Home and Safety Tips

At Thunderbird Insurance we know there is no place like home. Whether you own a house, condo, or if you rent, your home is the heart of your family – offering a warm sanctuary from the outside world. It’s where you entertain, relax and escape from daily stresses and it’s filled with your cherished belongings. So, when it comes to insuring your home and possessions, make sure you have the right coverage with Thunderbird Insurance.

We can explain the different policy options, coverage and limits so you’ll know what to expect if and when you need the coverage. We can also provide coverage for farms, seasonals, rental homes or rented condos. Thunderbird Insurance is your best option to look after what matters most to you.

Damage Beyond Your Control

There is nothing natural about facing down a natural catastrophe or the damage in the aftermath of an “Act of God”. Due to circumstance beyond your control you’re now looking at a golf ball-sized hail crack in your windshield or half your shingles in your neighbour’s yard.

But all catastrophes are not created equal and it is important to check your policy to confirm that you’re covered.

Auto policy

Look to confirm that you have Comprehensive Coverage. Comprehensive covers loss or damage to your vehicle from:

  • Theft and vandalism
  • Fire, earthquake, explosion
  • Falling or flying objects such as a rock or gravel hitting your windshield
  • Hitting a domestic or wild animal
  • Weather—lightning, windstorm, hail, rising water

Best of all comprehensive claims will not affect your current safe-driving discount level.

Home Insurance

You’ll often hear or see insurance issues called “perils”. This can mean anything from vandalism to a plane hitting your home or even the more garden variety mother nature perils of weather. When reviewing your policy, look to confirm that you have things like guaranteed replacement costs so you don’t end up with less than you started. Check your policy to see which perils you have coverage for:

  • Aircraft or vehicle impact
  • Electrical current
  • Explosion
  • Falling object (excluding objects propelled by snowslide or earth movement)
  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Riot
  • Smoke (released suddenly from malfunctioning cooking or heating devices, but not from fireplaces)
  • Theft
  • Transportation (of personal property while it is temporarily away from your home, including fixtures and fittings being repaired or in seasonal storage)
  • Vandalism (where building is normally occupied)
  • Water damage (usually includes damage arising from sudden and accidental escape of water from an indoor plumbing, heating, sprinkler or air conditioning system; or from an indoor or outdoor “domestic appliance” on your premises; or from a water main.) If you have a swimming pool or hot tub, inquire about policy options to adequately insure it.
  • Wind and hail (applies to the exterior of the building excluding antennas and satellite dishes; interior of building is covered if the storm has first created an opening)
  • Window breakage (in a building that is normally occupied)

Keep in mind that although shingles blown off in a storm would be covered, rotted shingles due to disrepair would not.

For more details on what is or isn’t covered – like your home-based business equipment – call your advisor. They can best help you navigate the perils of everyday life.

Information courtesy of ICBC and IBC

Home Sweet Recreational or Seasonal Home

Warmer weather is finally around the corner and what could be better than an adirondack chair, a chilled beverage and a good book? If you’re doing the above in a waterfront recreational getaway of your own it’s even just a little sweeter. But getting away from it all is even more relaxing with the right coverage.

recreational seasonal home insuranceWhether you have a secondary or seasonal home for your getaway you’ll need to truly assess what you have and how you use it. Think about how often you are at the property, the most likely risks and the real value before choosing.

If a demanding lifestyle means you are an infrequent user of the property a named perils policy might be the best option. It is less expensive but only covers specific risks such as fire, explosion or smoke damage.

If you or a neighbor or property manager are checking up on it every few days, a comprehensive or all risks policy is an option, but that means you can’t leave the house untended for a week or two and hope for the best. Regardless of which you choose most policies exclude sewer backups, fences, food in the freezer, garden equipment and outdoor plants.

Take a look inside and out and decide if you need additional coverage. Detached private structures like sheds, boathouses or even garages may not be covered unless you reviewed this with your agent and the same applies to watercraft. And although contents – like clothes or dishes – that travel back and forth are covered under your primary house insurance; if most of your stuff stays put year round, you may need additional coverage.

And whether you have bare land or a pretty little cabin, don’t forget third party liability coverage. This will keep you covered in case your late night s’mores attack leads to accidental damage to a neighbour’s property or someone hurts themselves on your property.

Don’t be tempted by a couple of extra dollars. Before you think about posting it for rent anywhere including Airbnb, check with your Thunderbird Insurance agent on how that affects your coverage. Now that you’ve done the hard work, sit back, relax and work on your summer tan.

Information courtesy of the Insurance Bureau of Canada

Oil Tanks Hidden Challenges

Spring is finally in the air and you’re starting to rely less on your heating system and more on mother nature to keep your home comfortable. Don’t forget about your heating when you turn down the thermostat, this is a good time to take a good look at your systems and do maintenance – particularly if you’re using oil for heat. Spills and leaks originating from your property could be a costly mistake.

Mitigate your risks with a little check list on your oil tank including:

Oil-Tank-underground

  • Oil tanks inspection should be done regularly by a licensed professional with a comprehensive inspection every 3 – 5 years
  • To prevent bacteria, avoid letting the tank empty during the off-season
  • Supervise when the tank is filled to reduce chances of a spill and ensure that the tank is inspected by your supplier prior to being refilled
  • Check the release barrier (drip tray) that’s in place for any issues
  • Do a visual check of your tank regularly to check for corrosion or moisture on the tank. If either of those exist or there is an odour of oil, contact a professional to fix or replace the tank
  • If replacing, ensure that the tank is certified, meets your insurers’ minimum requirements, and review placement for the new tank. An indoor or sheltered tank will have a longer lifespan and avoid in-ground installation.
  • Never buy a used tank and never transfer oil from your old tank to your new tank
  • If you’re replacing your oil tank with a new heating system, have it professionally removed and the filler pipe welded closed or removed. Let your insurance agent know about this important change for your home policy.

Whether you’re heating with oil or doing the geothermal thing, make sure your insurance agent knows so they can assist you in knowing your policy details and how it applies to your home coverage.

Information courtesy of the Insurance Bureau of Canada

Keep Safe this Vacation

You’ve spent ages researching and planning your special getaway. You’re all packed up and more than ready to leave it all behind for a week or two. Before you walk out that door, make sure that your plans include keeping everything safe while you’re away this vacation.

Take 15 – 20 minutes before you go to safeguard your home:

  • ask a trusted friend or neighbour to check on your home every day, collecting mail and/or papers;
  • use timers to turn lights on and off automatically and make sure no valuables are in clear sight of windows or doors;
  • disconnect electronics like computers, stereos and TV’s that could be affected by unexpected electrical surges;
  • update your home inventory and take photos or video of those items – particularly those great new Christmas gifts;
  • load luggage discretely either in your garage or quickly into a waiting cab;
  • keep travel plans off of social media and out of casual conversations until your return;
  • be cautious not to turn the heat too low in case of a sudden cold snap; and,
  • turn off the main water supply, which will limit damage from unexpected leaks.

Plan to stay safe this vacation – both at home and abroad. Read through our check list if you’re traveling out of country, to make sure you’ve protected your health and financial well being with the right travel insurance. Looking forward to seeing the holiday pictures on your return.

Information courtesy of the Insurance Bureau of Canada

Scary Can Be Safe this Halloween

Ghosts and goblins beware, this hallowed eve is not free of danger. Tricks, instead of treats, can be limited to harmless pranks this Halloween with a little extra care. When planning both costumes and routes this year, makes sure you take these things into consideration:
ICBC Halloween Safety

  • a little reflective tape can go a long way towards making sure your vampire sparkles and can be seen at night;
  • don’t make the night a different kind of scary, before covering their sweet little faces with paint or make-up, do a quick test to make sure their skin won’t react;
  • create a wolf pack – gather the ghoulish together for both personal safety and visibility for drivers;
  • costume check for the five senses – can they see through their mask, can they breathe unimpeded, can they touch the ground without tripping over parts of their costume, do they feel warm enough to be outside for an hour or more, can they taste sweet victory as their bag fills with candy;
  • Drivers beware, the scary part is how quickly a child can pop up out of nowhere. Drive slowly and with extra caution in residential areas during prime trick or treat hours;
  • Staying home? Protect your car from those seeking to trick. Statistically vehicle vandalism is only higher on New Year’s Day;
  • Make sure Jack O’Lantern is a modern guy – battery candles or a flashlight make a safe alternative to an open flame.

Avoid being the person screaming the Banshee cry by heeding the advice above. This Halloween may your only true scare be from how much you gain after nibbling the treats and goodies that always seem to linger after the holidays.

Information courtesy of ICBC, IBC and the Government of Canada

Forecast Wet and Windy

The summer was warm, hot and dry but fall on the west coast is anything but. Our wet and windy fall and winter can result in unanticipated damages. Insurance policies aren’t maintenance policies and a little preparation before the storms hit can make all the difference.

  • trim trees on your property and remove dead branches before the wind storms begin – or alert the city to issues if the trees are not on your property
  • clean out gutters and nearby drains
  • winterize irrigation systems and any outside taps that run the risk of having pipes freeze

The right coverage makes a difference, check to make sure your policy covers:

Rain-on-street

  • damage to homes caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees, or damage to your home and its contents from water entering through openings caused by wind.
  • damage to cars from wind, hail or water, typically only covered if you have purchased comprehensive or all perils coverage auto insurance
  • water damage in a basement due to a sewer backup is covered only if you have bought specific sewer backup coverage.
  • in certain circumstances, homeowners unable to return home due to insurable damage are covered for additional living expense
  • be aware – overflowing rivers or lakes and storm surges that result in water entering a home are seldom covered.

With the right preparation, you’ll be able to cozy up with a hot chocolate, warm blanket and good book, secure that everything is looked after. Keep up to date with weather alerts from Environment Canada.

Information courtesy of the Insurance Bureau of Canada

It’s Hammer Time

You’ve made your plans, saved your money and you’re ready now to build that deck, add on a new room or simply redo the kitchen or bathroom. You’re about to take a hammer to the family home.

Before the first blow is struck don’t forget to do a couple of important things:

Home-Reno-2015

  • check the references for your contractor, make sure they provide proof of insurance and confirm WCB coverage
  • review municipal regulations and permits that will be needed
  • take before and after pictures of the renovation along with in-progress photos just in case there are issues
  • plan out workarounds and timelines if the area under construction impacts areas you use every day or items you just can’t do without like water and electricity
  • be prepared for the unexpected and budget at least 30% above the original estimate, oftentimes one small project cascades into more, as problems or opportunities are discovered.
  • look for innovative changes that are high impact but low cost like paint, lighting, accessories and even hardware for doors

Home renovations can be a source of savings too. Check with BC Hydro for energy-saving programs that help you replace older appliances with more energy-efficient options.

Before you buckle your tool belt, make sure that you talk with your insurance agent both before and after your renovations. A new alarm system or updated roof might result in lower premiums. Conversely a new pool, an addition to accommodate a home-based business or granite countertops replacing the kitchen laminate will require updates to your policy to make sure that’s covered. And last of all don’t worry, all of the tears and frustration of the reno will soon be over leaving you with a home with just a little more to love.

 

Spring Checklist Home Style

How do you prepare for the unexpected? Part of good planning is good list making and that is no exception when it comes to insurance planning.Home_checklist-2015

While you’re tidying up and tucking away during this year’s spring cleaning, make a list of what makes up your home. What’s new, what can’t you live without or would need to be urgently replaced if your home is damaged or destroyed and most importantly how much are each of those items worth.

Take pictures or videos, keep bills, receipts, warranties and instruction manuals for your more valuable possessions. They can serve as proof of ownership. Make sure you print and store your list with your receipts in a safe place (like a safety deposit box) or save it to an online account so it’s always accessible.

And while list making is good, don’t forget to make sure your insurance agent knows about those new items or renos. They’ll know best how to make sure you’re covered.

Not sure where to start creating your own home insurance checklist? Here’s a simple form that you can fill out on your tablet or print out. Click here for the Wawanesa Personal Property Inventory Checklist.

For more information on home insurance checklists go to the Insurance Bureau of Canada

Hearth and Home for the Holidays

Keeping your family and home safe over the holidays is the most important holiday tradition. To keep any and all Christmas fires confined to the fireplace – or for the more modern, the digital burning log – follow these Christmas Safety Tips:

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 8.36.21 AMFireplaces & Candles:

  • Have the chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year.
  • Burn hardwood, which leaves less creosote (a flammable dark residue) in the chimney.
  • Make sure the fire is out before going to bed or leaving the room. Always use a secure and suitable screen in front of your fireplace, see the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Keep children and pets away from gas fireplaces and open flames.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended or positioned too closely to tree decorations or wrapping paper.
  • Cut candle wicks short to prevent high flames.
  • If candles are used in a centerpiece, make sure they are in a sturdy holder and don’t burn low enough to ignite the decorations or table.

Trees and lights:

  • When buying a real tree, make sure it’s fresh (you can tell if the needles are hard to pull off). Store it in a cool, sheltered area until you bring it indoors for decorating.
  • Place in a well-secured stand. Water real trees daily to prevent dryness – an increased fire risk.
  • Place the tree away from heating vents, radiators, stoves, fireplaces and burning candles.
  • Keep metal tree ornaments and decorations – which may contain lead – away from young children and pets.
  • Remove the tree right after the holidays or as soon as the needles start to fall to avoid a potential fire hazard.
  • Be sure to use indoor lights inside your home and outdoor lights outside. Only use lights that have been certified by a recognized organization such as CSA, LUC or C-UL
  • Check the light strings and extension cords you use, discarding any that are frayed or have exposed wires, loose connections or broken light sockets. Never run electrical cords through doorways or under carpets.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets. Use more than one outlet if the wattage of your lights is more than the outlet can handle.

Courtesy of the Insurance Bureau of Canada and Health Canada

Renting Peace of Mind

Whether you’re generating extra income by renting a room or portion of your home – or renting in order to save up for your first home purchase – there are lots of things to think about. When doing so, don’t forget to keep in mind the role that insurance plays in keeping you protected.

landlord-renters-guide-bcAs a landlord:

  • Inform your insurance broker in writing before your new tenant/student moves in. Failure to do so may void your home insurance policy.
  • Your policy only covers your property, contents and personal liability for yourself, spouse and dependents – not your tenant’s or boarder’s

As a tenant, renters insurance:

  • covers the replacement of your items in case of loss
  • covers transition costs like food, shelter, moving expenses after the insured incident
  • protects you and your family from lawsuits in case any damage or harm to the building, guests or other building residents is blamed on you
  • some landlords will request to see a copy of your insurance as part of their policy requirements

For more information on the Residential Tenancy Act click here.

Information courtesy of the Insurance Bureau of Canada