A THIEF CAN STEAL YOUR CAR IN AS LITTLE AS TWO MINUTES. A SMASH AND GRAB ROBBERY CAN HAPPEN IN SECONDS. IF YOUR CAR HAS A GPS DEVICE WITH YOUR HOME ADDRESS PROGRAMMED INTO IT, A THIEF CAN ROB YOUR HOME TOO!
One recent story involved a car break-in at a local sporting event. The thieves targeted cars in the fan parking lot knowing the owners would be watching the big game. A window was smashed and some money, a portable GPS unit and a remote garage door opener were stolen.
The thieves used the GPS system to guide them to the house. Then they used the remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house. Since the thieves knew what time the game was scheduled to finish, they had tome to clean out the house.
Thieves are only interested in what’s quick and easy. If you make it hard for them to break in, they’ll just move on to the next target.
TIPS FOR YOUR CAR
If you have a portable GPS system or remote garage door opener, hide them well or take them with you when you leave the car.
If your GPS has a key or password lock, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t put your home address in it. Instead program a nearby address (like a store or gas station) so you can still find your way home if you need to, but a thief can’t find out where you live.
TIPS FOR YOUR HOME
Lock your doors. Even the best lock can’t protect you if you don’t use them.
Be seen and safe. Trim hedges and bushes so your home is visible from the street.
Know your neighbours. Neighbours who look out for each other are among the best, and least expensive, defence against crime.
Keep it well lit. Make sure all outside entrances-front, back and side-have good lighting so burglars can’t easily hide.
Install a monitored alarm system. An alarm provides great protection against burglary and fire, but only if you use it.
ON AUGUST 21, 2011, THE FIRST F3 TORNADO IN OVER 15 YEARS HIT THE LAKESIDE TOWN OF GODERICH, ONTARIO, CAUSING OVER $75 MILLION DOLLARS IN DAMAGE. LIKEWISE, ON JUNE 6, 2010, AN F2 TORNADO WENT FROM HARROW THROUGH KINGSVILLE AND LEAMINGTON, ONTARIO, BEFORE DISSIPATING NEAR POINT PELEE NATIONAL PARK, CAUSING $120 MILLION DOLLARS IN DAMAGE.
These tornadoes are a vivid reminder of the threat windstorms pose to life and property, as well as emphasize the importance of having the right insurance coverage.
No matter where you live, you need to have the right amount and type of insurance in order to recover financially after a natural disaster.
Across Canada, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan average the most tornadoes per season, at approximately 15, followed by Quebec with less than 10. New Brunswick and the interior of British Columbia are also recognized tornado zones. All other provinces and territories have significantly less threat from tornadoes. The peak season in Canada is in the summer months when clashing air masses move north, although tornadoes in Canada have occurred in spring, fall and in the rarest of cases, winter. This differs from the United States’ southern-central plains, when spring is the most prominent season for tornadoes.
For a variety of reasons, such as Canada’s lower population density and generally stronger housing construction, due to the colder climate, Canadian tornadoes have historically caused fewer fatalities than tornadoes in the United States.
The standard homeowners and business insurance policy covers wind damage including that caused by tornadoes to the structure of the building and contents including broken windows and removal of debris.
However, you should make sure your coverage limits reflect the cost of rebuilding the structure, removing the debris and fully replacing personal belongings.
It’s important to make sure you have purchased ‘replacement cost coverage’ on your business policy and your homeowners’ insurance policy. If you have a business policy, it is also important that you carry ‘blanket bylaws coverage’ on your policy.
A homeowners’ policy also provides ‘Additional Living Expense (ALE) coverage’ to pay the costs of living away from home if you cannot inhabit your house due to damage from an insured disaster.
The policy ALE provision covers hotel bills, restaurant bills, and other living expenses incurred while away from your home, while it is being repaired or rebuilt.
‘Guaranteed Replacement Cost (GRC)’ or ‘Additional Rebuilding Cost (ARC)’ is another homeowner’s insurance coverage that can provide extra coverage, over and above the limit you have on your home insurance policy.
For example, let’s say you have your home insured for $400,000 – a tornado destroys 200 homes in your area, and building costs and inflation cause the replacement of your home to be $450,000. The GRC and ARC coverage’s would pay this additional amount subject to the terms and conditions of your policy. Make sure you review these coverages with your broker.
If you own a business that has been damaged, ‘business interruption coverage insurance’ is important to make sure you have revenue to continue to make your payments when a tornado has impaired your business. There are many different forms of business interruption, and as a business owner, you should review this on a regular basis with your insurance broker.
Damage to cars, trailers, motor homes and ATV’s are covered under the ‘comprehensive optional coverage’ portion of the policy. Marine insurance policies will usually cover damage to boats from wind.
Please make sure you review your insurance policies with your insurance broker on a regular basis to make sure your assets don’t get blown away, should a Tornado destroy or damage your home and business. With changing weather patterns, your home could be the next target.
For more information on your coverage options, call your insurance broker.
WATER DAMAGE CLAIMS HAVE BECOME A BIG PROBLEM FOR CANADIAN HOMEOWNERS. REASONS FOR THE INCREASE CAN BE TRACED TO CLIMATE CHANGE, LIFESTYLE CHANGE AND AGEING INFRASTRUCTURE. MOST HOMEOWNER POLICIES COVER WATER DAMAGE THAT HAPPENS SUDDENLY AND ACCIDENTALLY, BUT MAY NOT COVER SEWER BACKUPS (WHERE SEPARATE COVERAGE IS NEEDED).
Slow leaks and water seepage that occur over time may also not be covered; quite often they’re considered home maintenance.
And if a flood happens from a local river swelling, you’re likely not covered for that either. So. What to do? Prevention! The first place to start is your sump pump. How old is it? When was the last time you checked it? To ensure it’s working properly, lift the cover and slowly pour water into the sump tank; watch for the float to rise and trigger the pump to activate. Once the water level is lowered, the pump should turn off. Additional tips:
The pipe that carries the water out of your house should be at least 2 meters from the building, and the water should flow away from your house
A battery backup is great to have in case of a power failure – make sure the battery is always fully charged
Remember to check your roof – is it reaching its best before time? If in doubt, have a professional roofer take a look
Make sure any belongings that are stored in your basement are placed in plastic bins located off the floor
If you’re converting your basement to a living area, use water resistant materials
What about lifestyle?
Things like dishwashers, hot tubs, hot water heaters, washing machines and water-dispensing fridges are all appliances that have the potential to leak.
Keep an eye on your water bill. If it seems it’s increasing without reason, check the hoses and connections to your appliances. If they’re plastic, consider changing them to CSA approved stainless steel braided hoses. And consider having someone take a look at your hot water heater – their life span is usually only ten years.
Need advice? Call in a professional for recommendations and ask your insurance broker to confirm what’s covered in your policy.
TIPS TO CONSIDER TO MAKE EACH EVENT SAGE AND ENJOYABLE FOR ALL
It’s that time of year again when everyone is planning for the warm weather, getting the barbeque out of storage and cleaning up the yard – all in preparation for fun-filled summer entertaining with family and friends.
When you host a party at your home, most of the planning focuses on ensuring there is enough food and beverages for everyone and the guests have a good time.
It is fair to say, however; that one of the key elements to any party is the ever-present consumption of alcohol. Both you, as the host, and the guests contribute to the alcoholic refreshments, so there is generally always plenty to go around.
When planning on hosting a summer party, we don’t often consider where our legal obligation begins and ends when it comes to monitoring our guests’ alcoholic consumption levels.
POINTS OF INTEREST:
Have you considered if one of your intoxicated guests leaves in a car and causes an accident?
Are you responsible for taking the keys, calling a cab or offering a bed for the night? Who should be held liable and pay for catastrophic injuries and deaths resulting from your guest’s impaired driving?
A socialhostmay be implicated in the creation of the risk to users of the road.This becomes more significant if the social host knows that an intoxicated guest is going to drive a car, and does not make reasonable efforts to prevent the guest from driving.
If you entertain frequently, consider talking with your broker about increasing your liability limits or adding a personal umbrella liability policy to your portfolio.
There are steps you can take to help minimize the risk to you and your guests. Here are just a few of the things you can do that will be taken into consideration should something unplanned happen:
Monitor the amount of alcohol distributed throughout the event
Take away the keys from someone that has had too much to drink
Arrange a cab ride for your guests
Offer your guests a bed for the evening
If you’re planning a party this summer, remember the duty of a social host is to take reasonable steps to ensure your intoxicated guests do not drive upon departure from your home.
Their safety and the safety of others is also your responsibility.
Vacations are a great way to relieve stress and get away for a while, but a call to your broker will ensure your trip goes smoothly and you don’t return home to unwanted surprises.
Step 1 – make sure your home is ready for vacation too.
Standard wording in a homeowner insurance policy limits coverage if you’re away over the winter months or “heating” season. The limitation relates to water in your pipes freezing, which could happen if your heating system also decides to take a few days off.
This coverage exclusion can easily be resolved in one of two ways: you can shut off the water supply to your home and drain your pipes; or you can have someone you trust enter your home every 24 hours to confirm your heating system is still operating. Make sure they can reach you, or are able to have the problem fixed on your behalf.
If you’ve chosen to turn off your water and have your pipes drained, you should be aware that toilets don’t completely drain of water. Try adding antifreeze to the bowls to prevent freezing should the temperature drop. Consider a marine antifreeze that’s ecologically friendly.
There’s no need to leave electronics plugged in while you’re away. Even if they’re attached to surge protectors, it’s still safer to unplug them.
To give your home that still lived-in look, you may want to leave a few things plugged into time-delayed sensors. But don’t stop there! Make sure your mail and newspapers are being picked up, or stop their delivery. You should also have snow removal (or lawn cutting) taken care of while you’re away.
Leave a spare key with a friend or neighbour, instead of hiding one around your front door. Same goes for the inside of the house – don’t hide your jewellery or valuables; store them in a safety deposit box.
Posting your beautiful vacation photos on social media alerts others that your home is empty. Even if the photos are intended only for friends, they can easily extend beyond this group. Share your pictures once you’re home!
Lastly, many people rent cars when they’re on vacation and needlessly pay for insurance coverage. You may be surprised to learn you’re already covered under your policy. If not, your broker can arrange it at a fraction of the cost of what rental agencies charge, and explain limits on vehicle types, values and locales.