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7 questions for clients about coverage | Canadian Insurance

7 questions for clients about coverage

Reminding clients to take stock of coverage needs.

Clients are quick to call a broker with a claim, but will they pick up the phone when life changes call for extra insurance? The New Year is a good time to remind policyholders that their coverage should match their circumstances, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).

Whether clients kicked off 2011 with a home renovation or valuable holiday gifts, they may need prompting to consider the insurance implications, an III bulletin warns.

At Heritage Insurance in Moose Jaw, owner Greg Marcyniuk sends clients a pre-renewal checklist every year–and news of a new home business, major garden equipment or an anniversary piece of jewelry are among the things he wants clients to share. Many won’t volunteer the information themselves–“it comes out of the review,” he says.

But his brokerage uses other tools–like a newsletter–to keep coverage needs front and centre throughout the year. “I try to touch on every aspect,” he says. “A lot of it is about educating clients on what they need to be thinking about.”

The Heritage Insurance questionnaire has 21 questions, but even a basic list can get the coverage conversation started, according to the III:

1) Marriage or divorce

A wedding often means a new address that requires updated homeowner’s insurance, and it could also prompt a conversation about auto coverage if a couple has two cars with different insurers. Divorce is another opportunity to review coverage on both fronts, according to the III, and those in both situations should consider changes in valuables–like gifts or jewelry–that stem from either a marriage or a split.

2) Growing family

Your client’s children may be getting older, and a teenager with a newly minted driver’s license becomes an insurance consideration. The III suggests teens with their own cars be insured with the parents’ company for multi-car discounts, and urges clients to consider the vehicle’s safety. “Choose the car carefully–the type of car a young person drives can dramatically affect the price of insurance,” it recommends.

3) Renovations

An updated kitchen or a newly-finished basement could require new coverage, according to the III bulletin, which stresses that clients who don’t report such changes to their insurer may have insufficient coverage. Even outdoor changes–like gazebos–should be included in the conversation.

4) Vacation property

A new cottage? Clients should remember that vacation homes need adequate coverage even if they are just occupied part-time. “The risk of theft or disaster is just as significant, if not more so, in a second home as in your primary residence,” states the III bulletin. Brokers should also remind owners of waterfront properties of the limitations of flood coverage.

5) Holiday gifts

Expensive jewelry, fine art, or even high-end stereo equipment may exceed the coverage of a typical homeowner’s policy.

6) New equipment

A new addition to the tool shed usually won’t demand extra coverage, but if a homeowner decides to invest in a garden tractor or seated lawn mower, a review is definitely in order, says Marcyniuk. “It depends on the amount of horsepower,” he says. “They may need a rider.”

7) A home-based business

Economic ups and downs mean that more people have home-based businesses, and a standard policy may not offer enough coverage for an extended list of professional items.  Self-employed clients should also consider liability, says Marcyniuk. “There are limitations on certain exposures when people come to a property for business [purposes].”