Marie-Claude Dulac

By Marie-Claude Dulac

July 10, 2015

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Major Renovations: Should I Advise my Insurer or Not?

Article revised on 16 June 2017

It’s official! You decided to make major renovations to your home. But before jumping in, it’s best to be informed about the potential impacts of your choices throughout the process. So here are a few friendly tips that could keep you from jeopardizing the investment you’ve made in your dream home. 

Home insurance should be tailored to your needs

When you insure your home, most of the questions asked by insurers aim to establish the cost of reconstruction. This amount is determined based on the particular characteristics of your building and takes into account the most recent information provided by the Quebec housing construction industry. You would be guaranteed an amount that would cover the cost of rebuilding your home using the same materials, of the same quality, if your residence was a total loss.

Other questions allow insurers to evaluate the risks for bodily injury or property damage that can occur in your residence. For example, if you have an old roof that hasn’t been renovated, your insurer will consider that it has a high risk of water seepage and damage caused by wind or hail and may limit your coverage for this type of damage. Conversely, if you have a finished basement, your insurer will consider that you have a higher risk of incurring material losses in the event of water seepage in the basement or sewer backups. Your insurer will recommend you add the necessary coverage to be properly covered for these types of losses.

In short, your home insurance coverage should be based on the specifics of your residence so you’re adequately protected from the significant financial losses that can be caused by a major loss.

In order for insurers to offer you the right coverage, it’s imperative to let them know if you’re having work done that might require an adjustment to your home insurance coverage. So how do you know if that’s the case? Just follow our guide!

When should you call your insurer?

You should call your insurer:

  • If the work increases the reconstruction cost of your home, your insurer needs to adjust your coverage amount. Here are a few examples:
    • Adding a floor
    • Building an extension
    • Finishing the basement
  • If the renovations will result in less damage risk for your home (which could result in a premium reduction), your insurer will update your file and adjust your coverage to suit your needs. Here are a few examples:
    • Upgrading your plumbing or electric wiring if they were outdated
    • Replacing your roofing surface
    • Replacing your water heater

No need to notify your insurer:

If you’re having repairs or work done that are considered maintenance and are meant to enhance the appearance of your home without reducing the risk for damage, there is no need to call your insurer. Here are a few examples:

  • Renovating the bathroom
  • Installing ceramic tiles or painting the walls
  • Repairing or replacing a damaged surface using similar materials

Tips to protect your investments

Hire experts

Certain types of work, including plumbing and electricity work, should be left to experts. If you allow an unqualified person to do the work, you’re taking a major risk.

This type of work will not be covered by guarantees provided for by law in the event of faulty work conducted by someone other than a certified expert. You could also be jeopardizing the security of everyone living in your home during and after the work.

If you do most of the work yourself or use a non-certified “handyman,” remember that home insurance only covers injuries that the insured is liable for and sustained by people not living on the insured premises, through the civil liability coverage that’s included. That means that if you or a family member in your household sustains an injury during the renovations, your home insurance will not be able to pay you for the consequences resulting from these injuries.

Screen your renovation experts

Before hiring a contractor, plumber, electrician or any other construction professional, always verify that they:

  • Hold valid and adequate liability insurance
  • Hold a contractor’s license from the Régie du bâtiment (RBQ) (Quebec only)
  • Hold the appropriate license or certification to do the work For example, all electricians in Quebec must hold a license from the Corporation des maîtres électriciens du Québec.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to call your insurer or insurance representative if you have any doubts. Their role is to advise you and answer any questions you may have regarding insurance.

Happy renovating!

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