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If you own a home, do you have to insure it?

You're not actually legally required to buy home insurance, but good luck getting a mortgage without it. Mortgage lenders won't give you money unless you promise to buy home insurance. 

So, for the vast majority of homeowners, having home insurance is non-negotiable. But choosing an insurance company can be difficult. There's a lot to think about.

We’ll cover some of the key considerations. For example, the kinds of risks that are unique to Medicine Hat homeowners, the types of insurance available to Albertans, and what it might cost you.

We’ll also explain why comparing home insurance companies before you buy a policy is important and how it can help you save money.

Your home insurance questions, answered.

How much does home insurance cost in Medicine Hat?

Given the many variables that affect insurance — the age of your home, its condition, its location, your insurance history, and more — that’s a hard question to answer.

To get an accurate idea about how much home insurance will cost you, we suggest applying for a quote. As with any product of this kind, it’s a good idea to get quotes from several different providers. Insurance companies underwrite risk differently, which results in a bit of price variance. You can easily see which insurance company favours you by seeing multiple quotes together.

What risks are specific to Medicine Hat?

Insurance is all about hedging for risk. Catastrophic weather events are one risk that insurers watch out for — heavy rain especially. Medicine Hat is fortunate in that regard, since it’s one of the drier cities in Canada, with average annual precipitation of around 13 inches, and that can help reduce premiums. Flood protection isn't included in base insurance policies, but you can add extra coverage to your policy for this risk in the form of an 'insurance rider.'

Another climate risk comes from forest fires. Medicine Hat is known as the sunniest city in Canada, but fortunately, it doesn’t experience excessively hot weather, so the risk of fires is not especially great. That again is an advantage for homeowners when it comes to the cost of insurance. Most insurance policies include fire coverage (minus ones that are intentionally set). 

And finally, there’s also the risk of tornadoes, which can cause extensive damage to property. Medicine Hat lies in one of two large areas in Canada that are prone to severe tornadoes, which in turn will likely increase home insurance premiums in the area. Home insurance policies usually have wind coverage. 

What risks does home insurance cover in Medicine Hat?

Home insurance policies vary, but generally, you’ll be covered for such events as:

  • Damage to your home from fire or water damage caused by burst pipes (provided you can show that you have kept your home in a state of good repair).
  • Damage or theft of personal possessions.
  • Theft of personal property from your vehicle. 
  • Your personal liability if a visitor injures themselves on your property.
  • Your liability if you damage to someone else’s property (e.g., if a fire that starts in your home damages your neighbour’s property).

What risks won’t home insurance cover in Medicine Hat?

While home insurance coverage is fairly broad, it won’t protect you from absolutely everything. You’ll still be on the hook for damage caused by the events including:

  • Earthquakes.
  • Floods.
  • Damage resulting from negligent behaviour (e.g., allowing your pipes to freeze because you were on vacation and forgot to turn off the water).

However, you can buy coverage for these risks at extra costs. Optional coverage is called an 'insurance rider.' 

    What kind of home insurance do you need in Medicine Hat?

    There are four main types of insurance you can get when buying a home:

    Comprehensive: Sometimes called a special or all-perils policy, this coverage protects your home and possessions against all insurable risks, except for specific ones that it identifies as “exclusions.” For example, your policy will likely name overland flooding, and earthquakes as exclusions and you won’t be covered for damage from those kinds of events. No insurance company includes earthquake or flood coverage in a base policy, comprehensive or not. You can buy special coverage for these risks in the form of an insurance rider. Comprehensive coverage will also guard your contents against all insurable risks.

    Basic or Named Perils: This kind of insurance is the flipside of a comprehensive policy: it only provides coverage for insurable risks that are explicitly outlined in the policy. That means that if a peril isn't in the policy, you’re not covered.

    Broad: A broad policy offers comprehensive coverage for the structure of your home and basic coverage for your contents. That means you’ll need to specify which perils you want your belongings protected from. 

    No-Frills: If you’re gutting and renovating a home, it may not be possible to get general coverage on it until you’re finished. In that case, you’ll want no-frills insurance. Sometimes referred to as basic fire insurance, this kind of policy will cover your structure from fire and a few other very basic risks until you qualify for broad protection.

    You can extend your coverage beyond what a policy provides by obtaining an endorsement, which is an addition to your policy that specifies special protection. Base insurance plans don’t cover certain risks. Typical endorsements cover such things as earthquakes, flooding, sewer backup or loss of very expensive items such as precious jewellery (whose full value might exceed the amount of your existing policy).

    What can you do to save on home insurance in Medicine Hat?

    There are a lot of things you can do to trim your insurance costs and boost your savings over the years:

    • Bundle your home and auto coverage to get a lower rate.
    • Increase your deductible, which will lower your premium.
    • Install safety devices, such as home alarm systems.
    • Stop smoking — insurers know that careless smoking is a major cause of fires.
    • Compare insurance rates.

    What are the best insurance companies in Medicine Hat?

    There is no single insurance company that can claim to be “the best” for all homeowners since everyone’s needs are different. What matters is finding a company that will provide the right coverage for you at the right price.

    If you want to know more about potential providers, check out company websites, research reviews on the internet, talk to friends and family and make sure that any company agent can answer your questions and concerns to your complete satisfaction.

    Keep in mind that your friend’s experience with one insurance company may not be reflective of yours.

    Fortunately, there is a wide range of home insurance providers operating in Alberta. Here are some of the most prominent ones:

    • RBC Insurance
    • Belairdirect
    • The Co-operators
    • Wawanesa Insurance

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