August 27th 2021
How to Find Home Insurance in Ontario
By Jaswantee Ravi
Given the large financial investment you make when purchasing property in Ontario, it can be somewhat surprising to learn that home insurance isn’t actually a legal obligation. You can technically buy a home without setting up any contingencies for emergencies like fire, robbery, or inclement weather.
However, the financial institutions that underwrite and financially support the real estate industry across the province and the rest of the country will generally not release mortgage funds to borrowers who don't have a comprehensive insurance policy. So, for all intents and purposes, you’ll need to find an insurance provider prior to making any large-scale purchases.
When it comes to insuring your home, personal belongings, and other important items, there are three types of plans you can use in Ontario: Home, condo, and tenant’s insurance.
- Home insurance: These policies are designed to protect your freestanding home and belongings to whatever degree you’re comfortable or can afford.
- Condo insurance: Given that condominium ownership is split between multiple tenants, these policies only protect the interior of your unit and your belongings, not the entirety of the structure.
- Tenant insurance: If you’re someone who chooses to lease or rent from a property owner instead of buying your own, these policies give you and your belongings a degree of protection
Of the three policy categories, home insurance is by far the most expensive because it has to cover personal belongings, furniture, appliances, and the actual structures that make up the house. Unlike condominiums, where fees and shared risk reduce the individual cost of repairs, or rental units, where the owner is responsible for repairs, homeowners and their financial backers are the sole parties that home insurance covers.
Finding home insurance in Ontario
Ontario residents — particularly those in places like Toronto and Ottawa — are subject to some of the highest home insurance costs in the country. Fuelled by high premiums and risk factors associated with larger cities, Ontario home insurance is estimated to cost between sub-$1,000 to over $2,000 annually. The average has actually receded slightly since the 2018 peak reported by JD Power, but still sits well above the amount paid our neighbours in Quebec.
Ontario home insurance companies
Simply put, there’s an overwhelming number of home insurance providers in Ontario. The search engine results page is chock-full of links and ads directing you toward potential options, from traditional financial institutions to insurance companies and other organizational players.
The following are well-known home insurance companies that service Ontario:
- TD Insurance
- RBC Insurance
- The Co-operators
- Intact Insurance
- The Personal
- State Farm
- Aviva Insurance
It can be difficult to choose between the long list of home insurance providers out there, so here are some of the ways you can separate the wheat from the chaff.
- Assess coverage options: Not every insurance offers the same degree of coverage to their clients. Thoroughly vetting each provider will allow you to make an informed decision on the quality of their policy spectrum.
- Price: An obvious part of any financial interaction. Just because two companies offer a similar product, doesn’t mean they necessarily offer that product for the same price. Using a cost comparison tool or conducting your own research will help make your choice easier.
- Financial well-being of a provider: While going with the larger health insurance companies and financial institutions may increase your cost, you can be sure that they aren’t going to go under and leave you stranded without coverage.
- Processing speed and quality: The longer your company processes and addresses your claim, the longer you’re left managing the financial cost. The quality and speed of an insurance provider’s claims processing are key indicators of overall quality.
It may seem like a short list, but when you pair it with the expansive number of providers in Ontario, it’s not feasible for one person to go through each company to assess them on those four metrics. If you find the prospect of evaluating even one insurance company daunting, it pays to partner with experienced home insurance brokers in Ontario.
Home insurance brokers
If you’re someone who doesn’t quite have the time or patience to sit through endless consultations with insurance reps or use third-party comparison tools, home insurance brokers are the perfect solution. These intermediaries help connect you with a home insurance provider that offers plans that best suit your unique needs. While brokers occasionally get a bad rap because of their commissions, they’re quite beneficial for those looking to save money on homeowner’s insurance.
Because these professionals have years of experience in the insurance realm, they can cut through lots of the marketing noise to find specific policies and providers that meet your criteria. Unlike insurance agents, brokers aren’t tied directly to a particular company, and they won’t aggressively push you towards one plan over another. Home insurance brokers are a great way to outsource the policy research process without becoming tangled in an expensive or lackluster policy.
The state of post-pandemic home insurance
As if the process wasn’t complex enough, COVID-19 and its knock-on effects are poised to change the face of home insurance and the real estate industry at-large. A recent Consumer Report article explains how supply chain issues across North America and the rest of the world — which are impacting everything from lumber prices to electronics processors — are expected to increase insurance premiums in both the US and Canada.
If you’re looking to purchase or reconfigure your home insurance in Ontario, be on the lookout for pandemic-related cost increases and contact your insurance broker for more information on the latest developments.