As Toronto’s #1 Handyman, we know how important it is to keep your home insurance up to date. We’ve seen damage from easily avoidable disasters, and we’ve cleaned up after them. We think our insurance will be there for us in an emergency. But what if there were little things we don’t even think about that could make it all disappear?

We all know that lying to your insurance broker will void your policy, but there are less obvious ways to find yourself left holding the bag. Here’s Odd Job’s list of 4 things that might just violate your home insurance.

1. Leaving the Water On

We don’t just mean leaving the faucets running, even though that’s definitely a no-no. We mean your main water supply. Did you know that an insurance company can refuse to pay up if you go away for more than a few days without shutting off the water? If a pipe bursts while you’re away on vacation, the insurance company can refuse to cover the damages. You should also get a water monitoring system with alert capabilities; that way you can immediately alert the insurance company and show them you took the proper precautions.

Want more tips to prevent and reduce water damage? Click here.

2. Not Keeping Your Home Insurance Broker Up to Date

 

You should let your broker know whenever you make a significant renovation, like building a new wall or room. If your home differs from how you’ve described it initially, even accidentally, they can refuse to pay up. Some changes may not even be covered by your policy.

3. Running a Home Business

This entry is a cautionary tale. I once tried to Do the Right Thing and inform my insurance broker that I was producing art from home to sell, and I was wondering if that would be covered under our insurance plan. Because they were painted wooden items, the ambiguous nature our policy’s classification system led to them being labelled as products of “wood working,” immediately violating our home insurance policy. Before you begin any kind of entrepreneurial activity, it’s important to talk to your broker and get firm boundaries and definitions for what can and cannot be covered. You will likely need a new policy that covers home-based businesses, or you might find yourself out of luck after an accident.

 

4. Avoiding Basic Maintenance

This is the Big One. While you might not see fires, floods, or severe weather coming, many policies expect you to do your part to limit the damage. Remember all that paperwork you received when you signed your policy? That will outline not just your rights and entitlements, but also your responsibilities. Don’t let a small problem become a big headache.