Understanding the home insurance landscape in Nova Scotia can be challenging whether you’re a first-time homeowner or have owned a home for years. There are so many coverage options, optional protection choices, and different insurance providers, which might get confusing.
Learn all about the basics of home insurance in Nova Scotia, how it works, what influences its premiums, and more. Discover what risks homeowners in Nova Scotia should watch out for and how you can save money on home insurance premiums.
Why Do I Need Home Insurance in Nova Scotia?
You don’t “need” home insurance in Nova Scotia because it’s not a legal requirement. However, having home insurance is highly recommended to protect yourself and your home from unexpected damage or losses. Here are some reasons why home insurance is a good idea:
Loss or damage protection
Home insurance gives you peace of mind because it can cover repair costs in case of damage from theft, fire, hurricanes, and other causes.
Your mortgage lender may require you to get a home insurance policy as a condition for taking a home loan.
Your home insurance policy may also have liability coverage, which covers settlement costs or legal fees if somebody gets injured in your home.
How Does Home Insurance in Nova Scotia Work?
Home insurance in Nova Scotia works by providing financial coverage for your home in case of certain events. With a home insurance policy, you can file claims to receive the agreed-upon coverage amount for repairs or replacement.
There are three types of home insurance available for Nova Scotians. Here’s an overview of all three types:
This coverage is also known as named perils and is typically the cheapest insurance coverage option. Named peril coverage only protects you from certain events that may damage your home or property, but nothing else.
For instance, if you chose “Theft” as a named peril, you can receive coverage if somebody steals something from your home. However, you won’t get any insurance protection if a fire damages your home.
Broad coverage is the mid-price option that covers your home’s physical structure from most perils. However, it only protects your home’s contents from specifically-named perils.
Comprehensive coverage is the most expensive option, but it protects both your home’s physical structure and contents from most perils. However, there are some perils it doesn’t cover unless you buy additional coverage, like earthquakes and sewer backups.
A typical Nova Scotia home insurance policy usually comes with the following coverages. Here’s a look at what each item entails:
- Additional living expenses: This covers temporary housing after your home is damaged due to an insured peril.
- Detached private structure: This covers damage caused by perils to any detached structure on your property, like tool sheds, separate garages, and pool houses.
- Dwelling building: This covers damage caused by perils to your home and its attached structures. It also includes protection for swimming pools and permanent outdoor installations.
- Personal liability: This covers lawsuits related to injuries that happened on your property.
- Personal property: This covers your personal belongings, which include furniture, clothing, electronics, and more. Especially expensive items like jewellery or artwork may need extra insurance coverage.
- Voluntary medical payments: This covers medical payments for any injuries that happen on your property.
- Voluntary property damage: This covers reimbursements for unintentional damage to another person’s property caused by you or your household member.
On top of the standard coverage for Nova Scotia home insurance policyholders, you can buy extra protection for your property. Here are some common additional coverages you can purchase:
- Credit/debit card forgery and counterfeit: This covers financial losses due to activities related to forgery or counterfeiting.
- Earthquake: This covers earthquake damage to your property.
- Freezer food: This covers any food spoilage caused by power outages.
- Identity theft: This covers any costs that you may incur while getting your life back in order due to identity theft.
- Lock replacement: This covers new lock installations after a burglary.
- Mass evacuation: This covers additional living expenses if you’re required to leave your home due to grave danger.
- Overland water: This covers damage caused by flooding caused by overflowing water or spring thaw.
- Sewer backup: This covers damage caused by sewage water backing up into your property.
What Is Not Included in a Typical Home Insurance Policy?
Even if you’ve opted for a highly comprehensive home insurance policy, there are some risks that insurers explicitly don’t include as a covered peril. These are called “exclusions” by home insurers.
Here are the most common home insurance exclusions:
If your home was damaged due to criminal activity, it won’t be covered by your insurance policy.
Damage from tenants
Generally, home insurance companies require specific coverage for homeowners/landlords who plan to rent out their properties. A standard home insurance policy won’t include coverage if you rent your home out and the tenant causes damage.
Most policies exclude this risk, but you can cover earthquake losses and damage as an add-on to a standard policy.
Failure to maintain your home
Damage or losses caused by poor home upkeep (e.g., clogged storm drains, broken bannisters) won’t be covered, as your insurer deems it your responsibility to manage wear and tear.
Flooding is typically not covered by a standard policy, but it may be included as an add-on.
Home business activities
Home businesses will need separate home-based business insurance to cover home or equipment damage.
Because this is considered a preventable risk, most insurers don’t cover insect damage.
Mortgage or property taxes
These are separate expenses handled by policy owners as they’re unrelated to your home insurance policy.
Mould caused by poor home maintenance is typically excluded by home insurance policies. Note that this is separate from mould caused by an insured peril, which will be covered by your policy.
Vacant dwelling risks
Many insurers may void your insurance if you leave your home vacant for a prolonged period.
This is by no means an exclusive list of risks typically excluded from a home insurance policy in Nova Scotia. Talk to your home insurance provider to see what’s covered by your policy in case of loss or damage.
What Determines the Cost of Home Insurance in Nova Scotia?
The cost of home insurance in Nova Scotia varies depending on several considerations, such as your zip code, your property type, and even your credit score. Here are some of the different cost factors for home insurance in Nova Scotia:
Detached private structures like tool sheds, pool houses, and gazebos may increase your home insurance premiums. Further, a pool typically increases your premiums because of the increased risk of drowning, as well as the extra cost of maintaining a surrounding fence and lock. Make sure your home insurance covers all of your detached structures.
The majority of Canadian provinces use your credit score to determine your home insurance premium. This is because it’s often perceived that a bad credit score increases the risk of providing home insurance, as it increases the odds of late or non-payment of premiums.
If your home is older, in poor condition, or needs to update systems like heating and plumbing, it may be pricier to insure. This is because older electrical, heating, and plumbing systems increase the risk of certain accidents like fires and water damage from leaks.
If you live in an area prone to natural disasters like earthquakes or flooding, your premiums may be higher. Insurers also tend to charge higher premiums in areas where more homeowners have filed claims over recent years.
Replacement cost is based on how much it would cost to rebuild your home at its present condition and value. The higher your home’s present value, the more expensive it is to insure. Note that when factoring in replacement cost, you’ll need to inform your home insurer of any expensive items or upgrades like jewellery or artwork which will need extra coverage.
Past Claims History
Simply put, the more claims you have in a 10-year period, the higher your monthly premiums will be. As a general rule, make sure that the cost of your potential claim is higher than your policy deductible, which is the amount you have to pay before your insurer covers the rest.
Some insurance providers will ask you to disclose the number, type, and breed of any pets you may have, as some pets are considered an additional liability risk.
Whether you live in a condo unit or a single-detached home, different types of dwellings will be evaluated differently by an Nova Scotia insurer as each comes with different risks.
Renovations And Improvements
Some improvements can lower or increase your home insurance premiums. For example, converting a room into a home theatre may increase your home’s present value, so your premiums may go up. On the other hand, improvements that increase home safety like an alarm system may lower your premiums. Note that you should tell your home insurer both before and after you renovate your Nova Scotia home.
The average asphalt shingle roof will begin to wear down after approximately 10 to 15 years. Unless it’s properly maintained and repaired, your roof may increase the risk of letting water leak in and damage your house. Nova Scotia home insurers may lower your quotes if they see that your home’s roof is made with high-quality, durable materials.
Smoking Or Non-Smoking Policyholders
If you’re a non-smoker, an insurer may offer lower premiums as they consider it less likely that a cigarette or other smoking device will start a fire in your home.
While conducting business in your home won’t always increase your home insurance premiums, this depends greatly on the kind of business you’re running. For example, you can expect to pay more if you’re listing your home for short-term rentals or running a home-based catering company because there is more risk of liabilities or accidents.
Type Of Coverage You Choose
If you get a policy with a higher deductible, this will result in a lower premium. Additionally, the higher the coverage and the more risks you are protected against, the higher your premiums will be.
Your Chosen Insurer
Different insurers may offer varying quotes even for the same type of policy. Coverage costs vary between companies, so it’s important to shop around to find the best deal.
Common Risk Factors for Homeowners in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is a Maritime province, so you need to be vigilant and prepare for severe weather events throughout the year. Here are some common risks a homeowner might encounter in Nova Scotia:
Nova Scotia is located in the far north of the Atlantic hurricane system. You need to be extra vigilant during hurricane season between June and November. The most intense hurricane activity usually happens in September and October. Communities alongside the eastern coast of Nova Scotia are generally the most vulnerable to storms and hurricanes.
Environment Canada states that hurricanes don’t actually make landfall in the province often. However, their remnants can still cause lots of property damage due to high winds and flying debris.
Read our article on whether your home and auto insurance covers storm damage to learn more.
Precipitation levels in Nova Scotia are high due to hurricanes and winter storms. On top of those, sudden spring thaw can cause flash floods that hit inland communities.
The town of Annapolis Royal on the southern shore of the Bay of Fundy is especially vulnerable to flooding due to its low-lying nature.
How You Can Get Cheap Home Insurance in Nova Scotia
If you’re trying to save money on your preferred home insurance coverage, here are some important steps to take:
Comparison shopping between different providers will help you find the best rate for your desired policy type. Use an insurance aggregator like MyChoice to get and examine immediate quotes from various Nova Scotia home insurers.
Increase your deductible
You can ask your insurer if you can increase your deductible, a.k.a. the amount you pay before your insurer pays out the claim. Increasing this reduces the risk for your insurer that you’ll submit a claim, so they may offer to lower your premiums.
Bundle with auto insurance
Some companies offer bundled home and auto insurance at a good discount for both policies.
Renovate old home systems like wiring and plumbing
Renovating to remove known risks like faulty wiring and old plumbing may help reduce your premiums.
While hefty annual premium payments may be daunting, some insurance providers give you a discount in exchange as it reduces their administrative costs.
Install monitored alarms
The safer you make your home against thieves, the higher the chances that you’ll go claim-free. This may convince your home insurer to offer lower premiums. Install monitored home security systems to deter break-ins and get immediate notifications of disturbances.
Does Where You Live in Nova Scotia Affect Your Home Insurance?
Yes, where you live in Nova Scotia affects your home insurance. If you live in an area that exposes your home to more risk, you’re more likely to file a home insurance claim. In turn, this might increase your home insurance quotes.
For instance, homes in storm-prone areas like the eastern coast of Nova Scotia might land higher premiums than similar homes in less storm-prone areas.
Census Data – Housing Data in Nova Scotia
What does the housing landscape in Nova Scotia look like? Here’s a look at the key facts about housing in Nova Scotia based on the 2021 Census of Population:
Type of Occupied Dwelling
Most Nova Scotian homes are single-detached houses, making up 63.7% of dwellings. The second-most popular home type in Nova Scotia are apartments in buildings with less than five storeys at 15.1%.
Owner vs Renter Stats/Condo vs Non-Condo Owner
About two-thirds (66.8%) of Nova Scotian homes are owned, with rentals coming in second at 32.6%. There’s also a very distant third category of government, First Nation, or Indian band-provided homes at just 0.7%. Out of all the owned homes, only 3.8% are condominiums, with the rest being different types of dwellings.
Private Dwellings by Period of Construction: New or Older Homes?
The majority of Nova Scotia’s private dwellings are older homes, with 26.5% of Nova Scotia homes having been constructed from 1961 to 1980. Newer homes are rarer, with only 6% of Nova Scotia homes constructed between 2011 to 2015 and 6.7% from 2016 to May 2021.
Over half (53.2%) of Nova Scotian homes are older buildings constructed in 1980 or earlier. Homes constructed after 2001 are a rarity, making up just 20.5% of total homes.
Major Repairs or Just Maintenance Needed?
The vast majority of Nova Scotian homes are well-maintained, with 91.8% of them only needing regular maintenance and minor repairs. Meanwhile, homes that need major repairs make up 8.2% of the province’s total dwellings.
Who Provides Home Insurance Quotes in Nova Scotia?
There are different ways that you can get a home insurance quote in Nova Scotia. Here are the four providers that you can use or contact for home insurance rates:
Insurance brokers can represent you as a buyer and get quotes from multiple insurance companies, as well as advice on choosing a policy.
A direct writer is an insurance company that doesn’t have independent agents offering their quotes and policies. Typically, direct writers offer their products through their official websites and/or their call centres.
Insurance agents are independent professionals who can provide quotes and policy information from the companies they work with.
Insurance aggregators are online platforms like MyChoice that allow you to compare rates and coverage options from multiple providers. Because these allow you to input your information and receive quotes from multiple providers in one place, this can save you time and effort.
FAQs About Home Insurance in Nova Scotia
How much is home insurance in Nova Scotia?
The average cost of home insurance in Nova Scotia is about $718 annually depending on the type of dwelling, location, and other factors. Home insurance costs differ between home insurance providers. Note that several considerations can increase or decrease the cost of your Nova Scotia home insurance, such as your home’s value and the property’s condition.
For a better overview of the cost of home insurance in Nova Scotia, talk to an insurance broker or look up quotes on MyChoice.
Is home insurance mandatory in Nova Scotia?
No, home insurance isn’t mandatory in Nova Scotia. However, if you take out a mortgage on your home, your lender may require you to get coverage as a condition of getting a loan.
It’s also highly recommended that you get home insurance even if it’s not mandatory, so you can protect your house and personal property in case of unforeseen events like fires and hailstorms.
Do I need home construction insurance in Nova Scotia for my renovation?
Yes, if you’re planning a major home construction or renovation project in Nova Scotia, home construction insurance will protect you and your home during the process.
Also known as builder’s risk insurance, home construction insurance provides coverage in the event of damage or loss to your home and construction materials during the construction process. Some companies that offer this policy type even have liability coverage in case someone gets injured on your property during construction.
What is the home insurance claims process in Nova Scotia?
The home insurance claims process in Nova Scotia varies between insurers, but it generally consists of the following steps:
– Report the claim: Contact your insurer and inform them about the damage or loss, including relevant details and evidence like videos or photos.
– Claim evaluation: Your insurer will assign an adjuster, who will schedule an assessment of the value of any loss or damage.
– Approval or denial: After the home inspection and evaluating your documentation, your insurer will either deny your claim or approve it, offering a settlement for repairs or replacement of damaged property.
– Claim resolution: If you accept the offer, the payment will be made. If not, you can negotiate with your insurer or file a dispute with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Nova Scotia (FSRA).
Can you cancel home insurance in Nova Scotia?
Yes, you can cancel your home insurance policy in Nova Scotia. The process may vary depending on your insurer and policy terms.
Generally, you’ll need to contact your insurance provider to let them know. Some insurers may require written notice of cancellation by mail or email.
Keep in mind that if you cancel your policy before its expiry date, you may be subject to penalties or cancellation fees.
Do I need home insurance for Airbnb in Nova Scotia?
Yes, you may need home insurance for Airbnb in Nova Scotia. While Airbnb has some host protection insurance, its coverage is limited and may not cover all types of liabilities or damages if you’re using your home for short-term rentals. Having a home insurance policy can provide additional protection and peace of mind.
Note that renting out your property as an Airbnb without telling your insurer may void your policy, and not all home insurance policies include coverage for short-term rentals. Check with your home insurance company to see if your policy has this protection or if you need to get additional coverage.
I have a vacation home in another city in Nova Scotia. Can I insure that home too even if I don’t always live there?
Yes, you can insure your vacation home in another city in Nova Scotia even if you don’t always live there. There are insurance policies specially tailored to cover seasonal or vacation homes to protect your property, belongings, and other liabilities from damage or loss.
Typically, these policies offer coverage for damages due to risks like fire, theft, and water damage. They may also have coverage for additional situations such as temporary living expenses if a covered risk makes your vacation home uninhabitable.
Home insurance companies have different requirements and limitations for vacation home insurance. In some cases, you may be required to take out additional coverage or accept different terms and conditions.
Is fire insurance mandatory in Nova Scotia?
No, fire insurance is not mandatory in Nova Scotia. However, it’s highly recommended that property owners get it to cover damages or loss to their property caused by fire, smoke, and other related perils.
Note that some Nova Scotia mortgage lenders may require borrowers to have fire insurance coverage as a loan condition. This is because the property is collateral for the loan, and the mortgage lender may require coverage to protect the property from loss or damage.
Can I bundle home insurance with auto insurance in Nova Scotia?
Yes, you can bundle home insurance with auto insurance in Nova Scotia. Insurance companies typically offer bundled packages, and getting one can lead to big cost savings. It can also be more convenient for managing your insurance policies and premium payments, so you should compare bundles between insurers to see what discounts and levels of coverage they offer.
It’s my first time owning a house in Nova Scotia. What type of home insurance should I get?
Before choosing a home insurance policy, first-time homeowners should consider the following factors:
– Financial capability
– Risk of exposure to specific risks in their area, such as flooding or earthquakes-
– Home value and condition
If you’re on a low budget and live in an area that isn’t prone to natural disasters or crime, a basic policy may be enough for your needs. But if you want to cover all your bases, comprehensive home insurance will help you rest easy.
Talk to your insurance provider to find the best option for your budget and the coverage you need.
Who has the best home insurance rates in Nova Scotia?
There’s no definitive company that offers the “best” home insurance rates in Nova Scotia. This is because different providers will have their own processes for assessing the cost of providing coverage, so premiums vary from company to company for the same homeowner-applicant.
To find the best Nova Scotia home insurance rates, compare offers through MyChoice’s home insurance calculator. We can help you find the most affordable options on the market.
Will I be charged if I switch home insurance providers in Nova Scotia?
Yes, you may be charged if you switch home insurance providers in Nova Scotia. Depending on the terms of your current policy, your provider may charge a fee for cancelling your policy before its expiration, while others don’t. Review your policy and talk to your provider to prepare for potential penalties.
What companies offer high-risk home insurance in Nova Scotia?
Most insurance companies in Nova Scotia offer high-risk home insurance. However, the rates that they’ll present will vary depending on their assessed risk of insuring your property in your area, as well as the factors that make you “high-risk”.
High-risk home insurance can be much more expensive than a standard policy, so compare rates through MyChoice to find affordable coverage for your home.
What is a home insurance peril?
A home insurance peril is a risk or event that may cause damage or loss to your home, covered by your home insurance policy. Examples of perils typically covered by standard home insurance policies in Nova Scotia are:
– Hail and ice damage
– Fire and smoke
– Damage from lightning strikes
Do I need home insurance before closing in Nova Scotia?
You need home insurance before closing in Nova Scotia if your mortgage lender requires it. Lenders require you to get home insurance because they have a stake in your property as well.
What factors aren’t used to calculate Nova Scotia home insurance rates?
Factors that aren’t used to calculate Nova Scotia home insurance rates include:
– Marital status
– Political affiliation
– Sexual orientation and gender
How is home insurance regulated in Nova Scotia
Home insurance in Nova Scotia is regulated by the Superintendent of Insurance, part of Nova Scotia’s FInance and Treasury Board. The Superintendent’s Office deals with consumer insurance inquiries and licences all insurers operating in Nova Scotia.