Greater attention needed for insurance policies

Jason Kerr
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Homeowner insurance should be on your mind more often.  That’s the message from some of Prince Albert’s insurance experts, who say too many people pay too little attention to their insurance packages.

“Generally people are not aware enough to think of insurance on the things that are most valuable to them,” says Tim Longworth, part owner of Cornerstone Insurance Services in Prince Albert.  “When we bring it to their attention it’s almost a no-brainer.  The awareness is the problem.”

Insurance brokers around Prince Albert express a similar sentiment.

“We have to keep bugging (people) for it,” says Jackie Gices, a Canadian Insurance Broker with Cherry Insurance.  “We don’t want people to lose that (coverage) and then come back and say, well, I thought I had this kind of coverage.”

Major acquisitions are often the problem.  Homeowners buy or receive new and expensive items thinking they are already covered.  In reality they aren’t.

“You should always review, especially if you get something unusual,” says Debby Slywka, and insurance advisor with Western Financial Group.  “Policies do have restrictions on items.”

High-risk items are often place on a restricted list.  The most obvious items are jewelry, antiques and expensive collections, like coins or stamps.  However, the list also includes items that are easy to steal and resell, like bicycles, although every company is different.  Brokers say homeowners without these items don’t need as much coverage, so anytime someone acquires something much more valuable they need to change their policy.

January would seem to be the most obvious time of year to do this, given the large amount of gifts given during at Christmas.  However, all three experts downplay the holiday’s effects.

“I don’t know what kind of presents you get for Christmas, but I don’t ever get anything big enough to worry about,” Slywka says with a laugh.  “There are certain things—if you got a ring or something like that.”

However, there are other, lesser known times during the year when policies do need to be looked at.

“Christmas is a time where people acquire a lot of things, but so too is springtime,” Longworth says.  “People buy their car in the spring, they tend to want to move to a new house in the spring.  A lot of stuff happens.”

The brokers say the accumulation of items often creeps up on a homeowner, which leads to a lack of coverage.  They also say many people believe their broker will update their coverage automatically, but that’s not really the case.

“Sometimes things get dropped because they aren’t handing in data collection forms and such that we ask for,” Gices says.  “You can lose some owners guarantees.”

There’s also some confusion about the purpose of homeowners insurance.

“What home insurance is designed to cover is those things that are usual to almost every home,” says Longworth.  “If you have an heirloom, something that was passed down through the generations, then that’s not usual to the average home.”

Despite the confusion, all three ultimately agree on the importance of paying close attention to an insurance policy.  Reviewing an insurance package is a continuous process, not something you only do once a year, or every few years.

“You should always review, especially if you get something unusual,” Slywka says.  “It’s not just Christmas, it’s all through the year.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Cornerstone Insurance Services, Canadian Insurance Broker Cherry Insurance Western Financial Group

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