Shopping for home or tenants insurance in Ontario is not quite as straightforward as shopping for auto insurance. That’s because the government has very strict rules for auto insurance, but not for home insurance. Insurance companies can determine your premium based on whatever risk factors they think are most important. (For auto insurance, certain factors are banned.)
So, we can’t tell you exactly what questions you’ll be asked to get a home insurance quote, but we can certainly give you the basics. Some insurance companies may want other information from you, but at a minimum, they’ll want to know the following:
Questions About You (The Homeowner or Tenant)
- What is your name?
- What is your gender?
- What is your occupation?
- What is your date of birth?
- What is your phone number?
- What is your email address?
Questions About the Home
- Who owns the home? (List everyone on the deed)
- What is the address of the property you want to insure? (include unit # if applicable)
- When was the home/building built?
- What kind of home is it? (Single-family, two-family etc.)
- What type of building is it? (Detached, semi, townhome, condominium etc.)
- What type of material is the building made of? (Wood frame? Brick exterior? Siding?)
- What is the square footage of the home? (exclude basement)
- Is the basement finished? Partially finished?
- Is there a garage? Carport? Is it attached to the house? 1-car? 2-car?
- Are you planning to rent out any part of the house/unit? If so, will it be a standard 1 year lease or short term rental like AirBnB?
- When did you move in? (Year and month) If less than 3 years, what is your prior address?
- If you haven’t moved in yet, what is your current address?
- Is this/will this be your primary residence?
- What kind of plumbing is in the home? Has it been upgraded? If so, when?
- What kind of wiring is in the home? (Copper, aluminum, knob & tube) Has it been upgraded? If so, when?
- How is the home heated? (Gas, oil, electric, wood)
- How old is the furnace or other heat source?
- What kind of roof do you have? Ashphalt? Metal? When was it last re-shingled?
- Does the home have a wood or oil burning stove? (Not necessarily the primary heat source)
- Does the home have a fire/smoke alarm that is monitored by an alarm company?
- Does the home have a monitored burglar alarm? If It’s a building, is there 24-hour security on-site?
- Does the home have deadbolt locks on all exterior doors?
- Does the home have a sprinkler system?
- Any smokers living in the house?
- How many working fire extinguishers do you have in the house/unit?
- How many mortgages do you have on the property?
- Do you grow cannabis in the home?
Questions About Your Insurance Record
- Do you have an existing homeowners/tenants policy? Policy number?
- How long have you been insured by your current insurer?
- How long have you had home insurance without gaps in coverage?
- Have you had any home or tenants insurance claims in the last 6 years?
- Has your home/tenants insurance ever been cancelled for non-payment? Has an insurer ever refused to renew your home or tenants insurance?
Questions about coverage and discounts
- When do you want coverage to start? (Year and month)
- Do you want to buy an auto insurance policy from the same insurer? (Bundle discount may apply)
- How much liability coverage do you want? ($1 million? $2 million?)
- What do you want your deductible to be? $500 or $1,000
- Do you want coverage beyond the basic? (For example, sewer backup and overland flooding is not typically covered, but those coverages are available from some insurers)
- May we run a soft credit check on you? (home insurance discounts may apply – This kind of check won’t affect your credit rating)
- Will you be paying monthly or annually? (Some companies may not offer monthly payments unless you bundle your home coverage with auto insurance)
- Do you have any high-value items like jewellery, sports equipment or fine art that you’d like to insure separately from the rest of your home contents? (Contents coverage is limited to a percentage of the value of your home)
Questions if You’re Insuring a Condo Unit or Apartment
If you own a condo or apartment unit, the questions will be very similar to those above. Note that the condo corporation would typically insure the building. You are responsible for insuring everything inside your unit, so your broker will ask:
- How much do you think it would cost to rebuild your unit? (Include your belongings, of course, but also things like cabinets, floors, counters, molding etc. that is not insured by the building.)
Questions if You’re Renting
If you’re renting a house or condo, your broker will ask:
- What would it cost to replace all your possessions?
If you’re renting, this number should not include cabinets and floors, but should include everything from furniture and appliances, to clothes, to dishes, to knick-knacks to the salt and pepper in your cupboard. A good guideline is $7,000 per room in the home, including the garage if you have one. If you have high-value items like jewellery or fine art, you will want to insure those separately.
Answer as accurately as you can to get the most accurate quote. If you get questions that aren’t listed above, that insurance company may be rating you on different factors. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Make sure you compare apples to apples when you get quotes. That means you don’t want to compare a basic contents policy to an all-risks homeowners policy. The premiums will be very different.
If there’s any part of the process you don’t understand or want to clarify something, never hesitate to give one of our experienced home insurance experts a call at 1.800.731.2228. They’ll walk you through it with a smile!
Thanks to Morgan Roberts, Insurance Broker at Mitchell & Whale Insurance, for her input to this post.