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Basement Suite Insurance

To pay their mortgages and earn a little extra money, families in Canada routinely rent out their basements or spare rooms as long or short-term accommodation. Check out how you can get basement suite insurance below.

A basement suite is a separate living space that is part of a primary residence, both of which are listed on the same land title. Any such living area is also regarded as a secondary suite, whether it is found below-ground, on another floor, or in a detached building somewhere on the property.

Only a few parts of the city are designated for houses with additional bedrooms, so if your neighborhood isn’t one of those areas, you’ll need to file for a variance and invite feedback from your neighbors.

Modern secondary suites must have their own off-street parking space, a distinct outside door, a separate heating system and ductwork in most versions, minimum ceiling heights, enclosed walls and ceilings, and other requirements.

In Metro Vancouver, Canada, Basement suites are cheap and affordable housing choice because due to their cheap price, they help the house-owners pay their mortgages and provide renters with a less expensive place to live in.

The number of basement suites in the area is thought to be around 156,445 according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

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Common specifications for basement suites are

  • 1.95 m minimum ceiling height
  • At least one window is required in each bedroom in the secondary suite for emergency exit in the case of a fire.
  • Smoke must be kept apart from a secondary suite from the main housing unit.
  • Fire alarms that are connected between the primary residence and the secondary suite are required.
  • Water heaters and furnaces powered by gas must be contained in a room with 12-inch drywall.
  • A separate heating and ventilation system must provide service to secondary suites.

We would also include the following as a requirement:

  • Inform your insurance provider about your second suite.

It’s crucial to inform your insurer as to whether your secondary suite is legal or not. A widespread misunderstanding is that an existing policy will cover a suite, however, this is untrue. Homeowner exposes themselves to tremendous danger and runs the risk of the insurance company denying coverage and nullifying the current insurance policy if they fail to inform the insurer about the suite.

Illegal basement rental suites

Although mortgage helpers are, good, and helpful, homeowners still need to be aware of a number of local ordinances. For instance, the maximum number of rental suites per single-family home in Vancouver and Toronto is one. Municipalities typically have additional regulations that differ, such as zoning limits, building code compliance, unit size restrictions, minimum parking requirements, inspection and licensing compliance, and more.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates that the secondary rental housing stock in Ontario is over 233,000 units, British Columbia is over 155,000, and Alberta is over 125,000. Compared to apartment suites, secondary rental properties are typically cheaper. For instance, a 2-bedroom secondary suite in Metro Vancouver typically costs $1,390 per month, whereas a 2-bedroom apartment suite costs $1,450 per month.

Before converting your secondary suite into a rental suite, you must take these into account.

  • Your home’s property worth has probably grown if you added a rental suite. The majority of policies stipulate that you inform your provider of any improvements that exceed a particular threshold. In the event of a loss, you could not have enough insurance if you don’t do this.
  • Most policies also call for you to inform them of any modifications to how you utilize your house. Your home insurance could be worthless if you fail to mention rental apartments. It’s crucial to remember that many companies will still cover your house even if it has multiple suites.
  • An increased liability risk may result from having more people live in your house. You will be held responsible if any of your tenant or their visitor sustain any injury.
  • Your liability insurance may need to be increased.
  • Your insurance does not cover your tenant’s belongings or responsibility to third parties. As a result, confirm that your tenants have their own insurance. If they accidentally damage your house, this will cover their personal belongings as well as maybe yours.
  • Your personal possessions, such as window treatments, appliances, or furniture in a furnished suite, are not covered by your policy. There’s a chance you’ll need to add landlord’s property insurance to cover anything you own.
  • You should buy insurance to guard against lost revenue in the case of an insured occurrence if you depend on rental income to help pay your mortgage. For instance, this insurance would cover your lost income while the damage from a fire is being restored to your property.

Benefits and Drawbacks of a Basement Suite


Supplementary revenue source: Naturally, one of the main motivations for doing all the work is to convert a portion of your current residence into a supplementary source of income. You may use it to reduce your debt, pay off your mortgage, or increase your savings.

Increase property value:  Renovations to a second home are a tried-and-true method of raising the value of your home. Families in Toronto and Montreal are constantly looking for extra homes to convert into nanny or in-law apartments or rental properties.


Less privacy: You will have less privacy as a homeowner, which is one of the basement apartment’s biggest disadvantages. First and foremost, if you rent out a portion of your house, you’ll essentially be sharing a house with a stranger. Additionally, if your home’s noise reduction is subpar, you might hear them at all hours of the night.

Cost of preparing the area: The cost of basement apartments is high. You may spend up to $75,000 converting a typical unfinished basement into a legitimate living space. It will take a while for the rental to cover the costs of this significant investment.

It’s challenging to be a landlord: You start acting like a landlord as soon as you rent out your place. All the stress and accountability that you can imagine come with this title. It is your responsibility to restore broken items and repaint everything that needs it.

Additionally, you’ll have to deal with tenants who might be problematic, noisy, or, in rare instances, really harm your home. You see what I mean. For other people, the stress and headaches are not worth it.

Taxes: You must pay rental income tax to the provincial government when renting out a second unit. When first-time landlords begin the procedure, they frequently are not aware of this, and things quickly become problematic.

There are many ways to decrease your tax liability; therefore it is advisable to speak with a chartered accountant who is knowledgeable about the several tax breaks and strategies for lowering the tax on your rental income.

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Including coverage for lost rental income

Loss of rental income coverage is frequently available from insurance providers for an additional cost. If an incidence results in your secondary suite being uninhabitable, you might be eligible to obtain financial assistance from your insurance provider under the terms of his coverage.

Loss of rental income coverage could help, for instance, if a sewer backup ruins your secondary suite and render it unusable for a while. Up until the point at which your secondary suite can once again be rented out, your insurance company might offer you additional payments equating to your monthly rental income.

Boost your liability insurance

It is necessary for homeowners who rent out a supplementary unit to boost their liability insurance. An increase in the number of people living in a home also indicates that there are more people who could get hurt on the owner’s property. A renter might choose to file a lawsuit, for instance if they trip and fall on the homeowner’s driveway.

Rules in having a Basement Suite

Is a Basement suite legal?

Basement suites are not always in compliance with local laws. The actual number of secondary suites in Calgary is less than 7,000, but the illicit inventory is thought to number in the tens of thousands. Many homeowners might be hesitant to tell their home insurance company about the unit because of this.

Even if the suite complies with local laws, some homeowners might choose not to disclose it out of concern that their house insurance rates might go up.

What impact do illegal suites have on insurance?

A secondary suite that has been granted legal status has satisfied all safety standards and zoning constraints in its locality. Insurance companies would not request documentation to determine whether a homeowner’s secondary suite is legitimate or not.

However, if it is determined that damage happened as a result of homeowner negligence, it may therefore claim to be rejected.

Homeowners are however urged to arrange for an inspection of their secondary suites to identify any flaws or potential safety risks. Legal action could be taken which involves the landowners being sued or charged with a crime if a tenant suffers harm while trying to escape a fire because the homeowner failed to provide a safe fire escape route.

Therefore, it is always in everyone’s best interest for a homeowner to make sure their extra apartment complies with local ordinances and is fire safe. 

Is your secondary apartment insured?

Having insurance is essential. Homeowners mistakenly believe that their current policy will cover a suite. You run a serious risk if you don’t inform your insurance that your home has two households living in it and that there is a suite.

If there is a fire or flood, an unreported and uninsured suite might potentially cancel the primary residence’s current insurance policy.

Because they are concerned that their insurer would notify the local government if the suite is illegal, some homeowners may neglect to adequately cover their property. Don’t forget to follow local laws and notify and register the suite with the neighborhood municipality.

Should you let your insurance provider know if you have a secondary suite?

If your insurance company is unaware of the suite, it can refuse to pay for damage to the unit. Additionally, it can render the entire policy void. This implies that you won’t have the necessary protection if you file any claims.

However, your insurance company can give you a suitable policy if they can accurately analyze the risk connected to a supplementary suite. Additionally, you won’t have to be concerned about a claim being rejected because the suite was not disclosed.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada claims that the difference in risk extends beyond the unit. Additionally, the hazards associated with each of your renters vary. So, whenever your tenant moves, it’s a good idea to speak with your house insurance provider.

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What is covered by homeowners insurance when it comes to apartments?

If the rental suite causes damage, your home insurance coverage might be able to compensate you. Your homeowner’s insurance might pay for the damage, for example, if a pipe bursts inside the rental property.

If your apartment is vacant as a result of an insured risk, depending on the policy, you could be entitled to get reimbursement for lost rental income. You wouldn’t be eligible for that benefit if you didn’t inform your insurance company about the person residing in your home.

Insuring your tenant

Encourage your renters to buy tenant insurance because your house insurance will not cover their material losses or responsibility. Because of this, some insurance companies mandate liability insurance for renters.

Sharing your house with a tenant may be an intelligent financial decision, but be sure your investment is protected with the right insurance for your circumstances. Registering your secondary suite will also help you avoid paying fines to the town. Often, there is only one registration charge.

How much is insurance going to cost?

Approximately 10% of the overall cost of your house insurance. This means that if you’re paying $1,500, it will cost you an extra $150.

You can purchase separate, comprehensive rental insurance if you rent out your second apartment. This may cover tenant damage and vandalism, depending on the insurer and the insurance. This insurance does not cover tenant belongings. The tenant is responsible for procuring their own personal property insurance.

Laneway homes, coach homes over garages, and other allowed or unauthorized accommodations on a homeowner’s property should be disclosed to their insurer, and the required insurance should be purchased.

5 Common Mistakes for Basement Suite Insurance

Several factors contribute to homeowners’ failure to insure their apartments. The top five reasons why clients leave their apartments uninsured are shown below.

They were unaware that insuring their suite was a possibility.

The idea that a rental apartment cannot be insured against damage and that landlords must simply accept whatever happens is untrue given the existence of home insurance and tenant’s insurance. The financial risk of becoming a landlord is greatly reduced by the abundance of insurance packages available that cover them explicitly. Your suite is covered by insurance if:

  • The expense of replacing or repairing the suite
  • Repairing malicious and vandalistic behavior
  • Repairing break-in damage and broken glass
  • Liability for premises

Some insurance plans additionally cover the loss of rental income incurred by homeowners while their apartment is being repaired. This is especially useful if you depend on your apartment to help with your mortgage.

It costs money to insure your rental apartment; homeowners insurance does not cover apartments, even if they are attached to the building you are insuring. It also differs from tenant’s insurance, which only replaces their personal items in the event of a fire or flood (and which you can’t rely on your tenants to have anyhow). Even if they were the ones who caused the fire, the tenant’s insurance won’t pay for the expense of repairing your apartment.

They believed it would be too costly.

The price of renting a suite is different depending on the firm. A multi-family surcharge may be added by some insurance carriers, which can be rather expensive. Accordingly, additional insurance for the suite would cost about $150 per year at $1,500 for the home. Depending on your demands, there is always the possibility of adding to this base rate to acquire additional coverage.

One of the most cost-effective forms of insurance available is suite insurance, which also offers outstanding benefits in the event that you need to file a claim.

They believed that their homeowner’s insurance was adequate.

Although your square footage hasn’t necessarily increased with the installation of a suite, the building’s occupancy level has. Before you renovated your house to add an additional suite, your basic homeowner’s insurance coverage may have been adequate, but the secondary suite is not covered by your current policy.

It’s crucial to inform your insurance broker that you’ve added a suite because insuring a house with two electricity panels, two water mains, and two kitchens entails a larger risk for the insurance provider. Whether or not you currently have tenants residing in the unit, failure to do so could result in catastrophic financial losses. In the end, the insurance provider only covers what it is familiar with.

Liability insurance is an additional important consideration. Your suite and tenants are not always covered by the liability insurance provided by your homeowner’s policy. Always make sure the rental suite is covered by your liability insurance.

It’s a smart idea to mandate that each of your tenants has a tenant insurance package, which covers their liabilities.

They only let people they trust rent their suite.

Damage is damage, whether you are renting to your in-laws, your adolescent son, a friend of a friend, or total strangers. Having insurance will protect your apartment in the event of an accident. Nobody will be offended if you insure your property, and a family link won’t make a claim invalid.

They believed the city would be informed of their unauthorized suite by their insurance broker.

Brokers of insurance will constantly suggest to their customers to report and register their suites with their local municipality to make them a legal suite. Insurance brokers do not, however, inform bylaw officials of what they consider to be an allowed suite.

Furthermore, regardless of whether the suite is permitted, a homeowner is still protected if they have insurance in the event of a claim. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimate that supplementary suites can cut first-time homeowners’ carrying expenses by around 25%. There is no mystery why there are so many new apartments being built in British Columbia today! Thanks for checking out basement suite insurance.

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September 24, 2022
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FAQs about Basement Suite Insurance

Should I consult my insurance company before making any renovation?

Before going ahead to renovate your basement, you need to speak to the insurance broker about it. By so doing, you can better understand how the scope of your remodeling plans will alter the value of your house. Gaining a better grasp of how the price of your insurance will alter if risks or safety features are included would be helpful.

How much would it cost to renovate my basement?

If you want to renovate your basement suite and you are wondering how much it will cost you to get it renovated, you need to know that it depends on your need. They typically cost between $35 and $70 per square foot.

How much does insuring my basement suite cost?

To insure your basement suite, you only need to have an extra 10% of the amount the basement suite costs. For example, if your basement suite cost $1500, the amount for insuring it will be $150.

Why do I need to insure my basement suite?

Insuring your basement suite is a vital step to take to cover the loss whenever there is a fault. A fault like a fire outbreak, loss of properties, and so on are incurred by the insurance company. So to enjoy these benefits, you need to look for an insurance company or broker and get your basement suite insured.

Does homeowners insurance cover flood?

Typically, home insurance policies do not include coverage for floods. Additionally, damages caused by clogged drains or sewers are typically not covered without a special endorsement. However, Insurer will normally cover the following damage if a pipe freezes and bursts.

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