Condo, Coop and HOA Master Insurance Premium

I’m sure that a lot of condo/coop & HOA board members have the following question: how come on my Automobile & HO-6 Insurance policies I pay the premiums directly to the insurance carrier, and I have the option of monthly installments, whereas on the condo/coop or HOA master insurance policy I have to pay the premiums to my agent or broker, and the premium has to be paid in full upon binding of the policy and if I can’t afford to pay it in full then we have to get premium financing? That’s a very good question, and it all comes down to 2 main ways that insurance premiums are being charged:

  1. Direct Bill
  2. Agency Bill

Direct Bill

Most personal lines insurance policies, including personal automobile insurance, homeowners insurance, renter’s insurance and personal umbrella insurance are direct bill. This means that the insurance carrier is billing the policy holder directly. Most personal lines insurance policies come with the option of quarterly or monthly installments, you’ll have to pay a down payment (usually 20%) upon binding, and the rest will be split up to quarterly or monthly installments. In most cases you’ll be charged a small fee for every installment anywhere from $1 to $6 depending if you set up automatic withdrawals from your bank account. Once the policy is in effect, the agent or broker has nothing to do with the billing of your insurance policy (of course he’ll get a notice of cancellation if you don’t pay your premium and call you up to make sure that you’ll make a payment so your policy shouldn’t cancel). This is why on all your personal insurance policies you pay the insurance company directly and you have the options of installments.

Agency Bill

But when it comes to your condo/coop or HOA’s master insurance policy it’s a whole different story. Most condo/coop or HOA policies are agency billed, this means that the insurance carrier is billing the insurance broker the full policy premium, and the broker has to bill the condo/coop or HOA association. The broker usually has 30 to 90 days to pay the full premium to the insurance carrier. This is the reason why you pay the insurance premiums to the insurance agent or broker and why it has to be paid in full. But what if your condo/coop or HOA association can’t afford to pay the whole premium at once?

Premium Financing

Most condo/coop or HOA associations don’t have extra money lying around, so when your policy premium is more than $20,000 it’s kind of hard to pay the full amount up front, that’s when premium financing comes in to play. Your insurance broker should help you out with the premium financing; there are a lot of good financing companies out there. The interest rates are usually between 6 & 10%. They will only finance about 80% of the premium, which means that you’ll have to pay about 20% upon closing. How does the whole financing process work? The financing company sends a check of the full premium (minus your 20% down payment) to the insurance broker. Then the insurance broker sends to the insurance company the down payment that he got from the condo/coop or HOA and the check that he got from the financing company (minus his commissions). Then the financing company is going to bill you monthly or quarterly with a 6 to 10% interest rate. The following is something that unfortunately happens quite often: The insured made sure to have the policy paid up in full, whether by paying the full amount or by getting premium financing, and after a few weeks they get a notice of cancellation in the mail. What happened here? Very simple, your broker received the full amount, now he has up to 60 days to pay the company, and very often brokers neglect or on purposely delay paying the insurance company right away. This is wrong and illegal and you should stay away from such insurance brokers.

40+ Home Insurance Savings Tips

Your dwelling is often your most precious asset that you need to protect. We created a list of all savings opportunities associated with Home insurance. This list is the most complete perspective on home insurance savings tips. Numerous insurance brokers contributed to this list. So, let’s start!

1. Change your content coverage: Renting a Condo? You can often lower your content coverage. No need to insure your belongings to up to $250,000 if you only have a laptop and some IKEA furniture!

2. Renovations: Renovating your house can result in lower home insurance premiums, as home insurance premiums for older, poorly maintained dwellings are usually higher. Additionally, renovating only parts of your dwelling (e.g. the roof) can lead to insurance savings.

3. Pool: Adding a swimming pool to your house will likely lead to an increase in your insurance rates since your liability ( e.g. the risk of someone drowning) and the value of your house have increased.

4. Pipes: Insurers prefer copper or plastic plumbing – maybe it is a good idea to upgrade your galvanized / lead pipes during your next renovation cycle.

5. Shop around: Search, Compare, and switch insurance companies. There are many insurance providers and their price offerings for the same policies can be very different, therefore use multiple online tools and talk to several brokers since each will cover a limited number of insurance companies.

6. Wiring: Some wiring types are more expensive or cheaper than others to insure. Make sure you have approved wiring types, and by all means avoid aluminum wirings which can be really expensive to insure. Not all insurers will cover houses with aluminum wirings, and those that would, will require a full electrical inspection of the house.

7. Home Insurance deductibles: Like auto insurance, you can also choose higher home insurance deductibles to reduce your insurance premiums.

8. Bundle: Do you need Home and Auto Insurance? Most companies will offer you a discount if you bundle them together.

9. New Home: Check if insurer has a new home discount, some insurers will have them.

10. Claims-free discount: Some companies recognize the fact that you have not submitted any claims and reward it with a claim-free discount.

11. Mortgage-free home: When you complete paying down your house in full, some insurers will reward you with lower premiums.

12. Professional Membership: Are you a member of a professional organization (e.g. Certified Management Accountants of Canada or The Air Canada Pilots Association)? Then some insurance companies offer you a discount.

13. Seniors: Many companies offer special pricing to seniors.

14. Annual vs. monthly payments: In comparison to monthly payments, annual payments save insurers administrative costs (e.g. sending bills) and therefore they reward you lower premiums.

15. Annual review: Review your policies and coverage every year, since new discounts could apply to your new life situation if it has changed.

16. Alumni: Graduates from certain Canadian universities ( e.g University of Toronto, McGill University) might be eligible for a discount at certain Insurance providers.

17. Employee / Union members: Some companies offer discounts to union members ( e.g. IBM Canada or Research in Motion)

18. Mortgage insurance: Getting mortgage insurance when you have enough coverage in Life insurance is not always necessary: mortgage insurance is another name for a Life/Critical Illness / Disability insurance associated with your home only but you pay extra for a convenience of getting insurance directly when lending the money. For example a Term Life policy large enough to pay off your home is usually cheaper.

19. Drop earthquake protection: In many regions, earthquakes are not likely – you could decide not to take earthquake coverage which could lower your premiums. For example, in BC earthquake coverage can account for as much as one-third of a policy’s premium.

20. Wood stove: Choosing to use a wood stove means higher premiums – Insurance companies often decide to inspect the houses with such installations before insuring them. A decision to get rid of it means a lower risk and thus lower insurance premiums.

21. Heating: Insurers like forced-air gas furnaces or electric heat installations. If you have an oil-heated home, you might be paying more than your peers who have alternative heating sources.

22. Bicycle: You are buying a new bicycle and thinking about getting extra protection in case it is stolen when you leave it on the street e.g. when doing your groceries? Your Home insurance might be covering it already.

23. Stop smoking: Some insurers increase their premiums for the homes with smokers as there is an increased risk of fire.

24. Clean claim history: Keep a clean claim record without placing small claims, sometimes it makes sense to simply repair a small damage rather than claim it: you should consider both aspects: your deductibles and potential raise in premiums.

25. Rebuilding vs. market costs: Consider your rebuilding costs when choosing an insurance coverage, not the market price of your house (market price can be significantly higher than real rebuilding costs).

26. Welcome discount: Some insurers offer a so called welcome discount.

27. Avoid living in dangerous locations: Nature effects some locations more than others: avoid flood-, or earthquake-endangered areas when choosing a house.

28. Neighbourhood: Moving to a more secure neighbourhood with lower criminal rate will often considered in your insurance premiums.

29. Centrally-connected alarm: Installing an alarm connected to a central monitoring system will be recognized by some insurers in premiums.

30. Monitoring: Having your residence / apartment / condo monitored 24 hour can mean an insurance discount. e.g. via a security guard.

31. Hydrants and fire-station: Proximity to a water hydrant and/or fire-station can decrease your premiums as well.

32. Loyalty: Staying with one insurer longer can sometimes result in a long-term policy holder discount.

33. Water damages: Avoid buying a house which may have water damage or has a history of water damage; a check with the insurance company can help to find it out before you buy the house.

34. Decrease liability risk: Use meaningful ways to reduce your liability risk (e.g. fencing off a pool) and it can result in your liability insurance premiums going down.

35. Direct insurers: Have you always dealt with insurance brokers / agents? Getting a policy from a direct insurer (i.e. insurers working via call-center or online) often can be cheaper (but not always) since they do not pay an agent/broker commission for each policy sold.

36. Plumbing insulation: Insulating your pipes will prevent them from freezing in winter and reduce or even avoid insurance claims.

37. Dependent students: Dependent students living in their own apartment can be covered by their parents’ home insurance policy at no additional charge.

38. Retirees: Those who are retired can often get an additional discount – since they spend more time at home than somebody who works during the day and thus can prevent accidents like a fire much easier.

39. Leverage inflation: Many insurers increase your dwelling limit every year by considering the inflation of the house rebuilding costs. Make sure this adjustment is in line with reality and that you are not overpaying.

40. Credit score: Most companies use your credit score when calculating home insurance premiums. Having a good credit score can help you to get lower insurance rates.

41. Stability of residence: Some insurers may offer a stability of residence discount if you have lived at the same dwelling for a certain number of years.

What to Do When Your Life Insurance Policy is Missing

Having a life insurance can be a protection that you can give to your loved ones in the future if they are the chosen beneficiaries. But it can also be good to know if you have become a beneficiary of one of your relatives of family members. But there can be a problem in a situation where your relative dies and then you found out that you are one of the beneficiaries but the insurance policy is missing! Don’t panic because there are ways on how you can still claim your benefits even when the policy is lost.

Finding the life insurance policy in the future will still entitle you of the benefits that the insurance policy can give. There are many ways on how you can get the benefits when the insurance policy is nowhere to be found.

First, you have to look through the checks that have been canceled or you can also go to the bank where your relative policyholder draws his or her checks. Make a request asking for the old checks drawn by the policyholder and find out if there are some drawn for the insurance company. Next, you can ask the lawyer of your relative or the insurance agent and the accountant that may give you the ample information that you need. Another thing to do is to call the boss of your relative in a company where he worked and ask if they ever purchased a group life insurance for the workers of the company.