Historic heritage properties are an important link to Calgary’s past, and need to be carefully preserved for future generations. To that end, heritage properties require special considerations when it comes to home insurance in Calgary, particularly to make sure you have adequate coverage in place if the property is damaged.
With that in mind, here’s a comprehensive look at the unique coverage considerations you should make if you own or are considering purchasing a heritage property.
What Is a Heritage Property?
Provincial and municipal authorities are typically in charge of applying heritage designations to properties. Broadly defined, a heritage property is one that has noteworthy historical or cultural significance. The City of Calgary maintains a searchable list of designated heritage properties here.
While most heritage properties are old, age is not the only factor taken into consideration. For example, the childhood home of a well-known contemporary author or artist may qualify as a heritage property, despite being newer than many properties that would not qualify for heritage designations.
5 Tips for Getting the Right Heritage Property Home Insurance Coverage
Insurance companies will offer the most competitive premiums to owners whose heritage properties are properly maintained with comprehensive history records. To get the best possible coverage at the most affordable price, you should:
- Find an insurer who understands. Choose a provider with a proven understanding of the exceptional risks posed by heritage properties.
- Get the property in the best possible shape. Update old wiring, add smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, repair any structural weaknesses, modernize the HVAC system, replace old windows and doors (unless part of the heritage designation), and make sure all combustion appliances meet contemporary safety regulations.
- Maintain complete records. The more information you can provide an insurer, the better. Collect as many maintenance, zoning, repair, classification, renovation, and regional planning records that apply to the property as you can find.
- Understand what makes the property unique. What makes this particular property unique? Hand-carved design elements? Antique furnishings or decorative features? Identify all distinctive characteristics, and take photographs to document them.
- Purchase adequate coverage for the property’s specific characteristics. In this regard, it’s important to consider actual cash value (ACV) and replacement value (RV). ACV essentially considers the cost of replacing the property at its current market value, taking depreciation into account. RV is concerned only with how much it would cost to replicate the property detail by detail, without considering depreciation or other factors.
Make sure your policy also covers your valuables. To that end, you should understand how to perform a comprehensive home inventory to make sure everything is covered. For further information, please consult our previously published article on the topic.
What to Do if the Property Suffers Damage
Your insurance company will cover the property’s replacement cost if it suffers serious damage. From a general standpoint, you should make sure the following important points are covered when you approach your insurer to settle a claim:
- If you live in a heritage property that suffers damage, find out as quickly as possible whether the bureaucratic red tape that’s usually involved with repairing a heritage property will displace you for an extended period. Your insurer may cover part or all of your displacement costs.
- Make sure all appraisals are done by proven professionals with quantifiable experience with heritage properties.
- Check into bylaws that dictate or restrict the type of repairs that may or may not be performed on the property. For example, heritage property regulations usually require that severely damaged properties be rebuilt on the original site only.
- Work only with specialty contractors and skilled tradespeople. Heritage properties often require a specific touch and the execution of design styles that the majority of standard contractors can’t perform properly.
- Asbestos and other contaminants may be an issue when repairing heritage properties. Have yours fully assessed, and arrange for safe remediation if necessary.
Finally, it’s a good idea to budget extra time for your claim to be settled, given all the bureaucracy involved with heritage properties.
Let the Brokers at Lane’s Do Your Home Insurance Shopping For You
Calgary’s Lane’s Insurance is a leading Alberta-based brokerage that specializes in matching clients with the best possible insurance products on the market for their individual needs. If you own or are considering purchasing a heritage property and need insurance advice, Lane’s can help. Try a free quote, and remember that you’ll save up to 20 percent by bundling your home and auto insurance.