Radon Action Month - test for radon gas in your home

Radon Action Month – Test for Radon Gas to Protect Your Home and Family

November is Radon Action Month in Canada. It’s a great time to start your home radon test!

Radon gas is an odourless, colourless, radioactive gas found in homes across all of Canada. You might be surprised to learn that Radon exposure is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. In fact, November is the month that the Government of Canada observes Lung Cancer Awareness Month and National Radon Action Month to help remind Canadians that both lifestyle choices and environmental factors can impact the health of our lungs.

Exposure to high levels of the radioactive gas in indoor air results in an increased risk of developing lung cancer. Of course, the risk of cancer depends on the Radon levels and how long a person is exposed.

What is Radon Gas?

Radon gas is an odourless, colourless radioactive gas that occurs naturally. It’s created by the natural breakdown of uranium. Radon is found in soil, igneous rock, and in some cases, well water. It makes its way up through the ground and into your house through cracks and other holes in the foundation.

A recent survey identified that Radon levels vary significantly across the country, but there are regions more prone to high levels of indoor Radon. Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and the Yukon showed the highest percentages of participant homes that tested above the radon guideline. But, just because we don’t live in one of the provinces listed, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test. Radon in dangerous levels exists in nearly all regions of Canada.

Inhaling Radon exposes lung tissue to ionizing radiation which causes damage to the DNA in lung tissue. It can lead to lung cancer. In fact, over 3,200 Canadian lung cancer deaths each year can be attributed to Radon exposure.

Testing is the only way to know if Radon gas is in your home

As Radon gas has no smell or colour, you must conduct a test to detect it. Easy and largely effortless, a Radon test can protect your home and family. And it’s a pretty simple process.
First, purchase a DIY Radon test kit. Because radon levels can vary from day to day and from season to season, testing can be done in the short-term (two to 90 days) or long-term (greater than three months). Keep in mind that long-term tests offer better information about a home’s average year-round radon levels.
Follow the instructions included in your test packet. Radon test devices should be placed in the lowest occupied level of your home.
After letting the test sit in your basement for the required amount of time, send it away for the results. Alternatively, if you’d like, you can invite a professional Radon measurement specialist to conduct a Radon test in your home.

What to do if you test positive for Radon gas?

If the test comes back and your home is found to have a high level of Radon, mitigation is the next step to bring down the level or eliminate any Radon. A certified Radon mitigation specialist can analyze your home install and initiate radon mitigation. The system will draw the gas out of your house and expel it safely into the outdoors.
To ensure the health and safety of your home, testing for Radon is easy and inexpensive. And November is a perfect time! Now that you’ve closed up your home against the impending Canadian winter, you can conduct a more accurate test than in warmer seasons.
Kelowna Valley Insurance - Answers to Your COVID-19 Travel Insurance Questions

Answers to Your COVID-19 Travel Insurance Questions

We want to travel again! First, let’s answer some important questions about COVID-19 Travel Insurance

One of the biggest questions about resuming travel as the pandemic continues is about COVID-19 travel insurance.

After so very long, people are thinking about travelling again – internationally and now, to the United States. And the return to adventures abroad is so exciting! Where will you go – how will you choose? After this much time and, thanks to the pandemic, there are more complications to consider – note the PCR COVID-19 test information in bold below. The bottom line, travel planning in 2021/22 can be overwhelming!

Expect that, when it comes to travel, it’s going to look a lot different than before the pandemic. To ensure that your trip is as safe and stress-free as possible, take the time to research and plan appropriately – know what your destination requires. Before you make definite plans and book your trip, consider the following:

  • Are you able to change your booking once you’ve made your plans?
  • What is the cancellation policy or if you have to change your plans once you’re away?
  • What are the specifics of your travel insurance coverage?

Planning a trip will require a bit more legwork than before COVID-19. Here’s what you should do:

  • Check the Government of Canada website and that of your destination to understand any travel limitations, restrictions, or rules.
  • What you need for proof of vaccination if any.
  • You will need proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of your return home to Canada. Check what is required by your destination. Don’t be surprised if you are required to test again upon arrival at your destination.
  • Prepare for the unexpected:
    • Before you leave, find out your options for where and how to get tested at your destination. Canada requires a PCR test (rather than the faster antigen test required by the USA). A PCR test costs typically start at about $100USD depending on where you are. Resorts often have facilities to provide both tests right there, but the PCR test requires anywhere from 12 to 36 hours to get the results – plan accordingly. 
    • Create a worst-case scenario plan in case you come down with symptoms, particularly if your destination is not English-speaking and you don’t speak the language.

It’s important to have all the information you need to make informed choices and enjoy peace of mind BEFORE you leave. We want to help you travel safely, whether it’s across the border, across the sea, or across the equator.

To help you make your travel plans, let us answer some important COVID-19 travel insurance questions:

Does my travel insurance cover the cost of a Covid-19 Test for travelling?

Anything that isn’t considered a medical emergency is not covered. That includes taking a COVID-19 test to comply with government requirements for travel.

What do I use to prove my vaccination status if the country to which I’m travelling requires a vaccine passport?

Canada is developing a document that will be recognized internationally. Call your insurance or travel agent or inquire with the local public health authorities in the region in question to confirm their specific entry requirements.

My vaccinations include mixed doses. Will this impact my travel plans?

The terms of vaccine acceptance are ever-changing and can change unexpectedly. But, more countries are accepting mixed dose vaccinations. Be sure to research your destination specifically to ensure they’ll accept your vaccination status. Check with your travel insurance provider, your travel agent, or research your desired destination for confirmation.

Will vaccination status impact my emergency medical coverage for travel?

When it comes to questions of COVID-19 travel insurance, this is one of the most common. Currently, your vaccination status does not affect your eligibility for emergency medical benefits when you travel. But, be sure to review your coverage and what might be subject to standard policy limitations and exclusions (pre-existing condition exclusions, for example.)

What about hospitalization or treatment for COVID-19 while I’m abroad, will I have coverage?

There are no specific exclusions for emergencies related to government travel advisories or COVID-19 outlined in the Travel Emergency Assistance Program. But, be sure to understand that your travel insurance coverage is subject to standard limitations and exclusions (again, preexisting conditions.)

Quarantine and testing:

If I test positive for COVID-19 and have to quarantine while abroad, are my expenses covered?

Travel insurance protects you in the event of a medical emergency – that DOES NOT include quarantine. Any expenses – accommodations, meals, etc. – associated with quarantine will not be covered. Before you leave, be sure you make a plan for where and how to get tested at your destination. NOTE: Canada requires a PCR test (rather than the faster antigen test required by the USA). A PCR test costs typically start at about $100USD depending on where you are. Resorts often have facilities to provide both tests right there, but the PCR test requires anywhere from 12 to 36 hours to get the results – plan accordingly. 

When I return to Canada if there is a delay getting my COVID-19 test results, will my expenses be covered while I wait for negative results?

When you have to wait for results, delayed or not, it is NOT a medical emergency. Any associated expenses you incur while you wait for results is NOT covered.

I suffered a heart attack several months back. If I am cleared for travel by my doctor, do I have coverage for emergency medical? 

A heart attack is a pre-existing medical condition. However, if the condition has been stable for three months or more prior to your departure date, your emergency medical will cover you.

Learn about travel insurance options

It’s essential to understand your travel insurance options as well as the additional services a policy or provider can offer to help keep you safe as you travel. WE CAN HELP!

Travel Emergency Medical Insurance. The last thing you need is to worry about your insurance – reviewing coverage and concerns about how to make a claim – if you get sick during your travels, particularly if you’re abroad. The time is now, before you leave, to review your insurance policy and understand your coverage. Some policies may include COVID-19 travel insurance coverage, depending on your eligibility and vaccine status. ASK YOUR INSURANCE PROVIDER FOR DETAILS.

Trip Protection Coverage. During times such as these, you want to know that you can cancel or change your travel plans. Trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage can help if you need to change your plans or get home unexpectedly once you’re away. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your coverage details, as many policies still exclude reasons related to COVID-19. You also want to know if there are any additional services your policy or provider offers to help keep you safe.

If you have questions about upcoming travel plans and any concerns regarding COVID-19 travel insurance, CONTACT US!

kelowna valley insurance FireSmart your home

Wildfire Season – How to FireSmart Your Home

Those homes that have prepared will be the homes left standing. FireSmart your home to significantly reduce the risk to your property.

The FireSmart™ program helps Canadians live with and better manage during inevitable wildfire season during the hot months of summer and early fall.

To Firesmart your home is to become more wildfire resilient as a property owner and as a member of your community. FireSmart, consisting of seven disciplines is a comprehensive program, that extends from us, as homeowners, up to the landscape land management level.

FireSmart principles have proven to be very effective at reducing both the risk to life and homes and property even during the most extreme wildfire conditions.

Backed by an expansive amount of field, laboratory, and wildfire modelling research, the FireSmart program helps reduce the risk of losses under even the worst fire conditions.

FireSmart™ can help you be far better prepared for wildfire season

With summer – and wildfire season! – right around the corner, you may be noticing communities getting mobilized – culling brush, dead trees, and highly flammable junipers, and organizing community chipping events. This is all part of the FireSmart BC program to encourage communities to protect homes and property this wildfire season.

The long days and weeks of hot, dry weather will be upon us soon enough… along with the increased risk of wildfire. It’s been five years since we watched in horror as the Fort McMurray wildfires ravaged homes and businesses. on record as the costliest insured natural disaster in Canadian history, the claims filed amounted to almost $3.8 billion.

FireSmart your home – a FREE Online Course

To help with thorough wildfire preparedness, for homeowners, communities, and the various other individuals and organizations who manage private and public lands, the FireSmart program recommends a variety of effective actionable steps as we brace for another fire season.

Over the past three decades, Natural Resources Canada (NRC) estimates that approximately 2.5 million hectares (that’s 6 million football fields!) have been destroyed by forest and wildfires in Canada each year. The costs, fire suppression resources only, is approximately $500 million to $1 billion a year.

With the number and incidences of devastating wildfires only predicted to increase across Canada, the need for education is clear. Individuals, communities, businesses, and organizations need to have the appropriate information to take the necessary precautions for effective prevention and protection.  To help, FireSmart Canada has launched a FREE online course.

A 1-hour online course, FireSmart 101 provides a good introduction to the program and how we as homeowners and community members can protect our homes and properties.

Throughout the short course, you’ll learn the primary FireSmart disciplines and understand the FireSmart home ignition zone, along with other very helpful information. You’ll be quizzed briefly at the end to ensure that you understand the material. It’s a short program – not a lecture! – and is a highly accessible tool, designed to help you feel better prepared and much more empowered when it comes to the unpredictability of wildfires.

Take the FREE FireSmart 101 course.

kelowna valley insurance how to FireSmart your home

Be informed to protect your home and property from forest and wildfires

Be sure to take the FireSmart 101 course, and also read our comprehensive advice about how to protect your home and property from forest and wildfire damage.  Armed with all possible information will help you feel assured that you’ve done as much as you can to prepare for wildfire season.

Also, to keep abreast of wildfire activity in our region and throughout the province, bookmark the link to the British Columbia interactive wildfire map.

More FireSmart BC Resources!

FireSmart BC Magazine

For all British Columbians, from individual homeowners to local and regional governments to First Nations, the FireSmart BC Magazine has been created to keep you up-to-date on everything pertaining to the FireSmart program. Stay informed with all the latest news, FireSmart tips, success stories, and more. Read it now!

Listen to the FireSmart BC Podcast

A primary goal of FireSmart BC is to find engaging and creative ways to get the message of wildfire prevention and mitigation to all British Columbians.

The program has developed compelling and valuable messaging and is delivering it to all of us when and where we’re able to consume it – at our desk, in the car, or working in the garden. To that end, FireSmart has jumped into the podcast pond with both feet! Be sure to subscribe on your favourite podcast platform: Get FireSmart™ Podcast! Listen now!

Is your neighbourhood FireSmart?

FireSmart Canada officially recognizes over 100 neighbourhoods across BC as being prepared for the threat of wildfire. Check if your community is on the list of “FireSmart Recognized Neighbourhoods“.

Do you have questions about your home and property and the possible impact of forest or wildfires? Chances are, your homeowner’s policy (condo, tenant, farm, commercial, and auto) provides the proper coverage.

BUT, as some damage can be limited or excused, you might have questions about your fire converage. TALK TO US!

Your Handy BC Driver’s License Guide

New Driver? Your Handy BC Driver’s License Guide

If you know a new driver, here’s a little help to navigate the BC driver’s license process for first-time drivers

Spring has sprung and that means… a wave of fresh, eager young people preparing to get behind the wheel, as Learners and New drivers throughout the province.

While COVID-19 has impacted driver’s license scheduling, thanks to an efficient online booking system, kids and other new drivers are able to easily book their testing sessions, yet well in advance. Expect and plan for restrictions, including physical distancing and mask-wearing as the new driver in your life achieves this exciting milestone.

As first-time drivers prepare to receive their BC driver’s license, here are a few things to keep in mind – thorough preparation, lots of driving practice, and advance planning, just to name a few.


There is so much to be excited (and scared – hello, mom and dad!) about when anticipating a first BC driver’s license – a wonderful sense of independence and freedom. This new freedom also comes with more responsibility.

Scary and exciting for everyone, there’s a lot involved in successfully achieving a BC driver’s licence. Exams and road tests can be overwhelming, and so is the prospect of purchasing a first car insurance policy.

To help simplify things, here is a brief guide to the steps involved and where to go for all the information you and your first-time driver need:

BC Learner’s Permit – testing your driving knowledge

In British Columbia, to become a legal driver, a knowledge test is the first step in the BC driver’s licensing process to achieve a Learner’s permit.

The Learner’s permit allows the new BC driver to get out on the road with a licensed adult driver. This means real-world practice, practice, practice!

To achieve the Learners, or “L”, as the first phase, a first-time driver must score a minimum of 40 out of 50 questions correct on a multiple-choice knowledge test. When the aspiring driver passes this test, it helps to ensure they understand the rules of the road. It also helps the driver to begin to develop an awareness about what is required to drive safely. Here’s what to expect:

  • The knowledge test requires you to pay a fee.
  • The test is usually delivered from a computer terminal at an insurance agency office.
  • The questions will likely include driving laws and road sign knowledge as well as safe driving practices.
  • Once successfully complete, the new driver will receive a BC Learner’s driving permit and an “L” magnet to clearly display on the vehicle indicating your driver status to others on the road, including authorities.
  • This Learner’s licence is NOT a full BC driver’s license. But, it is required to move forward to further exams and more advanced licensing.
  • With the Learner’s permit, the driver can now practice driving on the road legally –  with a fully licensed family member or friend or recognized driving school.

Knowledge (Learner’s) tests are available by appointment only​. Book an appointment using ICBC’s new online service.

BC’s Graduated Driver’s Licence Program

Regardless of age, a first-time BC driver must receive their full BC driver’s license through the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP).

Through the GLP process, new drivers learn all the vital information, skills, and perspectives to help them develop into more competent, confident, and safe drivers. The process allows inexperienced BC drivers to ease into becoming independent drivers – first with supervision and then, gradually, on their own.

To proceed through GLP successfully and with confidence, there will be three tests – one multiple-choice, followed by two road tests. When a new driver proves they can drive safely and demonstrates mastery over the required knowledge, the process can be completed in about three years. These years allow for plenty of study and preparation time, lots of practice to develop and reinforce knowledge, skills, comfort, and confidence behind the wheel.

Below are the requisite phases to achieve a full BC driver’s licence – the GLP ‘Learner’ and ‘Novice’ permits:

Phase 1: Learner’s (L) Permit

At any time on or after their 16th birthday, a new driver can get the L.

Steps to an L driving permit:

Knowledge tests are available by appointment only​. Book an appointment using ICBC’s new online service.

Learn more about getting a Learner’s licence

Phase 2: Novice (N) Driver Permit

The driver must practice with their N permit for a minimum of a year under the supervision of an experienced, licensed driver. Upon completion of a year of practice, the Learner can take their first road test.

How to get the N permit:

  • Well in advance, BOOK the CLASS 7 road test
  • Expect that the road test appointment — including time to review driving performance — should take about 45 minutes. Beside the driver will sit the assigned examiner who will determine the route that will best test your driving skills.

Learn more about the Novice licence

Phase 3: Full Driver’s License

The last step! Successful completion of phase 3 allows for complete independence on the road – no more mandatory supervision. Additionally, with no further GLP restrictions, the driver can remove the magnet on display on their vehicle.

The driver can apply to complete this phase can be completed after driving as an N for at least two years. To successfully fulfil the requirements for a full driver’s license, the driver must:

  • Drive suspension free for the previous year as an L driver.
  • Well in advance, book the Class 5 road test.
  • Pass the advanced road test. As a more experienced driver, the test will include more difficult and challenging driving environments than that of the N. Plan for the test and examination feedback to take about 45 minutes.

Learn more about getting your full licence


Car insurance coverage for young drivers

As it pertains to young drivers, expect that different factors will determine the cost of auto insurance. Your insurance provider will determine the rate using the following elements:

  • According to auto insurance, a young driver is defined by anyone under the age of 25.
  • Rates of auto insurance are determined by multiple risk factors, including the increased likelihood of an accident with young drivers.
  • Young drivers comprise about 10 per cent of Canadian drivers. The unfortunate and scary reality is that young drivers account for about 25 per cent of all accidents resulting in serious injury or death.
  • Essentially, drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 are simply assumed to be at higher risk.

If you have questions about a BC driver’s license for new drivers, auto insurance for young or new drivers, or any other auto insurance information, CONTACT US!

kelowna valley insurance keep family safe covid-19

Second Wave – Keeping Your Home and Family Safe Through COVID-19

The uncertainty of the COVID-19 era has been the only certainty. How to keep our homes and families as safe as possible as it evolves.

We find ourselves halfway through winter, officially one year into the global pandemic with vaccines only now making their way (albeit sporadically) to essential health care workers and the elderly. What, with travel restrictions enhanced (a $2000 mandatory quarantine upon return from the USA and Mexico, for instance), fines issued to gatherings extending beyond just residents of our households, and masks mandatory in all businesses (just to name a few) we’ve still a very long row to hoe.

Despite the vaccine, the end is seeming nowhere in sight.

As fatigued as we are with COVID-19 and how much it has fundamentally changed daily life, this is not the time to throw in the towel and start giving up. Rather, this is the time to commit more fully to doing all our parts to ensure we behave responsibly to ensure the health and safety of others so as to, in turn, ensure the health and safety of our families and homes.

We want to provide a gentle reminder of how to best manage what has become a surreal ‘new normal’ and reinforce the important recommendations of our expert public health officials. Read on for what you can do to help reduce exposure and do as much as you can do slow the spread of COVID-19 in your community (short of locking yourself indoors until it’s over!) while you keep your housemates and loved ones as healthy as possible as the COVID-19 virus and, now, it’s variants, persist.

Your prevention checklist:

  • Staying at least two metres, or six feet, from others – what we’ve come to know as physical or social distancing – is still vital when in public spaces.
  • Important tips for preventing spread:
    • Face coverings have become a requirement in many public spaces, such as grocery stores, community centres, and gyms. Always keep a face mask handy – one in your purse, in your car’s glove compartment, in your pocket. And require your school-age kids to do likewise.
    • Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. Soap and water and hand sanitiser should be part of your routine before, during, and, most certainly, after spending time in public places.
    • Reiterating the point above, frequent hand-washing with soap and water is essential. Wash for at least 20 seconds – sing Happy Birthday all the way through. Hand sanitiser that contains 60% alcohol works on the fly if you don’t have access to soap and water.
    • For surfaces that your housemates touch frequently, be sure they’re cleaned and sanitized frequently. Soap and other household detergents combined with water should do the trick. Of course, EPA-registered household disinfectants, are great, too. Ensure that they’re appropriate for the surfaces before you use them.
    • When you cough or sneeze, be mindful. Cover your nose and mouth – into the inside of your elbow if a tissue isn’t available. Do NOT keep the tissue for the next use — toss it immediately!
    • Mobile phones, TV remotes, laptops, tablets, and other devices can be breeding grounds for virus – sanitize with manufacturer-recommended cleaners frequently.
  • The strains on our mental health are truly unprecedented on this scale. It’s important that you stay connected to the emotional wellness of both your housemates as well as other friends and loved ones. Given the ongoing nature of this, we have to be extra vigilant about staying in touch, communicating honestly (though in an age-appropriate way) and calmly about what’s happening.
  • Some of the hardest-hit emotionally and physically during this pandemic are those who are alone or completely isolated. Our aged friends and relations, for instance. It’s vital that you make an additional effort to check in often and keep in touch, particularly if they’re alone – video chat, text, phone calls, and even email can help bridge the gap and foster a sense of connection.
  • Our teens have been troopers during this time! Do what you can to keep them engaged and connected. As we have to discourage they’re gathering – many understand and are doing it on their own – in large groups. If they aren’t already, limit outings to just school and important appointments and limited time in public.
  • Of course, if you feel sick – stay home! Anywhere you need to go will wait until you’re feeling better.
  • As much as you can, limit your own exposure to anyone you know who may be feeling unwell.
  • If someone in your household is sick: make them comfortable in a room and bathroom, separate from the rest of the family, if you can.
    • Don’t share personal items such as food, drinks, etc.
    • Be sure that they always have a clean, disposable face mask to wear when they are around the house.
    • Keep the room and bathroom they’re using very clean, disinfected, and well-sanitized – as frequently as possible.
  • If you suspect that you or someone else in your home is sick, notify the school, work, daycare, or any other obligations immediately. Request to have work sent home.
  • Stay up-to-date about COVID-19, in your community, region, the province, and beyond. Subscribe or stay in the information loop about changes in your community, including local outbreaks, school closures, and other changes.

This list is a guideline. A big factor in keeping your loved ones and home safe and healthy is is to stay informed – rely on trusted media sources as well as the guidance and recommendations that your local and provincial public health authorities provide.