How roof type, age, and condition can raise and lower your home insurance premiums.
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What you need to know about home insurance in Nova Scotia.
What affects home insurance rates in Nova Scotia?
Home insurance will pay to replace the structure of your home, as well as cover emergency accommodations if you’re temporarily unable to live in your home. Depending on your policy, your insurance will also pay to replace your home’s contents, including items like furniture, electronics, clothing, jewelry, and more. Home insurance does not reimburse policyholders for the market value of the home. Insurers only contribute toward the cost of rebuilding the structure using comparable materials.
There are many factors that contribute to the cost of home insurance. Here's a few to start:
- Your home’s proximity to a fire hydrant or fire station.
- The structural integrity of your home.
- The age of your home.
- Whether you have a security system installed.
- Your insurance claims history.
- The age and quality of your home’s plumbing system.
- The state of your home’s electrical system.
Policy type, as well as your insurance and claims history, is another factor. You’ll qualify for a low rate if you’ve had a policy in the past, have been diligent about renewing it before the expiration date, and have never filed a claim.
Insurers in Nova Scotia are allowed to use your credit score while calculating your premium. The argument is that the lower a person’s score, the more risk they present and vice versa. Not every insurer will ask to see your credit score, though.
Another detail that consumers overlook is the company’s risk pool. Each insurer has a different tolerance to risk. Some are conservative and have stricter underwriting standards. That makes the company more likely to offer coverage to people who are the least likely to file a claim. If you have a long history of claims, you’re likely not the target consumer, and you’ll be charged a higher premium than the insurer’s ‘ideal’ customer.
How do you find out which insurer is right for you? Your insurance agent can guide you toward a more lenient insurer. Another good place to start is to compare rates — you’ll immediately be able to see the spread between premiums.
Risk factors in Nova Scotia
Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Nova Scotia’s scenic beauty is undeniable. But with it being a Maritime province, homeowners need to prepare for severe weather events which occur year-round.
Nova Scotia is situated in the northernmost limit of the Atlantic hurricane system. Hurricane season runs from June to November, with the most activity occurring in September and October. Hurricanes can cause extensive damage to property with high winds that can uproot trees, remove roofs, and down power lines. Hurricanes don’t actually make landfall in Nova Scotia all that often — according to Environment Canada, it’s the remnants of these storm systems that reach Canada’s East Coast, bringing with them strong winds and heavy rains.
Regions at highest risk: Communities along the eastern coast of Nova Scotia are particularly vulnerable to severe storms.
Nova Scotia gets a lot of precipitation, be it from hurricanes or winter storms. The sudden melting of large amounts of snow and ice in the spring can trigger flash flooding inland.
Regions at highest risk: The low-lying town of Annapolis Royal, situated on the southern shore of the Bay of Fundy, has been identified as being particularly at risk for flooding.
What kind of coverage do you need in Nova Scotia?
There are a few different types of home insurance policies available to homeowners in Nova Scotia:
Comprehensive - This policy gives you complete coverage for your dwelling and the contents inside for the majority of perils. It’s the most expensive option you can purchase but it will also give you the most peace of mind.
Basic or Named Perils - This policy will cover the home and its contents from specifically named perils in the policy.
Broad - This policy is in-between basic and comprehensive, it covers the dwelling from most perils but only covers the contents from specifically named perils.
No-Frills - The most basic policy available and it's usually only recommended for properties that don’t meet the normal underwriting standards.
In addition to these policy types, you can purchase supplemental coverage through something called an endorsement. These are add-ons that top up the limits on your base policy and offer coverage from perils that are normally excluded from it. Perils covered by endorsements include overland flooding, sewage backup, and earthquakes.
Who regulates the home insurance industry in Nova Scotia?
In Nova Scotia, the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance regulates the insurance industry and offers assistance to consumers on insurance related matters. The OSI has the power to investigate insurance companies and brokers’ actions.
If an insurer has denied your claim and you want to appeal the decision, you must file a complaint with the OSI, which also handles dispute resolution.
What can you do to save on home insurance in Nova Scotia?
Housing costs in Nova Scotia are still relatively affordable compared to other provinces. Even still, being a homeowner is expensive. Here are some ways you can save on the cost of home insurance:
- Purchase your auto and home insurance through the same company. This is called bundling and most companies will offer a discount for doing it.
- If you have good credit, you can ask your provider to run a credit check and see if they provide a discount for customers with good or excellent scores.
- Purchase a new-build home. Generally speaking, the newer the home, the lower the insurance premium.
- Install a home alarm system.
- Look at increasing your deductible (this is the amount you pay out-of-pocket when you make a claim).
- Some insurers offer discounts to senior citizens.
- Install working smoke detectors throughout your home.
- Oftentimes being an alumnus of certain post-secondary institutions or a member of a union can net you a discount.
- Purchase a home that’s in the vicinity of a fire station or a fire hydrant.
- Living in an area with low-crime can also result in cheaper premiums.
- Shop around and compare.
What companies offer the best home insurance in Nova Scotia?
Everyone will have a different answer to this question because every household’s personal risk tolerance will be different. There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to home insurance in Nova Scotia and therefore, no one company is the best. But there are ways to ensure you’re only considering the most reputable ones.
First, check out the Better Business Bureau for any complaints filed against a company you’re interested in. You can also do a Google search for the company's name along with terms like “fraud” or “scam.” This will bring up relevant news articles if there are any. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask your agent or broker questions. They should be happy to go through any concerns you might have and should never coerce you into purchasing a policy.
Here are a few of the major insurance providers in Nova Scotia:
- Intact Home Insurance.
- Belair Direct Home Insurance.
- Allstate Home Insurance.
- Johnson Home Insurance.
- Cooperators Home Insurance.
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