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11 Things You Never Knew About Your Apartment Insurance In Ontario

An Onlia insurance expert spills the tea.
11 Things You Never Knew About Your Apartment Insurance In Ontario

When’s the last time that you talked about insurance?

Despite being one of the most important things you can purchase, many Ontarians - millennials in particular - are relatively uninformed about the different types of insurance and why they matter. And getting informed isn’t a high priority on most people’s lists.

Sure, you might be aware of the basics. For instance - if you’re a homeowner, you need coverage for whatever might occur in your home. Right?

Yes, but did you also know that you need to be covered for things that might happen outside of your home? Like, for example, if you hosted a gathering and your guests were involved in a car accident following the event?

Or did you know that there’s insurance tailored specifically for condo owners, and even tenants?

Thankfully, some insurance companies, like Ontario’s Onlia, are here to make things super clear and easy to navigate. They specialize in homeowner, tenant, condo, and car insurance; their website even features a blog with tips on how to maximize your safety, including a handy winter-driving guide.

"One of the criticisms the insurance industry often gets is that the policy language is worded in a way only a lawyer could understand," Fernand Vartanian, General Counsel and Head of Business Development at Onlia told Narcity.

"We get it. At Onlia, we've really made an effort to simplify the language  and be transparent about pricing and what you get."

Onlia's insurance policies (for renters, condo, and homeowners) are loaded with premium, straightforward coverage and benefits that keep you and your personal property safe. And they want to make insurance simple.

So, in the spirit of making complicated "adult stuff" easy to understand, we spoke with Fernand to put our questions into uncomplicated answers: what tenant insurance is, why it matters, and everything in between — in plain English.

Questions and responses have been edited for clarity.

Let’s start with the basics. What is tenant insurance, and what happens if I don't have it?

Tenant insurance tends to include two basic types of coverage: liability and contents. Liability in a typical insurance policy is, for example, if you or your guests cause accidental damage to your unit or building.

Contents coverage, as the name suggests, allows you to either replace or repair your contents in case they are lost or damaged.

Many people are under a false sense of security that they’re covered under their landlord’s insurance, but they’re not. A landlord's insurance covers the structure of the apartment, not the contents within it.

If you don't have your own insurance, you may be personally on the hook if there's damage or theft.

What is considered a "good" price for insurance? 

Tenant insurance is affordable. With Onlia, you can get it for as low as $20 a month.

Homeowner’s insurance can be a little more expensive as you own the home.

Are there any extras that you can add to your insurance that people might not know about?

Absolutely. For contents, usually, there are limits to what someone can get protection for.

When you're looking for tenant or home insurance and you have, for example, expensive jewellery or a valuable hockey card collection, you'll want to ensure that these are explicitly mentioned as they may not be covered fully under a basic policy.

They're called scheduled items, and if you have any valuables you want to protect, it's an add-on that you should definitely consider.

Other than because it may be required by some landlords, what are other practical reasons for millennials to get tenant insurance?

There are plenty of tangible benefits to getting tenant insurance. For example, if a friend slips and falls in your apartment and decides to sue you for their injury, your tenant insurance policy would protect you from liability.

Liability coverage also helps to cover any damage to your unit or building caused by you or your guests. And an insurance policy with Onlia covers you for more than just liability.

If something happens to your home that makes it unliveable, like a fire or a natural disaster, insurance can cover temporary accommodations for you and your family.

We'll also cover your property if it’s stolen or damaged at home, or anywhere else.

Can a renter's policy cover roommates?

Tenant insurance protects the named renter on the policy, not everyone living in the space, so if you have roommates, each of you should have your own policy.

If you haven’t communicated on your insurance policy that there’s someone else living with you, that may impact your coverage.

Is there an average amount that a renter needs?

The industry average is a default of about $5,000, but the amount you need depends on your individual situation and your contents. If you're unsure about how much coverage you should get, Onlia can help. We’ve really made an effort to simplify the wording and be transparent about pricing and what you get.

If you still require assistance, we have a customer service team of licensed service providers who can help you with any questions you may have.

Online shopping and package delivery is a reality for most of us this year. Does home insurance cover me if my deliveries go missing?

One thing that people don’t know much about, especially in our current at-home landscape with COVID-19, is this whole notion of “porch pirates.”

Our Onlia Safety Index showed that 52% of Ontarians don’t know what to do if a package is stolen from their porch.

If you're ordering things online, Onlia’s home insurance policies may cover the cost or replacement value of packages stolen from the home. Once a package is delivered, it becomes a part of your household contents and any theft could be considered a robbery.

Are there any myths or misconceptions about tenant or home insurance you'd like to bust?

Many people think that, if they're on vacation, their house is still covered. But it’s not that simple. If you just leave on vacation without taking precautions, you’re not always covered.

For example, if you go away during the usual “heating season” — which we’re in right now — you need to do a couple of things.

First, you need to shut off your home’s water supply and take steps to ensure the heating is maintained so that your pipes don’t freeze. If you don’t take these precautions, you may not be protected against water damage if your frozen pipes burst.

When it comes to pets — as long as you answered the questions properly during the application process — they're considered your personal property, and therefore covered by tenant insurance. If your pet hurts another person or animal, or if it damages property, your tenant insurance will protect you from liability.

In your experience, have you come across any horror stories that show why it's important to get insured?

One of the most common I come across is the 30-day rule. It's something that has caused tremendous angst amongst people that I’ve seen in my years in insurance.

The 30-day rule, in Ontario and likely throughout Canada, refers to when a home is left empty for a period of more than 30 days. When this happens, your home can be considered “vacant” and your homeowner’s insurance can be voided.

People don't realize that there are certain precautions under your policy that you must take to ensure that coverage is maintained, like making sure there’s someone that comes in regularly to visit your home while you're away. And extended absences are more common than you think.

One of the horror stories that I remember is where the unit flooded while someone was on an extended vacation in Europe. They came back thinking they had insurance coverage, but they didn't because the unit had been vacant for 36 days. That was an atrocious situation — and one that could have been avoided.

What makes Onlia the best place for home insurance?

If you decide to bundle your home and auto insurance with us, we offer a discount on your policy (10% on auto and 20% on home) and a complimentary home de-risking for you.

We’ve partnered up with home maintenance expert Setter to offer a free home-safety checkup where we virtually walk through your home and help you identify and mitigate risks to keep your home and family protected.

When we're done, we'll provide you with a personalized plan of recommendations to help you de-risk your home.

How can I get a policy with Onlia?

With Onlia, you can get a policy within minutes. Just hop on to our website and enter your details for a free quote. If you like the quote you see, you can buy it on the spot. We make it as simple as possible.

To learn more about Onlia and getting your own tenant or homeowner's insurance, visit their website.

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