With summertime here, you may be wishing you had a backyard swimming pool. There’s nothing like enjoying a dip in a cool pool on a hot summer’s day. Imagine drinking umbrella drinks on a lounge chair at the side of the pool and cooling off with a graceful cannonball. Why travel to paradise when you can enjoy it in your backyard?
A pool can be something for the entire family to enjoy, but it’s not without its costs. And not just the obvious ones; installing a pool will also impact your monthly home insurance premiums.
Does installing a pool add value do your home?
Depending on where you live, owning a pool may actually boost the resale value of your home, but in many cases it won’t. Simply put, most people either love or loathe pools – there’s very little middle ground. When it comes time to put your home on the market, homes with swimming pools tend to spend more time on the market than those without. Some prospective are scared off by the added work and cost of maintaining a pool. There’s also the liability issue, which we’ll discuss later. For now, let’s discuss the more traditional costs of a swimming pool.
First, there’s the cost of installing it. Installing an in-ground pool doesn’t come cheap. You can expect to spend at least $25,000 to install a swimming pool. Then there’s the cost of using your swimming pool. If it has a heater, that could cost you a pretty penny in utilities. You’ll also need to buy chemicals, such as chlorine, to ensure the pool is safe to use. It’s a good idea to budget at least $1,000 towards operating your pool on an annual basis. You’ll also need to budget for maintenance and repairs. The pump can die or the lining can tear so it’s a good idea to budget ahead of time.
Before installing a pool, ask yourself if it's worth it. If it’s to help boost the resale value of your home, there are better, more affordable ways. If you’re hoping to enjoy it with your family, that’s when it can make sense, as long as you’re willing to do the extra work that comes along with it.
A pool isn’t without its risks. If you have a swimming pool in your backyard, it’s important to ensure you have the proper home insurance coverage. If someone were to be injured using your swimming pool, you could be sued and held personally liable.
Whether you’re buying a home with a pool or you’re installing one yourself, you’ll want to tell your insurance provider right away. You’ll need a home insurance policy that specifically includes coverage for pools.
By installing a pool, you’re likely to see your home insurance rates increase. That’s because your insurance provider is taking on added risk. You’ll also want make sure your liability coverage is sufficient. This is important in case a guest gets hurt.
You can take preventative measures to minimize the risk of claims. For example, you can install a “no diving” sign and ensure that there’s a fence that’s locked at all times around the pool. It’s also best to ensure children at supervised at all times when in the pool.
In a perfect world, every single road would have ample space designated solely for cyclists, keeping them well insulated from the threat of motor vehicles. Unfortunately, things haven't worked out that way; and even on roads where bike lanes do exist, it is by no means assured that rider-driver accidents won't occur.
Accident prevention on the roads requires buy-in from both drivers and riders. Each of them is very much capable of disrupting the flow of traffic and instigating an incident.
That said, it is drivers, not riders, whose burden of responsibility is ultimately more crucial, since they are the ones who can do the most damage with their chosen mode of transportation. While negligent cyclists can absolutely trigger horrible situations on the roads, the extent of that disruption will be determined by what it caused the nearby motor vehicles to do—the same cannot typically be said for the inverse of that statement.
Here is what drivers need to know about sharing the road with cyclists.
As a driver, you can't properly co-exist with cyclists on the road unless you understand their non-verbal cues. Since bikes don't have the luxury of electronic turning signals or stop lights, that means learning their hand signals.
There are a number of signals that are used for the leader in a group of bikers to communicate with those behind him/her. Those aren't essential for drivers to know. What is essential, are the signals for right turns, left turns, and full stops.
A left turn signal is made when a rider's left hand is pointed straight out to the left, parallel with the ground, palm facing straight ahead. Right turn signals can be made when the same thing is done on the right, with the right hand; or, alternatively, when the left hand is brought up to form a perpendicular alignment between the forearm and bicep (again with the palm facing straight ahead). Finally, a stop signal also involves the rider making a perpendicular angle with the forearm and bicep; except for this one, the hand points down and the palm is facing behind the rider.
Cars making right turns at an intersection are one of the biggest hazards to cyclists. Although drivers turning right tend to remember that pedestrians have the right of way at an intersection, it often slips their minds that bikers who are continuing to go straight do as well.
If a driver makes that right turn before taking stock of the lane for approaching bikes, it could be game over for a rider. That's why drivers must always take a moment to pause and check their mirrors for an oncoming biker before entering the intersection for a right turn.
Bike lanes exist for a reason. Just because you don't see any bikes nearby at a given moment, you as a driver don't suddenly have the right to take over the lane for your personal use.
There are some notable exceptions to this. When drivers make a right turn, they will have to sometimes cut through a bike lane. That is fine, so long as it is free of riders passing through. Being in a bike lane as a driver is also justifiable if there is a need for an emergency stop and it is unsafe to do it elsewhere.
Parking in a bike lane will result in a fine, which may differ by region. In Toronto, the amount for doing it is $150.
Passing over-aggressively is also something that may result in fines for drivers if they are caught in the act. Again, the precise amount of that penalty will vary depending on the area.
Ontario updated its traffic laws in 2015 and passing was one of the rules that received an adjustment. The new regulation states that drivers must leave at least a metre of space between them and the drivers when passing. Failure to do so results in a minimum fine of $110 and two demerit points.
Too often a driver or passenger exiting the left side of a road-parked vehicle will fail to observe the space outside the door before opening it. A lot of the time, that can happen and nothing will come of it. But on the occasions where a biker does happen to be zooming by, the results will be fatal.
Hitting cyclists with a car door was another of the offences that was updated in Ontario two years ago. It nets offenders a minimum fine of $365 and three demerit points.
Between 2009 and 2015, more than 500 people have died on OPP-controlled roads because, to some degree, of driver inattention. That is completely unacceptable, and only serves to highlight the dire importance of driver education.
Plus, negligence on the road that harms a biker could cost a driver dearly. In addition to having to potentially pay out "no-fault benefits" through his or her insurance, the driver could be sued by the cyclist and have to pay out big time.
So study up on your responsibility, drivers.
If you’ve recently moved or changed jobs, you might be worried about the affect your new commute will have on your auto insurance policy. Although the change might be small, it is always possible that a change to your routine will cause your premiums to rise or fall.
This is why an increase to the length of your commute will result in higher insurance premiums.
The most likely reason your auto insurance will increase if your commute gets longer is that your likelihood of being involved in an accident will increase. As with all types of insurance, the riskier the insurance company considers you, the more it will charge you for insurance coverage.
People with longer commutes aren’t inherently worse drivers. However, people with longer commutes do spend more time on the road. By extension, these long-distance commuters are increasing the likelihood that they will get into an accident simply because they are driving for a longer amount of time. If you drive an hour to work each morning, it is hard to argue that you're less likely to be involved in a collision than someone who drives five minutes.
How to absorb the insurance cost of commuting?
So what’s the solution? It’s unreasonable to suggest you quit your job to work near your home (although that would help), but there are some things you can do to lower your rates.
First, you can pay the increased auto insurance rates and hope that the savings garnered from moving further from your workplace are enough to offset your increase.
Second, you can reduce the distance you drive on your commute by taking public transit. By only driving to the local bus or train station, you can dramatically reduce the amount of time that you’re on the road, which could lead to lower auto insurance rates. Plus, you’ll have more free time to read or listen to podcasts without needing to pay attention to the road for hours every day.
Third, you can ask your workplace if telecommuting is an option, even if it’s only for one or two days a week. Similarly, if you have co-workers who live in your area, you can try to set up a carpool. By reducing the number of days you spend commuting, you will lower your total commuting kilometres. Reducing the number of kilometres you drive each year could have a big positive impact on your auto insurance cost.
Finally, if you’re able, consider giving up your vehicle for commuting purposes all together. By declaring your vehicle a “pleasure vehicle,” you can benefit from some of the lowest insurance rates available. To get to work, you can try a combination of walking, public transit, biking or carpooling.
If you find your auto insurance rates unaffordable, or have recently experienced an auto insurance rate increase, consider reducing your commute. By spending less time on the road, you are reducing the likelihood of an accident, which could result in a lower auto insurance cost.
Whether you’re planning on driving up north for the weekend or just heading out on your daily commute to work, here are a few pointers to help you steer clear of the three most common collisions that result in car insurance claims.
Rear-end collisions are the leading cause of car insurance claims, making up about a quarter of all Economical auto claims across the country. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to avoid ending up in a rear-end collision:
The second most common type of car insurance claim happens when a parked vehicle is hit by another driver (including hit-and-runs, where a driver who hits a parked car drives away without leaving their contact information). There isn’t a whole lot you can do to protect your parked vehicle from other drivers, but there are a few smart moves you can make to reduce your chances of experiencing a hit-and-run:
Last but not least: single-vehicle collisions are the third most common type of accident that leads to car insurance claims. These include collisions with debris or animals on the road, vehicle rollovers, or accidental off-road driving. Here are three ways to avoid being involved in a single-vehicle collision:
While there are plenty of things you can do to avoid a collision, it’s not always possible to predict or prevent an accident — and that’s why you have car insurance. Your licensed broker can help you choose the coverage you’ll need to protect you in the event of a collision, and they’ll be there for you when you have to make a claim.
Written by: Stephanie Fereiro
Like seatbelts and airbags, crumple zones are one of many vehicle safety features designed to help protect you and your passengers if you’re involved in an accident on the road. But what exactly is a crumple zone? And how do crumple zones come into play in collisions? Let’s find out.
Also known as a crush zone, a crumple zone is an area of a vehicle (usually located in the front and rear) that’s designed to crumple or crush when hit with significant force.
Science says that if a vehicle travelling at 80 km/h hits something and stops immediately, anyone inside the vehicle will continue moving at 80 km/h until something stops them (like an airbag, seatbelt, or dashboard). Think of the crumple zone as a buffer around your vehicle that helps cushion the blow of a collision by extending your deceleration time so your car stops (relatively) slowly, rather than suddenly, to minimize the force that you and your passengers feel.
While the crumpling may cause more damage to your vehicle, the extra few tenths of a second it takes to stop could help prevent otherwise significant injuries.
How are crumple zones made?
While specific designs and materials vary by manufacturer and by vehicle weight and size, manufacturers share a common goal when designing crumple zones: to find the perfect balance between too much and too little impact resistance. With too much resistance, it won’t crumple easily enough in a collision. With too little resistance, it’ll crumple too easily. Either way, your vehicle will stop suddenly, so you’ll feel more of the impact and you’re more likely to sustain injuries.
Some simple crumple zone designs include frame segments built to bend in certain areas or collapse onto themselves, while more advanced designs make use of metals and other materials that are specifically engineered to absorb as much energy as possible. Crumple zones in high-performance vehicles often follow a honeycomb design, which is stiff in normal conditions but can collapse and crumple in a collision.
Next time you’re thinking of upgrading your vehicle, consider going for an option with enhanced safety features. Ask your dealership which vehicles perform best in crash tests, find out which advanced driver assistance systems are available on your preferred model, and consider the in-car technology you’ll use to take your safe ride to the next level.
You may have narrowed down your choices and need some help comparing car insurance prices for your top picks.
Written by: Stephanie Fereiro
When do you report an accident, when don’t you, and what are the consequences? Below are some valuable guidelines to help you know what to do if you get in a collision.
Police Reporting: Each province sets a dollar value for estimated damages that will determine if you need to involve the police. In Alberta and Ontario, for example, the threshold is $2,000. What’s this mean? You are not required to report an accident to the police if the total damage is less than that outlined by the province. This limit includes the damage to both vehicles.
Insurance Company Reporting: Your insurance policy states that you are required to report all accidents, regardless of the amount of damage. Many drivers believe that if they pay the damages themselves they don’t need to involve the insurer; this is not true. Your insurer needs to be kept in the loop of any collision.
Tip: When in an accident that is not your fault, having a dash cam recorder for video coverage may increase the chances that your insurance company will side with you in case of a claim.
Police Reporting: By law, you are required to report an accident if the damage exceeds your province’s limit (Alberta and Ontario’s is $2,000). In other words, if you’re an Ontario resident and one vehicle sustains $1000 in estimated damages and the other vehicle is dinged for $1001 in damages, you are required to report it to the police or a Collision Reporting Centre.
Failing to report an accident to the police when it’s required by law means you are running the risk of being charged with leaving the scene. Leaving the scene of a collision is a serious conviction that could result in a hefty increase to your car insurance rates, fines, and even jail time.
Insurance Company Reporting: You are required to report all collisions to your auto insurance company. If you don’t report it, and the other driver does, their insurance company could contact yours in the process of settling the claim. If it is determined that you were partially or wholly at-fault for the collision—even if you paid for the damages yourself—your rates may end up reflecting that you were involved in an accident.
For the most part, a parking lot accident is no different than a collision that occurs while driving on the street, road or highway. The police will need to be notified if there are injuries, or if there are damages that exceed your province’s threshold. And, even though it may be private property, you need to notify your insurer if you’re involved in a collision.
There are times when you must, by law, report a collision to the police no matter how much—or little—property damage has been sustained, like when the collision involves:
And, like all other collisions, a call to your insurance provider is required in order to make sure you’re covered in the event of a claim.
Have you ever looked through your insurance policy and felt like you were reading another language? Understanding insurance terminology might seem intimidating, but we’re working on changing that. Let us break down “deductibles” for you.
In your insurance policy, the “deductible” is the amount that you agree to pay out of your own pocket before your insurer will step in and pay the remaining balance of a claim.
Picture this: A tree branch falls on the roof of your car, and the repair bill is $1,500. If your deductible is $300, you’ll pay $300 to the repair shop and your insurer will pay the remaining $1,200. If your car is totaled or not worth repairing, your insurer may pay you the actual cash value of your car instead — in this case, your deductible would be subtracted from the total payout.
You’ll usually have some say in the amount of your deductible, and the amount (as well as any rules or exceptions) will be clearly stated in your policy.
Now, you may be wondering why insurance companies build deductibles into their policies in the first place — and it’s a good question. Long story short, deductibles exist to keep insurance as affordable as possible.
Here are just a few ways deductibles work to save you money in the long run:
The best way to figure out if your deductible is right for you is to ask yourself one simple question: Would you be comfortable paying the deductible amount out of your own pocket if you made a claim today? If you choose a lower deductible, you’ll be responsible for footing less of the bill if you make a claim — but the cost of your insurance could be a little higher. On the other hand, if you choose a higher deductible, the cost of your insurance will likely be lower — but don’t forget that you’ll be expected to pay the deductible if you make a claim.
Note: Rules and regulations can vary by province, and claims are handled according to the location where the accident occurs — not necessarily the rules in your home province. That means the amount you need to pay for your deductible could be different if you’re involved in an accident outside of your home province.
If you have questions or want to make changes to your deductibles, reach out to your licensed broker today.
Written by: Stephanie Fereiro
If your vehicle was built in or after the nineties, it probably has airbags. Even if you’ve never seen yours in action, have you ever found yourself wondering how they actually work? Take some time to consider the facts and learn about three simple steps you can take to prevent airbag injuries, so you and your passengers can stay safe on the road.
Airbags are built into the steering wheel, dashboard, and sometimes even the sides of a vehicle, and they’re designed to protect your head and upper body from colliding with the windshield, dashboard, or steering wheel when you’re in an accident. So, what makes airbags kick in? And what happens next?
It may be hard to believe, but all of this happens faster than the blink of an eye. Watch it in super slow motion:
Not all airbags are created equal, and they differ in design and the way they perform. You can learn about the features of your own car’s airbags by contacting the manufacturer or reading your owner’s manual — and be sure to keep up with current airbag recalls by checking Transport Canada’s database.
The force of an airbag is strongest in the first 8cm after it bursts through its cover and starts to inflate, so anyone who is sitting too close to it when it launches could be seriously injured. While airbags are designed to protect you in the event of a collision, it’s important that everyone in your car wears a seatbelt and sits far enough away from the airbags that they only come into contact with them once they’re fully inflated.
To keep yourself and your passengers safe on the road, take these three simple steps towards airbag safety:
Although they’re designed to prevent serious injuries and death, airbags can cause minor injuries like bruises, cuts, or scrapes. But when used correctly, the positive effects afforded by airbags far outweigh the minor bumps and bruises they bring with them.
Your vehicle’s airbags are just one of many advanced safety features that come standard in modern builds. But don’t forget that other features like back-up cameras and winter tires can help you stay on track and prevent collisions before they happen.
If you’re thinking of upgrading to a vehicle with more up-to-date safety features, be sure to talk to your insurance broker before taking your new car for a spin.
Written By: Stephanie Fereiro
There are plenty of ways to save on car insurance, from choosing the right ride to limiting how much you drive. But if you’re wondering how you could save even more, here’s a handy list of discounts to discuss with your licensed broker:
These are 10 of the most common car insurance discounts available in Canada — but the specific discounts offered may vary by province and by provider.
Be sure to reach out to your licensed car insurance broker to find out if you qualify. You’ll be amazed how much you could save!
There are a lot of things that protect us while we’re driving our vehicle, including airbags, seatbelts, anti-lock brakes and many more. But what many people may not realize the windshield is also on that list of things which protect us. Oh, and it protects us more than stopping the bugs from hitting our teeth while we’re driving.
When many drivers think about the strength of their vehicles, they may only think about the vehicle’s frame. A properly installed windshield in good condition adds to the strength of a vehicle. If a windshield has been weakened due to damage of a chip, or worse a crack, it may not provide the best protection. A small chip, under the size of a quarter can generally be repaired, but larger cracks usually mean the windshield needs to be replaced.
In many jurisdictions, if the crack is in the sightline of the driver, they may also receive a ticket and fine. Once you notice a chip in the windshield, get it repair immediately. Waiting weeks or months can cause that chip to grow into a crack. Dirt from cleaning the windshield may also get inside the chip and when it does get repaired, there could be some discolouring in that area of the windshield. Once dirt gets into that chip or crack, it would look dirty, rather than a nice clean, consistent look once it gets repaired.
Although stone chips may seem minor when they first happen, they can quickly develop into more of a costly repair job than most people realize. Stone chips can grow larger when pressure is placed on the windshield. Pressure can come from different sources, such as taking your vehicle though the car wash or even when the temperature changes.
If a windshield has to be replaced, here’s what every vehicle owner should know. A windshield consists of two pieces of glass held together by a thin layer of strong vinyl, which is between the pieces of glass. If at any time the glass breaks, the vinyl will hold the glass in place so any occupants of the vehicle won’t be injured, or at least have lesser injuries. If the windshield was incorrectly installed, it could actually pop out during a collision.
When windshield glass is replaced, it’s welded to the window frames using a urethane adhesive, which has massive strength. A properly installed windshield will help to hold up the roof of the vehicle during a collision or during a vehicle rollover. Drivers and vehicle owners should also know that if the airbag deploys, which can be at speeds over 300 km/h (or close to 200 mph), a windshield may blow out from the vehicle if it’s not installed correctly. In order to have air bags work effectively they need to bounce off the windshield.
So there you have it. See what that little stone chip can turn into if you put things off? So if you have a stone chip, let’s get cracking on those repairs…so to speak.
Content Author: Scott Marshall