Shopping for a new home? Dirty words when it comes to home insurance…


Knob and tube, aluminium wiring, 60amp fuses, lead or galvanized plumbing, woodstove, oil heat…the list goes on.  With all these potential insurance issues, how do we know if a home is insurable?

There are many items that keep insurance companies up at night.  When it comes to home insurance, companies usually focus on what I like to call “the four pillars”.  I’m not talking about Canada’s Financial System, in this case I’m talking about Heating, Hydro, Roof and Plumbing.

In a perfect world, we would all have new central furnaces running off natural gas.  In reality we have a range of options to heat our homes.  Insurance companies require some sort of automatic, thermostatically controlled heating unit to ensure your home doesn’t freeze.  Ideally, this system should be less than 20 years old and in proper working order.  Natural gas, propane and electric are the preferred heat sources, but some insurance companies can insure oil heat (depending on the age and type of oil tank) and geothermal without much issue.  Pellet stoves, woodstoves and fireplaces are ok as a secondary heat source as long as they abide by todays current code (which can be confirmed with an up to date WETT inspection).

An insurance company’s dream is to have 100amp or 200amp electrical service, through a newer breaker panel, using all copper wiring.  If you have 60 amp service, a fuse panel, aluminium wiring, an electrical system over 30 years old with no updates, or the dreaded knob and tube – be sure to contact an insurance broker for advice and options.

There are many different roof types.  Usually, insurance companies assume a roof with asphalt singles will last about 20 years depending on the singles and exposure to the elements.  Steel roofs will last longer, as may cedar or clay tile.  Insurance companies will ask the age and type of roof, and most brokers will stop by to view the condition before writing the policy.

Finally, we have plumbing.  Copper plumbing with either copper waste pipe or ABS (black plastic) is preferred.  If the plumbing is lead, galvanized, the white (poly B) plumbing, or hasn’t seen any upgrades in over 30 years, you may want to contact an insurance broker for advice.

Every company has slightly different rules when it comes to “the four pillars”.  Your insurance broker can help you navigate between different companies to find the best fit for your home.  If you don’t have an Independent Broker, click here to contact us and we’d be happy to help.

Contact us before you buy

Contact us before you buy