Home Insurance: What First Time Home Buyers Need to Know
Do you want a character home or a new build? Which neighbourhood do you want to live in? How much are you comfortable spending? There are a lot of decisions that have to be made when buying your first house, but the one thing that shouldn’t be up for debate is getting home insurance. A good home insurance policy will help cover the cost of repairs to your dwelling or replacement of your belongings after an unexpected disaster.
To help make sure you’re covered, we’ve put together an overview of everything first-time home buyers need to know about insurance.
When should you start shopping for insurance?
Your mortgage lender will likely require you to purchase home insurance before closing the deal. That doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute to secure coverage. Start the process as soon as you put in an offer to purchase so you have enough time to decide on the right policy for you and your new home.
Depending on the kind of house you’re buying and a number of other factors, it can take your insurance broker anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to get a quote in place. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get all the required documents.
Information needed to get a home insurance quote
In order to get you an accurate quote, your insurance broker will need to know a few key things about your new home. This helps determine how much it would cost to rebuild your home if it was completely destroyed (what insurance calls a “total loss”) and could include questions like:
- What year was the house was built?
- What is the square footage?
- What kind of roof and siding does the house have and how old are they?
- How is the house heated (e.g. electricity, natural gas, hot water)?
- Does the house have any wood burning appliances?
- How far away is the nearest responding fire department? How close is the house to the nearest operational fire hydrant?
- Does the house have a pool, hot tub or any other unique features?
- Are there any additional buildings, like a garage or shed, on the property?
Your broker will also need to know your possession date and whose name will be on the property title — this identifies the owner of the property and will likely be just your name, unless you’re buying the house with someone else. Lastly, they will need to know any prior insurance history you have and if you’ve made a claim in the last 5-10 years. (You may be eligible for an added discount if you’ve been claims free for a certain amount of time.)
Types of Home Insurance Available
Different kinds of coverage
Not all home insurance policies come with the same type of coverage. This is a good thing because it gives you the flexibility to choose a plan that fits your property and covers your specific belongings.
Property and contents insurance
Most standard home insurance packages cover losses to the home and any external structures on the same property; as well as compensation for the things inside your home, like appliances, furniture, kitchenware and clothing. The amount you receive in the event of a claim will depend on whether you opt for “Actual Cash Value” coverage or “Replacement Cost” coverage (i.e. what the item is worth at the time of loss vs. what it costs to replace it today).
Liability and living expense coverage
Most policies also include a limit for liability coverage. This can help cover legal fees if someone gets injured on your property or if you accidentally cause damage to someone else’s property. Living expense coverage will reimburse you for time spent in a hotel or rental and the cost of going out for meals in the event that your home is uninhabitable after a claim occurs.
Depending on where you live, events like sewer back-ups and floods can be common. The nice thing is you can pick and choose what kinds of additional coverage (also called “floaters” or “endorsements”) that you’d like to add to your home policy to ensure you’re covered for your specific needs. This can include (but is not limited to): home equipment breakdown coverage, underground service line coverage, as well as coverage on fine art, collections jewelry or boats.
Red River Mutual has a range of policy packages and additional coverage options to fit the needs of every homeowner. Find out more about our home insurance policies or talk to a Red River Mutual insurance broker directly.