Title insurance is an insurance policy that protects residential property owners and their lenders against losses related to the property’s title or ownership. It’s a common question and one that deserves a little context.
Buying a home is an incredibly exciting event for any new homeowner. Ownership of any property comes with the need to protect it from risks. These could include losses or damages to the home and fraudulent attempts to steal, transfer or use the ownership title. Homeowners and lenders can safeguard property from threats with the right insurance.
Many Canadians are familiar with two of the most common forms of insurance, home and title. But they may not be aware that they are two fundamentally distinct forms of coverage. This common misconception can be dangerous, and confusing the two has led many people to obtain one form of insurance, but not the other, leaving them vulnerable to greater risks down the road. The reality is, both forms of insurance are essential to provide comprehensive protection of your property.
The red-hot real estate market shows no signs of slowing down in the foreseeable future. As more Canadians become homeowners, it’s more important than ever for mortgage brokers to understand the difference between title insurance and home insurance to properly assist your clients, and the benefits of investing in both to protect what may be the largest single purchase of their lifetime.
Home insurance (also known as homeowners insurance or house insurance) protects a residence against losses and damages for many risks and can also include additional structures on your property. While home insurance comes in many forms in the market, the standard policy includes coverage that provides six types of protection:
- Dwelling coverage: the most recognized coverage, which protects from natural disasters such as fire, wind and lightning. It is important to note that flood and earthquake coverage are not always covered and may need to be purchased separately.
- Other structures coverage: protects sheds, fences and detached garages from natural disasters.
- Personal property coverage: covers the items inside the home such as furniture, clothing, electronics and jewelry. Each policy will outline the maximum amount of personal property coverage that homeowners are entitled to.
- Personal liability protection: pays for the legal defense if someone gets injured on the homeowner’s property. It is important to note that the policy will only pay up to the specified coverage limit. If legal costs or a settlement exceeds the coverage, the owner will be required to pay the balance out of pocket.
- Medical payments coverage provides protection if someone gets injured on the property and does not want to sue. This coverage will pay for their medical expenses such as crutches or prescription medicines.
- Loss of use coverage: covers expenses such as a hotel stay and restaurant meals if the home becomes uninhabitable and needs repairs due to an event that is covered by the policy. Again, there is a limit to how much coverage is received for loss of use. Make sure your client checks with their insurance provider.
Home insurance is typically paid via monthly insurance premiums and the cost depends on various factors including details of the property and the province, or city. The average annual home insurance cost in Canada hovers around the $1,500-mark.
Title insurance is a policy that provides protection by indemnifying against loss with respect to your ownership or true entitlement of the insured property. There are two types of title insurance: one protects property owners through an owner’s policy and the other protects lenders through a loan policy. A homebuyer receives title to a home once the previous owner has signed the deed and transferred the property over, and the homebuyer is registered in the government’s land registration system.
Many homeowners assume that title insurance is included within a home insurance policy. Because of this misunderstanding, an alarming number of Canadians today do not have title insurance. While home insurance protects homeowners from unexpected circumstances that occur on or against their property, title insurance protects the homebuyer from unexpected circumstances that affect the title to the property, such as financial loss from title fraud or other issues.
Title insurance also provides protection against loss from pre-existing issues, which may include:
- Challenges to title by third parties.
- Liens on the title due to the previous owner’s unpaid debts.
- Encroachment issues, such as if your client’s backyard shed is technically on their neighbour’s property and needs to be removed.
- Adverse matters that would have been disclosed on an up-to-date survey.
- Title fraud, which occurs when a person uses false identification to get the title of a property in order to obtain a mortgage or sell the home without the homeowner knowing or impersonating you to obtain a mortgage.
Additionally, title insurance protects homeowners from title issues that may impact their ability to sell, lease or mortgage their property in the future. It also includes a “duty to defend” to protect both buyers and lenders against expensive litigation related to title issues.
Unlike home insurance, title insurance is a one-time premium that is typically purchased at the same time as the property. However, title insurance can be purchased even if your clients already own their property. The cost of title insurance in Canada averages around $250 but can range anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on factors relating to the property.
The best way for homeowners to protect themselves from expensive and unexpected costs associated with property ownership is to understand the various risks and to invest in the right insurance coverage.
Without question, both home insurance and title insurance are incredibly important protection options that homeowners should always consider when purchasing a home.
A home is often your clients’ most valuable asset–make sure they protect it with home insurance and title insurance.
Insurance by FCT Insurance Company Ltd. Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited. The services company does not provide insurance products. This material is intended to provide general information only. For specific coverage and exclusions, please refer to the applicable policy. Copies are available upon request. Some products/services may vary by province. Prices and products/services offered are subject to change without notice.
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