(NC)—Planning some major home renovations this summer or fall? As a homeowner, you have some important insurance–related things to remember before you get started. We asked Tara Lessard–Webb, an underwriter with Desjardins General Insurance Group, to share her do's and don'ts about home insurance and renovations:
What's the first thing that homeowners should do?
Before starting any renovation project, the homeowners should notify their insurance company because some renovations could impact their insurance coverage. For example, if the homeowners vacated the house for more than 30 days while the work was being done and didn't inform their insurance company, it would be a violation of their policy. If the house was burglarized while it was empty, there's a good chance the claim wouldn't be covered.
What if they don't vacate the house?
Again, they still need to inform their insurance company to make sure they have coverage through the process and for when it is completed. This avoids unpleasant surprises such as the cancellation of coverage or denial of a claim.
Shouldn't the contractor have his own insurance?
Yes and the homeowners should make sure the contractor's liability insurance is adequate and current. Generally speaking, the contractor's insurance and the homeowners' insurance combined will provide good coverage through the renovation project.
Could the work cause their premiums to increase?
Actually, it depends, which is why it's important to have the conversation with the insurance provider. In some cases, improvements—like upgrading the electrical system or replacing a weathered roof—may help lower insurance premiums. However, if the renovation increases the replacement value of the home—for example, with a new addition, or the installation of high–end granite countertops or expensive appliances—the homeowners' premium may go up.
Doing–it–yourself is very popular these days. What if a homeowner prefers to do the work himself?
I understand the appeal—typically major renovations mean major expense. But even if you do your own work, you still need to contact your insurance company to ensure you remain covered through the project and that your policy is updated accordingly. It may mean a bit more premium, but it could protect you during the project and once it's completed.
What if the renovation is complete and the homeowners neglected to inform their insurance company?
They should do so as soon as possible to ensure they are adequately protected. Otherwise, they may discover when they have a claim that it is not fully covered, which could prove very costly.
Where can homeowners find more information about renovations and their home insurance?
They should speak to their insurance provider. However, more immediate answers can be found on the Desjardins General Insurance website: www.desjardinsgeneralinsurance.com.