What is depreciation?
Depreciation is based on the number of years during which an asset has been used. Depreciation varies based on the asset category and factors such as the condition of the item, its resale value, normal lifespan, etc.
Do an inventory
Go around your house with a camera and videotape all your personal assets such as stereo systems and TVs, including alarm clocks, computers, microwaves, and any valuable item or piece of furniture. Once you have completed an inventory of the contents of your home, give a copy of the videotape to someone you trust (an audio recording, and regular or digital photographs will also do). This is a simple and practical way of keeping your list of belongings up to date. Update the list every year.
Assess the value of your collections
Do you collect stamps? Works of art? Bicycles? Precision tools? Even if your home is not full of “collector’s items,” the values of your belongings may well exceed the amount of insurance coverage. It is important that your broker is aware of it, so that your belongings are adequately protected. Keep your inventory up to date, keep your broker abreast of any major purchases, and determine whether you have enough insurance. Some insurance policies are more flexible than others. Some can be adjusted based on your preferences in order to add your secondary residence, a leased property, or even a boat.
Marking your belongings
Several items that have been stolen and are subsequently recovered by police are never returned to their owners since there is no way of determining who they belong to. Engrave your name or an ID number on valuables such as tablets, DVD players, TVs, computers, laptops, tools, bicycles, etc. We recommend that you engrave the ID in two locations: one that is visible and the other hidden. Next, consider placing warning stickers on your doors and windows to deter burglars.
While you are away – Make your house look occupied
If you are going on vacation or on a business trip for a few days, don’t advertise it! Make sure that your house, apartment or condo looks occupied. Use timers to switch the lights and radio on and off at different times of the day and night. Ask a neighbour or friend to switch your lights on and off from time to time, or mow the lawn, as well as pick up your flyers and mail. Cancel your newspaper subscription when you expect to be away for an extended period of time.
Fires – Think about the unthinkable
- Regularly conduct fire evacuation drills.
- Know where the exits are in each room and determine an outdoor meeting place.
- Make sure the phone number for the Fire Department is on hand.
- Never remove the battery in the smoke detector for any reason.
- Replace the smoke detector every five years.
- Don’t leave any matches or lighters in reach of children.
- Don’t overload electrical outlets.
- Never use the BBQ or any propane gas equipment inside the house.
- Don’t leave oil in a pan on the stove burner.
- Keep the top of the stove and burners clean.
Source: Canada Safety Council
Types of smoke alarms
Look for the ULC label that certifies that the product meets Canadian standards. Smoke alarms can work on electricity, battery or both. Don’t forget that they have a limited lifespan. Ionization smoke alarms are usually triggered as soon as there are flames. They are more suited to rooms with a lot of combustible materials. Optical smoke alarms are usually triggered as soon as a fire begins to smolder, and those installed near the kitchen are less likely to trigger false alarms.
For maximum protection, install at least one ionization smoke alarm and one optical smoke alarm on each floor of your house. The term smoke detector is usually used for a system connected to a central system.
Fire alarm systems – Safety measures
- Install a smoke alarm on each floor. In apartments and in bungalows, install a device next to the kitchen and each bedroom.
- Make sure that everyone in the household is familiar with the sound the smoke alarm makes and knows what to do in case of a fire.
- Never remove the battery in the smoke alarm for any reason.
Fire alarm systems – Maintenance
Replace smoke alarms at least every five years and do regular maintenance on them. Clean the inside of the smoke alarm every six months since any obstructions may prevent it from working, even if the batteries are still good. Clean smoke alarms more often if there are smokers in the house. Replace the batteries every year, or when the smoke alarm makes intermittent beeping sounds. Test the smoke alarm once a month by pressing on the test button.
If the power supply is not working, check the fuse and try it again. If any of these types of smoke alarms doesn’t work, replace the device.
Source: Canada Safety Council
Identity theft: Take it seriously!
Identity theft consists in stealing or hijacking a person’s identity for the purpose of using it for gain. To illegally assume someone’s identity, the thief must obtain the person’s personal information through fraud or trickery. The information most often extracted and used includes the person’s name, address, date of birth, social insurance number, and mother’s maiden name. Once the identity thief has all this information, he or she is able to access the victim’s bank accounts and even open new accounts, do balance transfers, apply for loans or credit cards, make purchases, travel, etc.
Identity theft – Some tips to avoid becoming an easy target
By managing your personal information carefully and wisely, while being aware of the associated dangers, you reduce the risk of having your identity used for illicit purposes by another person. Here are some tips to ensure you are protected:
- Sign your credit cards as soon as you receive them and never leave them with anyone.
- Cancel any credit cards you are no longer using.
- Immediately report any lost or stolen credit cards as well as any unusual transactions appearing on your monthly statement to the credit card issuer.
- Pay careful attention to your monthly statements (e.g. credit cards, electricity and gas bills) and if you do not receive them on the usual date, contact the company in question to make sure they were not diverted to another address.
- Never leave any receipts at the ATM, bank, in trash cans or in a store.
- If you use the Internet, use technologies designed to protect your privacy and security, including digital signatures, encryption and services that allow you to remain anonymous.
- Take the time to destroy or shred any documents that you no longer need.
- Never divulge your social insurance number, date of birth, credit card numbers of personal identification number (PIN) to anyone on the phone or online, except if you know the person or initiated the call yourself.
- Pick up your mail as soon as it is delivered and do not leave it lying around at home or at work.
- Avoid writing down your PIN, social insurance number and passwords, and never keep this information in your wallet or purse.
- Destroy or shred pre-approved credit card applications, credit card receipts, bills and any other personal financial documents that you no longer need.
- Choose passwords that are difficult to guess, memorize them, and change them frequently.
- Avoid responding to mail-in or phone offers presented in the form of promotions or surveys that promise instant prizes. Their sole purpose is to collect personal information such as your credit card numbers.
Pools – Getting more for your money
Is getting insurance for your aboveground pool giving you a headache? Insurance coverage for aboveground pools can now be included at an additional cost. Certain damage is now included, such as damage caused by freezing and thawing. Get ready for summer and top-up your insurance coverage to avoid unpleasant surprises in the spring.
In case of damage, you are covered
Has your roof collapsed and caused damage to your neighbour’s property? You can rest easy with civil liability insurance in the amount of $2,000,000. This will allow you to cover the repairs to the neighbour’s property and even any associated legal costs.
An adequately insured condominium for your peace of mind
Whether you are a young adult looking to purchase a property without having to assume high property costs or someone older seeking a home that requires little maintenance, a condominium can prove to be the ideal living situation for you. Whatever your reasons for choosing this type of dwelling, you must carefully examine all insurance aspects related to your condominium.
Divided and undivided co-ownership
Co-ownership properties are usually divided (condos). When you purchase such a property, you own your unit and part of the common areas in the building. The condominium association must have insurance that usually covers the building and common areas. However, you must also personally take out home insurance to cover your personal belongings and the improvements made to your unit.
When choosing undivided co-ownership, you do not own the exclusive part of your unit but rather part of the whole building. In such a case, you must obtain home insurance that includes a separate amount for your personal belongings and furnishings, based on your situation.
Common areas vs. exclusive-use areas
When you purchase a condominium, you own a unit – the apartment you are living in – and a common area made up of the hallways, yard, parking lot, electrical ducts, etc. When any of these sustain damage, it is covered by the condo association’s insurance.
Your home insurance applies when improvements to your unit incur damage, when your personal belongings are affected, or if the condo association’s insurance is not adequate.
Find out about the condo association’s insurance
Is the coverage stipulated in the condo association’s insurance policy adequate? Does the declaration of co-ownership for the unit you are purchasing contain a compensation clause under which you can be held liable, as a condo owner, for any damage caused to common and/or exclusive-use areas? Make sure you are well informed, because these aspects affect the terms of the home insurance you are choosing for your condo.
Inform your insurer of any changes
If you make improvements to your unit, you must inform the company insuring your dwelling and its contents. In so doing, you will have peace of mind knowing that your unit and personal belongings are insured at their true value if ever they are damaged.
The importance of the declaration of co-ownership
Before purchasing a condo, make sure to look at the declaration of co-ownership. More than just a document, this contract contains important information on common and exclusive-use areas, along with the distribution of costs among the condo owners, including the cost of the building’s insurance.
Comfort and peace of mind... It’s priceless!
Improvements made to a home can increase its value by several thousand dollars. It is therefore important to make sure that you have adequate insurance coverage, which will enable you to return to the same level of comfort following damage to your property.
Have you recently:
- Remodelled your kitchen or bathroom?
- Changed the doors, windows, cladding or roof?
- Installed a fireplace or home theatre in your den?
- Added a garage to your home?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the value of your home and its contents could exceed the amount of your home insurance. Contact your insurance company to make sure you have adequate coverage and to preserve your peace of mind.
During the winter – Heating your dwelling safely
It’s natural to want to keep your home or dwelling warm during the winter. But to reduce the risk of a fire and protect your home, take the time to:
- Clear the chimney of any solid-fuel-fired equipment
- Inspect your oil-based heating system
- Clear snow around the gas metre and piping and identify it clearly so that you or the firefighters can easily access it in the event of an emergency
During the winter – Watch out for snow
During the winter, to prevent snow from becoming a hazard to your household and property, make sure to:
- Clear all doors, including those you use less often, since these can be useful emergency exits
- Clear the snow from and de-ice the walkways around your home
- Clear snow from car shelters and roofs
During the winter – Beware of water damage!
Even in the winter, water can seep into your home and cause damage. To avoid damage, worries and having to file insurance claims, make sure to:
- Clear snow next to windows and doors that are close to or below ground level
- Make sure that the gutters are not filled with ice, leaves or other debris.
Moving – 30-day period
In addition to your boxes, the notary and the movers, have you given thought to your home insurance? Have you thought about insuring both homes at the same time? In addition to the usual information (e.g. new address, mortgage lender, building dimensions, alarm system), the date of purchase of your home, date you take possession of the premises, date of your address change, your moving day, and period during which your belongings are being stored are all information that your insurer requires to make the necessary changes to your policy and provide you with adequate coverage, especially during the transitional period. Check whether your insurer can offer you a 30-day period to cover both homes at the same time. Several insurers allow this, with some adjustments, provided, of course, that you keep the same insurer for your new home.
Moving – Storing and moving your belongings
If you expect to be storing some of your belongings, even with a friend, during a certain time, ask your insurance company what this entails. Some insurers will provide you with the coverage you need, in particular against theft. Whether you are using professional movers or not, your personal belongings are covered by your home insurance while in transit to your new primary residence (provided it is located in Canada). Note, however, that when you incur a loss, the moving company’s insurer is responsible for covering the costs first, followed by your insurer, if the moving company does not have sufficient insurance.
Moving – Vacant home
If your previous home is for sale and no one is living in it, it is considered to be vacant. To prevent an increase in risk, your insurer must be informed of the situation as soon as possible because, unless a special agreement is made with the insurer, there is no coverage against damage while your residence is (to your knowledge) vacant for more than 30 days. Note that a newly built home – but one that you have not moved into yet – is also considered to be vacant. Lastly, a move is the ideal time to review your insurance coverage and change the names of the insured, such as for a new spouse or roommate. So don’t forget to add your insurance company to your long list of things to do!
Emergencies – An advisor available to talk to you and ready to take action
The time has come to take out home or automobile insurance and take advantage of the many benefits of the emergency claim service that comes with your coverage. In addition to confirming your insurance coverage, your advisor can provide you with support and advice to weather the emergency. He or she can also authorize certain expenses, such as hotel costs, clothing purchases, and travelling expenses. Lastly, the advisor will recommend contractors if you need to make emergency repairs following damage to your home. In addition, you will be given customized assistance in relation to your file. You will receive a letter following the damage outlining the procedure for making a claim and indicating the expert who is handling your file and who can be reached at any time.