How we find you the best home insurance quotes in Ontario
According to the 2016 census, the province of Ontario is home to nearly 5.6 million private dwellings. This means that more than 40% of Ontario’s population has home insurance. While it’s not legally mandated that properties in Ontario are insured, most banks and lenders require that mortgaged homes be covered, so home insurance is a de-facto requirement for homeowners. Adding to that is the fact that homes are our places of comfort, security, community, and family — all things worth protecting.
Most policies for single family homes will cover detached structures on your property (e.g. sheds, garages), and some policies will even cover additional living expenses if you’re forced to temporarily reside in a rented home or hotel. The premiums you pay into your home insurance policy will help you cover these unexpected costs.
Similar to auto insurance, there are numerous home insurance providers for Ontarians to choose between, and because they all offer different policies at different rates, it’s important to shop the market before before making your decision. That’s where we come in: LowestRates.ca will compare the home insurance market for you and connect you with a qualified broker, ensuring that you have the coverage you need at a price you can afford.
Join us as we answer your biggest questions about home insurance in Ontario.
What affects home insurance rates in Ontario?
Home insurance protects your single largest investment — your home and its contents — against a range of unexpected perils, including fire, smoke, falling objects, vandalism, explosions, aircraft or vehicle impact, civil unrest, break-ins, and certain natural disasters. It can also help protect you if someone is injured on your property, or if you accidentally damage another person’s property elsewhere in the world. Because of the potentially overwhelming costs to replace, for example, part of your home in the wake of a fire — think floors, ceilings, furnishings, appliances, electrical, artwork, personal belongings — having home insurance is strongly recommended for all homeowners in Ontario.
Factors that can impact home insurance premiums include:
- Replacement value of property (based on materials used, age and size of home)
- Type of heating source, electrical distribution, plumbing, and condition of roof
- Value of belongings (high-value pieces of jewelry, furniture, or art may require additional coverage)
- Residence type (detached, semi-detached, townhome, condo, rental property, seasonal dwelling)
- Renovations and home improvements (these are likely to increase the replacement value of your home, thus raising your premiums)
- Primary use of home (operating a home business could influence your premium)
- Location of home and how long you’ve resided there (the crime rate of your neighbourhood is a major factor when determining the likelihood of a claim)
- Personal claims history
- Type of home insurance selected
- Proximity of home to fire hydrants, fire station, police station, and surrounding businesses
- Amount of deductible
- Pets (certain pets — such as exotic animals and some dogs — are considered more high risk and may impact your premiums)
Risk factors in Ontario
Although not a coastal province, Ontario is no stranger to environmental risk factors. Here’s an overview of some of the province’s biggest environmental perils, the kinds of damage they can do to homes, and whether they’re covered by most home insurance policies.
Water damage has overtaken fire as the primary cause of home insurance claims in Ontario. It occurs when excess rainfall or snowmelt causes freshwater or wastewater sources to fill beyond their normal confines and seep into homes through doors, windows, basements, and vents. The resulting water damage can be extremely costly to repair. Most basic home insurance policies do not cover overland flooding, storm surges, or even backed-up sewers — to protect against these kinds of water risks, additional coverage is usually required.
Regions at highest risk: GTA, Southwestern Ontario
A major concern with Ontario’s cold winters is ice damming. This happens when a layer of ice melts — from attic heat or freeze-thaw weather — allowing water to seep into the house or attic, causing costly damage. Ice damming is sometimes covered under basic home insurance policies, but always ask your provider to be sure. Freezing temperatures can also cause frozen pipes, which are also sometimes covered by basic home insurance policies, providing certain precautions have been taken (e.g. having someone check on your home every 24 hrs if you’re away for an extended period of time during the winter).
Regions at highest risk: Northern Ontario has the harshest winters, but the entire province is at risk
While not common in Ontario, earthquakes do occasionally occur, and the resultant damage can range from non-existent to severe, depending on the magnitude of the earthquake. Most basic home insurance policies will not cover earthquakes; additional coverage is required.
Regions at highest risk: Ottawa area, North Bay
Ontario isn’t known for forest fires, but the province still averages 1000 major burns per year. These aren’t your average house fires — each blaze could engulf the entire Greater Toronto Area. Luckily, most basic home insurance policies list fire as a covered peril.
Regions at highest risk: Northeastern Ontario, Northern Ontario
What kind of coverage do you need in Ontario?
Homeowners in Ontario can choose between a number of home insurance coverages:
Comprehensive or All Perils - This is the most thorough home insurance available. It’s also the most expensive, as it covers the home and its contents against all perils and losses, expect those that are explicitly excluded. The two kinds of perils that are typically not included in any policy are ‘uninsurable perils’ (e.g. water damage, insect damage, earthquakes) and ‘optional coverage’ (e.g. sewer back-up). These perils require additional coverages.
Basic or Named Perils - This policy covers your home and its contents for perils specifically named in the policy. It’s less expensive than the comprehensive option, but leaves the homeowner at greater risk.
No Frills - This policy offers baseline coverage for properties that fail to meet normal underwriting standards. Speak with your broker or provider for details.
Another important thing to note: Home insurance is based on replacement cost, not market value. This means if it costs $350,000 to rebuild your home in the event of a total loss — even if it’s worth twice that on the market — an insurance company would provide you with the lower replacement value (not the higher market value). Therefore, when determining your home insurance premiums, replacement value is a major factor that insurance companies consider.
Some insurers will also offer an option to purchase an Actual Cash Value (ACV) home insurance policy, which is replacement value less depreciation. So if the washing machine you need to replace is ten years old, your payout will be based on the estimated cost of purchasing a similar model (and similar aged) washing machine. With ACV coverage, your premiums will be lower, but so will the payouts.
Who regulates the home insurance industry in Ontario?
In Ontario, property and casualty (P&C) insurance — which includes property, vehicle, and liability — is regulated by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO).
FSCO is responsible for overseeing Ontario’s insurance industry and regulating rates throughout the province.
The organization offers a range of free publications and resources on their website, including corporate reports, consumer reports, industry publications, and financial literacy resources. It also offers a fraud hotline for consumers to report insurance-related concerns and suspicions.
What can you do to save on home insurance in Ontario?
Here are some ways to save on home insurance in Ontario:
- Shop around for the best rate.
- Bundle your home insurance with your car insurance.
- Purchase a ‘claims protector’ to safeguard against a premium increase in the event you need to make a claim.
- Raise your credit rating. A good score can often mean a better policy.
- Tell your broker if you have a fire alarm, smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, indoor sprinkler system, or house alarm. Safety goes a long way with home insurance.
- Increase your deductible. This will typically result in a reduced premium.
- Don’t insure your land. It’s not going anywhere and you won’t be able to claim on it anyway. Only include the replacement value of the home itself.
- Only claim for the big stuff. Small claims will increase your premiums, and often aren’t worth it after paying the deductible.
- Quit smoking. It’s not just bad for your health, it’s bad for your premiums. Many insurance companies see smoking as a risk factor for house fires.
- Pay annually. There’s usually a break if you pay annually instead of monthly.
What companies offer the best home insurance in Ontario?
There are many companies offering home insurance in Ontario, each with their own unique underwriting standards, additional coverages, and pricing structures. While it’s hard to pinpoint what provider offers the ‘best’ home insurance, here are some of the province’s major players:
- TD Insurance
- Aviva Canada
- RBC Insurance
- Johnson Insurance
- Intact Insurance