10 changes your home insurance company needs to know about
From making your final mortgage payment to starting a home-based business, there are certain changes you need to share with your insurer to make sure you have the right coverage and you’re paying the right price. It’s important to note many changes affect your risk level in different ways, so failing to share them with your insurer could lead to a denied claim or even a cancelled policy down the road – so it’s always best to go for full disclosure.
If you’re planning on making any of these changes to your home (or even if you’ve already made a change but haven’t yet reported it), contact your home insurance broker or your insurer and let them know:
Paying off your mortgage. When you have a mortgage, you’re typically required to add your mortgage lender as a loss payee on your home insurance policy. If you no longer have a mortgage on your property, your insurer needs to remove your old mortgage lender from your policy. Being mortgage-free may also qualify you for a discount on your home insurance.
Getting a new roof. Damage to your roof can lead to leaky ceilings, dangerous mould, and even structural damage to other areas of your home – so it’s important to regularly inspect your roof and replace it when necessary. Replacing your roof could reduce your risk of experiencing certain types of home insurance claims, so it could also lead to a reduction in your premium.
Planning for a major renovation. While there are many types of renovations that won’t typically affect your home insurance (like painting walls or changing carpets), others could impact your premium or compromise your coverage (like structural changes, for example). Plus, if you’re planning to move out while your home is being renovated, there may be special changes in coverage you need to know about ahead of time. Reach out to your broker before you get started.
Renting out your home or part of your home. Whether you take on a permanent renter or list part or all of your home as a short-term rental, you’ll need to make sure your insurer knows. Depending on the situation, you may be required to modify your existing home insurance policy or purchase a dedicated landlord insurance policy to make sure you’re fully protected.
Taking an extended vacation. If you’re going to be away for longer than a couple of weeks, your insurance company will likely have specific rules that outline measures you’ll need to take when you’re gone (like how often you’ll need to have someone come in and inspect your home, for example). Review your policy to find out what’s required, let your broker or insurer know how long you’ll be away.
Getting a pool or hot tub. Adding a pool or hot tub to your yard increases the risk that someone may get injured while on your property. Your insurance company may require you to add a specific to your policy stating that you’ll be covered for incidents related to the pool. Even if this type of endorsement isn’t required by your insurer, it’s still a good idea to make sure your third-party liability coverage limit is high enough to protect you in the event of an incident.
Making a big purchase or receiving a valuable gift. Most home insurance policies list special limits or exclusions for big-ticket items like jewelry, bicycles, fur items, fine art, and collectibles. If you buy or receive an item that exceeds the relevant limit in your policy or an item that’s excluded from your policy, contact your broker to find out how you can get the coverage you need.
Installing a new heating system. Updating or changing your home’s heating system could affect your insurance, so it’s important to consult your insurer beforehand. Certain types of heating systems (like wood stoves and pellet stoves, for example) may come with a higher risk of fire or other issues, which could affect the cost of your insurance or even your eligibility for coverage. Other heating systems could lower your risk and lead to a reduction in your premium.
Getting married or having a partner move in. Not only will you likely have a lot more stuff to insure after someone else moves in, but your insurer may also require you to name your partner or spouse on your home insurance policy. Depending on your insurer, there are a few other factors that might come into play if you aren’t married to your partner when they move in (like the amount of time you’ve been together and whether or not they’re paying rent), so it’s best to contact your broker to make sure you’re both protected.
Starting a home-based business. Whether you’re planning on starting a home-based accounting business or selling mittens made from recycled sweaters, it’s important to know you’ll be covered if the unexpected happens. Depending on the type of business you plan to launch, you might be able to add a home-based business endorsement to your home insurance policy – but in some cases, you may need a dedicated commercial insurance policy.
While these are some of the most common things you need to share with your home insurer, each company will have its own unique requirements when it comes to disclosing changes. If you’re not sure whether or not something needs to be reported, it’s worth contacting your broker just to be safe.
Source: Stephanie Fereiro for economical.com