Reviewed by Stefan Tirschler
Updated May 26, 2023
cov·er·age c | ˈkəv-rij ˈsē
Definition: The section of a home insurance policy that covers tangible, movable personal property of the insured person or persons.
The furniture lost in the fire was covered by Coverage C of the homeowner’s insurance policy.
Most home insurance policies in Canada are based on the standard homeowner’s forms from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, or IBC. The standard homeowner’s forms divide home insurance into seven different coverages, designated A through G. Many policies keep this naming scheme, so you may see them in your own policy wordings.
Coverage C is for personal property, also known as contents.
Personal property refers to real, moveable stuff that you own. Furniture, appliances, clothing, electronics, and jewellery are all examples of personal property.
Though many policies refer to this coverage as Coverage C, the name isn’t universal. Square One, for example, doesn’t refer to our coverages using the A through G system. Instead, Square One policyholders can find their contents coverage within Section 3 – Property Coverages.
Coverage C protects the insured’s personal property, which is often called contents (because it makes up the “contents” of the home).
The definition of personal property is extensive, and accordingly, so is the protection offered under Coverage C. Almost any tangible item that’s not permanently fixed to the building or the ground would fall under Coverage C.
That isn’t to say that Coverage C automatically covers everything the insured owns. As with any insurance, there are conditions and exclusions which vary from insurer to insurer. Many insurers use the IBC form that we’re talking about here only as a starting point. Make sure you check your policy wordings or ask your insurer about how your personal property is insured.
Motor vehicles and their equipment. Cars have their own insurance policies, so home insurance excludes them. Coverage C usually does, however, insure ordinary home maintenance vehicles like lawnmowers or snowblowers.
Camping units and their equipment. Trailers or campers are excluded from coverage.
Aircraft and their equipment. Each insurer differs as to their definition of “aircraft,” but they often exclude small craft like drones as well.
What does “and their equipment” mean? IBC’s Coverage C explains equipment as “audio, visual, recording or transmitting equipment powered by the electrical system of a motor vehicle or aircraft.” So, no coverage for car stereo systems, radar detectors, dash cams, or similar stuff that’s powered by the vehicle.
Some specialty items aren’t excluded from coverage, but are subject to separate limits of insurance. From the insurer side, the rationale is that some of these items can be very, very expensive, but not everyone owns them. It would be unfair for everyone to pay higher premiums to cover the cost of just a few people’s precious jewellery. So, standard coverage includes only a small amount for jewellery, and people with expensive pieces have the option to add more coverage if they wish.
Tina has a home insurance policy with a limit of $35,000 for her personal property coverage. Her Coverage C places a limit of $500 on jewellery, but she has a ring that’s been appraised at $1,500. Tina wears it every day and feels like it could never be lost or stolen. Unfortunately, she is wrong; one day her ring is stolen. Her insurer can only offer her up to $500 to cover the ring, even though she has $35,000 in coverage for personal property and an appraisal document saying it’s worth $1,500.
The standard form includes the following special limits:
|Personal property used by an insured student while living away from home||$2,500|
|Money (cash, gift cards, bullion, etc.)||$200|
|Garden tractors, including attachments and accessories||$5,000|
|Spare automobile parts||$1,000|
Note that each of these limits is per occurrence and not per item. If you (for some reason) have three tractors worth $5,000 each, and they all get stolen at once, you’ll still be limited to just $5,000 in coverage.
There are a few more special limits in Coverage C that apply only when the items are stolen:
|Jewellery, watches, gems, garments, etc.||$2,000|
|Numismatic (word of the day!) property. Coin or other currency collections, for example.||$200|
|Philatelic (second word of the day!) property. Stamp collections are the main example.||$1,000|
|Bicycles and accessories.||$500|
For example, if someone steals your bicycle, coverage is limited to $500. If your bicycle burns in a house fire, no special limit will apply; the bike will be included in your total personal property limit.
Special limits are one part of the standard homeowner’s form that insurers are very likely to tinker with. Your policy almost definitely has different special limits, so make sure to review your policy wordings.
Special limits are one of the things that Square One does very differently, but we’ll get to that shortly.
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If you own property whose value exceeds your policy’s special limits, you can always ask your insurer to add an endorsement that grants extra coverage for your valuable property above the special limit. Insurers will have no problem increasing limits for most property (for a higher premium, of course).
Coverage C protects the contents of the insured’s home. The property of roomers or boarders is not covered (they need a tenant insurance policy). As long as stuff is located at the insured premises, it falls under Coverage C.
But it goes even further.
Home insurance also provides coverage for personal property when it’s temporarily removed from the premises, anywhere in the world. So if you take your stuff on vacation, it’s still covered by your home insurance—subject to the usual exclusions.
The key here is temporarily removed. If stuff is removed permanently, for example, stored at a vacation home, it isn’t covered; it needs a different insurance policy for the second location.
Coverage C also protects the possessions of students who are temporarily living away from home while attending school, subject to the special limit mentioned above.
Square One doesn’t use the typical system of special limits. Instead, we make specialty property insurance completely optional. We don’t think it’s necessary to have people pay to insure things they don’t own, even with small limits.
We divide specialty property into the following categories:
All four of these categories are excluded from our policies by default.
If you own property in one or more of the categories, adding coverage is as easy as typing in an extra number on your policy application. For big-budget items, we might ask for an appraisal or receipt, but for the most part, adding specialty property coverage is effortless.
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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