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Article Contents
By <span>Matthew Roberts</span>
By Matthew Roberts

Updated on December 11, 2023

Visit author page
By <span>Matthew Roberts</span>
By Matthew Roberts

Updated December 11, 2023

Visit author page

17 minute read

Article Contents

Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or you’ve owned your home in Ontario for years, it can be challenging to understand the ins and outs of home insurance. With so many coverage options, risk factors affecting premiums, and different insurance providers, you may feel too overwhelmed to decide what’s right for you.

Here, learn all about the basics of getting home insurance in Ontario, why you need it, and the different types of coverage available. Discover factors that can impact your home insurance premiums and how to save money on your policy.

Why Do I Need Home Insurance in Ontario?

While home insurance isn’t mandatory in Ontario, it’s highly recommended for the following reasons:

Protection from loss or damage

Risks such as theft, hailstorms, or fire can all cause costly damage or the loss of your home and personal property. Home insurance coverage can give you much-needed funds for rebuilding or replacement in case of unexpected events, offering you peace of mind.

Mortgage conditions

If you’ve taken out a mortgage, your lender may require you to take out home insurance as a condition for getting the loan.

Liability coverage

Some home insurance policies also have liability coverage, which can help you pay for settlement costs or legal expenses if someone is accidentally injured on your property.

How Does Home Insurance in Ontario Work? 

As with other insurance products like tenant insurance or condo insurance, Ontario home insurance gives you financial coverage for your home in the event of certain unforeseen events. By purchasing a home insurance policy, you can file a claim that allows you to handle the cost of damage or losses covered under your policy terms.

There are three types of home insurance policies that you can buy in Ontario. Here’s a basic overview of each type:

This is usually the most affordable type of home insurance, where you can choose coverage only against specific perils. If it’s not listed in your basic policy, your insurer won’t give you coverage for that risk.

This is typically the most expensive option but also the one that offers the most protection for your home and belongings in it. Under comprehensive home insurance, you’ll have protection against all risks that aren’t explicitly excluded, as well as risks that don’t require optional add-ons.

This mid-price option offers comprehensive coverage for your home but basic coverage for your personal belongings. This means your home will be protected from all risks except those that need add-ons or are specifically excluded, while your possessions are only protected against risks listed in your policy.

The typical Ontario home insurance policy may come with these types of home insurance coverage and liability coverage. Here’s a quick description of each standard coverage inclusion:

  • Additional living expenses: If you’re suddenly displaced from your home because of an insured risk, your policy will also cover the cost of temporary housing.
  • Detached private structure: This covers damages to private, detached structures on your property, such as a detached garage or tool shed.
  • Dwelling: This covers damages to your home (a.k.a. your dwelling) and its attached structures, like a garage. Coverage is typically for damages caused by risks such as lightning or fire, depending on the terms of your policy.
  • Personal liability coverage: This covers settlements and legal expenses in case someone is accidentally injured on your property.
  • Personal property: Home insurance policies also cover your personal property, such as furniture and appliances. Note that some special or high-value items like artwork may need additional coverage.
  • Voluntary medical expenses: This coverage helps you pay for the medical expenses of a person you’ve unintentionally injured on your property or someone who accidentally hurts themselves on your property. This usually covers up to one year of expenses up to one year from the time of injury, with certain cost caps.
  • Voluntary property damage: This covers direct damage or loss that you’ve unintentionally caused to someone else’s property. This also applies to unintentional loss or damage caused by a minor who is 12 years old or younger in your care. 

Apart from the standard coverage offered by Ontario home insurance policies, there are other types of coverage you can purchase for extra protection for your property. These are some of the most common coverage add-ons:

  • Credit and debit card forgery: This additional coverage will offset any financial losses or other damage you suffer because of credit or debit card forgery.
  • Earthquakes: This add-on covers damage or losses due to earthquakes.
  • Flooding: Protection from flooding typically includes both overland water and sewer back-up coverage. While you may opt to purchase these water-related add-ons separately, you may want to combine them into a flooding protection package because of severe weather and other regional risks.
  • Freezer food: This protects food in your property’s freezers if your freezer malfunctions or there’s a power outage.
  • Home sharing: Standard policies don’t cover loss or damage caused when you rent out your home. This add-on covers your property if you plan to use it for short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb.
  • Identity theft: This covers the cost of replacing crucial documents for identification, such as your birth certificate and driver’s licence.
  • Lock replacement: Some insurers offer to cover the cost of replacing your home’s locks.
  • Mass evacuation: If the government issues an evacuation order due to an incident like a flood, this add-on covers some expenses incurred during your absence from your home.
  • Overland water: Rainfall or thawing snow can cause nearby freshwater and wastewater sources to overflow beyond their typical levels. This add-on covers damage caused by this excess water when it seeps into your property.
  • Personal valuables: Standard plans offer limited coverage known as riders for items like jewelry and artwork. This add-on increases the limits for these items in the event of loss or damage.
  • Sewer backup coverage: If sewage or wastewater comes up from a main sewer, this add-on will cover the damage and losses caused.

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:

Criminal activities

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.

Earthquakes

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.

Flood damage

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.

Insect 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

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 Ontario. 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 Ontario?

The cost of home insurance in Ontario 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 Ontario:

Accessory Dwellings

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.

Credit Score

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.

Internal Construction

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.

Location

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

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.

Pets

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.

Property Type

Whether you live in a condo unit or a single-detached home, different types of dwellings will be evaluated differently by an Ontario 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 Ontario home.

Roof

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. Ontario 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.

Special Uses

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 Ontario

Some parts of Ontario are closer to water sources or fault lines, putting their homes at greater risk of damage or loss due to these factors:

Earthquakes

Though earthquakes aren’t common in Ontario, they’ve happened due to the locale’s proximity to tectonic fault lines. For example, the 2010 Central Canada earthquake caused serious damage to many properties in Ottawa and areas near Quebec. If you live near these regions, consider getting earthquake coverage.

Wildfires

Between April to October 31, 2022, there were 268 wildfires in Ontario. Ontario areas at particular risk include the Northern and Northeastern Ontario regions.

Many wildfires are caused by humans, but a significant number are also caused by severe weather incidents. As global warming increases the number of these incidents, wildfires will likely also become more common. 

Harsh Winters

Because of freezing temperatures during Ontario winters, homeowners may suffer property damage due to frozen pipes. Ice damming is another serious risk for Ontario homeowners – this is when thawing ice allows water to seep into your property and cause serious damage.

Overland Flooding

When thawed snow or excess rain cause freshwater or wastewater sources to exceed their usual levels, water from these sources may seep into your home and cause damage. This is one of the primary reasons for Ontario home insurance claims, but you’ll typically need additional coverage for protection against this risk.

How You Can Get Cheap Home Insurance in Ontario

If you’re trying to save money on your preferred home insurance coverage, here are some important steps to take:

Compare quotes

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 Ontario 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.

Pay annually

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.

Ontario Home Insurance Trends

The cost of home insurance in Ontario has consistently gone up in the past few years. Three related reasons for increases in recent times are supply chain problems, the COVID-19 pandemic, and severe weather incidents.

As more homeowners had to stay put in their houses, this has seen an increased incidence of perils like residential fires. This may be due to increased use of space heaters or indoor smoking as people spend more time at home. Some homeowners have also added more improvements such as pools or decks as they spend more time at home, increasing their home values and the cost of constructing these improvements. Because of this, some Ontario home insurers have, in turn, increased the cost of their policies.

Apart from the pandemic, there have been recent weather incidents that caused significant damage in Ontario. Notable weather incidents in 2022 alone include Hurricane Fiona, record-breaking cold temperatures in Northern Ontario, and a derecho a.k.a. a group of thunderstorms that are as devastating as a tornado. With more incidents of severe weather damaging Ontario homes, more companies have had to pay out more policy claims. This has led more insurers to raise premiums.

Because there are more incidents where bad weather has damaged Ontario homes, there has been a greater need for replacement materials for repairs. However, due to supply chain issues worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are delays and increased materials costs.

This also increases costs for insurers as they’ll have to cover the expense of a policyholder’s temporary housing during the rebuild. As a result, policies have gotten more expensive over the years.

Does Where You Live in Ontario Affect Your Home Insurance?

Yes, where you live in Ontario affects your home insurance. If you live in an area that exposes your home to more risks, this increases the likelihood of filing a home insurance claim. Because of this, some places will have higher or lower home insurance quotes, even for homes of similar size, value, and condition. 

For example, homes located closer to water tend to have higher premiums because of the likelihood of water damage and flooding. 

Most Expensive Cities to Insure a Home in Ontario

Windsor is the city with the highest home insurance on average in Ontario at around $2,069. Next on the list is Elliot Lake, starting the trend of cities from Northern Ontario being listed as some of the most expensive cities in the province.

CityAverage Annual Insurance Premium
Windsor$2,069
Elliot Lake $2,041
Sault Ste. Marie$2,038
Thunder Bay$2,035
Timmins$2,017

Least Expensive Cities to Insure a Home in Ontario

Cambridge came in as the least expensive city for home insurance in Ontario, at around $1,029 per year. Ajax, Kitchener, Guelph and Pickering round at the top 5, interestingly some are well within reach of the GTA.

CityAverage Annual Insurance Premium
Cambridge$1,029
Ajax$1,042
Kitchener$1,049
Guelph$1,065
Pickering$1,085

Census Data: Housing Data in Ontario

Wondering about the average type of home in Ontario and what condition it’s in? Based on the 2021 Census of Population, here’s a quick overview of housing in Ontario:

Type of Occupied Dwelling

More than half of Ontario’s occupied dwellings are single-detached houses (53.6%), with only 17.9% of all occupied Ontario homes classified as apartments in buildings with five or more storeys. 

Owner vs Renter Stats/Condo vs Non-Condo Owners

68.4% of all Ontario homes are owned, with rentals at a distant second, comprising 31.4% of all homes. Only 15% of owned homes are condominiums, as 85% of Ontario homes are a different type of dwelling such as a semi-detached house.

Private Dwellings by Period of Construction: New or Older Homes?

The majority of Ontario’s private dwellings are older homes, with 26.5% of Ontario homes having been constructed from 1961 to 1980. Newer homes are rarer, with only 6% of Ontario homes constructed between 2011 to 2015 and 6.7% from 2016 to May 2021.

Major Repairs or Just Maintenance Needed?

Most Ontario homes are well-maintained, with a whopping 94.3% of homes needing only regular maintenance and minor repairs. A mere 5.7% of occupied Ontario private dwellings need major repairs.

Who Provides Home Insurance Quotes in Ontario?

There are different ways that you can get a home insurance quote in Ontario. Here are the four providers that you can use or contact for home insurance rates:

Insurance brokers:

Insurance brokers can represent you as a buyer and get quotes from multiple insurance companies, as well as advice on choosing a policy.

Direct writers

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

Insurance agents are independent professionals who can provide quotes and policy information from the companies they work with.

Insurance aggregators

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 Ontario

How much is home insurance in Ontario?

The average cost of home insurance in Ontario is around $1,368 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 Ontario home insurance, such as your home’s value and the property’s condition. 

For a better overview of the cost of home insurance in Ontario, talk to an insurance broker or look up quotes on MyChoice.

Is home insurance mandatory in Ontario?

No, home insurance isn’t mandatory in Ontario. 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 Ontario for my renovation?

Yes, if you’re planning a major home construction or renovation project in Ontario, 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 Ontario?

The home insurance claims process in Ontario varies between insurers, but it generally consists of the following steps:

1. Report the claim: Contact your insurer and inform them about the damage or loss, including relevant details and evidence like videos or photos.
2. Claim evaluation: Your insurer will assign an adjuster, who will schedule an assessment of the value of any loss or damage.
3. 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.
4. 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 Ontario (FSRA).

Can you cancel home insurance in Ontario?

Yes, you can cancel your home insurance policy in Ontario. 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 Ontario?

Yes, you may need home insurance for Airbnb in Ontario. 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 Ontario. 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 Ontario 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 Ontario?

No, fire insurance is not mandatory in Ontario. 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 Ontario 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 Ontario?

Yes, you can bundle home insurance with auto insurance in Ontario. 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 Ontario. 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 Ontario?

There’s no definitive company that offers the “best” home insurance rates in Ontario. 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 Ontario 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 Ontario?

Yes, you may be charged if you switch home insurance providers in Ontario. 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 Ontario?

Most insurance companies in Ontario 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 Ontario are:

Hail and ice damage
Fire and smoke
Damage from lightning strikes
Theft
Vandalism

Methodology

Profiles

Average rates were calculated using a standard profile and incident profiles. All personal details pertaining to the quotes and policies have been kept confidential.

Standard Profile

Quoted rates are based on either a 35-year-old male and/or female homeowners with a clean claim history and good credit. They are also non-smokers and live in a home with monitored fire alarms and burglar alarms. The homeowners also have a $1,000 deductible, a $1,000,000 liability and water damage included.

Incident Profiles

We examined how rates change by evaluating profiles. We looked at the most common home insurance claims in Canada: water damage claims, sewer backup claims, breaking/theft claims and property damage claims like wind/hail damage while comparing to a rate with a clean record (standard).

Home Details

Quoted rates are based on either a semi-detached or detached 3 or 4 bedroom home with a valuation around or close to $1,000,000.

Team

MyChoice data science, MyChoice research.

Sources

1. Statistics Canada, 2021, Census of Population, Ontario, Housing Statistics. Data Published March 29, 2023.

2. Mychoice.ca Internal Data, Home Insurance Quotes Collected, 2023.

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