Getting ready to buy your own home? There are a lot of boxes new homeowners have to tick off, and one of the most confusing can be insurance. Certain types of insurance are mandatory and others are optional…. but highly advisable. Here are 5 types of insurance the experts want every homeowner to have.
While not legally required, it’s nearly impossible to get a mortgage without proof of home insurance. But why would you want to leave your biggest investment unprotected? Home insurance covers the rebuilding or replacement value of your house, detached structures such as a garage, your contents, plus personal liability if anyone gets hurt on your property.
Be sure to read the fine print and find a plan that works for you. Standard policies may not include things like earthquakes, termite damage, or certain types of flooding. If these are relevant to you, look into additional coverage.
The cost: Varies depending on coverage, home value and additional factors
Many condo owners think their condo corporation’s commercial condo insurance covers their unit, too. This is not the case. It is limited to common areas like the building structure, its exterior and shared spaces like the lobby or elevators. You’ll need a personal condo policy to protect your own unit, its upgrades and contents (including those stored in your locker).
Personal condo insurance isn’t legally required, but most mortgage lenders consider it mandatory. You should too, says Steve Totani, a real estate broker with Zolo Realty in Toronto.
Totani provides the example of a small condo building that experienced massive flooding as the result of a plumbing problem. Owners’ homes were ruined as were their belongings. “Once the units were repaired, they each got an empty unit with four dry walls. Property insurance would have brought a condo owner’s unit back to how it was, for example, granite countertops and better appliances. Just relying on the condo’s [building] insurance is a big mistake. Paying $20 or $30 a month extra can save you tens of thousands of dollars in that sort of situation,” explains Totani.
The cost: Varies depending on coverage, condo value and additional factors
A property’s title is the legal proof of its ownership. When you buy a home, the owner signs the deed over to you. Title insurance protects you against challenges to your ownership or issues relating to your home’s title, such unpaid liens, encroachment issues, fraud, and other issues that could prevent you from selling, leasing or mortgaging your property. (You can read more details here.)
Toronto real estate lawyer Bob Aron writes that “most real estate lawyers today regard title insurance as a critical component of the [real estate] transaction and will usually not close a purchase without it.” Likewise, most lenders make it a requirement for financing.
The cost: A one-time premium based on the value and location of the property, generally in the $225 to $325 range.
MORTGAGE DEFAULT INSURANCE
Mortgage default insurance (also known as “mortgage insurance”) is mandatory on all high ratio mortgages. Those are mortgages with a down payment of less than 20 percent of a home’s purchase price.
This insurance protects lenders in return for qualifying borrowers with as little as 5 percent down, making it a win for both parties. Without mortgage insurance, homeownership would be impossible without a sizeable down payment.
The cost: Between 2.8% to 4% of the mortgage amount. This can be rolled onto the mortgage so it’s not an out-of-pocket expense.
“Life insurance is the type of insurance that’s overlooked the most often” says Totani, the Zolo Realty broker.
“People ask about mortgage rates, property tax, property insurance, and their monthly payments, but I hardly ever hear anyone asking, ‘Should I top up my life insurance policy?’ to ensure their mortgage is paid off and their family is not going to be out of their home,” in the event of a tragedy, says Totani.
Totani advises checking your policy and upgrading it if needed, to reflect your homeownership situation. The peace of mind this provides will be worth the effort.
The cost: Varies depending on life insurance type, coverage, and personal factors.