Getting Home Owner’s Insurance in Ontario
Caution – this post contains numbers, not my strongest suit.
It’s been years since I looked for house insurance in Canada. My daughter and son-in-law are in the process of buying a house in the country and I’ve been helping them get insurance quotes. Apparently when you’re buying an old house – at least in Southern Ontario – you’d better confirm that you can get insurance for it before you sign the deal.
The house is in a tiny village about 2 1/2 hours north west of Toronto. It’s a traditional 1 1/2 storey 3 bedroom brick house. Some of the wiring has been updated but there is still a fuse box and there are still some knob and tube connectors. Whatever they are. The roof needs to be replaced.
Their real estate agent had given my daughter names of insurance brokers in nearby towns so I started calling. Really I thought that I’d only need to call one, after all they’re brokers, they deal with a number of insurance companies, they’d do the shopping around. I spent about 30 minutes on the phone, gave all the necessary information to the insurance person and waited for her to call back with a quote.
She did. She explained that because of the roof and the electricity she had to go to a company that writes high-risk insurance. She explained that the premium was high but that there was only one company willing to write the coverage. We’d been on the phone for at least 5 minutes and she hadn’t mentioned the price. Bad sign.
So I asked. $1500.00 a year plus 8% tax. Nice that they quote the tax on top. I was so stunned by the $1500 that I couldn’t have calculated 8% if my life depended on it, let alone add that to 1500 to get a total cost. (It’s $1620, I figured it out later)
Once I could breathe again I asked her to please explain about the high-risk thing. She kept talking about the electricity. I asked about the roof. “Oh,” she said “that’s not covered” HUH! “So they have to pay extra because there are some knob and tube connectors?”
“No, it’s not just that. It’s the fuse box too. And of course the roof.”
“But you said the roof wasn’t covered.”
I could go on for an hour but the essence of the quote was that they would have to pay extra so that the roof wasn’t covered. Time for another quote.
Before I had a chance to call the next broker on the list I got an e-mail from my daughter saying that the real estate agent had called and that the current owners were paying about $850.00 a year. Definitely time for another quote.
Another insurance broker, another insurance person, another set of questions. Another call with a lot of blahblah before she said the price, $1585.00 plus 8% tax. “But” she said “the good news is that if they replace the knob and tube and the fuse box within 30 days the premium goes down to $1250.00 plus tax per year, backdated to the day they sign on the house.”
“And the roof?” I asked.
“Oh, it’s not covered. Nor is any damage that might result from the roof. Leaks, water damage, snow damage, things like that”
“What if the roof blows off in a hurricane?”
“The roof isn’t covered” she said, sounding a little impatient.
“If they replace the fuse box and the knob and tube it’ll cost about $300 less per year?’
“$335.00” she replied.
“And if the roof didn’t need to be replaced and the electricity was up to code it would be about $850 a year to insure the house?”
“That’s about right.”
“So what’s the extra 400 bucks for?” I’d given up on saying dollars.
“What extra $400?” She was hanging in with dollars.
“The difference between the 850 a year if everything was ok and the 1250 a year if the electricity is fixed”
“It’s because of the roof.”
“But the roof isn’t covered” I said through clenched teeth. “Does that mean that they’d be paying an extra $400 a year to not have the roof covered?”
She never would say that’s what it meant.