Reviewed by Stefan Tirschler
Updated October 30, 2023
cov·er·age a | ˈkəv-rij ā
Definition: The section of a home insurance policy that covers, at the insured premises, the main building or dwelling, plus attached structures and fixtures.
Coverage A is included in all home insurance policies in Canada.
Canadian home insurance providers often base their homeowners policies on the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) standard homeowner’s forms. These forms are like templates for home insurance policies. They divide coverages into sections A through G. Coverage A is for the house itself, alternatively known as the building or dwelling.
Many insurers’ policies retain the A through G naming scheme from the IBC basic forms. Square One’s policies do not. Square One policyholders will find the equivalent of Coverage A within Section 3 – Property Coverages.
Even though most home insurance policies are based on IBC’s forms, each insurer puts their own spin on it. If every insurance provider offered policies with identical wordings, there wouldn’t be much point in having different providers, would there?
As you read on to learn more about Coverage A, remember the golden rule of insurance: always check your policy wordings for specifics about your coverage.
As mentioned at the beginning, Coverage A is for the dwelling at an insured premises.
Dwelling (or building) refers to the main structure insured by the policy, the one in which people live. Outside of the insurance world, it’s usually called a “house.” Premises refers to the entire property. That is, everything within the lot lines of the land owned by the insured.
Note that Coverage A identifies what is protected by the policy, but doesn’t necessarily explain what it’s protected from. That’s typically discussed elsewhere in the policy, in the form of named perils (if you have a named perils policy) or exclusions (if you have a comprehensive policy).
The standard Coverage A includes:
Most home insurance policies are structured such that all of the stuff within Coverage A shares one insurance limit, with separate limits applying to each of Coverages B through G.
Craig’s homeowners insurance policy has a limit of $450,000 for Coverage A and a limit of $20,000 for Coverage B (detached structures). If Craig suffered a severe loss in which everything was destroyed, the cost of replacing his house, attached garage, and in-ground pool would all count towards his Coverage A limit. The cost of replacing his gazebo (not attached to the building) would count towards his Coverage B limit. Even though everything is covered under the same policy, the different Coverage sections have individual limits. The limits represent the maximum amount the policy will pay for losses within each coverage section.
Now, let’s dig into each of the Coverage A items a bit:
Dwellings are typically houses, but they can take many forms, like mobile homes or cottages. The main structure on the premises that people live in is considered the dwelling. The dwelling is the primary subject of the home insurance policy.
Coverage A also includes structures attached to the dwelling, like decks or garages. As long as there’s no open space between the building and the structure, you can generally consider the structure attached. Structures that aren’t attached are the subject of Coverage B.
This part of the coverage refers to stuff that’s not part of the dwelling but is still permanent. Things like children’s play equipment, sprinkler systems attached to the dwelling, or satellite dishes all fall under this definition.
The key is that they’re “permanently installed,” which means they’re fixed to the ground by concrete or by some other method. If you can pick it up and move it, it’s not permanently installed.
This equipment can be located anywhere on the premises; it doesn’t have to be part of the main building.
Coverage A also includes outdoor pools. Each insurer may define “pool” differently. The size of your pool and whether it’s above-ground or in-ground will affect its coverage. Some insurers, including Square One, include hot tubs as well.
Coverage A also extends protection to pool-related equipment, like pumps, heaters or covers.
Coverage A also includes construction materials stored on or adjacent to the premises. The materials must be intended for use at the premises for building, altering or repairing the dwelling or other structures.
It’s also essential to inform your insurer about plans for construction or renovation. You also need to tell them if the home is going to be vacant at any point during the work. Even when a policy includes coverage for construction, it’s usually on the condition that you make the insurance provider aware beforehand.
Coverage A includes the main building on the premises, attached structures, permanent outdoor equipment, pools, and construction materials intended for use on the premises.
Not every home insurance policy will use the exact words “Coverage A,” but the stuff contained within it can be found in almost every policy.
Looking for another insurance definition? Look it up in The Insurance Glossary, home to dozens of easy-to-follow definitions for the most common insurance terms. Or, get an online quote in under 5 minutes and find out how affordable personalized home insurance can be.
About the expert: Stefan Tirschler
Stefan is responsible for underwriting leadership, market expansion, and product research and development for Square One's operations. Stefan has earned his Fellow Chartered Insurance Professional designation, and maintains a level 2 general insurance license in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Stefan is also an Education Committee member and CIP/GIE instructor for the Insurance Institute of Canada.
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