If you're planning your weekends by the open house notices in the newspaper, consider how your choice of new home may affect the ease of getting home insurance and how much you will pay for coverage.
Location, location, location
Areas prone to crime or located farther from fire hydrants, fire halls and police stations are likely to have higher home insurance premiums.
The age of the house
Homes with newer electrical, heating, and plumbing systems are less susceptible to fire and other hazards. This means you're less likely to make a claim and as a result, you will have lower home insurance costs.
The electrical system
If the home of your dreams is older, look for circuit breakers rather than screw-in fuses and grounded, three-pronged or polarized outlets rather than the old knob and tube wiring. Both suggest the home's electrical system has been updated and will make getting property insurance easier and less expensive.
Don't worry if you're not a plumber, you can tell the age of your plumbing by looking for newer plastic or copper pipes instead of the older galvanized type. Also, look at the sinks and tubs for rust near the taps. Not only is this a sign of a leaky faucet but it may also indicate a significant build up of corrosion in the pipes causing low water pressure and leaks. All of these factors could lead to higher insurance premiums, or damages that are not covered by your insurance.
The woodstove or pellet stove
If there's a woodstove or pellet stove in the house your insurance company may want to have it inspected before providing coverage to ensure it has been properly installed. There may also be an auxiliary heating surcharge on the premium.
Homes built with materials like brick, stone, marble and hardwoods are usually more expensive to insure then homes without these pricey materials because they increase the replacement value of the home. The replacement value of your home is the price to rebuild your house (with materials of like kind and quality) after a serious loss, like fire. Because the home would cost more to replace, the insurance premiums are often higher as well.
The age of the roof
The age of the roof and its current condition are indicators of the potential for future insurance claims. Find out the expected life-span of the roof and look for signs of wear and tear like moss growth, curled shingles or stained interior ceilings.
Is there a pool?
Pools add to the replacement cost for your property and pose an increased risk someone will be injured while at your home. Add it up and it means higher insurance premiums (check out the the article titled "Adding a pool means adding insurance" for more info). Also, if your new home is in Quebec, property insurance policies often exclude pools. This means that you'll have to add a "pool option" to your policy.
When you finally decide on the new house of your dreams, don't forget to compare home insurance quotes to save money on the homeowner's insurance you need.
Looking for more information on buying a home in Canada or home insurance?
Check out the following Kanetix® home insurance articles: