more about the basics of insurance in order to make sure your needs are covered.

Alert your Southland broker as soon as practically possible

If there is any danger or ongoing damage occurring, your first priority should be to insure your safety and limit the damage to your property. At that point, you should take care to act quickly and with the right information.

  • Alert your Southland broker and your insurer of an insured loss as soon as your situation permits
  • Keep phone numbers available
  • Alert the police of any theft or break-in

Do not alter evidence of the loss, for example, by starting to clean up after a pipe bursts or altering the scene of a break-in. If you absolutely must alter anything, take detailed pictures of the damage first

Consider whether or not you should make a claim

First things first – should you make a claim? There are some situations in which you shouldn't and your Southland broker can help you decide.

  • Is it covered? Remember that your policy has limits and exclusions that mean some losses are not covered. Property belonging to your employer, for example, is probably not covered. Damage from a fire that was set intentionally might not be covered, and theft of a valuable painting could be beyond your insurance limit. Is it covered? Ask your Southland broker first.
  • If the loss is less than the amount of your deductible, then you cannot make a claim.

If your loss is covered and above the amount of your deductible, you might still not want to make a claim if your premiums will increase as a result. Again, ask your Southland broker for advice.

Work with your Southland broker and the claims adjuster

Once your claim has been made, the insurance company may appoint an adjuster to get a clear picture of the circumstances and extent of the loss. They may assist in securing repairs and can help with arrangements for accommodations. They might also decide to limit the amount of a payment or to not pay at all - depending on the situation.

If you are unsure about the role of your adjuster and the information they are using, be sure to contact your Southland broker who can help bring clarity to the situation.

Your Southland broker can help you with every step of the claims process.

Southland brokers can help find ways to control your premiums and still get the coverage you need.

No one likes to pay insurance premiums, so any chance to control or reduce cost is welcome.

Your Southland broker can help you minimize premiums by helping to define your insurance needs and by shopping around for the best policy.

Under-insure and you might be left carrying the cost of damage, theft or loss of property.

Over-insure and you will be paying more than you have to.

Your Southland broker can help you find the right balance by examining your assets, your risk profile and your insurance history.

They can also alert you to choices that could reduce your insurance costs such as installing an alarm system in your home.

Set deductible and liability levels right

One way to control your premiums is to set a higher deductible, which means you accept more risk for covering small losses.

Insurers tend to have deductibles ranging from $300 to $1,000.

Ask your Southland broker to explain the cost implications of different deductibles.

If you drive in the U.S., you might want to consider higher liability coverage due to the higher levels of personal injury awards in that country.

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