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Does my insurance cover a home I bought in the US?

Home Insurance

By Joanne Lemna | March 30, 2017

Owning a home in the United States is a goal of many Canadians. Whether they’re looking to escape the cold winters or want a year-round vacation or work in both Canada and the US, there are many reasons to own a home in the US.

If you do own a home in the US, it’s important to protect it with home insurance. This protects your financial investment and helps you recover from a disaster.

However, your Canadian home insurance policy will not cover your home in the US. This is for a few reasons:

  • You need a separate home insurance policy for each residence.
  • Your insurer may not operate in the US.
  • Insurance coverage varies between the US and Canada (and even between individual provinces or states).

Insurance is a highly regulated industry and each insurance company must apply to do business in each province, state and territory. While some insurers operate across the US and Canada, others do not.

How do I insure my home in the US?

The first step is to contact your insurance company and see if they offer coverage in the US. If that’s the case, you’ll be able to purchase a home insurance policy through them to protect your home in the US.

If your insurer does not offer insurance in the US, you’ll need to contact a brokerage or insurance company in the US.

The process is the same as in Canada: you’ll fill out an application and need to provide information about the home. You decide on coverage, limits and deductible and you’ll receive a quote. Then you choose your provider, sign the documents and make a payment.

If Your Home is a Vacation Home

Insurance for a vacation home can actually be more expensive than coverage on your primary residence. This is because vacation homes are left empty and unoccupied whenever you’re not there. This puts the property at greater risk of theft and vandalism and damage can go undetected for longer.

Depending on where your vacation home is located in the US, it may be located far away from fire services which will also increase your rates. This is because the further away your home is located from fire services, the longer it will take them to arrive and the more damage will be done.

The age and location of the property will also have an impact on your insurance costs as will the materials used to construct the building and what amenities exist on the property. For example, vacation homes with a pool or hot tub can increase insurance liability which increases the cost to insure the property. Your insurance costs may also be affected by whether or not the property is part of a homeowners association that may provide maintenance and security services.

Why You Need Home Insurance Coverage for your US Home

There are a few reasons to purchase home insurance for your home in the US:

  • You’re required to have home insurance by your mortgage lender.
  • You want to protect your financial investment.
  • You can’t afford to rebuild your home or take care of major repairs out of pocket.
  • Cover your personal liability in the US.

If an unexpected disaster happens and destroys the home, insurance can help you rebuild and replace any belongings in the home.

Another important factor is liability protection. If a guest slips and falls on the doorstep of your U.S. home, you could find yourself being sued in the U.S. court system or responsible for paying for medical bills. Thankfully, liability coverage is part of the comprehensive protection offered by home insurance.

If you plan on renting out your home in the US or listing it on a site like AirBnb, you will also require some extra coverage. This is because you’re now using the home to generate income, which is considered to be commercial use. The bright side is that you can get coverage for lost rental income if you have a covered claim.

If you’re heading to the US, make sure you have someone checking on your Canadian property every 48 hours and that you’ve notified your insurance company. Turning off your water is also a good idea while we’re away! When you head back to Canada, you can do the same thing at your US home if no one will be living there.

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