Read Your Insurance Policies

It's important to read your insurance policy - Gibb Insurance Brokers AmherstburgEvery year insurance companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars sending out those home and auto insurance renewal packages that are called policy declaration sets, or “dec sets” for short.-

One wonders, why bother? Almost no one reads them; and even if you try they are filled with language and terms you can’t understand. Or worse, it seems that they will give you coverage for something in one place and then take it away in another. Let’s face it, all you’re really looking for is how much more, or less is it from last year?

There is an important reason to at least try to read all your insurance policies.

These “dec sets” spell out the amount of coverage your policy provides you with and they are the official method that your insurance carrier informs you of any changes that they have made to your policy since last year.

One very important section of the “dec set” that all homeowners should make themselves aware of is the amount of coverage they have for “sewer back up” or water damage. Coverage for flooded basements and other types of water damage are quickly becoming one of the most expensive claims items for your insurance company. Many companies are changing the amount of coverage they provide for these types of losses and if you do not read your “dec set” carefully, yours may have changed with little notice.

Imagine waking up to a flooded basement that will cost $50,000 to clean and repair only to find out you have $10,000 in coverage! Telling your insurance company that you didn’t realize it was so low will not help. They will say, “it is clearly spelled out in the policy declaration you received at your last renewal.”

Take the time today to review that policy, and if you don’t understand it make sure you call to find out how much coverage you have.

An even better idea is to call us at Gibb Insurance Brokers. We will sit down and review your policy with you to make sure you understand it and have it set up to meet your your need. We’d be pleased to hear from you, please call us at 519-736-8228.

Safe Keeping – Protecting Your Valuables

In part one of ‘Safe Keeping’ we discussed the considerations and advantages of owning a fire-proof safe and renting a safe deposit box at a financial institution. Below are some tips on what items to store in each.

In general, it’s recommended to store items and documents in your fireproof safe that you might require immediate access to. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Birth certificates and passports
  • Insurance policies and estate-planning documents (Your lawyer should also have copies.)
  • Tax returns
  • Documents pertaining to credit card and banking information and online passwords
  • Memory cards or an external hard drive of pictures and scans of important documents (if your save is rated high enough to protect digital media)
  • A copy of your home inventory

In your safe deposit box, it’s recommended to store items that are not replaceable and are not necessary to keep on hand. Here are a few suggestions of what to keep in your safe deposit box:

  • Keeping your Valuables Safe Gibb Insurance BrokersPrecious jewelry
  • Saving bonds or stock certificates
  • Insurance policies and estate-planning documents (Your lawyer should also have copies.)
  • Memory cards or an external hard drive of pictures and scans of important documents
  • A copy of your home inventory

At Gibb Insurance we believe the more you plan for a disaster, the less likely it will happen. When it comes to keeping your valuables safe from theft or fire, redundancy and good insurance coverage is key. To have both a highly rated fire proof safe and a safe deposit box is the best approach to protect your valuables. It’s best to keep original documents in a safe deposit box and copies in your home safe.

It’s important to note that your valuables wherever they might be stored, may not be covered in your home insurance policy. Make a point to discuss with your insurance broker items of value that you own to determine if you require additional insurance.

If you have any questions about your home insurance policy, we’d be happy to hear from you. 519-736-8228

Keep the Home Fires Burning – Safely

Enjoy your fireplace - safely Gibb Insurance Brokers Amherstburg OntarioDuring cold winter evenings, a warm blanket, a mug of hot chocolate, and well-equipped fireplace are all you need for a cozy night in.

However, a fireplace brings more than comfort. According to Fire Prevention Canada, fire kills over 400 people a year nationwide, residential fires causing 73% of those deaths. With winter here, it’s important to be aware of fire prevention and what your insurance policy offers.

Fireplaces and wood stoves create a nice setting for homeowners to relax with loved ones and help heat their homes. Unfortunately, they can also add to serious fire risks, but taking simple measures can help avoid traumatic situations.

The following pointers can help to ensure that your fireplace remains a place of enjoyment in your home:

– Get your fireplace ready: To avoid fire and smoke damage make sure that the damper opens and closes properly. If your chimney hasn’t been cleaned in a while, call a chimney sweeper.

– Throw out flammable materials: Clear the area next to your fireplace of all flammable items including newspapers, carpets and fabrics. Even a small spark of fire can quickly spiral out of control.

– Stay equipped: Install smoke detectors throughout your home. Time is of the essence when dealing with fires and a smoke detector can help avoid major disasters.

– Fireplace accessories: Invest in a few good tending tools. These can be used to rotate logs, ensure oxygen flow and clean up ashes – small steps that go a long way in fire prevention.

– Check your insurance policy: Know your insurer’s guidelines and coverage so there are no surprises if you need to file a claim for damage. For example, many companies only cover fire damage if fireplaces or woodstoves are installed professionally.

Following these simple tips can help ensure that your fireplace only leaves your family with pleasant memories this season. For more information, Fire Prevention Canada has a long list of safety tip fact sheets available, or contact your insurance broker for more info.

Insurance Tip

Helpful Insurance Tips by Gibb Insurance Amherstburg Ontario - Smoke detectorsInsurance tip of the day… Did you know that smoke detectors expire after 10 years and carbon monoxide detectors only last 5-7 years? It’s not enough to check and change the batteries regularly, these safety devices need to replaced.

Consider when your home was built, or how long you’ve lived in your home. If you’ve never changed your smoke detectors, there’s no time like the present.

If you’re looking for a home insurance quote, please give us a call at 519-736-8544.

Be Certain Your Home is Safe While on Vacation

Protect your home from water damage while traveling Gibb Insurance Brokers Amherstburg OntarioGoing south for the winter? Is your home protected while you’re gone?

The sun, the beach, a cruise; picture a fabulous sun filled vacation. Now picture coming home and finding a burst water pipe has been pouring thousands of gallons of water throughout your home while you were gone!

How can this happen? Easily. An extremely cold day, common for Essex County, or even a furnace that decides to quit at the wrong time can cause the temperature in parts of your home to fall below freezing. When water freezes, it expands and this expansion can easily cause a copper pipe to crack or burst resulting in a massive amount of water being released. Even in the summer months the water line to a fridge with an ice-maker can let go. With no one checking on the house a torrent can go on for days causing huge amounts of damage and even mold.

Of course, the easiest and most sure fire way to avoid this situation is to shut off the water when you are going to be away for an extended period. Also, making sure your furnace is checked and serviced every year can help avoid this problem.

Many home insurance policies contain language that makes it mandatory for you to have a responsible person checking on your home if you are away. Before you go, call your insurance broker to make sure you are aware of any coverage restrictions. Most importantly, after everyone has visited the bathroom one last time before your road trip, turn off the main water valve and have a worry free vacation.

Is Your Jewellry Covered in Your Home Insurance Policy?

Is Your Jewellry Covered in Your Insurance Policy - Gibb Insurance LtdThat’s quite an engagement ring, is it covered?

“I just bought my girlfriend an engagement ring how can I insure it?”

I hear this question from time to time. and it’s a bit more complicated than you would first think because it deals with quite a few issues all at once.

The first question is; who owns the ring? In the insurance world, the person who would normally insure an item is the owner of that item. So when we look at an engagement ring, traditionally the soon-to-be groom buys the ring and then presents it to the soon-to-be bride. If she says “yes” then they start planning a wedding. For insurance purposes, when the soon-to-be groom buys the ring it is his property (assuming they didn’t buy it together) and the ring is his responsibility to insure. He then offers the ring to his soon-to-be bride and if she accepts the ring becomes hers in exchange for her promise to marry him. At this point the ring is her property and it is up to her to insure the ring. Of course, this is the traditional way two people get engaged; these days there are all sorts of different scenarios. The point I am trying to make it that the owner of the ring is the one to insure it and since the female usually wears it, she is usually the owner.

The second question that must be answered is; do I have enough coverage on my policy to fully insure this new ring? Most home or renter insurance policies will cover jewellery up to $5,000 or $6,000 only. If a person is insuring a ring that is worth $12,000 then they should add extra coverage to their policy.

If you have any questions about insuring jewellery, please don’t hesitate to give us a call 519-736-8228. Then, if someone says, “That’s quite an engagement ring, is it covered?” You’ll be confident in your answer!

House Insurance – When to File a Claim

I have some damage to my home; should I file a claim?

Giving advice on claims is a very important aspect of an insurance broker’s job, and one that is sometimes hard to balance.  Technically, every loss the broker becomes aware of is supposed to be reported to the insurance company, but the broker also has an obligation to advise clients and look out for them.  Many times, clients will call regarding claims that are somewhat minor in nature and really are looking for advice and assistance… a recent example comes to mind that illustrates my point exactly.

A client of ours in Amherstburg, Ontario called in to report that his sump pump failed in the night and the pit overflowed.  The damage consisted of around 100 square feet of wet carpet, some wet furniture, and some household contents that were water damaged.  The client called in to see if the damage was covered and to ask what he should do.

In these instances, I find people are upset and generally over estimate how much actual damage there is.  I advised the client that any damage over his deductible was most likely covered and asked him, “How much damage is there?”  His answer, predictably, was “I don’t know.”  Ultimately, my advice was to try to clean up the damage himself and document the process by taking pictures, that way if the damage was minor we would not put in a claim, if it turned out to be something more serious, we could proceed with a claim.  After 3 or 4 hours of work the client determined a claim was not needed and he could clean up the damage himself with a shop vac.

Three months later I received another call from this same client. While he was at work, a water pipe in his home burst.  The burst pipe sprayed quite a lot of water between the floor and basement ceiling causing extensive damage.  This time, we decided to put in a claim as the damage was quite extensive and required professionals to come in to clean up, tear out, and replace the finishes of the home.

Thankfully this client took my advice. By not proceeding with the first claim, when his policy comes up for renewal, he would only be rated for having one claim. Had he made that first claim, a policy renewing with two water claims this close together could cause his premium to go up significantly or perhaps result in restrictions of coverage.  Since he has only had one claim, his renewal should not be affected.

Good thing he deals with Gibb Insurance.

If you have any questions about making a claim on your house insurance, please give us a call at 519-736-8228.