Brokers: don’t leave homeowners in the cold

Brokers: don’t leave homeowners in the cold | Insurance Business

Brokers: don’t leave homeowners in the cold
Eastern Canada is experiencing a particularly bright and balmy October with Fall only making itself felt in the cool morning and evening breezes. But winter is just around the corner and homeowners need to start thinking about how to prepare for an extra cold snap.

Every year, half a million Canadians escape the snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures of the northern winter by flocking south for a sunny vacation. They muse over sipping cocktails by the ocean and catching a tan, often forgetting one key thing… their insurance obligations back at home.

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Insurance brokers can play a key advisory role in preparing homeowners for the winter weather and helping them to mitigate as much risk as possible, according to Kurtis Reeder, senior director for personal lines underwriting at SGI Canada.

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“Homeowners should be doing things like testing their heating systems to ensure they’re operating correctly,” Reeder said. “Turn on the system and let it run for a few minutes and if there are any issues with it, make sure it’s properly serviced before winter hits hard. Clear out the gutters on the home and keep them clear throughout the winter. If snow accumulates on a roof, this can lead to leaks if there’s nowhere for the water to go when the snow melts.”

Those homeowners lucky enough to escape the winter by means of a vacation have insurance obligations to uphold while they’re away. When the temperature drops, water can freeze and result in split pipes, leaks and mold. Shutting off the main water supply and flushing out excess liquid from the pipes is a good place to start, according to Reeder.   

“Brokers need to make sure their clients know of the winter vacancy rules of their insurance policies if they plan to go away for a long period of time,” Reeder told Insurance Business. “This can sometimes be a challenge for brokers because not all insurance companies have the same obligations.

“For example, at SGI Canada, we have three options for our insureds. They can either turn off their main water valve and drain their pipes or they can organise for a reliable person to come in and check the house daily. Our third option is for insureds who have devices that can moderate temperatures in the home and can trigger a notification should temperatures drop below a certain threshold.”

Failure to meet these varying demands could result in an insured’s home insurance policy being deactivated – a cold fate brokers can help prevent if they offer proper winter preparation advice.

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