Home insurance obligations for winter, let a broker help

Published: October 29, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



While people in Eastern Canada are basking in a relatively cosy warm October, the winter season is coming, and the harsh chilly weather is inevitable. With that in mind, homeowners must once again prepare their properties for the cold weather, snow, and freezing conditions.

Insurance brokers are an ideal advisory aid in preparing a home for the winter. Kurtis Reeder, senior director for personal lines underwriting at SGI Canada says customers should seek their broker’s advice to reduce the risk of property damage.

“Homeowners should be doing things like testing their heating systems to ensure they’re operating correctly,” Reeder said, speaking to Insurance Business Mag. “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.”

While some customers may depart south to warmer climates, they still have insurance considerations to make. For example, water can freeze during the winter, while can cause split pipes, leaks and mold. Owners are advised to turn off mains water and clearing pipes before they leave on vacation.

“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.”