CARLYLE - It’s Fire Prevention Week in Canada.
Jo-Ann Meszaros of Andrew Agencies is an insurance broker and Martine Stillwell of Gudmundson Family Insurance is an insurance advisor. Together with business owner Dale Gudmundson, they were interviewed by the Observer and all three highlighted the importance of obtaining adequate and timely insurance coverage. Their thoughts and recommendations are outlined.
Local brokers regularly compete with many online insurance companies for your business. While there may be a difference in price, one may not receive the proper guidance and knowledge a local insurance agency can offer you.
Insurance policies should be reviewed on a regular basis. All policies are live, which means changes or adjustments can be made at any time, and not just at the expiration date. For example, if you do substantial home renovations in April, do not wait to amend your policy when it comes up for renewal in October.
As with any insurance related matter, full and honest disclosure is a must. Often, it might be a benefit rather than a detriment. For example, one may qualify for several premium discounts. Becoming a non-smoker, upgrading your electrical wiring, adding eco-friendly kitchen appliances, or recently reshingling your roof may all factor in to obtaining a discount.
Loyalty to the same company may provide you with a preferred risk rating rather than a standard risk rating. If your mortgage is paid, remind the broker to remove this condition from your policy.
Very few policies include the cost of volunteer firefighting coverage and most require a specific rider attached. In many larger centres, firefighting coverage is included with your property taxes. In many towns, including Carlyle, this coverage is not included. Fighting a fire could cost thousands of dollars; make sure that you are adequately insured.
There are no set guidelines for the amount of fire insurance a person needs. However, decisions should be based on what it costs to rebuild an entire property in the event of entire loss. Cabins and vacation properties are woefully underinsured, make sure you know what you are covered for.
Regarding wood stoves, all must be Wood Energy Technology Transfer-certified and professionally installed. These stoves must be disclosed on your policy.
On the Government of Saskatchewan website, there is a section pertaining to carbon monoxide alarms and smoke alarms.
“The building code regulations … require carbon monoxide alarms and smoke alarms (or combination carbon monoxide-smoke alarms) be installed in all residential buildings in Saskatchewan, regardless of the date the building was constructed,” the website states.
Regarding security systems, insurance agencies agree that all should be bought for peace of mind and not for insurance premium savings. To qualify for an insurance discount, these systems must be monitored by an outside third party and not just your cell phone.
And finally, do not let your policy lapse due to non-payment. Insurance companies have an obligation to remind people that their coverage is about to expire. But they are not perfect and the onus is still on the policy holder to ensure this does not happen.
The local agents mentioned were pleased that they were asked for their input and advice. Everyone should ensure that they have adequate insurance coverage to protect themselves and their families.