BONUS: 8 More Important Factors that Affect Your Home Insurance

BONUS: 8 More Important Factors that Affect Your Home Insurance

Better understand your home insurance and the elements that influence your coverage and how much you pay.

Earlier this year, we shared 12 factors that impact your home insurance and coverage. The calculations may seem complicated, but they’re really not. It comes down to 20 factors that determine what your home insurance premium will be.

As a requirement to homeownership in most areas, we typically just sign on the dotted line without any proper understanding of  In the last post, we covered the most obvious components that influence the calculations. Below are the other factors essential to calculating your home insurance rates. Things you may not have otherwise considered.

  1. Damage Prevention and Mitigation Devices. When you maintain the appropriate damage prevention and mitigation devices, it can help to lower your home insurance costs. The list of devices includes:
    • Smoke and fire alarms
    • Carbon monoxide alarm
    • Water alarm
    • Security alarm
    • Security lighting
    • Security cameras
    • Sewer backup valve
    • Sump pump

    NOTE: don’t take it for granted that these items should reduce your home insurance rates. There may be specific requirements they have to meet and they may actually have to be approved by your insurance provider.

  2. The claim rate where you live. Your insurance provider will study the overall claim rate of where you live to predict the likelihood of your making a claim. If you live in a neighbourhood with a high claim rate, you can expect your home insurance costs to reflect that.
  3. Do you live in a neighbourhood that tends to experience higher crime rates? Similar to the general claim rate of your neighbourhood, your insurance provider will examine the crime rate in the neighbourhood of your property. If there’s a higher rate of theft or vandalism, you can expect to pay more for your home insurance.
  4. What is your credit rating? The reason your insurer examines your credit rating is that it will indicate how the likelihood that you’ll pay your insurance bills. A good credit rating can get you a discount and not count against your score. You do, however, have the option to opt-out of a credit rating check by your insurance company.
  5. To what demographic do you belong? Standard practice amongst the insurance industry is to look to statistics to identify the likelihood of a claim being filed to calculate your premium. The statistics provide information about what segment of a population is more or less likely to submit a claim for liability or damage.
    For example, how old are you? Typically, the older you are, the lower your home insurance premiums will be.
  6. What is your insurance and claims history? As with your auto insurance, the more consistent claim-free years you have, the less you’ll pay for home insurance. Statistically speaking, if you have a record of more claims, it’s a predictor that there will be more to come and that will be reflected in your coverage rate. Conversely, no claims on your insurance record can offer you eligibility for claims-free discounts.
  7. Do you qualify for any discounts? Regardless which insurance company you choose, every one of us offers some kind of discount. The most common:
    • Claims-free
    • Bundling (if you have several policies with the same provider)
    • Damage prevention and mitigation devices
    • Loyalty
    • Mortgage-free
  8. The coverage options that are available to you. There is seemingly endless information to sift through and you’ll have many decisions to consider when you purchase home insurance. Talking to a broker is always a good idea! In short, though, your home insurance options will include:
    • Coverage – You will have to decide on the extent of coverage you’d like. You’ll find many forms of home insurance and that it can be customized to meet your specific needs. For instance, if you are a home-based business, there should be a home-based business endorsement included in your coverage. An addition to your coverage such as this extends your home insurance policy to cover any liability or damage claims related to your business, perhaps not covered by a basic homeowner’s policy.
    • Policy limits – If you’re unfamiliar, a policy limit is the maximum amount of money that will be paid out in a claim. You’ll notice other limits within your home insurance policy – the single item limit (the most that will be paid out for a single item in a claim) and a section limit ( the maximum amount that will be paid out under a certain section of your coverage, liability, for instance).
    • The deductible – You will be required to choose your deductible. This is the amount of money you will pay before your home insurance covers a claim. If you choose a higher deductible, you will pay a lower insurance premium.

Questions about your home insurance and how it’s calculated? Wondering if you might qualify for a lower rate?  Talk to us!

Kelowna Valley insurance cybersecurity month

Cybersecurity Awareness Month – How to Protect Yourself

October is cybersecurity month. Ensure you are educated about the risks – and possibility! – of cybercrime to your business or organization.

Regardless of the size of your business, cyber-attacks and data breaches are the new, frightening reality for businesses big and small. And with so many entrepreneurs and businesses moving their operations online, cybercrime becomes just that much more of a threat.

That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself so you aren’t caught unaware and potentially vulnerable.

If your business even publishes content that contains personal or business details online, it can be vulnerable to a variety of security exposures. Businesses need to ensure that significant care is taken when securing all electronic devices that contain employee, client, volunteer and/or member information and data.

Stolen laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and USB flash drives offer valuable access to your company’s network – hugely problematic, even dangerous, in the wrong hands! Viruses can also be a huge threat to your digital assets, data, network, and systems. Others include online hackers, e-extortion, defamation and libel to your brand, and website hijacking where your legitimate information and materials are replaced with bogus data.

If yours is a business that engages in e-commerce or if you store electronic data or if you use computers for any reason for your business, you could find yourself at risk for some kind of data breach or cyberattack.

Cyber attacks – how do they happen?

Every day, malicious hackers devise new and ever more advanced techniques to attack businesses and organizations. When you own a business, there is no shortage of day-to-day stresses. Well, you can now add cybercrime to the list – and the number of potential cyberattacks is a long one!

The most common attacks include:

  • Malware: Software, designed to be harmful, takes control of a machine, system, or network, monitors a user’s actions and relays any confidential data from the infected computer or network to the hacker.
  • Phishing: An attacker, under the guise of a trusted organization, individual, or business, tricks a user into taking a specific action – clicking a bad link or opening a harmful attachment – that they might not ordinarily take.
  • Ransomware: A software that encrypts documents or files to prevents access by the user and subsequently demands payment for their safe recovery. This happens after clicking a bad phishing link or visiting a website that’s compromised.
  • Denial of service attack: The hacker inundates a website with so much traffic that it’s impossible for legitimate visitors to access.
  • Spoofing: A cybercriminal impersonates another computer, device, or user or device to strike network hosts, steal data, spread malware, or divert access controls.
  • Brute force: The cybercriminal tries to decode encrypted data by attempting to use as many password combinations as possible, as rapidly as possible.

A month dedicated to the awareness of cybersecurity is great, but here are several ways you can be proactive to ensure your business, from an electronic and data perspective, is more secure:

Utilize surge protectors and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). Every computer and device on your network should be connected to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). A UPS will provide you with time and battery life to save your valuable data in the event of an unexpected disruption in power. For those any non-networked equipment or electronics that are less sensitive, standard surge protectors will be sufficient.

Be sure to limit access to your user data and information. If you’ve adequately limited access to your valuable user data minimized the opportunity to fall victim to human error – perhaps surprisingly, the primary security threat when it comes to information.

It’s estimated that 80% of cyber incidents are, in fact, inside jobs. Disgruntled employees, with access to sensitive materials and data and, in their minds, motive are a huge problem to the cybersecurity of a business. When an employee leaves the company or transfers to a different department, be proactive to protect your business or company division. Delete accounts and passwords from all systems. Don’t forget to collect keys and relevant ID badges.

Install and utilize firewalls for software and hardware, alike. Firewalls are vital to help prevent and protect your data. From the inappropriate online browsing of employees to malicious hackers, firewalls provide solid protection for your business systems. Be sure they’re installed and up-to-date on every business networked device, computer, and mobile phone for yourself and every employee. Don’t forget your workers off-site, even if your business and employees utilize a virtual private network (VPN) or a cloud service provider (CSP). For extra protection and security, you can consider installing an intrusion detection and prevention system (IDPS).

Use email and web filters. You can use email and web browser filters to discourage hackers and prevent irritating spam from congesting your team’s inboxes. An additional option is to utilize “blacklist” services that will block users from browsing perilous websites that pose risks of malware.

Discourage your employees from visiting websites known for their risks to cybersecurity – pornography, for instance. Keep in mind, while this might be awkward to address with the team, it only takes one misstep online to the wrong website to download damaging malware, even inadvertently.

Regularly patch your software and operating systems. Whenever you install a new app, it can leave you vulnerable to security breaches. To prevent a possible cyberattack, patch and update all the software regularly on every computer and device used for your business, including by employees.

Do not delay with updates to your operating system. They will often include enhanced, or even new, security features you’ll want to have. When you purchase a new computer system or install a new software product, be sure to check for most recent updates. Note: software products and companies don’t have to provide security updates for out-of-date products.

Secure all wireless networks and access points. To ensure the most secure wireless networking, follow the router best practices:

  • When you get a new device, change the admin password
  • Fix the wireless access point so that it doesn’t relay the service set identifier (SSID)
  • Set the router to use WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA-2), with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) for encryption
  • Steer clear of using WEP (Wired-Equivalent Privacy)

If you offer guest access to WiFi, use a different network from your business activities.

Utilize encryption for all sensitive company and business information. Protect all business computers and electronic devices as well as all sensitive electronic information safe with full-disk encryption. When you save your encryption password, keep it in a secure location apart from backups you’ve got stored.

While email recipients will likely require the same encryption capability to decrypt, never ever send passwords or keys in the same email as an encrypted file or document – provide it by phone or some other way.

Adequately train your employees in cybersecurity measures. One of your best protections against cybersecurity threats is a cyber-vigilant team of employees.

Your employees must understand:

  • The distinction between personal and business emails and what is permitted
  • How sensitive business data and information should be handled both in the office and while working at home
  • Actions to take if a breach occurs

All new employees should be trained immediately regarding the protection of valuable and sensitive information and data. Institute an information policy and have them sign. To foster a culture of cybersecurity in your office, make use of newsletters and regular training to ensure your company stays up-to-date in cybersecurity measures.

Dispose of outdated media and old computers securely. Before you load up your old computers for donation or recycling, you must clear all hard drive information, important and otherwise – take nothing for granted when handing your business computers off.  Delete all sensitive data on old flash drives, CDs, and other old media and then destroy them.

Commercial insurance that includes cyber coverage

Cyber attacks and security breaches are increasingly common in Canada. Every day businesses are dealing with the dangers of viruses, loss of data, damage to networks, and the theft of information. Unfortunately, most conventional commercial insurance policies have been developed to protect the physical assets of a business, not virtual assets such as software, applications, and data.

Cyber liability insurance policies in Canada can cover business interruption – lost income in the event that you’re forced to stop operations due to a cybersecurity-related event. However, chances are your standard commercial insurance policy may not cover the risk of a cyber attack or data breach, or it is likely rather limited.

You should talk to your insurer to explore the options for protecting your business specifically from cyber risk.

Questions about your commercial insurance and the risks online? Talk to us to ensure you’re properly protected.

Kelowna Valley Insurance protect your home and property from wildfire

Wildfire Season! Don’t Leave Your Home and Property Unprotected!

Wildfire season is underway in our region – with a vengeance! Don’t leave your home and property vulnerable.

Despite British Columbia wildfire season getting a bit of a late start this summer, the dry, hot conditions set it up to be as dangerous and challenging as years past. With communities, properties, and untold hectares of wilderness under threat, it may seem that there isn’t much you can do to protect yourself against the power of a wildfire.

We’ve seen the ravages of previous wildfires to communities like Fort McMurray a few years ago, and in BC, smashing records in the summers of 2017 and 2018. This year, we watch as flames engulf mountainsides above the lights of the city, gape as helicopters and planes loaded with water fly overhead hour after hour, and keep an eye on the British Columbia interactive wildfire map, for regular updates.

You may think there is little you can do to protect your home and property against such a force of nature, you’re not entirely powerless. First, let’s make clear, we always urge you to listen to the recommendations of your local authorities and follow their instructions to protect yourself and your family in the event of imminent threat of forest fire.

But, there are several ways you can protect your home and property against wildfires if you’re proactive.

Is yours a region under threat of forest and wildfires?

Identify, first, if you live in a region that is often subject to the threat of frequent wildfires. Sad fact: many British Columbia communities are!

A whopping 30 per cent of the world’s total forests and 10 per cent of what is known as forest cover are here in Canada. With so much of our landmass covered in forests, we are vulnerable to a higher incidence of wildfire, depending on the environmental conditions.

But, wildfires aren’t all bad. Rather, they are essential to forest renewal and the overall health of our valuable forests. Fire helps to release seeds and vital nutrients. It also clears the overhanging forest canopy to allow more sunlight to stimulate fresh growth.

However, issues of climate change – higher temperatures and less precipitation – and increased development, mean that we can experience forest fires with greater frequency and intensity. And the increased risk to communities, homes, and property.

Statistics gathered by Natural Resources Canada (NRC), identify that 2.5 million hectares per year have been destroyed by Canadian wildfires over the past 3 decades – a tremendous cost to land and property. That’s also significant resources devoted to fire suppression efforts. As much as $500 million to $1 billion a year.

When you live in an area at risk, as we do, it’s important to take as many preventative measures as possible when it comes to protecting your property.

Building materials as fire prevention

In a region of high risk, one of the best methods of loss prevention and mitigation in the event of a fire is to choose the building materials of your home or business thoughtfully, with protection in mind.

According to the experts at the Institute of Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), and their report on wildfire events and the prevention of loss, “Firewise homes have a survivable landscape and use appropriate building materials. Investments of a few hundred dollars can significantly reduce the risk [of] wildfire damage.”

Fortunately, organizations and insurance companies work together to provide resources to builders and homeowners to build more effective fire-resistant homes. The ICLR supports the adoption of Wildland Urban Interface provisions in national building codes, for example, working with FireSmart Canada and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

FireSmart Canada advises that hot, burning debris can be tossed as far as two kilometres ahead of a wildfire, making it a threat to anything in the fire’s even distant path. Its radiant heat alone is able to break windows and melt vinyl siding. Anything in the fire’s path, of course, will ignite and be destroyed in direct flames.

If you’re able, leave what is referred to as a “non-combustible zone” of up to 1.5 metres around your home. Essentially, keep your home clear of any materials that could easily ignite. FireSmart suggests reducing if not removing entirely, shrubbery – like highly flammable junipers – and evergreens to within as much as 10 metres of any structures. Keep any trees within 10 to 30 meters of your home and other structures, pruned and thinned. Also, make a point of keeping nearby powerlines clear of branches and tree limbs.

If you’re building new or starting a renovation, consult with your builder about the most appropriate building materials to help mitigate or prevent damage from fire. When considering your exterior finishes, for instance, opt for fibre-cement siding instead of wood shakes or vinyl siding. When you choose a roofing material, metal sheeting or asphalt shingles will offer much greater protection than a wood shakes.

Fortunately, with innovations in building materials, you don’t have to compromise style and aesthetics in favour of safety. It’s easy to find high-quality building materials in a variety of beautiful finishes. Take a look at materials such as concrete and steel and marvel at the possibilities – a realistic and attractive wood grain appearance, as only one example.

Your handy guide for a more fire-resistant home or business

There is a variety of measure you can take to make your home more resistant to wildfires:

  • Siding: As mentioned, wood and vinyl aren’t great choices when it comes to protecting your property from fire. Instead, look to fire-resistant materials such as stucco, brick, metal, concrete, or fibre-cement siding. Logs and timbers are also effective.
  • Roof: Again, look to metal and asphalt. Composite rubber and clay tiles offer better fire-resistance, too. Wood shakes, no matter how attractive, are highly combustible and also leave dangerous cracks – a potential point of entry for burning embers and debris.
  • Chimney: Your fireplace or woodstove can be a source of fire – actually tossing sparks and embers out on to your roof or into the surrounding brush and other material. Add a spark arrestor to your chimney.
  • Windows: Install tempered, dual- or multi-paned windows to replace any single-pane you might have in your home. The heat alone from a wildfire can break single-panes. Install metal screens to help reduce any radiant exposure as you help to protect against the entry of any burning debris or embers.
  • Doors: Be sure that all of your doors, for your home, garage, and any outbuildings have proper seals and are fire-rated.
  • Balconies and decks: Replace wood decking with attractive, non-combustible decking boards or consider a concrete patio.
  • Gutters and eaves: Keep your gutters clear buildup and potentially dangerous clutter from branches, leaves, moss, and other debris. This kind of buildup is easily ignited by embers or sparks.
  • Vents: Don’t underestimate the possible dangers of even small openings. Vents can offer a way in for burning embers and sparks. Be sure to install fire-rated vents. Screen them over for added protection.
  • Fences, walkways & boardwalks: While lovely, a wooden fence can actually lead flames directly to your home and front door. An easy fix? Add a metal gate to provide adequate separation between your wood fence and your house.
  • Sheds and outbuildings: If you have any structures (garages, workshops, guesthouse, even an outhouse) within 10 metres of your home, follow the above list.
  • Lawn: Keep your surrounding lawn and landscaping trimmed, mowed, and watered.

Given where we live, it’s very likely that your existing home insurance policy (condo, tenant, farm, commercial, and auto) provides coverage for damage and destruction caused by wildfire.

However, if you have any questions about the types of fire damage covered by your insurance –  some specific kinds of damage can be excluded or have limits – TALK TO US!


Kelowna Valley Insurance Commercial coverage for sports and fitness businesses

Commercial Insurance for Sports and Fitness Businesses in British Columbia

When your business involves the health and wellness of other people, it’s critical that you have the right commercial insurance to protect yourself and your company.

If you are a personal trainer, gym owner, yoga or dance instructor, coach or any other role involving dance, sport, or fitness, commercial sport and fitness insurance is an absolute must.

If you are a sport or fitness professional, there are any number of reasons someone could file a lawsuit or claim against you or your business. It’s important that you know the risks and that you’re prepared for just about anything to protect yourself and your investment.

Imagine if, after a personal training session, the client files a claim against your employee accusing him of sexual misconduct or abuse. During a session of strength training, the client, who had insisted he could perform another set of bench presses despite the warning of his trainer, injures himself and files a lawsuit alleging negligence or malpractice. The handle of a kettlebell all of a sudden snaps and injures the client using it quite severely and she sues the gym for unsafe equipment.

When it comes to an industry that revolves around the human body and equipment designed to push it beyond limit in many cases, anything can happen. Make sure you’re prepared!

What is commercial insurance for a sports and fitness business?

As you know sports, recreation and fitness clubs, gyms, dance and yoga studios, and other sports facilities and organizations face risks that are quite unique from those of other industries. However, thanks to your extensive training and expertise, you not only help your clients be at their best every day, but you also know how to mitigate many of the risks associated with operating a health and fitness operation.

But, again, anything can happen. Given the nature of the industry, you are exposed to liability in case of real or alleged errors, malpractice or injury.

Commercial sports and fitness insurance coverage provides essential protection should someone claim that an injury or damage to their property was caused by your (or someone in your employ) negligence, oversight, or mistake. Commercial sports and fitness insurance coverage helps you with the cost of defending and settling any such claims.

What common claims do fitness professionals experience? Not surprisingly, many fitness claims pertain to tripping over equipment. Another common claim occurs when clients push beyond their limits, believing they are capable of more than they actually are.

Are there restrictions on fitness or sport commercial insurance? The sport and fitness industry has many categories and the requirements, as well as the restrictions, are going to vary. You have to know who your client is and what clients you can, and more importantly, cannot train. Some common exclusions include professional athletes, minors, and certain types of exercises that typically include aquatic or aerial elements.

Questions about commercial sport and fitness coverage and what it does and does not include? Talk to us!

What does sports and fitness industry insurance cover?

Sports and fitness commercial insurance covers most categories of fitness professionals and gym owners. As you explore what you need, ensure that your coverage includes:

  • Professional Liability (Negligence or errors)
  • Unintentional Breach of Confidentiality
  • Claims of Sexual Harassment or Abuse
  • Sports Accidents
  • Products Liability including Gym Supplements, Sports Equipment

Who needs sports and fitness commercial insurance?

If you make your living as a sport or fitness services practitioner or provider, if you own or manage a gym, training facility, yoga or dance studio, or if you teach on your own, you should consider sport and fitness commercial insurance.

Specific practitioners and businesses that purchase coverage include, but are not limited to:

  • Gyms
  • Training Studios
  • Fitness Instructors
  • Personal Trainers
  • Dance studios
  • Zumba Teachers
  • Pilates Studios
  • Martial Arts Academies
  • Sports Leagues
  • Sporting Events

What impacts the cost of sports and fitness commercial insurance?

The cost of your policy will vary according a range of factors, including:

  • Location
  • Operation size
  • Your education and training
  • Years of experience in your field
  • Past insurance claims

Questions about commercial insurance coverage for your sports and fitness business? Talk to us!

kelowna valley insurance - 12 factors that impact your home insurance rates

12 of the Most Important Factors that Impact Your Home Insurance

Do you know what goes into calculating your home insurance rates? There are a variety of factors that impact the premiums you’ll pay.

It may seem that insurance agencies use complicated calculations to come up with the rates you pay for home insurance. But there is a method to the madness! Here are 12 factors that typically affect your premiums.

Construction and style of your home

We consider the style of your home when it comes to estimating your home insurance rates. The fact is, certain home styles are more likely to incur a claim or suffer certain types of damage. Bungalows, for instance, tend to have finished basements that can be vulnerable to water damage.

The materials your home is constructed can have a serious impact on your insurance rates. Homes built out of fire-resistant materials (stucco, for example) often cost less to insure. Building materials can affect the cost of a rebuild and the extent of damage that results, impacting the amount of the claim.

Square footage of your home

If you have a large home you’ll find it more expensive to insure – simply more area to replace in the event of a claim.

Your roof: how old is it and what material is it made of?

Your roof, the primary protection for your home, shelters you and your belongings from the elements outdoors. It’s also the most common insurance claim to be made as damage is frequent. Certainly, the newer your roof, the better when it comes to the rates you’ll pay for home coverage.  A new roof is more effective at providing protection for your home and you may enjoy a discount if you choose weather-resistant materials, such as metal.

Be aware that some insurance providers may offer only reduced or limited coverage and others may choose not to offer coverage at all if your roof is over a certain age.

How old is your home?

The age of your home assists your insurance provider to predict the likelihood of a claim as well as how much it will cost to rebuild your home.

As construction methods, building codes, and plumbing, electrical, and heating systems evolve and change over the years, an older house can be particularly vulnerable to increased risk for damage. Older materials and features, those that we enjoy most about our older or historic homes, can run up the costs if repair or replacement is necessary.

Be sure to notify your insurance agent if you’ve made updates or upgrades to mitigate potential damages, as this should work in your favour when it comes to your home insurance premiums.

Your heating, plumbing, and electrical systems: the age and materials

The types of systems in your home – heating, plumbing, and electrical – directly affect the probability of an insurance claim. Old and outdated infrastructure is far more likely to be the source of damage to your home. For example:

  • Pipes made of lead are more likely to crack and allow leaks.
  • Electrical of knob-and-tube systems have a greater likelihood of overloading and sparking a fire.
  • If you rely on wood or oil burning heat sources, your chances are increased of a house fire.

You will pay more for home insurance if your home has an older infrastructure – heating, plumbing, and electrical. Update these systems and you can enjoy not only a safer home but savings on your home insurance.

Other structures on your property nearby

It’s not unusual for many of us to have other structures on our property. Buildings such as:

  • Deck
  • Garage
  • Shed
  • Carport
  • Fencing
  • Outbuildings

Like your home, the size, type, and materials out of which is made, will affect what you pay for home insurance.

How close are the nearest fire hydrant and fire hall?

Your proximity to the nearest fire hydrant and fire hall affects your premiums. The closer you live to these vital resources, the better your chances of damages being limited or minimized and, consequently, your insurance rates will be less.

The presence of risks

There are certain types of risks that will increase your home insurance premiums due to the increased likelihood of claims for damages or liability. These include:

  • Hot tubs
  • Indoor or outdoor pools
  • Trampolines
  • Wood-burning fireplaces or stoves
  • Certain breeds of dogs

Your proximity to potential risks

How close does your home sit to potential risks such as bodies of water – lake, river, creek? This lovely feature could actually increase how much you’ll pay for home insurance depending on their distance from your house. Why? Rivers can be known to flood, for instance. If your home sits along a river or on land that is low-lying near a body of water, you may pay more for home insurance than if you lived further away or safely up on a hill.

How do you use your home?

There are a couple of common ways we use our homes that affect what we pay for home insurance:

  1. Investment property – rental suites or room
  2. Home-based business

If your home is used or partially used as an investment property with rental rooms or suites, you can probably expect an increase in your rates for home insurance coverage. This is due largely to the fact that there are increased risks inherent in renting. There is some benefit, however, in that you enjoy a fair rental value for your rental unit if you have a covered claim.

Typically, a business is not covered under your home insurance policy. Business property that is damaged is not covered. Nor is there coverage available if a client files a liability claim against you, say if they slip and fall on your front steps. However, many home insurance providers offer add-on coverage that includes additional protection for home-based businesses. Be prepared to pay a surcharge for the addition.

How much will it cost to rebuild your home?

The rebuilding cost estimate for your home is a big factor in determining your home insurance rates. Most insurance providers call this replacement cost – the estimated cost of rebuilding your home as is in the event it’s destroyed. It’s important to understand that this value is typically different than your home’s market value, as that includes the land as well.

Any estimate of replacement or rebuild of your home includes the price of materials and labour. Also, getting your home appraised is one way to identify if your home is properly insured for the correct replacement cost value.

How much might it cost to replace your belongings?

Your home insurance policy is designed to cover all of your belongings. You’ve got a couple of options for protecting them: cash value or replacement cost. If you choose the cash value option, you’ll receive payment for the market price of your items as though you’d sold them the day they were damaged or destroyed in a covered claim (up to the single item or policy limit). If you opt for replacement cost, you’ll receive the amount it costs to replace those items with either another that is the same or something similar in make and quality (for an insured claim, up to the single item and policy limit).

If you have significant valuables – jewelry, art or wine collection, or other valued collectibles, it may be in your best interest to purchase an add-on in your coverage that ensures your collection is adequately protected. You can do the same with valuable sporting equipment or electronics. Such items can often exceed the single item limit in their worth, so it’s wise to make sure you’ve covered them properly.

If you want to have an estimate of what replacement costs would be or the cash value of what you own, you ought to create a home inventory and keep it updated with your belongings and valuables. It’s handy to have if ever have to file a claim.

Kelowna Valley insurance burglary protection indoors

Protect Your Home From Burglary Part 2: Prepare Your Indoors

When it comes to the safety of your family and the security of your home, you can’t be too careful. Protect your house from burglary from the indoors.

Nighttime may cause you the most concern when it comes to the security of your home, given the cover of darkness for a potential break-in. But really, it’s daytime hours – as you’re away for hours at a time running errands, at work, and at school – when your home is most vulnerable to burglary. In fact, according to the FBI, in the United States, 65% of burglaries occur between 6 am and 6 pm with the most common hours for a burglary being between 10 am-3 pm.

No matter the time of day, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to ensure your home is safe and sound.

You can’t be too careful when it comes to protecting your family and your belongings. Last month we covered how you can prevent a possible break-in by securing the outside of your home. And there’s plenty you can do indoors, as well.

Don’t let your home be vulnerable to a thief. Review these seven steps to keeping your house secure from inside your home, whether you’re comfy-cozy in bed, everyone is out at work or school, or you’re away on vacation.

New place? Change the locks when you move in. If you’re renting a home, don’t be afraid to ask the landlord to replace the locks with new, if it hasn’t been done already.

There’s no way of knowing how many copies of keys are in circulation, who has them, or where they are. It’s better to be safe than sorry and it’s an easy request when it comes to the safety and security of your family and belongings.

Keep doors and windows closed and securely locked at all times. It should come as no surprise that an open door or window would offer an easy invitation to a potential thief.

So, even if you’re at home, get in the habit of keeping doors and windows closed securely as well as locked.

Check your window locks for strength and integrity and be sure to update them, if they become inadequate. Burglars will find weak spots to gain entry and weak or broken locks are easy to identify.

Always lock the front door when you leave your home, no matter how quick the outing. Exterior doors should all be equipped with deadbolt locking systems. Sliders should have vertical bolts and keep a wooden or metal rod in the track to prevent the doors from being lifted out of the track or being forced open.

Don’t forget the door to your garage! It’s often one of the easiest points of entry and just because your garage doors are automatic doesn’t mean your garage is fully secure.

Reinforce windows with safety glass. Breaking a window is often a means to entry for many thieves. Make it harder, if not impossible, for them to break through your window by installing safety glass.  Depending on the level of security you feel in your neighbourhood you can even consider decorative metal grills or bars over your windows to add extra security.

Secure valuables in a sturdy lockbox or safe. If your lockbox or safe is portable consider mounting it to the wall or bolting it to the floor. Be sure to give your combination to someone close to you whom you trust in case of an emergency. Please don’t leave it written down or posted somewhere – sticky notes don’t support your security efforts!

Resist hiding spare keys. Like you, burglars know all the common hiding places we use to hide spare keys – under mats and in a nearby flowerpot, for example. Rather, consider leaving spares with a neighbour you trust. If you live in a rural area and your closest neighbor is miles down the road, opt for a combination lockbox in a discreet area of your property.

Don’t label your keys If you lose keys, or if they get knicked, that could result in a serious vulnerability, particularly if you have ID or an address along with them.

Consider buying a home security system. Homes that aren’t equipped with a security system risk a whopping 300% increase in the chance of a break-in.

There are seemingly endless choices on the market when it comes to choosing the right home security system for you and your family. That’s why it might be better to leave it to a professional, consulting a local home security system installer to advise you and ensure your system is installed correctly.

Today’s systems include countless features to enhance your home security, but some of the most valuable include outdoor motion detectors, sensors at your doors, windows, and the garage, and security cameras strategically positioned around your property.

Select those features you think will be the best fit for your property and needs.

Once installed, however, you have to use it! Make it a regular habit for all family members. Ensure everyone is well-informed about how the system works to help minimize false alarms, which can actually incur expensive fines not to mention, annoying your neighbours, or worse: they ignore the calls much like in the fable about the boy who called wolf.

While it can seem inconvenient to set the system every time you leave the house it’s important to understand that many burglars know that it’s a responsibility that often gets neglected. Consequently, they may not be deterred by the yard signs or stickers on the windows warning of your home protection.