Homeowner: Insurance

You need to insure your home. You can get home owners' insurance online, but in rural areas it's often best to find a local insurance broker. We use the same brokers for the car insurance as for the house insurance, W. H. Williamson & Co. Ltd., in Picton.

Your mortgage company will probably require that you have enough insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding the house if needed. Even if it does not require it, you should get at least that much, because otherwise, after a fire burns down the house, you wll still be paying a mortgage a plot of land with a pile of rubble in it! Plus you might be liable for any injuries if someone explores the rubble.

Here in Southern Ontario, insurance companies don't like to insure barns unless they are in use as part of a farm, and even then it's hard to get anything like enough coverage. This is one reason why there are so few old barns left, I suppose. The coverage we've got pays half if the thing collapses, and another half when we rebuild it, but the total amount is less than a tenth of the cost of replacing the barn, unfortunately.

Note also that flood insurance is generally not included in Canada (or at least Ontario). This means that you may want to take some obvious precautions if you have an unfinished basement:

We also have a barn. It can be hard to get insurance for a barn if you are not using it actively for a farm. We could get only $20,000 of coverage, which (sadly) is probably not enough to rebuild anything remotely resembling the 1860s barn we have. The way the insurance works is that they will pay half when it falls down and the other half when you demonstrate that you have rebuilt your barn. If you have a farm insurance policy, though, you can get a better deal.

We had a local barn restorer (Rick from Level 'n Square) come and look at our barn; he added some cable ties to help it stay in shape, as we'd far rather it not fall down in the first place!

Obviously you also need to have car insurance for any motor vehicles. Less obvious (perhaps) is that you might get a discount if you buy house and car insurance from the same people.

Before making a claim, make sure you document everything carefully. Take photographs and make detailed notes. There's no point making small claims, because your premiums will go up. Note also that insurance companies turn down most claims automatically, and you have to claim again or appeal the decision. Half of those rejections are then paid out on the first call, so if your insurance company refuses to pay out, be calm, polite and persistant and be prepared to call them back more than once if needed.

[these pages are in preparation and not yet public]