We recently did a very basic makeover of our basement, which included painting the walls, building some shelves and adding a rudimentary home theatre system to create our version of a media room. Aside from the television, which we got a really good deal on (and which is covered for its full cost by our Actual Cash Value home insurance policy, recommended by our broker), we also bought new furniture, which turned out to be by far the largest expense, but that’s another story.
By completing the project, my husband and I checked a major item off our to-do list, but we also created a new one: we needed to review our home insurance policy to make sure our fancy new underground digs were covered.
Perform property assessments
An up-to-date property assessment can save you a lot of headaches should something ever happen to your home (say due to the wacky weather we have), and you have to file a claim with your insurance company. Update your home insurance policy every time you add valuables to your household. When my daughter’s backpack was stolen recently, we were reminded of just how important it is to keep current records of your possessions.
I’m becoming more and more familiar with “insurance-speak” simply through being a curious homeowner and careful carpooler, and there are several terms I now use regularly, with “perils” being one of them. A peril is a specific type of threat that could potentially cause property damage or loss. Examples are floods, hurricanes, theft, vandalism, fire, slip and falls and so on. Even your pet represents a specific type of peril, and your home insurance should protect if your dog bites someone…even off your property. But home insurance only covers you for named perils, so in other words, you’re only protected against threats that are specified in your policy.
Maintenance Is Key
Perils can be prepared for. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to take reasonable precautions and preventive action to protect their property from damage. For example, if you have a leaky roof that you never bothered to fix, and a year or two down the road, your rafters have rotted and you need to do a $50,000 renovation because of the water damage, your home insurance might not cover your costs since the situation was preventable and you didn’t take action.
So the simple fix is to be diligent about maintenance. We have a seasonal checklist that we follow, and thankfully my husband is regularly on the prowl, looking for something to fix.
Basement Water Damage: The Importance of Flood Preparedness
Because we just upgraded our basement media room, water damage is a topic we had to carefully consider. We live just outside a flood zone, and are painfully aware of the damage an out-of-control river can do. As flooding has hit many major cities in Canada recently, flood coverage (and the fact that Canada has none) has become a common topic.
The reason there’s no flood coverage in Canada? Since the only people who would ever buy flood coverage are those who live in prone areas, their relative risk is so high that insurers would be forced to charge exorbitant premiums. It would, essentially, be unaffordable.
So when we finally agreed on furniture and a wall colour, we first set about doing our best to flood-proof our basement. We checked all ground-level windows, sills and doorways to make sure they were sealed properly and leak-free, and had the backflow prevention mechanisms we had installed several years ago inspected by a plumber. And instead of wall-to-wall carpet, we went with an easy-to-clean laminate flooring that will not invite mould if damp and that can be replaced easily if needed.
Most importantly, though, I triple checked that our sewer backup insurance rider was still hard-and-fast. Basements can flood because of overland water entering through windows and cracks, but more commonly they flood because municipal sewers cannot handle the sheer amount of water entering the system, and so it then is forced out through the closest exits, such as sinks, toilets and laundry room drains. Sewer back-up coverage is highly recommended to protect against this type of occurrence.
Insurance for the future
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