Underwriting questions

So, you’re ready to get a quote on your home insurance. Great! Depending on the age and construction of your home, we may need to ask you some underwriting questions during the quoting process. The most common underwriting questions we may ask are listed below. In some cases, your answers to the questions will affect whether the provider can insure you. In other cases, it may simply affect the rate you are charged.

Do you currently have an active home insurance policy?

If you have insurance history, then your premium may be lower. That’s because you may qualify for any claims free discounts including in our pricing.

In the past 5 years, has an insurance provider: (1) cancelled your policy; (2) refused to renew your policy; (3) imposed conditions on your policy; or (4) required repairs to the home that are not yet completed?

If an insurance company has cancelled (or refused to renew) your policy, you need to tell us. Perhaps it was simply because they no longer wrote business in the area in which you live, or it could be due to the number of claims you’ve had. This could have a bearing on whether another company can insure you, and if so, what rate to charge.

Is a business conducted from the home?

If you’re operating any sort of business from your home, you may need some extra protection. You’ll need to tell us if the business involves the application of heat, the use of any specialized tools, or whether you have any employees, among other things. Depending on the type of business, you could be at an increased risk of a loss. For instance, if you’re doing welding in your garage, there is a higher risk of fire.

Does your household include any dogs?

Certain dog breeds have shown an increased risk of biting or attacking, which can result in expensive lawsuits. Some insurance providers have decided not to offer coverage for these breeds, but we have options available for most dogs who haven’t behaved aggressively in the past.

Who will live in the home?

The home’s occupancy is critical to determining the correct premium and coverage for your policy. If you rent the home to others, you’ll need to confirm whether you have a rental agreement in place with your tenant. And, we’ll want to ensure there are separate entrances and adequate sleeping arrangements for each family living in your home.

Are there any roomers or boarders sharing your living unit?

A roomer or boarder is someone who rents a room in your home, and shares other parts of the home with you. None of their belongings are covered in your home policy. They would need to obtain their own tenants policy.

Do you participate in home sharing programs, like home exchanges or short-term rentals?

If you participate in home exchanges, you’re allowing strangers into your home, so insurance companies may consider this a slightly higher risk. There may be some adjustments made to your policy to accommodate this.

Is the home under construction? Or, is it unoccupied and undergoing major renovations?

If so, you’ll need to tell us who is doing the work. And, you’ll need to confirm that you are using a licensed general contractor, who carries both workers’ compensation and commercial general liability coverage.

Does the home’s exterior show signs of: (1) rotting wood; (2) peeling paint; or, (3) deteriorating bricks, siding and stucco?

If your home is in need of repair, we may want to discuss your plans, before we can provide a policy.

If the home is older, is it a designated heritage property?

If you own a designated heritage property, you have special insurance needs. To make sure you have enough coverage, we’ll need to know what heritage restrictions impact your home. For example, you may be obligated to restore the home to its original condition, which can require more coverage due to increased costs.

Is the home built on a continuous concrete foundation?

Most newer homes are built on continuous concrete foundations, but if you live in an older home, it may have a stone foundation. Stone foundations require more maintenance that their concrete counterparts. In order to offer coverage, we’ll need to know the condition of your stone foundation, and any measures you’ve taken to waterproof the foundation.

Is the home’s basement a walkout (accessible from the outside) and/or are there wells around any basement windows?

All basement exterior doors and/or window wells should have proper drainage to prevent water pooling, and leaking into the home.

Does the home have a sump pump?

sump pump removes water that has accumulated in a water collecting sump basin. Sump pumps are important in preventing water damage in homes with basements.

A sump pump removes water that has accumulated in a water collecting sump basin. Sump pumps are important in preventing water damage in homes with basements. Also, having a sump pump with a battery backup can have an impact on your premium and deductible.

Are there Crane toilets made between 1980 and 1991 in the home?

Crane toilets manufactured between 1980 and 1991 have been known to crack and cause considerable water damage to the homes in which they were installed. If your home was built or renovated in the 1980s to early-1990s, we’ll need you to check if it has a Crane toilet. You can do this by removing the toilet tank lid and look for the 8-digit serial number stamped into the tank. If it starts with a “V” and the third and fourth digits are between 80 and 91, you may want to consider replacing your toilet.

Does the home have functioning gutters and downspouts?

Water damage is one of the major types of loss in Canada. One easy way to prevent water damage to your home is to ensure your gutters and downspouts are cleaned regularly, and are directed away from your home’s foundation.

If your home does not have gutters and downspouts, we require that the roof have overhangs of 24 inches or more.

What year was the home’s roof last replaced?

As roofs age, shingles tend to lift or crack, often resulting in water damage to your house. Different types of roofs have different life expectancies, which could range from 20 to 30 years. If your roof is nearing its life expectancy, it may be time to look at replacing it.

If the roof is older, you’ll be asked about it’s condition. We’ll want to know if there are any visible signs of erosion or moss build-up, among other things.

Has there ever been any ice damming on the home’s roof?

An ice dam is a thick band of ice that can form around the edges of your roof and can prevent water from properly draining from your roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into the home, and cause damage to the roof, walls, ceilings, insulation, etc. Ice damming can be caused by improper insulation in your attic. This can occur if the attic has been converted to finished living space. Homes should have at least 12 inches (38 R-value) of insulation in the home’s attic or between the home’s ceiling and its roof.

Does the home have at least 100 AMP electrical service?

Homes with less than 100 AMPs are not well-suited for today’s lifestyle, high electrical usage and technology.

What type of wiring does the home have?

100-amp copper wiring with circuit breakers: Most newer homes have this. Homes with less than 100 amps are not suited for today’s lifestyle, high electrical usage and technology.

Aluminum wiring: Older homes, built between 1966 and 1974 often have aluminum wiring. If so, you’ll need to remove the outlet or switch cover and find the “CO/ALR” marking. This indicates that the connectors are the right ones to handle aluminum wiring.

Knob and tube wiring: Some older homes, built until the 1960’s, used knob and tube wiring. It gets its name from the insulator knobs used to keep the wires isolated from objects and the ceramic tubes used to line holes through wooden floor joists. Because knob and tube wiring has no ground wire, it is not well-suited for today’s lifestyle, high electrical usage and technology.

Does the home have polybutylene (Poly-B) or Kitec plumbing?

Poly B: Homes built between the late 1970s and the late 1980s, may have Polybutylene (Poly B) plumbing. If you’re not sure, look for flexible, grey-colored plastic pipes in areas with exposed plumbing such as near your hot water tank or under a kitchen or bathroom sink. The material designation should be “PB2110″. There have been a number of leakage problems over the years with this type of piping. One of the risks is the failure of the plastic fittings. If the water pressure is too high, these fittings can leak. The risk can be minimized by installing a pressure reducing valve. It’s often difficult to tell if there are problems with your Poly-B piping, as the damage starts on the inside. They may look perfectly fine on the outside, while inside they are slowly disintegrating. And the older these pipes get, the higher the risk of rupture, causing massive damage to your home and precious belongings. If your home has Poly B piping, please discuss it with one of our agents and we will do our best to assist you. Many insurance companies view this as a hazard, and will refuse to insure your home. We realize it can represent a higher risk, but we have options available for most homes with Poly-B plumbing.

Kitec: The Kitec plumbing system was sold in Canada between 1995 and 2007. It consists of blue and orange flexible piping and brass fittings. There are two common problems with this type of plumbing: 1. The orange pipes are not certified for water hotter than 180 degrees F, but hot water tanks can run hotter than this. 2. The brass fittings tend to corrode, cause blockages and leaks. Many insurance companies will refuse to insure your home with this type of plumbing, but we have options available for most homes with Kitec plumbing.

If the home has a tank-style hot water heater, what year was it last replaced?

For homes with hot water tanks, we’ll want to know about the condition of the tank and when it was last replaced. If you’re uncertain, find the water heater’s serial number. The first two digits often indicate the year it was made.

Has a backwater valve been installed in the home?

A backwater valve prevents sewage in an overloaded main sewer line from backing up into the basement. The valve automatically closes if sewage backs up from the main sewer. If one has been installed, you’ll see a lower premium on your policy.