Planning a renovation can be a fun and exciting time. Whether you’re remodelling your existing space or preparing for an addition to your home, you’ll likely begin by browsing design magazines and blogs, visiting open houses and model homes, and pinning your favourite ideas to your Pinterest boards. But then there’s all that other serious stuff that needs to be done too, like planning your budget, finding and vetting contractors, and applying for the necessary permits.
But what about insurance? Is this something that even made your renovation ‘to-do’ list? Probably not, but it should.
Why you should call your insurance agent
If you don’t notify your agent or broker of the changes you are making to your home, you may put yourself at risk. Depending on the kind of job you’re doing, your current home policy may not cover you. In other cases, if the limits on your current policy aren’t enough to cover the increase in your home’s value from the improvements, you may not be covered in the event of a loss. If something unexpected were to happen to your home and you’d need to rebuild, you’ll want to be confident that your policy has you covered.
Speaking with your insurance agent or broker before things get underway may also offer opportunities for discussion and advice on changes that could potentially help make your home safer. For example, installing a back-water valve or a professionally wired, in-home monitoring system is often more easily done when other major work is underway. As a bonus, upgrades like these could even help you save on your insurance premiums in the long run.
Potential policy changes
Be sure to discuss your options with your agent. If it’s a major project, like increasing the footprint of the home by adding on a new room, you’ll have to have your home re-evaluated because the addition will have to be added to your policy. There may be other considerations based on how much of your home you’re planning on renovating and how long the process is expected to last. You should also keep in mind that if you’ve made an upgrade for safety, you could be entitled to a discount on your home insurance premium.
Working with contractors
In addition to your home coverage, you should also talk about liability coverage. What happens if someone working on your property injures themselves during the renovation? You can help protect yourself against a potential lawsuit by verifying that your contractor is properly insured and has liability insurance, as well as workers’ compensation coverage. Ask to see proof of your contractor’s insurance, and make the same request of subcontractors, like electricians and plumbers, who may also be on the job.
If you opt to take on a do-it-yourself project and have friends or family lend a hand, you should check that your own liability coverage will have you covered.
Also be sure to do thorough research to ensure any materials you select have been certified by an independent third-party agency, like the CSA or ULC. These logos should be clearly visible and easy to identify.
Get the proper paper work and keep records
As with any big project, whether it’s a do-it-yourself job, or you’re working with a contractor, be sure to speak with your local municipality about building permits. Renovations that include plumbing, electrical, structural changes, or additions almost always require a building permit prior to starting the work. The permit application procedure will help ensure that the renovations you’re planning comply with applicable building codes. If a permit is not secured where one was required, it is possible you could be ordered to stop or even redo the work – which can significantly increase your timeline and budget. You could even face a monetary fine.
Be sure to keep copies of any contracts and receipts for materials purchased for the job. And take photos before, during, and after the renovation so you have a visual record of all the work.
Do you have plans to renovate this year? Let us know your renovation insurance questions in the comments section below.