home insurance basics

Home insurance protects against damage to your property and to the contents of your home.  It also covers injury to yourself / other persons on your property.

Another name you may see is 'property and casualty insurance'.

What does home insurance protect against / help cover?

1. General coverage:

  • Damage to your property (your home and what's in it).
  • ​Additional living expenses. You may need to move out of your home during repairs / renovations / natural disasters - this insurance may cover the difference between lifestyle costs in your old home and new, temporary, housing.
  • Damage to  / loss of personal property (like vandalism or theft) - any items you leave in your home / car including furniture, appliances, electronics, clothes, and anything that has value. Some home insurance policies cover the actual value of your stuff ("depreciated cost"). Others will cover the cost of buying new, comparable, stuff ("replacement cost").  
  • Accidental damage you cause to someone else's property.​

2. Liability coverage:

  • Liability insurance pays should someone get injured on your property. 'Liability' refers to legal responsibility.
  • It helps cover their medical bills and legal fees, if they sue you.  

home ​Insurance

key features 


  • Find a competitive premium for your desired coverage.
  • The value of your home / its contents (neighbourhood and past claims historyto a lesser degree) affect your premium.
  • Check for special offers / discounts, but don't be swayed by them.


Quality of the Insurer. Check consumer reports - for example JD Power ratings - https://canada.jdpower.com/.

  • Do they have a good platform / sales team?
  • Are premiums easy to pay?
  • Is it easy to file claims / receive compensation?
  • Do they have a good reputation and financial standing  - your insurer won't be able to pay claims if they are bankrupt.

Make sure you're comparing plans with similar coverage. Make sure to read the policy so you understand which events are excluded / included (they will be named in the policy, like hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding, fire, sewer backup, etc). Purchasing more comprehensive insurance is your choice.


If you're a student renting off campus, your family insurance 'rider' may not give you liability coverage, only property damage / loss (insurance. You need to call your family's insurance broker.  You may be able to buy additional coverage.

If you're no longer a student and have your own place, you'll need to buy tenant (also called 'renter') insurance.

If you own a condominium or home, you'll need to buy owner insurance.

​If you have a roommate, the insurance company needs to know.


​You may be coveredthrough a 'rider' (an amendment / addition) to your family's tenant or homeowner policy. 

  • Ask your family if they have home insurance.
  • If they do, ask what kind.
  • Ask for the name of the insurer / broker your family deals with. 
  • Call / email the insurer to confirm you'll be covered. 
  • Check if the policy covers both property damage / loss and liability for injury in your room.  
  • Ask if they need you to do anything - they'll likely want a list of your most expensive belongings.

Remember that any claim you file can affect your family's customer standing and future premiums they may pay in the future.  You need to ask your family if they're willing to extend their coverage.  They may prefer you buy tenant insurance in your own name.

If you decide to buy insurance in your own name, check with your school - they may have a program with an insurer that's cheaper and better suited to student needs.

when you rent, you should consider tenant insurance 


Tenant insurance generally protects what’s inside the apartment / home.  External areas and the building itself, including ventilation units, electrical wiring and heating systems, are usually the responsibility of the landlord (the landlord should have a home insurance policy to cover those). It's important to check the details of your tenant insurance policy.  And you may want to ask your landlord if they have home insurance.

Typical tenant insurance covers, up to the limit of your policy:

  • The cost to replace damaged or stolen personal property in the apartment / home, like furniture and clothing.
  • Certain living expenses (hotel and food) if you can't live in your home after a covered event.
  • ​Medical bills of people who get injured in your apartment / home and legal fees if they sue you.​​

Tenant insurance is not required by law, but it may be required by landlords.  Consider your living situation.

Experts say that It's good to keep a list of your valuable personal possessions.  Ideally it should include:

  • ​Make, model, and serial number of any electronics / appliances / equipment you own.
  • Take photos of everything valuable.
  • Keep purchase receipts (or take pictures)
  • An estimate of how much it would cost to replace (replacement value).