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What you need to know about home insurance in Manitoba.
What affects home insurance rates in Manitoba?
Home insurance ensures homeowners have adequate coverage for replacement costs in the event of serious damage due to environmental causes, theft of valuable possessions or accidents. While it’s not mandatory to have home insurance, if you do have a home with a mortgage, most lenders require you to have a valid home insurance policy. So while it’s not required, it’s important to have because it covers:
- The costs to replace the structure of your home and its contents. It doesn’t cover the market value of the home.
- Personal liability of you (the policyholder), your spouse, children, dependents under 18 and any dependents who are enrolled and attending a school or post-secondary institution who may not be living in the home.
There are a variety of factors that affect the cost of your premium. They include:
- The replacement costs for your home and its contents.
- Your claims history.
- Where you live. Insurers track the type, cost and number of claims by neighbourhood.
- Proximity to water because the closer you are to a fire hydrant, the quicker a fire can be extinguished and the lower the costs to restore your home.
- Electricity. Most insurers won’t insure homes with knob-and-tube or aluminum wiring.
- The age and material of your pipes. Insurers prefer homes with plastic or copper pipes instead of lead.
- The age of your roof. The older the roof, the higher the chance of leaks.
- Wood stoves which can be a source of fire and carbon monoxide.
- Other residences on your property such as a granny suite or tiny home.
- Pools and security systems.
Risk factors in Manitoba
When it comes to home insurance, every province has its own risk factors and Manitoba has quite a few.
Homeowners can face wildfires, which can start in any part of the province. Some have occurred in the northern part of the province in the Red Lake area and others have happened further south. Manitoba also has freezing temperatures, which isn’t a surprise. Temperatures drop as low as −40 °C for several days which can cause pipes to freeze and burst.
Regions at highest risk: Because of the region’s vast grasslands, southern Manitoba experiences frequent forest fires during the summer. Regardless, the entire province is considered at-risk for forest fires, according to the provincial government.
Tornadoes are another environmental risk factor. The province sits in what the University of Winnipeg calls the ‘northern end of Tornado Alley,’ which starts at the Gulf of Mexico. The province has on average seven to 10 tornados a year, most which tend to land in southern Manitoba.
Regions at highest risk: Communities in southern Manitoba — starting roughly around the City of Dauphin and straight down to Winnipeg — are most at risk for tornadoes.
Manitoba also suffers from overland flooding that affects basements, foundations, sewage systems and farmland. The Red River is one such example. It has flooded multiple times since 1826.
Regions at highest risk: All communities along the banks of the Red River, which flows north from Minnesota and empties into Lake Winnipeg, should prepare for annual flooding.
What kind of coverage do you need in Manitoba?
There are four main types of home insurance policies available to homeowners in the province.
Comprehensive - This type of policy provides risk coverage for your home and its contents, so accidental damage would be covered.
Basic - A basic policy only protects your home against perils that are specifically named in the policy.
Broad - This policy provides all-risk coverage for your home but only named perils coverage for the contents inside your home. You won’t be covered for accidental damage to your contents.
No-Frills - This type of policy is recommended for homes that don't meet underwriting standards (e.g., homes with significant structural issues).
Based on Manitoba’s risk factors, homeowners can also purchase extended water coverage, which insures any water damage or sewer backup due to an overflow from an outside drain or sewer. This type of optional coverage is what's referred to as an endorsement, and they're also available for tornadoes and overland flooding.
Who regulates the home insurance industry in Manitoba?
The Insurance Council of Manitoba (ICM) regulates the home insurance industry in the province. The ICM establishes professional business standards and sales practices and regulates and approves rate changes. It also provides professional development and news updates for insurance agents and adjusters. Members are appointed for three-year terms by the Minister of Finance.
The ICM lets homeowners search for licensed agents, provides information on how to work with an agent and also conducts investigations into any complaints made by the public against insurance agents and adjusters.
What can you do to save on home insurance in Manitoba?
If you’re looking to lower the cost of your premium:
- Install a security system.
- Pay your premiums annually instead of monthly.
- Buy a new (or newer) home.
- Buy only what you need. You may not need tornado insurance but you might need overland flooding insurance.
- Increase the deductible.
- Bundle your home, auto and life insurance.
- Comparison shop before you buy.
What companies offer the best home insurance in Manitoba?
There is no single answer to this question as everyone’s home insurance needs are different. The short answer is the right company is the one that offers you the best rate for the type of coverage you need. Some of the major insurance companies in Manitoba include:
- The Co-operators.
- Great-West Life Assurance Company (founded in Winnipeg in 1891).
- Intact Insurance.
- Wawanesa Insurance.
- Johnson Insurance.
Always compare before you buy so you get the best rates. Reputable insurers will ask you a series of questions about your home before giving an estimated rate, so make sure to know the size and age of your home, when any repairs were done, the type of electrical work and pipes, the age of your roof, the type of water heater you have, where your furnace is located and the type of foundation you have in your home. This ensures you get the correct amount of coverage.
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