Home Improvements That Can Impact Your Insurance

What Home Improvements Can Impact Your Insurance?

Do you have some Home Improvements that you have been putting off?  By making certain home improvements, you can protect your home value and may also lower your home insurance premium at the same time.

Although updating your flooring to hardwood floors, or master bedroom remodel would be nice, these home improvements will not impact your insurance the same way that re-roofing your house, updating your heating system, plumbing and electrical, or installing a sump pump can.

In some cases, these kinds of home improvement projects are inexpensive compared to their significant positive outcomes: Improving your home's value and receiving a preferred policy premium. Our homes are among the single most important investment most of us ever make. It's a place for family and friends, relaxing and enjoying life. It makes sense to invest in a home improvement project that pays dividends on value and insurance savings.

Our Morison Insurance brokers have suggested some home improvement projects that can not only keep your home in good repair but could also impact your insurance in a positive way.

Update Your Heating System

If your heating system is older and inefficient, insurers may be concerned about the risk of problems, such as breakdowns, that may result in claims. Higher risks translate into higher premiums, restricted coverage, and in some cased, you may find it difficult to find insurance coverage. Conversely, when risks are lower, you will receive preferred rates.

Although this improvement is a bit more costly, upgrading your home's heating system is a home renovation that can improve energy efficiency, reduce energy use and lower energy bills. As a homeowner, that's a win, win, win!

The cost of a new furnace varies. Factors such as the size of your dwelling, the brand of furnace you purchase, and installation costs are among those that impact the final price tag. Do you use gas, propane, electricity, oil? Switching from oil as a fuel source, for example, to another energy source, such as gas, may assist in lowering your policy premium.

It is also important to note that many providers may not provide coverage if you have an oil tank that is 20 to 25 or more years old. This is because the risk of rusting and other degradations may lead to leaks. Even the smallest of oil leaks, if not repaired, can result in significant spills. Oil leaks require environmental cleanup. Your insurer may also require that an oil tank is certified by Underwriters Laboratories of Canada or the Standards Council of Canada. Your insurance broker can provide professional advice if you have an oil tank.

Replace Your Roof

Many of us give very little thought to the roof over our heads. Your roof protects you and your family from rain, snow, even the ravages of sunshine. Further, many of us don't think about this constant significant wear and tear endured by our rooftops.

Replacing your roof is a home improvement project that can have the biggest impact on your homeowner's insurance coverage, and sometimes even premium. Insurers know that a roof in need of repair or replacement presents a substantial risk of water damage and, as a result, an increased likelihood of a claim. As mentioned previously, policy premiums may be higher when the risk of a claim is higher, and sometimes coverage may be restricted.

How old is your roof? What is its expected lifetime? Is your roof covered with asphalt shingles, steel, tile, or another material? A typical asphalt roof may last up to 20 years. After that, replacement is almost certainly necessary. Recognizing that each situation is different, we suggest doing a visual assessment and checking your home's exterior to see if your roof needs repairs. If needed, get advice from a roofing professional.

If you can see your roof when walking around your house, take a look. Has a tile moved or blown off? Are some shingles curling? These are signs of weathering that require attention. Worn or missing tiles can lead to leaks and should be repaired in a timely manner. If you can't see your roof well from the ground, you may need a professional to assess its condition.

Upgrade The Wiring In Your Home

Here's another - ok, let's say it - generally, on its face, banal topic: Your home's wiring (Not as fun as installing a new pool or doing a kitchen renovation). Electrical wiring is somewhere behind the walls, and, as long as it works, most of us don't give much thought to it. Wiring is, however, a discussion-worthy topic for any homeowner.

If you live in a newer house, you probably don't need to concern yourself with upgrading your wiring. Current building standards require home builders to follow established measures. However, if your home is older and the wiring has not been updated, it may present significant safety and insurance concerns.

Homes built in the 1950s or earlier may have knob and tube wiring, which increases the risk of fire. Over time the wiring, knobs, insulators and other materials degrade. In many cases, knob and tube wiring risks mean an insurance company will not insure a dwelling until the system is replaced with wiring that meets present-day requirements. We recommend speaking with your broker if you have knob and tube wiring to know more about the insurance requirements, upgrades that may be necessary and how this home improvement will impact your coverage and pricing.

If your dwelling has aluminum wiring which was used in the 1960s and '70s, this may also be a good wiring upgrade to consider. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario advises checking if aluminum wiring was installed correctly. Insurers may require confirmation of proper installation by a professional before providing you with coverage. Homes built today have copper wiring for its safety and durability.

Another consideration is the amperage, or level of electrical service, in your dwelling. Do you have a 60-amp service? Older homes may be limited to this level of service. The problem with 60-amp electrical service is that today's appliances and the number most of us have in our dwellings require greater amperage. If you are regularly blowing fuses or resetting the breaker on your electrical panel, you may need to upgrade your service. The risk of electrical fire is increased from overheating and overuse. Insurers are aware 60-amp service increases the risk of claims, and you can expect to pay a higher premium or be required to upgrade the service before insurance is provided. The standard for electrical service in homes built today is 100 amps. Due to size and electrical needs, some houses may even have 200-amp service. Discuss your situation with your broker, who can inform you how a service upgrade will impact your insurance coverage and costs.

Upgrade Your Home’s Plumbing

From an insurance standpoint, water damage is a significant risk when it comes to your home and its plumbing. If you have old pipes made of materials that may leak, this can increase the risk of water damage. These increased risks can mean higher premiums due to the greater probability of claims.

Older homes built in the 1950s or so may have galvanized steel pipes. Unfortunately, this material corrodes over time and can result in leaks. Homes built in the mid-1990s to late 2000s may have Kitec pipes made of polymer. Unfortunately, these pipes have been known to crack, leak or burst.

Due to these risks, insurers may require you to upgrade your plumbing system. For this reason, insurers may require the homeowner to replace galvanized or Kitecpipes with copper or plastic pipes, which are installed in homes built today.

Water leaks may occur due to clogs, corrosion, faulty connections and other issues. Leak detection devices can provide an extra layer of protection from damage due to water and are recommended by insurance providers. Devices that detect increased moisture and leaks alert you to these problems early so you can attend to them before they get worse. Some leak detection systems have an automatic shut-off valve to stop water leaks promptly.

Find out what plumbing material is in your house, and your broker will provide advice on insurance coverage and required upgrades.

Update Your Hot Water Tank

If your hot water tank is 15 years old or older, you may want to replace it because the likelihood of leaks and bursts increases over time. By installing a new hot water tank, you may qualify for a reduction in your insurance premium. If you install a tankless water heater, you further reduce your water damage risk because you don't have a large tank of water in your home.

Install A Back-Flow Valve Or Sump Pump

Back-flow valves and sump pumps can be worth their weight in gold when it comes to preventing water damage issues in your basement. They can also help you to save on your insurance.

A back-flow valve prevents sewer water from entering your dwelling when the city or municipal sewer lines are overfilled. Yes, super yucky! To keep sewer water out of your dwelling, install a back-flow valve. Insurance companies love these gadgets and will offer preferred pricing to homeowners with these valves. Similarly, having a sump pump can prevent water damage in your basement. These mitigate the risk of water problems, especially if these also have a battery-backup feature which means they will work even when hydro service is disrupted. This can help to reduce your insurance premium.

Install A Home Security System

Being safe and secure in our homes is essential to all of us. It's important to insurance providers, too, because the more secure your home, the lower the risk of break-ins that may lead to losses and claims.

Installing monitored alarms is a home improvement project that can not only increase your safety but can also reduce your insurance costs. Brokers can help you save money by applying discounts offered to homeowners with security systems. Depending on your home and property details and the type of security system you have, savings may be between 2%-15%. Many systems allow homeowners to review security in their homes remotely. In addition to alarms and sensors, video equipment can be installed by home security professionals.

Let Your Insurance Broker Know

Not only will these home improvements be a gold mine to prospective buyers and increase your home's resale value for when you sell in the future, but these repairs could help lower the cost of your insurance today. If you have made any home improvements, be sure to let your insurance broker know so that they can ensure your dwelling is properly protected and your policy is up-to-date. If you would like to learn more about other home improvements or money-saving discounts that could lower the cost of your insurance, speak with one of our Morison Insurance brokers today.

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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