We are heading in to the Year of the Dragon, according to Chinese Zodiac, which “is the ultimate symbol of power, fortune and prosperity in Chinese culture.” The Dragon (accompanied by the element of wood this year) is seen by many to be very special, and promises to bring evolution, improvement, and abundance. The upcoming 12 months are “the perfect time for rejuvenated beginnings and setting the foundation for long-term success.”
It has been a busy and difficult 2023, as many are struggling to keep up with skyrocketing costs and continued worries about global conflicts. As such, we at Lane’s have put together these 12 New Year’s insurance considerations for you for the new year, which we hope will help you slowly tackle some important tasks that will provide you with comfort in knowing you are on top of keeping your family (and you!) protected in case of an unfortunate and unexpected occurrence. You will also better understand your personal coverage, plus the insurance industry as a whole, with the result being improved protection and greater savings.
1. Remember that brokers are better
Think of 2024 as the year of options for you as a customer. Don’t forget that certified insurance brokers such as us at Lane’s work for you … not the insurance companies. We are your very best bet for finding better insurance coverage at a lower price. Our partnerships with some of Canada’s most respected providers means we can access the most competitive rates. Basically, we do the shopping for you, and we know exactly what to look for.
2. Update insurance for your Airbnb or Vrbo
Starting in the new year, the City of Calgary will introduce new business licence requirements for short-term rentals. Key changes include the need for proof of ownership of the dwelling unit or written owner consent, written proof from the condo board that Short Term Rentals are permitted is required, a Licence Inspector review and proof of insurance indicating the location is operating as a business. Whether you are using your home or rental unit as an occasional Airbnb or a full-time one, it’s important to contact your insurance provider to upgrade to business insurance for your property.
3. Improve your driving record
As Alberta’s vehicle insurance rates remain some of the highest in the country, it’s more important than ever to maintain a good driving record. The current freeze on rate hikes will end as 2023 concludes, however the Government of Alberta has introduced limits on rate hikes for “good” drivers. The limit is capped at the rate of inflation and is limited to motorists such as those with a clean driving record and no at-fault accident or moving violations. Remember that demerit points usually take two years to clear from a driving record. It is more important than ever to be a driver with zero infractions on their record.
4. Consider usage-based car insurance
One of the best ways to prove to your insurance provider that you are indeed a good driver is to adopt usage-based car insurance coverage. Signing up for a usage-based insurance program such as those offered by Intact and Aviva in Alberta (and that we have access to) can earn a one-time discount of up to 10% and as much as a 25% reduction in your car insurance rates. This technology is run through an application on your smartphone and provides your insurance company information about your driving habits and real-time information on “bad” road behaviours, like severe braking, rapid acceleration, and hard cornering. Good habits will be rewarded.
5. Watch out for vehicle thieves and scams
The amount of vehicle theft in Canada has seen a huge increase, with Alberta up 18.3% year over year and Ontario up a concerning 48.3% year over year. Theft is going more and more high-tech, with VINs being pilfered from parking lots and thieves using devices that can clone your keys – even from outside your home – using what is called a relay attack. Scam artists are also launching sophisticated staged accident schemes involving several players and that take advantage of systems over several levels. Be careful and know what to watch out for. Stopping thieves helps keep insurance costs lower for everyone.
6. Live in a rural area? Get prepped for wildfire season
It was a terrible summer for wildfires, which caused states of emergency in several provinces and millions of dollars in insured damages. As climate change continues to play a part in extreme weather incidences, if you live in a rural area, brushing up on “Firesmart” landscaping techniques, such as keeping a brush-free, non-flammable perimeter around your home. Well-kept driveways, lawns, and pathways can also act as a fuel break for the fire.
7. Get a home insurance appraisal
Property values are very fluid, and as mortgage rates remain high it’s imperative to fully understand what your home is worth. Home insurance appraisals are carried out by home insurance providers to comprehensively assess the rebuild value of a property. This is the very best way for you to know whether or not your coverage is enough, or too much. Generally completed by a third party, a home insurance appraisal will take a close look at factors such as the size, build, and location of your home and calculate the cost of materials and labour it would take to build your house from scratch. They will also alert you to any issues with liability, such as an unsafe pathway, and where other necessary repairs are needed.
8. Update your home inventory
Your home inventory is a running list of your home’s contents. There are plenty of templates for building your home inventory online, and it should always be a living, breathing document. Keep detailed photos and written records of everything you have in each room of your house, and always retain your receipts. If you have to file an insurance claim and have chosen replacement value insurance, your home inventory will greatly assist in the claims process and help move things along much more quickly.
9. Get fit to save on life insurance
Not all life insurance policies require a medical exam, but there are many that do. Even if you don’t have to get a check-up to sign up, however, investing in your physical health will not only extend your lifespan and increase your life enjoyment, it can also lower your life insurance premiums. If you have taken the initiative to eat healthier, exercise, and quit drinking and/or smoking — depending on your policy, these actions may allow you to access lower life insurance rates.
10. Get your will in order
Everyone needs a will, but half of Canadians don’t have one. Wills are imperative to avoid conflict upon your death. There are many helpful online tools to help you draft yours, but we recommend the expert assistance of a wills and estates attorney when it comes to your property. Be transparent with those involved about the contents of your will, especially your executor, including your Personal Directive wishes and any Powers of Attorney that may exist.
At the same time, also make it clear how you would like your life to be celebrated so there are no arguments about where to scatter your ashes or even what songs to play at your funeral.
11. Top off your emergency fund
We know it’s getting harder and harder to save, but as it gets harder to pay for things an emergency fund is all the more important. Your emergency fund should equal at least three to six months of your regular expenses at minimum, say the experts. To get started, inquire with your bank about a tax-free savings account that also earns a competitive interest rate (ranging from about 0.5% to 2.0%). The best and most pain-free way to start saving is to set up an automatic transfer from your chequing account at the same time every month so that you don’t even have to think about it. In addition, insurance companies are interested in your financial discipline because it’s actually a very good indicator of how you will maintain your property or behave behind the wheel. A higher credit score generally correlates to fewer insurance claims
12. Review your policies with an insurance broker at renewal time
Most of us policy holders simply let our insurance renewals come and go without question each year. As brokers, we always encourage everyone to take advantage of this time, as it is your best chance to advocate for yourself and improve your coverage. It’s also the best time to switch to a different insurance provider without having to face any financial penalties.
Lane’s Insurance wishes you and yours all the very best for 2024. If you have any questions, or just want to get to know us better, contact us at our offices in: