Ontario Home Insurance Resources

A wealth of information on home insurance in the province of Ontario, including useful tips on prevention, maintenance, how to save, and more.

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My Cottage, My Insurance, and a Wood Burning Stove

While wood burning stoves have become safer and more environmentally friendly, they still provide enough of a fire hazard to put upward pressure on insurance premiums (about 10%). That’s if your stove is properly installed and inspected. A wood stove that’s not installed to code could render your cottage uninsurable.

What is cottage nightlife, after all, without the smell of burning wood? Efficiency be damned, you say, when it comes to sprucing up your little cabin with a fireplace or, more specifically, a quaint little wood burning stove. They look great, they provide hours of simple pleasures and sticky treats, and they help bring you that much closer to nature in its purest form.

Still, there’s the question of just how much these cozy contraptions affect your cottage insurance, and just what you have to do to make sure they are safe and up to code.

Will a Wood Burning Stove Increase My Premiums?

Few people are likely shocked to learn that having an open flame burning for hours each night inside your cottage is going to heat up your premiums as well. That’s not to say that modern wood burning stoves are inherently unsafe, or that getting one is a bad idea, because a lot of pleasure can be gained by having one when it’s been installed and used correctly.

But even if you consider yourself extremely safety conscious and a stickler for detail with a lifetime of experience around open flames, the simple truth is that some people are less safe than others.

Expect your premiums to rise from 10% to a set amount of about $100 or more.

When insurance companies calculate risks, they tend to base the price of premiums on the broadest set of data they have, as well as the amount of claims they have paid out over recent years. Since not everyone is as careful as they should be around fire, we all end up having to pay more for coverage.

Costs will vary from company to company, and will depend on the type of wood burning unit you have and whether or not it is the main heating source for your cottage, but expect your premiums to rise from 10% to a set amount of about $100 or more.

Fireplace
Thinking about installing a fireplace insert instead? Many of the same rules apply.

What is Wood Energy Technology Transfer (WETT) certification?

Whether you are installing a new wood burning stove, having it installed professionally or buying a cottage that already has one, your insurance broker may require you to get it inspected and certified by a WETT technician or complete a solid fuel heating questionnaire and send photos of the stove.

This is not solely for the purpose of protecting your cottage. It is also protecting your family’s health since an incorrectly installed wood stove can release harmful pollutants that can make you and your loved ones more prone to respiratory diseases.

The requirements for WETT certification are as follows:

  • Floor protection – ensuring the floor is protected from the stove’s intense heat, as well as sparks and embers.
  • Clearance – ensuring the space around the stove meets all guidelines regarding how far the unit needs to be from any combustible materials
  • Location – ensuring the unit is not installed in an inherently dangerous spot
  • Chimney – ensuring it is clean and up to code
  • Flue pipes – ensuring they are clean, up to code and installed correctly

What Can I Do to Make Sure My Wood Burning Stove is Ready For Certification?

Wood stove clearance label and safety information
ULC plate with clearance info
  • Floor protection: Get a floor pad to provide protection from sparks and embers shooting out of the stove and onto the floor. It should be made with a durable, fire-proof material and extend 18 inches from any side with a door and 8 inches on all other sides. You will also be required to have a glass or mesh screen on the unit’s door.
  • Clearance: Make sure you have a clean and open space around the stove. Check the ULC plate on the back of the unit to find information on how far flammable objects should be kept away.

    Insurance tip

    Quick Tip

    Safety codes allow for reduced clearances from the manufacturer’s requirements as long as shielding is properly installed and acceptable materials, such as sheet metal, Durock, ceramic, brick and concrete, are used.
  • Location: Make sure you aren’t installing the stove near anything dangerous, such as an oil tank. Also be sure to do your wood chopping and other such activities outside, away from the unit so as to avoid chips and bits being scattered around.
  • Chimney: Your chimney must be made of metal, have a tight-fitting weather cap and be enclosed if it passes through a living space upstairs. Your chimney should be cleaned annually.

    Insurance tip

    Quick Tip

    Never burn wet or “green” wood in your stove as this will lead to more creosote build up. It’s best to store wood for about two years before burning. If you buy wood, make sure it’s been dried properly. Ideally, stove wood has a moisture content of around 15%.
  • Flue pipe: Make sure there is proper clearance between the flue pipe and potential combustibles. This is usually over 18 inches, but it can be reduced with proper shielding. Galvanised flue pipe is not permitted, nor are flue pipes allowed to pass through a ceiling or floor.

IMPORTANT!

If you have installed a wood burning stove yourself, be sure to inform your insurance company at once. Otherwise, you may not be covered if your cottage burns down.

And finally…

If you are considering purchasing an older cottage with a wood burning stove already installed or have plans to install one after you take over the deed, consult Mitchell & Whale to see what kind of upgrades or changes may be needed before you can obtain coverage.

After all, you may want to factor those changes into your offer before you buy.

Call Mitchell & Whale today at 1-800-731-2228 and let us help you get a good fire going safely in the comfort of your little cabin in the woods.

Special thanks to Shane Rosenberg, account manager at Mitchell & Whale, for his help on this article.

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Wood burning stove
City of Toronto

Leaving Toronto – How much can you save on insurance?

During the pandemic, many Torontonians have taken advantage of remote working arrangements, and decided to leave the city. If you do the same, you could save up to 37% on your home and auto insurance premiums.

The pandemic has led to an unprecedented spike in the number of people working from home. In January of 2021, more than 30% of Canadian employees were working primarily at home, and many have no intention of ever going back to the old status quo. That has created the perfect conditions for many Torontonians to leave the city for the slower pace and lower costs that can be found far away from the skyscrapers and stop-and-go traffic.

Admittedly, the largest savings that can be realized are related to housing (mortgage or rent), but it’s always good to have as much data as possible when you’re weighing your options. So we took the time to crunch some insurance numbers for you. Here’s what we found.

Key Findings

  • Savings on home insurance are not significant when you move away from the big city. Maximum savings of 15% (Peterborough), and four of the eight communities we got quotes in actually pay more than Toronto (18% more in Clarington).
  • Savings on auto insurance tend to grow the further you get from the city – as much as 43% in Peterborough.
  • You can save 36-37% on your total premiums by moving to Peterborough.
  • If you don’t want to move too far, you can save 24% on your total premiums by living in Guelph, and still be within 100 km of a Blue Jays game.
  • If you’re moving to Clarington, don’t do it for the insurance savings. You’re going over 100 km away for a total premium savings of just 8-11%.
  • The percentage savings seem to be fairly consistent regardless of whether you have a clean insurance record or not, but the worse your record, the more you’ll save in actual dollars.

Where will you save at least 25% on housing?

There was a time when moving away from Toronto could’ve meant relocating to relatively nearby bedroom communities like Markham, Pickering or Burlington. The reality of today’s GTA real estate market is that to live the dream of getting a bigger house, with a larger property, and still pay significantly less than you’re currently paying in Toronto for housing, you have to move somewhat further, especially if you want to go west.

We chose eight communities between 60 and 140 km from Toronto where the average home price is low enough, compared to Toronto ($1,025,925), to make a significant difference in the lifestyle you can enjoy there.

City/TownPopulation1Avg Home Price2Distance from Toronto
Oshawa159,458$625, 69260 km
Guelph131,794$741,74693 km
Clarington92,013$693,014102 km
Orangeville28,900$653,605108 km
Barrie141,434$604, 475110 km
St. Catharines133,113$478,600112 km
Waterloo104,986$695,928113 km
Peterborough81,032$571,956139 km

So how much is insurance “out there”?

After we chose the communities, we ran home and auto insurance quotes for a fictional 38-year-old female, first in Toronto, and then in each of the “bedroom communities”. Note that the most common scenario when someone moves away from the city is that they will get a bigger, newer house than they had in the city. For the purposes of a fair comparison however, we chose to compare rates for properties that are of the same size, age and construction.

Sherise, 38-year-old, married female Lives in a four-bedroom, 2,500 sq. ft. detached brick home Drives a 2019 Toyota Highlander LE V6 4DR 2WD Clean driving record, one home insurance claim in 2009
City/TownHome premium3Auto premiumTotal premiumSavings
Toronto (M4J)$485$1,767$2,252
Oshawa (L1K)$529$1,490$2,01911%
Clarington (L1B)$572$1,437$2,00911%
Orangeville (L9W)$510$1,378$1,88816%
Barrie (L4N)$552$1,248$1,80020%
Waterloo (N2L)$478$1,289$1,76722%
Guelph (N1H)$422$1,289$1,71124%
St. Catharines (L2N)$458$1,123$1,58130%
Peterborough (K9H)$415$1,016$1,43136%

But what if you’re male? What if you’re older? What if you have tickets?

We all know that males under 30 pay more for auto insurance than a female with the same driving profile. So just to be sure that the above comparisons reflect the reality of moving away from the city for all Ontarians, we ran all the same quotes as above for a 50-year-old divorced male. And just for fun, we gave him a few speeding tickets and a recent home insurance claim.

Martin, 50-year-old, divorced male Lives in a four-bedroom, 2,500 sq. ft. detached brick home Drives a 2019 Toyota Highlander LE V6 4DR 2WD Two speeding tickets in 2020, one home insurance claim in 2019
City/TownHome premiumIncrease due to recent claimAuto premium – Clean recordAuto premium with ticketsIncrease due to recent ticketsTotal premiumSavings
Toronto (M4J)$59924%$1,520$1,87924%$2,478
Oshawa (L1K)$64222%$1,274$1,57123%$2,21311%
Clarington (L1B)$69922%$1,274$1,57123%$2,2708%
Orangeville (L9W)$62122%$1,191$1,46523%$2,08616%
Barrie (L4N)$66921%$1,080$1,31822%$1,98720%
Waterloo (N2L)$58122%$1,119$1,37022%$1,95121%
Guelph (N1H)$51522%$1,119$1,37022%$1,88524%
St. Catharines (L2N)$56323%$971$1,18722%$1,75029%
Peterborough (K9H)$48417%$882$1,06821%$1,55237%

A few notes about Martin:

  • At age 38, Martin would pay 2-4% more for auto insurance than Sherice if they both had clean driving records, because he’s male. By age 50, men and women pay the same.
  • Martin would pay 11-14% less in auto premiums than Sherice by virtue of his age (no tickets).
  • Home premiums would have been the exact same for Martin and Sherice, regardless of gender, age and marital status.
  • Because of Martin’s 2019 home insurance claim, his home premiums are between 17% and 24% higher than Sherice.
  • Likewise, Martin pays between 21% and 24% more for auto insurance because of recent tickets on his record.
  • In the final analysis, having blemishes on your record doesn’t seem to affect how much you can save on premiums when you leave the city.
  • For some reason, Clarington residents don’t seem to get their share of savings, given how far they are from the city.

Should you move for the insurance savings?

Obviously the difference in insurance premiums will never be the primary driver for leaving Toronto. Unless you have a really bad record of claims, tickets, etc., moving away won’t save you more than $1,000 a year. That said, if you’re already thinking about leaving the city for other reasons, saving a few bucks on premiums might just push you over the edge.

At M&W, we love our Toronto customers, but we understand that the city is not for everyone. If you’re thinking about a move and want to know exactly how that will affect your insurance, give us a shout today.


3 All quotes assume the home is within 150 metres of a fire hydrant, and within 5 km of a fire station. If you move to a rural area, and your home is far away from any fire hydrant or fire station, that could add 50% or more to your home insurance premiums.

Special thanks to Alex Hillhouse, Insurance broker and team leader at M&W.

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Roomates

If I Have Roommates, Do I Need My Own Insurance?

In a word… Yes. While some insurance providers will let you add yourself to a roommate’s tenants insurance policy, allowing you to share the cost of the premiums, do NOT assume that you and your belongings are covered under their plan. Because the cold hard truth is that you are likely not.

Tenants insurance is designed to protect you, the policyholder, from damage or loss of property, as well as from liability should a guest get injured on the premises. It does not automatically cover the possessions and liability of a roommate just because you live under the same roof.

That’s why it’s best to have your own tenants insurance policy.

Moving into a new apartment with an old friend, or even someone you met through social media, can be an exciting experience. It can also be a disaster. Many a lifelong friendship has been made (and lost) while sharing a home together.

And while it may seem as though you can trust your mates not to sue you, or generally mess your life up in any way, when it comes to insurance, it’s best to maintain your own claims history and purchase your own independent policy.

Let’s delve into some of the reasons for this.

Why do many insurers insist on separate policies for roommates?

First of all, it’s important to make clear that you’re not covered just because you moved into an apartment with a roommate who already has tenants insurance. Your roommate’s policy only covers them and doesn’t extend to everyone else living under the same roof.

Yes, some insurance providers will allow you to put your name on a roommate’s policy, but others may insist on separate policies for each individual, and their reasons for this might just convince you that this is by far the better option for everyone. Here are some of the risks they highlight:

1. Complications arising from losses and claims:

Perhaps the biggest reason why you should not add your name to a roommate’s policy is that any claim they make will affect your claim history going forward. If they make a claim for a lost or damaged laptop, basically you just made a claim for a lost or damaged laptop, whether you know about it or not. Any claim on your record affects your premiums for five years.

Even more serious, if your roommate’s guest gets injured on the property, or is even bitten by their skittish Rottweiler and subsequently sues, the resulting suit could be astronomical. This would affect your premiums far into the future, well beyond your present living arrangement.

Risk: Their claim history is now your claim history.


2. Complications arising from payouts

If you make a claim, the payout will go to both of you, regardless of whether you made the claim together. So, you’ll need your roommate’s signature before you cash that cheque to cover your own lost or damaged property.

And if you make a claim together for a variety of lost and damaged items at the same time, there could be complicated arguments over how to divvy up the money fairly.

Risk: Payments for claims are made out to both you and your roommate, regardless of who made the claim.


3. Roommate turnover

It may seem like you’ll always be besties and will live together for quite some time, but people fall in love and get married, and friends do fall out with one another. And some roommates just move on to better opportunities elsewhere and forget to do something about that old insurance policy.

If your roommate moves out during the life of the policy, you may be on the hook for the rest of the premiums as you will need their signature to take them off the policy, or to cancel the policy altogether.

Risk: If your roommate disappears, you will be responsible for the life of the policy.


4. Cost sharing may not be an equal proposition

Quite simply, your roommate might have more stuff than you, have a more aggressive dog than you do, or have more guests over who could possibly injure themselves in your apartment. In short, your roommate might carry more risk than you. So how do you split the cost of the premiums fairly?

Also, how are you going to pay the premiums? All up front or on a monthly basis? If your roommate leaves, you could be left making the monthly payments yourself, or you may have to refund a prorated share of the premium to what is now your ex-roommate.

Risk: The size of your roommate’s property and potential liability might be greater than yours.


Conclusion:

A separate policy just might be the best solution for the both of you.

Insurance tip

Remember!

DO NOT try to claim property that isn’t yours. Claiming a roommate’s belongings is considered fraud!

Why do I need insurance anyway? Wouldn’t my landlord have a policy?

Your landlord most certainly has an insurance policy for the apartment they are renting out. But it’s important to remember that your landlord’s policy basically covers them for any damage caused to the premises by fire and water, etc. It doesn’t cover your belongings or your personal liability.

In fact, many landlords will insist that you obtain tenants insurance before you even sign the lease. This isn’t necessarily because they care about your well-being, but because of any mishaps that might happen while you’re living there.

As a student, aren’t I covered on my parent’s policy?

Young adults who are still dependents while attending college or university are usually covered on a parent’s home insurance policy. But keep in mind that some policies limit the value of the child’s belongings that are covered, and usually only cover you if you’re away from home temporarily.

So, if you’re living away from home year-round, including summers, holidays etc., you probably are NOT covered under your parents’ policy.

So what does my individual tenants insurance cover me for?

Having your own policy will not only give you peace of mind and save you from some potential headaches and arguments with your new roommate going forward, it’ll also cover you for the following:

  • Loss or damage to your personal property, both at home and away – such as a lost laptop or stolen luggage while travelling on vacation
  • Personal liability, both at home and away – for example, if you plow into someone while riding an e-scooter in the park
  • Items stolen from your car while parked out on the street
  • Anything held in a separate storage facility

Due to the fact that each person added to a policy increases the likelihood of a claim, it should be clear why you’re not automatically covered under a roommate’s tenants insurance policy.

And because of the numerous things that can go wrong while sharing one policy with a roommate, it’s highly recommended, and sometimes insisted upon, that you purchase your own individual policy.

Call Mitchell & Whale today at 1-800-731-2228 to find low-cost tenants insurance that will help make your new living arrangement an experience to look back on with no regrets.

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How much is home insurance in Ontario?

How Much is Home Insurance in Ontario?

Home insurance is essential protection for anyone who owns their own home. It’s not mandatory, but if you have a mortgage, your bank will insist that at least the structure itself be insured. So if you’re buying for the first time or looking to move, you might want to know how much you’re likely to pay for home insurance in your area. Across Ontario, the average cost is approximately $121 a month. In Toronto and the GTA, it’s a little higher.

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Essential reads

Our most popular home insurance posts and resources. Whether you're looking to insure your first home or shopping for better coverage, this is your first stop to catching up on the essentials of home insurance in Ontario.

What Questions Do I Need to Answer to Get Home Insurance?

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.)

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Home insurance questions for quote
Best home insurance companies in Ontario

The Best Home Insurance Companies in Ontario

There are more than 40 different insurance companies that offer home insurance in Ontario. It can be difficult to tell one from the next sometimes. A lot of them seem to offer similar things, so how do you know which one to choose? There’s no one answer, but there are certainly ways to narrow it down.

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Best auto insurance companies

The Best Car Insurance Companies in Ontario

Ontario has about 12 million registered vehicles and only about 11 million people who are currently of driving age. Long story short, if you’re an adult living in Ontario, there’s a good chance you need car insurance. But you probably see ads for dozens of different insurance companies every week, and they all say that they’re the best, that they offer the best rates, and that they give you the best service if you have to make a claim.

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Dealing With Home Perils

No matter how prepared you are, accidents and bad luck can cross your path. Learn about ways recover quickly and effectively from an unforeseen should disaster strike your home and property.

An ice dam

Ice Dams 101

An ice dam is a build-up of ice or snow along the edge of a roof or eaves. Water from rain or melting snow then pools behind this build-up and passively backs up underneath the shingles entering the attic or wall cavity.

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Ontario windstorm of 2018

Wind Damage: What’s Covered and How to Proceed

This Wednesday’s windstorm in Southern Ontario left a trail of destruction and at least 100,000 without electricity. Wind gusts of up to 100km per hour toppled fences, brought down trees, ripped siding from homes, and blew shingles from roofs throughout the province. Read more

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Home Safety & Claims Prevention

Regardless of your level of home insurance, prevention is the key to your safety and fewer claims, as well as the best way to keep your rates from increasing.

Frozen pipe spraying water in winter

How to Avoid Frozen Pipes in Winter

While You Were Gone – Avoid Costly Surprises When on Vacation

As Canadians, we like to escape winter if we can—maybe spend a few of the harsher weeks of the season down in some tropical destination. Read more

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