Royal & Sun Alliance advises consumers to contact their insurance broker if doing home renovations

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TORONTO, May 21, 2008 – A considerable number of Canadian homeowners are going investing in renovations and valuable home contents, according to a survey commissioned by insurer Royal & SunAlliance (RSA).

Of the people surveyed, almost 40 per cent of Canadians have renovated their homes in the past year; 67 per cent of this group did not consult their insurance broker or company prior to investing in the upgrades. Additionally, almost one in five home renovators were either unaware that they should report their upgrades to their insurance company, or had forgotten to do so. The main reason that respondents chose not to notify their insurance company was that they felt the work was minor, according to the survey.

The survey also found that Canadians are increasingly going “underground,” with the majority of homeowners using their basements as living spaces. One-third of respondents who live in a home with a basement that they have access to reported having a home office in their basement, while one in four used the space as a work-out room. As well, the survey revealed that 21 per cent of basements contain a home theatre system.

“Many people don’t realize that it is necessary to report any renovations to your insurance broker or company to make sure that they have enough coverage should they experience a large loss, such as a fire,” says Irene Bianchi, vice president of claims and corporate services at RSA. “Your insurance broker or company can provide valuable advice and recommendations when you undertake home renovations, including making sure that your policy is up to date, in case you ever need it.”

Renovations include everything from backyard decks and hot tubs to finished basements and redesigned kitchens and bathrooms. Costs for home upgrades ranged from less than $5,000 to more than $20,000.

Bianchi adds that people don’t always think about the potential for water damage when considering renovations such as backyard decks and hot tubs or about taking pictures of stereo home theatre equipment in the unfortunate event of theft.

“On select policies, Royal & SunAlliance offers a free phone-in service where clients can acquire contact information for recommended vendors in their area,” says Bianchi. “This takes away some of the homework time while providing home renovators with peace of mind required when embarking on a home renovation.”

Below are tips to ensure consumers make sure their investment is protected. The number one tip: Contact your insurance broker or company to report the completion of any renovations to ensure you are properly insured.

Tips for home renovators

  • Consider hiring a home inspector to identify any structural challenges in advance of a renovation. A trained eye can help save money in the long run.
  • Remember to look at the house as a system in which everything is interconnected. For example, if putting in a larger bathtub, consider whether the current ventilation system can accommodate increased humidity.
  • Accurately estimate home renovation costs. Always round up when calculating expenses and add 25 per cent to the final budget for unexpected costs.
  • Be sure to set a realistic timeline. Unachievable timelines can lead to frustration and rushed jobs that could be costly or hazardous.
  • Talk to your insurance broker or company to make sure that you have adequate coverage for sewer back-up.

Tips for basement living

  • Be sure windows and other emergency exits are in accordance with local size, quantity, and location building codes.
  • Ensure furnace, hot-water tank and piping are properly installed, secured and enclosed. Doing so will prevent damage to basement property in the event of a leak or malfunction.
  • Take steps to properly waterproof the basement to avoid build-up of mould, mildew, and other water damage.
  • Be mindful of temperature. Getting a dehumidifier or cool mister to regulate temperature and moisture can prevent future structural repairs.
  • Basement dryers should have their outside filter changed regularly, as build up can lead to overheating and possible fire.
  • Be sure to have working smoke detectors, and check the batteries regularly.

The survey was conducted between July 18 and 22, 2007, and surveyed 1,504 adults across Canada. It is considered accurate within +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. For more information, visit or talk to your local insurance broker to ensure proper coverage is in place. RSA works with a national network of more than 800 local insurance brokers across the country. To find an RSA broker, visit or call 1-888-877-1710.

About Royal & SunAlliance:

The Royal & SunAlliance Canada group includes Roins Financial Services Limited, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada, Quebec Assurance Company, Johnson Inc., Western Assurance Company, Ascentus Insurance Ltd., Canadian Northern Shield Insurance, and is part of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group plc. Royal & SunAlliance Canada employs approximately 3,000 people, and is represented by a large network of brokers across the country. In 2007, the Canadian Group wrote $1.6 billion in direct premiums with assets exceeding $5.5 billion. Internationally, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group plc employs about 21,000 people and transacts business in 130 countries with net written premiums of $12.4 billion.