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A solid home insurance plan is key for homeowners in the Northwest Territories. Insurance will protect your house and your belongings should disaster ever strike. Whether the damage is caused by the territory's harsh outdoor elements, theft, fire or another incident, having insurance means your provider will be able to help cover some of the costs. Of course, this type of protection comes at varying price tags. At LowestRates.ca, we compare what’s on the market and connect you with the best deal. We'll try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about buying home insurance in the Northwest Territories.

What you need to know about home insurance in Northwest Territories.

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What affects home insurance rates in the Northwest Territories?

The major factors that impact the cost of your home insurance premium include:

  • The type of home and its build quality.
  • Property values.
  • Distance from the fire station.
  • Distance from shorelines.
  • The neighbourhood crime rate.
  • Your claims history.
  • Upgrades that increase the risk of someone injuring themselves on your property (swimming pools, for example).
  • Not properly maintaining the home.

Risk factors in the Northwest Territories

In the rugged North, natural disasters do strike, and so homeowners should check that their homes are protected from the following environmental perils:

Floods

For many towns in the Northwest Territories, spring is a time of flooding, when the ice jams start to break up and release rushes of water. And in the western region, in the mountains, major summer floods can result from the melting of glaciers. Oftentimes, these floods even exceed normal spring runoff rates. Tuktoyaktuk, in the north, also experiences quite a bit of flooding in late summer and fall.

Regions at risk: Mackenzie River Basin, Hay River, Fort Simpson, Fort Liard, Nahanni Butte, the western portion of N.W.T.

Forest fires

Properties in the Northwest Territories are vulnerable to forest fires. Instances of forest fires in the territory are increasing, too. The year 2014, for example, was exceptionally bad, with more than 385 fires taking place. Insurance will cover the costs that occur when homeowners have to temporarily relocate.

Regions at risk: Communities south of the treeline.

Storms

Climatologists have noted that precipitation levels in the territory are increasing and that the snowfall is becoming heavier and wetter. This has caused damage to buildings, with rooftops collapsing under the weight of the snow.

Regions at risk: Territory-wide.

What kind of coverage do you need in the Northwest Territories?

In Canada, there are four home insurance categories that homeowners need to consider: comprehensive, basic, broad, no frills. Below is an explainer on each.

Comprehensive - This type of policy covers the building and all the contents inside against any and all insurable perils. This is the most secure option and also the most expensive one — comprehensive insurance is ideal for those who don't want to take any chances.

Basic - A low-cost option, in which your home is only protected against specifically named perils.

Broad - The in-between option: the structure of your home is covered against all perils, but the contents are only covered against perils of your choosing. Broad coverage is widely thought to be a compromise between comprehensive and basic coverage.

No-Frills - A no-frills policy is recommended when the home in question doesn’t meet the insurance company's underwriting standards, likely because the structural integrity of the building isn’t up to par.

Personal liability is covered by home insurance. It provides coverage for the owner in the event of accidental damage caused to others on your property (e.g.; someone gets injured on your property).

Water damage is not covered by standard insurance policies. Coverage is available, but you have to purchase it as an extra. Residents of the Northwest Territories will likely want to make sure that all possible flood damage protection is included because of the frequency of winter storms, glacial melts, river overflows and ice dam breaks.

One thing that homeowners in the Northwest Territories can keep an eye out for is overland flood insurance, which offers protection from storm surges or the overflow of water bodies nearby. This sort of home damage can result in costly repairs. This is also known as comprehensive water coverage.

Owners in the “no-frills” category probably want to think carefully before buying this insurance policy type: because the climate is so harsh, structural shortcomings will likely end up costing you down the road.

Who regulates the home insurance industry in the Northwest Territories?

The Office of the Superintendent of Insurance (OSI) is the body that regulates and oversees the life, health and property and casualty insurance industry in the Northwest Territories. It grants licenses to sell insurance in the territory and ensures that insurers and agents follow the Northwest Territories Insurance Act. The OSI can impose penalties if an insurer violates part of the act.

If your claim has been denied and you wish to appeal it, you should first try talking with your home insurance provider’s ombudsperson. If that route fails, you can file a complaint with the General Insurance OmbudService (GIO). The GIO will only hear your complaint if your insurance company is a member. If that fails, your last option is to take your complaint to civil court.

What can you do to save on home insurance in the Northwest Territories?

There are a number of things homeowners can do to keep insurance costs manageable. Reducing weather and crime-induced damage is key. Below is a checklist of steps you can take to reduce your premium:

  • Weather-proof your home.
  • Use materials that prevent water damage.
  • Install security alarms, quality locks and gates.
  • Do your due diligence to ensure sure your home's roof is well-maintained and repaired regularly.
  • Winterize the structure. This is particularly important in the Northwest Territories (for example, eliminate exposed pipes to prevent them from bursting when the temperature fluctuates).
  • Because permafrost thaws can cause shifts in the earth, monitor your home for any changes to the foundation.

Note that insurance providers can increase costs for owners who are away from the home for long periods of time (e.g. snowbirds), so if applicable, make sure the home is monitored and occupied in those cases.

What companies offer the best home insurance in the Northwest Territories?

When choosing an insurance policy, it’s important to do your research and make sure your individual needs are met. Those located in the Northwest Territories have much different protection needs than Canadians living in southern Ontario, for example. In doing this homework, think about potential damages that could occur and shop for the lowest rates and applicable discounts.

A few home insurance providers in the Northwest Territories include:

  • TD Home Insurance.
  • Intact Insurance.
  • The Co-operators.
  • Aviva.

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