Moving Season: How Does an Insurer Determine Pricing for My New Home?

Historically, moves always happen on July 1st in Québec. Although this has been part of our reality for many years (since 1974), it has not always been the case. The July 1st date was set by the government to avoid problems related to school changes. Prior to this date, May 1st used to be moving day but imagine the nightmare of kids having to get used to a new school right before year-end exams.

So you’re moving and you’re wondering if your premium will increase or reduce in your new area?

An insurer’s rating will vary depending on a great number of factors specific to each person. For instance, your age, your experience, your job, your insurable belongings, the state of your home, your credit score and other factors will be taken into account to calculate your premium depending on the insurer. However, a large portion of your rating will be based on your address. Some insurers will evenly apply a rating for a region, a city or a postal code. Others will be more precise and rate a street. What are their criteria, you ask?

The criterion of experience is a very important one. Historically, if a region, a city, a postal code or a street has provided good results for an insurer, he will presume that the risk will yield a good experience in the future. On the other hand, a negative experience will lead them to believe that the risk is bad. Yet, this is not the right way of seeing things because it does not take into consideration the factor of “luck or misfortune” in determining whether a sample is too small to represent statistical reliability; the past is not an indication of the future. Experience can also take some time before it gives a true representation of changing sectors. A sector which is being revitalized can be penalized for the bad experiences of its past whereas a previously “good” sector could age badly. But let’s leave this up to the actuaries, those people whose job it is to calculate “suitable rates”.

This is why insurers will examine many other factors. More importantly, they will look at the most destructive ones: wind, fire and water.

As summer storms are getting stronger than ever, wind has become an element that is causing more and more damage. Insurers look at the frequency of strong winds in particular sectors. It may sound ridiculous to be able to predict wind patterns but near mountains and fields, it is possible to tell when strong wind currents will occur.

Fire remains the number one enemy of insurance companies because it is a loss than can cause the most damage. Thankfully, it is the least frequent one. The insurer will determine if a zone is at risk by examining its fire department. For example, a fire station with voluntary firefighters that has a huge area to cover and don’t have access to all the water they need (fire hydrants) will certainly be less efficient than a permanent fire station in a dense city.

If fire is the most destructive element, it is water that causes the most headaches for insurers because the frequency of loss is high. For every dollar paid out in home insurance indemnities, more than 50 cents are attributed to damages caused by water. The causes are numerous, but if it’s difficult to guess the force and the quantity at which rain will fall in specific zones, it is easier to determine the quality of the sewer system. The age of the installations, the poor conception of the sewers or simply the chance of the sewers overflowing because of exploding demographics are the main causes of sewage backup. The likelihood of these happening is more foreseeable.

And with all this information in mind, I’ll let you get to undoing your boxes…

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