I know that the first thing you do when you receive your policy is to sit down and read it. NOT!!
So, I thought I would give you an overview of what that insurance contract includes. In other words, use the KISS principle to explain it.
Insurance is a contract between you and your insurer and believe it or not, there is no such thing as true “All Risk”. Insurance is not, and was never designed, to cover everything! Generally, all insurance contracts include the following sections with conditions, exclusions and limitations:
Declaration’s page – describes, who is insured, when, amounts of insurance and premium
Insuring agreements– what are you covered for
Exclusions – what’s not covered
Conditions – Certain requirements or conditions that are required for coverage to be valid
Definitions – Words that have clearly defined meaning for your contract
Warranties – Things that you must do or you may not have coverage
Limits and deductibles – How much insurance you have and what is your share.
Endorsements – changes to the above
Signature clause – Signature of the official signing to the agreement
You have rights in that contract.
You also have responsibilities as required by law under the Insurance Act of Alberta. These are called Statutory Conditions and must be included in every property or casualty policy issued in the province of Alberta. There are additional Statutory Conditions for Auto Insurance, many but not all of them, are similar. We will talk about the Auto Insurance Stat Conditions in a future blog.
MISREPRESENTATION – Don’t lie or tell a part-truth to an insurance company. If you do, they can void your policy or rightfully refuse to pay a claim.
PROPERTY OF OTHERS – You can’t insure something you don’t own, have a financial interest in or have assumed responsibility of.
CHANGE OF INTEREST – Insured losses occurring after an assignment due to bankruptcy, insolvency or change of title by succession, operation of law or death are covered.
MATERIAL CHANGE – If any conditions of your situation or property changes, you need to tell your insurer. If you aren’t sure, ask.
TERMINATION – A contract can only be cancelled by you on request at any time or by an insurance company giving written notice. Certain penalties may apply if you cancel.
REQUIREMENTS AFTER A LOSS – No don’t just walk away. You must:
Right away tell your insurer when and how it happened
Provide a proof of loss (your insurer will give you a form to complete)
Prove the amount of your loss.
Co-operate with the insurer and provide them the records they request.
WHO MAY GIVE NOTICE AND PROOF OF LOSS – If you can’t provide or don’t provide the Proof of Loss, it can be given by your agent (under certain conditions) or any one to whom some or all of the insurance money is payable.
SALVAGE – You must protect your property from further loss or damage after the occurrence and the insurer will help you pay for it.
ENTRY, CONTROL & ABANDONMENT – The insurer has right of access to your property but they can’t take control or possession without your consent and you can’t just walk away from it.
IN CASE OF DISAGREEMENT – This one is important! You have the right to a dispute resolution process prescribed by the government if you don’t agree with the amount the insurer will pay to repair or replace your property. Here’s some more info for you – Insurance Complaints
WHEN LOSS PAYABLE – The insurer has 60 days to pay you after you file your Proof of Loss.
REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT – Unless you have entered the “Dispute Resolution Process” outlined in item 10, the insurer instead of paying you, may repair, replace or rebuild and must start within 45 days of you filing your Proof of Loss.
NOTICE – Written notice can be delivered or sent to the Head Office of the insurer in the province. The insurer must reach out to you at the address shown on your contract.
Now comes the fun part. You can’t take this to the bank or the courts. This is the condensed version of the Statutory Conditions to help make it just a bit easier. If you want to know more, then read your contract, talk to your insurance provider or better still call me!
I’m always happy to help you decipher the legal jargon in your contract. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or 587-597-5478.
In my last blog, we provided some great claims tips and promised that this time we would give you information on how a policy is set up and some of the things to look for.
A couple of incidents occurred that inspired me to share a bit more about the claims process and what resources are available when you have questions or a dispute with your own insurance company.
Being one of several insurance guru’s in my family, I get calls from family and friends whenever they have a question or issue. I either explain the situation or point them in the right direction. Sometimes I even get directly involved and help them solve the problem.
In one incident a perhaps over zealous or junior underwriter at an insurance company made a decision that was in contravention of the Insurance Act of Alberta. Knowing the channels to use, I was able to help solve the problem for one of my family members.
In the event you have an issue, the first place YOU want to go is your broker. He or she is the one who acted on your behalf to purchase the product for you. A good broker will understand the insurance contract and be able to either explain coverage, rationale for a denial and if necessary, intercede on your behalf.
If the matter is one where you cannot agree on the value of your property, repairs or replacement or amount of loss, your insurer must send you a copy of the Dispute Resolutions Process found in Section 519 of the Insurance Act.
More detailed information can be found at this website:
Outside of disputes to value, you can utilize the insurers complaints protocol process. Just google your insurer’s name and word “complaint” and it’ll usually take you directly to that process which involves management and ultimately your insurer’s ombudsman. Every insurer has to have one.
In addition to that, there are 4 organizations that you can reach out depending on the situation.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) Established in 1964 is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto, and business insurers. They have consumer information centres in each regional office staffed with seasoned insurance professionals who can address general insurance questions. You can phone or email and the contact information will be included in the blog on my website. www.ibc.ca
“The General Insurance OmbudService is an independent organization, created in 2002, with the sole purpose of helping Canadian consumers resolve disputes or concerns with their home, auto or business insurers.” https://www.giocanada.org/ After receiving a Final Position Letter from your insurer, they may be able to assist you. You can access them online at https://www.giocanada.org/complaint-form/ or by phone at (1 877 225-0446)
The office of the Alberta Superintendent of Insurance (SOI) of Alberta Treasury Board and Finance regulates, in part, the insurance business in Alberta under the Insurance Act. If you feel that an insurer has breached a regulation in the Insurance Act contact them. Again the information will be in the blog.
Finally, the Alberta Insurance Council serves to fulfill the mission of protecting Albertans through the licensing and regulation of insurance agents, brokers, and independent adjusters. If you have a concern or complaint with a broker, agent or independent adjuster contact them.
Having said all of this the majority of claims are handled quickly, efficiently and fairly based on the insurance contract between you and your insurance company. We all know too well, no one ever says good things about how their claim went. You only hear when people are unhappy. Sad but true. It’s common in every industry.
Hopefully, this information may be helpful to you.
If you have any comments or request for more information on any matter insurance – get in touch – contact information is at heathercournoyer.ca
I’m Heather Cournoyer, your commercial insurance expert and I’m coming to you from “sunny” Alberta where the temperature here has risen to a balmy -25 with a windchill of -31. Gotta love Alberta!
In my last video we talked about what to expect in the insurance market for 2020 and the 3 steps to take to prepare.
Review your operation – find ways to manage the risks and exposures in your business to prevent losses.
Review your insurance – Have you changed your operation, have your values changes. Is your business interruption coverage up to date? Do you have cyber and privacy insurance protection.
Lastly – meet with your broker to make sure that your insurance is updated.
So, what happens if you have a claim? That’s why you bought insurance in the first place. I spoke with several claims experts and asked them this question?
What is your best advice to an insured who has had a claim? Here’s what they had to say.
Before you have a loss – Have an adequate inventory and update it on a regular basis. Perhaps you might want to send a copy to your broker or at least keep a copy somewhere safe. Proving your loss is your responsibility and having an inventory of all of your stock and equipment is invaluable.
Minimize the loss to the best of your ability. For example is it’s a water-related claim (which are so common these days) Start cleaning up the water, Rent dehumidifiers help to reduce downtime. Pretend you don’t have insurance. The expert claims manager I spoke to said that not once has he denied reasonable costs to mitigate the claim
Another expert agreed with that and also added that if there is any evidence, retain it! Let’s say you just had a plumber in to fix a piece of equipment and that equipment may have caused the problem. Make sure you keep any parts, take pictures. Your insurer may have the right to subrogate – in other words, perhaps the plumbers negligence caused the loss and he should be held accountable.
Let’s talk about down time. More than likely, a loss can cause a disruption in your business which either reduces or eliminates your income for a period of time. Business interruption is much more common now. And although that is the case, it is still very misunderstood. You need to have good financial records that have monitored the trends in your business. Work with your adjuster and your accountant to help you determine what the amount of recovery may be.
In the event of a third-party claim remember to Be Patient It takes time to get all the facts in. The Adjuster will assess those facts. In auto and liability claims there are two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle lies the truth. Make notes as soon as you can. Pictures are always good too! Peoples memories change over time.
And finally, perhaps some of the best advise
Remember ……. The three C’s
Help your insurer to help you!
Bottom line – insurance is a contract. And if you’ve ever watched Judge Judy she always says – “Everything is in the four corners of the agreement.” In your case it’s an insurance policy.
I know what you’re thinking…whoever reads the policy anyway. It’s too complicated and it’s legal mumbo jumbo.
In our next video, we are going to give you some tips about how that policy is set up and some of the things to look for.
A special thanks to all my “experts” for their input. Great tips for the consumer.
In May we talked about the “Hard Insurance Market” and we are certainly feeling it more and more. Affordability and availability in certain classes are a huge issue. We are getting more requests for “quotes”. “How much would you charge for my insurance?”
Well that depends. How much protection do you want? Are you prepared to spend some time figuring that out? When was the last time you sat down with your insurance provider and reviewed your business operations, property values, values of stock and equipment? Are you at risk for a cyber-attack? Can you afford to operate if your website is subject to a ransom?
We don’t object to going to our medical doctor to have our annual checkup. In many ways, insurance shouldn’t be any different. Although it does seem to be standard practice to get the renewal, check the price and then move on. That’s unless the price has increased. Then we want a “quote”.
As a broker, it’s my responsibility to ensure that I understand enough about my client’s business to recommend adequate and suitable insurance protection.
Sadly, in the majority of cases with my new clients I deal with, we find out that there are gaps in their insurance that they were not aware of.
Let’s look at some examples:
General Contractor had leased a $150,000 piece of equipment on a short-term basis and advised his insurance provider. The broker told him it was covered. Upon review of their existing coverage, there was no endorsement or policy change reflecting that coverage.
· My advice – get everything in writing!
Wholesaler had ordered additional stock and had it stored at another location as he had no space at his premises. He failed to notify his insurer and assumed that it would be automatically covered as he had a sufficient amount of insurance to cover all his stock.
· My advice – Sometimes there may be a clause in the policy which will extend the cover for a short period of time. If so, it will be clearly stated in your contract. In my new client’s case, it was not included in the contracts. When in doubt call your insurance broker. It can be added for a small additional premium.
Home-based business – Caller operates an esthetics business from her home in the corporate name. She has Professional Liability Insurance for her business but no Commercial General Liability. If any of her clients are injured e.g. (slip and fall on the ice or snow) she has no insurance protection.
· My advice – She should have been advised to see if her home insurer will provide her with a home-based business liability extension on her home insurance. If not, she should purchase a Commercial General Liability policy.
These are just a few examples of situations that can lead to a costly claim with no insurance coverage.
No two insurance policies are exactly the same and when it comes to insurance on single or multi-family or commercial buildings for rental properties, its buyer beware.
1.Will this coverage provide full replacement cost on my building and contents in the event of a loss?
Coverage can be purchased for replacement cost (cost to rebuild) or actual cash value. If there is a loss and actual cash value is in place, depreciation will be applied to your claim and you will have to pay a portion of the cost to repair or rebuild.
2.Is the coverage all risk or named perils?
Even though All risk coverage does have exclusions however Named Perils only covers certain types of losses. Obviously, the All Risk option is the better form of cover.
3.Is damage caused by the tenant’s covered?
Many policies for rental properties will not cover damage caused by the tenants unless it’s a fire.
4.Will I recover my lost rental income in the event of a loss?
The reason you have rental property as an investment is two-fold. Hopefully, the property value increases over time. Secondly, you need the cash-flow to pay the mortgage, taxes etc. Make sure that you purchase rental income insurance to the full value of the annual rent!
5.What happens if my property is vacant?
All property insurance has a 30-day vacancy clause. If you don’t arrange with your insurer to add a vacancy permit, you will have no insurance.
6.Is there coverage for water damage?
Water damage is now the most common causes of loss in rental property. Anything from sewer back-up, overflow of water from a domestic appliance, frozen burst pipes or flooding. Make sure to find out what claims will and won’t be covered so you can plan accordingly.
7.How much do I have to pay in the event of a loss?
All policies carry deductibles, normally meant to encourage you to pay the smaller losses yourself. These deductibles can range from $500 up to in some cases $25,000 depending on your loss history and the type of loss.
8.Are there any special conditions I should know about if my rental is a condo unit?
Although the Condo Corporation does insure the building, you still have to cover the contents and liability. Also, be aware that the by-laws of your condo Corporation may require you to pay the deductible on any loss caused by the negligence of your tenant. Those deductibles can be anywhere from $2,500 to $50,000.
9.Are there any warranties in the policy?
So, what’s a warranty? It’s a promise to the insurance company that you will do something and if you don’t, your insurance won’t cover that loss. Let’s say your building is vacant. The insured has provided you with a permission for vacancy endorsement with a 72-hour Supervision Warranty. If you do not check the property as outlined in the warranty and you have a claim it won’t be covered.
10.Most importantly…. Should my tenants have their own insurance?
Absolutely! Ensure that your tenants to carry their own Tenants Package Policy! Ask them for either a copy of the policy or a certificate of insurance.
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