Billyard Insurance Blog

Boat Safety Equipment You Should Have On Board

We understand that being on your boat in the summer is one of life’s simple pleasures. If you’re lucky enough to be spending some time on the water this year, make sure you have all the safety equipment you need. Making sure that you have the right boat safety equipment is important to keep you and your family safe on the water.

If your motorized boat is up to six meters long, you should ensure that your boat is equipped with the following boat safety equipment before you set sail.

1. The Number One Piece of Boat Safety Equipment – Wear a Life Jacket!

The number one must have piece of boat safety equipment! Not only should you have a life jacket on board but should also be wearing them. Even if you can swim, if you are unconscious following an accident, your life jacket will keep your face up in the water. It’s a scary fact that hundreds of Canadians drown while boating, almost 90% of these were not wearing a life jacket. Life jackets have really come a long way and you can find some that are much smaller which is perfect for the warmer summers.

2. Keep a Flashlight and Flares on Board

Flashlights and flares can be incredibly important in an emergency. Canadian approved flares can be used to send distress signals in case of emergency. If your boat loses power in the dark, a waterproof flashlight can help keep you safe and be used to help show your location.

3. A Paddle or an Oar

If your motor breaks down, you don’t want to be floating around the water like a duck! Having a paddle or an oar on board can help move you to shore or keep you safe in the event of engine failure.

4. A Buoyant Heaving Line

A buoyant heaving line is a floating rope with a floating object on one end. This can be used to be thrown towards a person in the water to help pull them on board. If someone ends up overboard, this can truly be a lifesaver. Even the strongest of swimmers can panic and struggle to swim to safety.

Each year make sure you check that your line is in good condition and the flotation device is still buoyant.  It may be wise to practice your throwing technique also, you don’t want to wait until you really need to use it to practice!

5. Bailer or a Hand Pump

If you have a leak on board your boat, you’ll need some way to remove the water to make sure you can get safely back to shore. Having a bailer or hand pump on board will enable you to empty out any excess water.

6. Whistle or Other Signaling Device

If you are in an accident, you may need to signal to others where you are. One way to do this is a sound signaling device such as a whistle or compressed air horn. Having a whistle on your life jackets is also a great idea as it will help anyone if they’ve fallen overboard.

7. Lights for Navigation

You wouldn’t drive your vehicle in the dark without headlights, so you should treat your boat the same way. You should ensure that you have navigation lights on board to help visibility in poor conditions or at night. This is not only to help you find your way but also assist other boats or people in seeing you.

8. Carry a Fire Extinguisher On board

If you have an inboard engine, fridge, heater, fuel tank or fuel-burning stove on your boat then you are required to carry a fire extinguisher. A Class 5BC fire extinguisher is required which is a single use, light weight fire extinguisher. We recommend that you also learn how to properly operate the extinguisher for maximum effectiveness in the event of a fire.

9. Don’t Forget Your License

Lastly, your boat safety equipment list must include a vessel license for your boat on board. The license is free of charge and acts as an identification for the vessel allowing rescue teams access to important information in an emergency.  In addition, anyone operating a powered recreational watercraft in Canada must have a boating license. This is a mandatory license but once acquired, it carries no annual fees and lasts for life!

Summer Boating Safety with BIG

We recommend that anyone operating a boat is familiar with safely operating the boat and any boat safety equipment on board. We hope you enjoy your time on the boat this summer, keep safe on the water!

Billyard Insurance Group provides boat insurance to make sure that you are covered on the water. For a quote, contact us today!

The BIG New House Checklist

Buying a new house is an exciting time but the process can be a little overwhelming. Being prepared before you go and speak to your realtor can help make the process a lot smoother. Having a new house checklist can help you in this process too!

From location, budget and home requirements there are a lot of details that can sometimes be forgotten as soon as you step foot in the house you are viewing. In addition, great houses typically go fast so you want to be sure you can put in an offer if the house you are viewing checks off all your requirements!

To help get you started, we’ve put together a new house checklist of things to check for when house hunting. We have also created a free printable new house checklist which you can complete at your house visits. Download your new house checklist here.

Step One: Create Your New Home Checklist

Before you start, you need to determine the basic requirements for your home. This includes the following:

How many bedrooms do you need at a minimum?

You may have to plan a little bit into the future here. If you are looking at potentially growing your family or if your current children may need their own room in the future, you may need additional bedrooms. Is a guest room important to you?  If so, you’ll need to include that on your list. In addition, where should these bedrooms be located? If you have younger children or are planning on having children soon, you will unlikely want them in the basement bedroom if you are on the second level.

How many bathrooms do you need at a minimum?

How many bathrooms do you need in your new home? Are ensuite master bathrooms a must have for you or do you just need a bathroom on each floor? You’ll also need to determine how many two-piece, or four-piece bathrooms are important to you. A two-piece bathroom just includes a sink and a toilet whereas a four-piece bathroom includes an additional two other fixtures: typically, a bath and shower.

What is your minimum square footage?

In 1975, the average size of a house in Canada was 1,050 square feet. Today, the average size of a house in Canada has doubled in size! In North America, we typically live in some of the largest homes in the world. If you are already in a home that you are outgrowing, square footage is likely top priority. Whereas, if you are looking to downsize you may have a maximum square footage that you are willing to own. If budget constraints dictate a smaller square footage, you may want to consider which rooms you prefer to be larger. If you prefer a larger family room but are ok with smaller bedrooms, decide that so it helps narrow down what you would like in a house.

What is your budget?

This is an important step to determine what you can afford. If you are going to need a mortgage, it is advisable to speak to a mortgage advisor or mortgage broker to determine how much you can borrow. You should also check to see how this amount will fit into your budget comfortably. Be sure to let your realtor know how much your budget is and depending on the housing market, you may wish to look at houses a bit below your budget in case you need some extra wiggle room for an offer slightly above asking. A good realtor will help you navigate what a house is truly worth and what you should pay.

Step Two: New House Checklist – Determine Your Preferred Location

Deciding on your home location can be the most challenging decision. Different locations may have different price points for the same type of house. For example, the average house price in Toronto was $779,000 in 2018 compared with $391,000 in the Niagara Region.

The neighborhood is one of the most important decisions when choosing a home for your and your family. You’ll need to take into consideration the following:

  • How close is it to your workplace? Are you willing to commute and if so, how far?
  • How close is it to your family & friends? Is this an important factor for you?
  • If you have school-age children or plan on having children in the lifetime of your home, you need to check the schools in the area.
  • Make sure you choose a location that suits your lifestyle. Do you prefer being in a city with a lot going on each week or would you rather a more rural community?

You may also want to consider any additional fees that are associated with living in a certain area. Cost of insurance can vary depending on your location. This includes crime rates in the area and risk of flooding. Taxes in certain cities vary too.

Step 3: Inspect your House Exterior

When you arrive at your house, don’t forget to inspect the exterior of your home. You should make note of the following:


If you are buying a home that is over ten years old, you’ll want to check to see if the roof has been replaced. Typically, roofs should be replaced every 15 to 50 years which can be a large expense. You should also make note of the quality of the roof such as any missing shingles, holes or sagging roof line and discoloration.


Does your home’s foundation appear to be in good shape? Red flags include any large cracks or damage. This may be a bit of a challenge to assess yourself so a Home Inspection prior to purchase is advisable especially with an older home.


Firstly, how many spaces in the driveway do you need? If your family owns multiple vehicles, on street parking may pose a challenge in the winter depending on the snow removal by-laws in your city.

Also check to see the condition of the driveway, this may be something you’ll want to replace at a later date which can by costly.

Step 4: Check Your Interior Requirements

Your family will be spending most of their time inside your home. It can be easy to get caught up in things that are relatively easy to fix such as paint colors but instead focus on flow and layout as well as the following factors.


Kitchens are one of the most expensive rooms to update so may be one of the rooms you want to focus on. If you are not looking to replace the whole kitchen, these may be some factors that you’d like to consider:

  • Is there any visible damp, mold or mildew in the kitchen?
  • Do you have enough storage and cabinet space for your needs?
  • Are there any visible leaks in the faucets / appliances?
  • Is the design of the kitchen your style?

Again, depending on what you are looking for some of these factors may not be important to you. These are just some items that you may wish to consider adding to your new house checklist.


The bathrooms are also one of the most expensive rooms to update and so if you are not willing to renovate right away, you may want to consider whether the bathrooms meet your requirements. Firstly, how many full and half bathrooms do you require your home to have? If you have small children, the location of these may also be important to you. Secondly, do you prefer having a shower, tub or do you require both? Once you have checked the layout and appliances, note any areas of concerns such as visible damp, mold or leaky faucets.


The appearance of the bedrooms is largely changeable but there are several considerations you should think about adding to your new house checklist.

  • How many bedrooms do you require? Don’t forget a guest room if this is something that is important to you.
  • Location of bedrooms – do you have a preference where these are? If there are basement bedrooms, be sure to check that they are to code and have windows for safety.
  • Does each bedroom have a built-in closet? If not, is this something that is important to you?
  • Do you prefer an en-suite bathroom in the master bedroom?

Step 5: Other Considerations

Once you have decided on the key elements of your ideal home, it is time to think about more of the details. This includes:

  • What is your ideal layout? Do you prefer open concept or individual rooms?
  • What type of flooring are you looking for? Are you willing to change this?
  • Is there enough natural sunlight in the rooms or will you need extra lighting?
  • Are the windows big enough in the main rooms and bedrooms?
  • Is there a fireplace?
  • Is there a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector on each floor?
  • Does the house have a finished basement?

In Conclusion

When it comes to house hunting, having a clear picture of your must haves will avoid thinking with your heart instead of your head. It’s important to love your home but if you settle for something less than what you need, you may end up wanting to move again once the novelty has worn off. Using a new house checklist can help focus your mind and determine what compromises you are willing to make on areas that are less important to you. Download our free new house checklist.

Once you’ve purchased your home, don’t forget to inform your Insurance Broker and arrange for a quote for your new home. Our BIG Insurance Brokers shop from some of the top Insurance Carriers in Canada to ensure you get the best coverage for a great price. Contact us today!

The Power of Thinking BIG – Insurance Business Canada Awards

Billyard Insurance Group are honoured to be ranked #1 ‘Top Brokerage 2019’  by Insurance Business Canada. It’s been a year of considerable growth and expansion for BIG. We opened 16 new office locations in key territories across Ontario and added 98 licensed brokers to our workforce.

We believe it’s our people who drive our business and are the core reason for our growth. Our strength is in our brokers – we’ve built a broad distribution channel and serve a diverse range of cultural segments across Ontario. We’ve chosen to focus on relationships, health & wellness, education, and technology designed to support our teams.

This acknowledgement belongs to everybody at BIG working hard to build this great company. BIG things in store for the year ahead.

Luke Prominski – Insurance Business Canada – 2019 Young Guns

We are proud to celebrate Lucas Prominski‘s achievement in being named as one of Insurance Business Canada‘s Young Guns! This acknowledges Luke as being one of the 35 Canadian Insurance Industry’s most promising young superstars!

Luke Prominski and two partners opened up Billyard Insurance Group’s Hamilton office in December 2006. In just two years they grew the book of business to $8.45 million in GWP.  As of November 2019, Luke had written $802,000 in business for that year. The Hamilton office has since grown to a fantastic team of 16.

A huge congratulations to Luke and the rest of the Hamilton office for this fantastic achievement!

Business Insurance for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, your business is likely your passion that you’re working hard to build. All businesses take on risks, but could your business survive in the case of an emergency? Depending on your business you may have several assets including vehicles, office space, equipment and inventory. In addition, those who work for your business may have multiple roles that could be difficult to replace. Furthermore, your most challenging asset to replace, is yourself! Without these assets and resources, could your business continue? One way to mitigate risk is to ensure you have the appropriate commercial insurance. There are many insurance options out there, so what is the best insurance for entrepreneurs?

Business Insurance for Entrepreneurs – What Do I Need?

Your insurance needs vary depend on many different factors that make up your business. This includes the type of industry, business size and business location. We recommend speaking to an insurance broker who will take the time to understand your business needs. Your broker will be able to find the best Insurance for entrepreneurs in your industry.

Insurance for Individuals in your business

There are several different types of insurance that you may need for yourself. As an individual, working for your own business you should consider insurance for the key people in your organization. This includes yourself as the owner. If you were to lose one of the key people in your business, would this significantly impact your business? If so, consider these types of insurance can protect your business and family.

  • Life insurance : If you own a sole proprietorship, as the owner you are personally liable for all the debts of the business. Having the right life insurance will protect your family in the event that something happens to you.
  • Disability insurance:  If you are unable to work due to an injury or illness, how will you afford to pay your obligations? Having Disability Insurance can provide income security for a set term.
  • Partnership insurance or buy-sell insurance: If you have a business partner, would you be able to purchase their shares if they were to pass away? Having partnership insurance provides the funds to purchase the remaining shares and continue running your business in the unfortunate event that your partner dies.
  • Critical illness insurance: If you are diagnosed with a critical illness, your focus should be on recovery not financial concerns. Critical illness insurance will provide you with a lump sum of money upon diagnosis of a critical illness specified in your plan.
  • Key person insurance: If you were to lose a key person in your company, would your business be affected? Key person insurance is like a life insurance policy on an employee. If a key person unexpectedly dies, the company receives the funds to provide more options on how to move forward.

Insurance for your business property and earnings

Protecting your assets and earnings should be a priority when considering insurance for your business. If your business experiences a disaster, you want to be protected to ensure you can get back to business as usual. There are several types of insurance that you should consider:

  • Property insurance — Similar to home insurance, property insurance provides coverage for the property and building that you own.
  • Contents insurance — Contents insurance protects the assets that are in your business premises. This is a good option if you are renting a property as their property insurance may not cover your contents.
  • Business interruption— How much money would you lose if you had to shut down your business for a day? What would this sum be if this extending to over a week? Protection for business interruption will ensure that loss of earnings are covered.
  • Auto insurance — If you are considering using your personal car for business, you need to ensure that your insurance policy covers more than just your personal usage of your vehicle. You will need to insure any vehicles that your business owns.

Auto Insurance for Entrepreneurs l BIG Insurance

Liability insurance

Mistakes happen. Yet, when it comes to your business, they could result in significant losses to your business and employees.

  • General liability — This insurance covers costs associated with injury to employees or clients if they are injured on the business premises.
  • Product liability — If your products have defects or end up causing injury to the user, the product liability can provide financial protection for your business.
  • Professional liability insurance — If an employee made a mistake and resulted in costs to your clients. If you had legal action taken against your business, would you be protected? Errors & Omissions Insurance provides an additional level of coverage when performing professional services against such errors.
  • Cyber liability — In the event of a security breach, your data could be compromised. This could result in devastating effects on your business. Cyber insurance can cover costs associated with this liability.

Health insurance

Lastly, another type of insurance to consider is health insurance. When there are more jobs than qualified candidates, companies need to offer better compensation packages to attract top talent. Providing a good health insurance plan can be a great way to attract and retain employees.

Billyard Insurance Group understand commercial insurance and have a whole team specialized in providing insurance for your business. If you are an entrepreneur, our team understands the best Insurance for entrepreneurs. Contact us today for a quote.

What You Need to Know About Home Insurance During Construction

Home insurance is an important factor when considering a renovation of your home to ensure you have the appropriate coverage both before and after home renovations. In Ontario,  less than 10% of homeowners sought advice about changes to their home insurance during construction prior to starting a renovation. In addition, only 14% of homeowners notified their insurance provider of the renovation after completion. This mistake could affect or void the policy.

Do I Have to Notify My Insurance Company Before Doing A Renovation?

You should always contact your insurance broker prior to beginning a renovation. Your policy may not cover a large renovation and so you may need to take out additional coverage to ensure you are protected. Minor renovations will often not require additional coverage but be sure to check with your insurance broker. There is a lot that can go wrong during a renovation, so add that peace of mind to ensure you are covered from unexpected events.

For larger renovations such as building an addition to your property may require you to change your policy to a building under construction. This may include adding construction of builder’s risk insurance to your policy. If you are doing the work yourself, you are still required to notify your broker, so they can make sure you are protected and update your policy accordingly.

Home Insurance During Construction l BIG Insurance

What Coverage Should I Have On My Home Insurance During Construction?

There are several factors that impact what your home insurance should cover. Firstly, your home insurance takes into consideration the replacement value of your home. If your renovations increase the value of your home, then your policy needs to be adjusted.

Renovations are often very unpredictable. Older homes can often uncover surprises when renovating, if you discover old plumbing or dated wiring you’ll need to update your policy to make sure you are covered.

Home renovations liability is another factor you should consider. While someone is working on your home, there is a risk of injury. Depending on the circumstances surrounding this, you may be liable.

Another important factor to consider is whether you will still be living at the house during renovations. If you leave your home, this could void your policy as many home insurance policies require you to be living in that residence. If you need to leave your home during renovations, you should request a vacancy permit from your insurance provider.

Lastly under home renovations, there is often a higher risk of burglary. The entry points to your home could be less secure making it easier to break in. Plus, there are often numerous unknown people with access to your property during this time which increases your risk.

These are just some of the things that you need to consider including in your home insurance during construction. Failure to notify your insurer of this could nullify your policy leaving you liable to have your claim denied and therefore must cover the costs should any issues arise.

Will My Home Insurance Rates Go Up After A Renovation?

It is important to let your insurer know of any changes. Having home insurance during construction ensures you are protected but equally important is ensuring you have coverage after. So once your renovations are complete, insurance during renovations ensures you are protected. Renovations can alter many factors of your home including an increase in replacement value. For example, upgrading your kitchen or adding an addition will increase the overall value of your home.

Renovations That Can Increase Home Insurance Rates

Here are some examples of home renovations that can increase the cost of your home insurance. This should not always be considered a negative thing as the increase in rate is just adjusting your policy to reflect the new value of your home.

  • Installing a pool
  • Adding a home-based business such as an office or workshop
  • Additions
  • Kitchen upgrades
  • Bathroom upgrades
  • Custom work and unique building features

Renovations That Can Lower Home Insurance Rates

Here are some examples of home renovations that can reduce the cost of your home insurance. In addition, you can read our top 13 factors that will impact the price of your Home Insurance blog for more information.

  • A roof replacement
  • Updated plumbing and wiring
  • Installing a new furnace/air conditioner
  • Alarm/security systems

Home Renovation Insurance and Contractors

Another element to consider is ensuring that your contractors have liability and are are bonded and registered with WSIB. You can request all of this information when deciding on your contractors.

If you are considering renovations on your home, contact your insurance broker to make sure you have adequate coverage as well as to determine how this will affect your premium afterwards. Our Billyard Insurance Group team will be happy to assist with your home insurance needs.

Auto Insurance 101: Can I Use My Personal Car For Business?

If you are using your personal car for business, you need to ensure that your insurance policy covers more than just your personal usage of your vehicle. This blog post will look at what you need to consider if you want to use your personal car for business.

What is the difference between personal auto insurance and commercial auto insurance?

Personal auto insurance is designed to protect your vehicle for personal use. In Canada, you are legally required to have auto insurance when driving a vehicle. The fines for not having insurance coverage can be up to $50,000. Personal auto insurance often includes commuting to work and will sometimes include some business use such as a real estate agent driving to property listings.

On the other hand, commercial auto insurance is designed to protect your business auto requirements. This could be completing deliveries if you own a business or driving to job sites if you are a construction contractor. Different insurance companies may vary on what is covered under your policy. It is advisable to seek the advice of your insurance broker to be assured that you are appropriately covered.

Some questions that may help answer whether your vehicle should be covered under a personal or commercial policy are:

Who owns and operates the vehicle?

If your vehicle is owned by the business and used for business purposes, you should have commercial auto insurance coverage. Any employees who utilize the vehicle will also need to be covered under your policy.

How is the vehicle used?

You should have commercial auto insurance coverage if you use your vehicle for:

  • transport ing or delivering products or materials
  • transporting tools or equipment
  • providing driver education
  • transporting customers (i.e. a taxi service).

What type of vehicle are you using?

Large commercial vehicles often cause more damage in an accident and your coverage will likely reflect that. Vehicles specifically designed for construction or maintenance purposes, should have commercial auto insurance coverage.

What does a commercial auto policy include?

Different Insurance Companies will have variations in the policies that they provide but in general, commercial auto policies should include:

  • Injury to you, your employed drivers or passengers
  • Loading and unloading liability
  • Replacement car coverage
  • Across state or province coverage if applicable

Can I use my personal car for business?

With the appropriate insurance provisions, privately owned vehicles can be used for business purposes. Business purposes could include:

  • visiting clients
  • company errands, such as bank deposits
  • storing or transporting goods on behalf of a business
  • newspaper or pizza delivery
  • paid ride sharing (i.e. Uber)

Commercial Auto Insurance l BIG Insurance

If a vehicle crosses the line between personal and business usage, often there will be some commercial coverage that should be added. This is to your benefit as failure to disclosure commercial usage could void your coverage and may result in the cancellation of your policy. This will then flag you as a high-risk driver which will make you harder and more expensive to insure. In addition, this may be considered as operating a vehicle without insurance. This could result in fines of up to $50,000,  potential vehicle impoundment and license suspension. When in doubt, it’s best to review your policy with your insurance broker.

Should I use my personal car for business or purchase a company car?

If you are a small business, consider using your personal vehicle for business instead of purchasing a company car. If you use your personal vehicle (under a commercial auto insurance policy of course), you can deduct the following expenses at tax time:

  • License and registration fees
  • Gas costs
  • Car insurance
  • Interest on money borrowed to finance a vehicle
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Leasing costs
  • Parking fees

You will have to prove to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) what you use for business purposes, so we recommend that you keep a log book to track your business-related vehicle activities. There are several apps on the market that you can use for this including: QuickBooks Self-Employed, TripLog and MileIQ.

For each business trip, keep track of the following:

  • date
  • destination
  • purpose of trip
  • mileage

In addition, record the odometer reading of each vehicle at the beginning and end of the year. Plus, keep all receipts associated with items such fuel, supplies and insurance You should also make note of any changes of vehicles during the year. If you use multiple vehicles for your business, you must keep a separate logbook for each one as each vehicle’s expenses must be calculated separately.

Make sure you have the appropriate insurance coverage for your vehicle by contacting our team of brokers today. Billyard Insurance Group has a team of commercial experienced brokers who have knowledge in personal lines also. They will be able to shop the coverage on your behalf to ensure you are covered appropriately for the best price. Contact us now.

How Do Insurance Companies Determine your Home Insurance Rates?

Your home is likely your single largest investment and asset. When looking for insurance coverage you want to be sure that you have a package that offers the best protection. Price is often a significant factor that determines which insurance package you choose and too often people look for the cheapest home insurance coverage for their home insurance. At Billyard Insurance Group, our brokers understand that price is an important part of your decision making process,  and will shop around with the most trusted insurance companies in Ontario to find the cheapest home insurance coverage for the protection you need. In this blog we look at the different factors that determine the cost of your home insurance premium.

Here are the top 13 factors that will impact the price of your Home Insurance:

  1. Replacement cost
  2. Neighborhood
  3. Usage
  4. Electrical System
  5. Plumbing
  6. Roofing
  7. Heating System
  8. Renovations & Home Improvements
  9. Claims History
  10. Deductible
  11. Proximity to Fire Hydrant
  12. Pets
  13. Special Discounts
  14. Replacement Cost

What Can Impact Your Home Insurance Rate? BIG Insurance

The replacement cost of your home can sometimes be misunderstood. It’s not how much you paid for your home, how much it is currently worth at market value or the amount your mortgage is for. The replacement cost is purely based on how much it would cost to rebuild your home. In the event of a total loss of your home, the insurance company will pay to rebuild your home up to this limit on your policy.

Based on that, there are several factors that affect the cost of rebuilding your home. For example, the size of the home would impact the rebuild cost. If you live in a large three-story house it is likely that your replacement cost would be more than a small townhouse.

Some insurance companies offer a policy with a guaranteed replacement clause, which guarantees that the insurance company will rebuild your home even if the cost to rebuild exceeds the replacement cost stated in your policy.


Each neighborhood has its own set of risk factors that will determine the rates for those homes. Insurers have access to statistics on the claims across their jurisdictions. They record fire, storm and thefts in each area that then affect the rates.

Homes that are located near water will be at higher risk for flooding. Be sure to get enough flood insurance to cover any damages if you know that your home is in a high-risk area. However, this will likely increase your rate.

Homes that are located near to an airport are at risk of falling debris or structural damage due to the vibrations of the engines.

Crime rate in your neighborhood is also going to affect your insurance rates. Homes located in neighborhoods with a higher crime rate or several abandoned properties that draw crime, will be classed as higher insurance risks. Home security systems or motion detector sensors will not only help give you peace of mind but may be eligible for discounts with some insurers.

2. Usage

Be sure to advise your insurance broker if you run a home-based business. While this may increase the cost of your home insurance, it is important to disclose this to ensure you have liability coverage for a loss that may occur due to the operation of your home based business.  Depending on the size and nature of your business, you may be able to add an endorsement to your home insurance policy to cover your business – or if your business needs are more complex you may need to purchase a separate Commercial Insurance policy.  Either way BIG Insurance can cover you.

3. Type of Electrical System

Before you buy a home, it is advisable to have a certified electrician inspect your wiring to ensure it’s safe. Having an older wiring system can be dangerous and may increase your insurance costs. If your home was not built in the last 30 years, you may need your wiring replaced to copper before you can get insurance. If your home has knob and tube wiring, then this means your wiring could be over 100 years old. Knob-and-tube or aluminum wiring have a higher risk of overloading and catching fire. Another way to increase the safety of your home is to install a breaker system which is more reliable than fuses alone.

4.Type of Plumbing

Newer homes use plastic and copper pipes which are more durable, hygienic and resilient to changing weather conditions. On the other hand, older pipes such as lead or galvanized steel pipes can leach dangerous toxins in your water and do not do well in cold winters. New plumbing will lower your insurance rates, improve the water quality and will help increase the overall value of your home too!

5. Condition of Your Roof

If you live in Ontario, the winter weather will certainly put your roof to the test. If your roof is over 15 years old, it is likely that your roof will need to be repaired which can put your home at risk for damage from water and wind. Insurance companies will typically only pay for the depreciated value of a roof as opposed to the full replacement value. Ask your broker to check to see what your policy covers.

Just like your electrical wiring and plumbing, the materials used to build your roof can also affect your insurance costs. Metal and clay tile has a longer life than asphalt shingles and tend to require less maintenance.

6. Heating system

You may pay more for insurance if your home has oil and wood-burning heat sources as these are an increased fire risk. Not only this but wood stoves are an increased risk for carbon monoxide poisoning if they are not properly installed and maintained.  Forced-air, gas or electric heating tend s to be lower cost. To save on your home insurance, you can update your home’s heating system to one of those options or newer environmentally friendly technology.

7. Renovations and Home Improvements

You should always inform your insurance broker or insurance company if you make any changes to your home. Even though your premium is paid annually, this can change throughout the term if there are changes to your home. Some improvements will increase the replacement cost of your property (i.e. kitchen renovations, finishing the basement) and will likely increase your premiums to cover that cost. However, some changes may reduce your risk of property damage (i.e. replacing old pipes or wiring). It is advisable to speak to your insurance broker to get an understanding of how your rates will change.

8. Past Home Insurance Claims

Your claims history can impact your insurance rates. If you have multiple claims, the insurance company could mark you as high risk which will not only increase your rates but also can lead to your insurance company dropping you. If this is something that is a concern to you, speak to your insurance broker who can advise as to how your claims history may impact your rates.

9. Deductible

One way to lower your insurance rates is to increase your deductible. Your deductible is the amount that you agree to pay on your claim. However, you should ensure that you are able to cover the deductible cost. Having a higher deductible also reduces the number of small claims that you tend to make which means that you’ll have a lower claims history. Be sure to weigh up the benefits and disadvantages of having a higher deductible. It may benefit you in the short term by having that lower monthly payment but if you do have to make a claim, it will require more money from you up front.

10. Proximity to Fire Stations and Hydrants

Fire can cause devastating damage to a home. Having your home in close vicinity to a fire station or hydrant means the fire department can extinguish a fire faster. So therefore, there is likely to be less damage caused by the fire and so your insurance will go down. If there are no hydrants within 300 meters  of your home or a fire station within 8km of your home, building a nearby pond can act as an emergency water source, and even in some instances add to the value of your property.

Similarly, you can help reduce your home premium for some insurance companies by installing a fire alarm system, smoke detector, and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. This is also recommended to keep your home safe.

11. Pets

Did you know that having a pet may impact your home insurance rates. This is because almost 50% of all dog bites occur on the owner’s property. Dog breeds that are deemed aggressive may require additional coverage. Homeowners may be required to sign liability waivers for dog bites or require behavior classes to be taken.

Exotic pets such as spiders or snakes can also have effect on your insurance policy. It’s important to know that homeowners caught with illegal pets are at risk of having their policy canceled.

12. Special Discounts

Another way to reduce your home insurance premiums is to see which special discounts you apply for. Installing home security systems that detect break-ins and fire usually provide some discounts. Ask your broker to see if there are discounts that apply to you. Some examples include university graduate programs, professional designations, over 50 and if you have no claims. Most companies will also provide discounts if you bundle home and auto insurance with them.

Finding Home Insurance that is both competitively priced with the coverage you need is a BIG Insurance specialty. Let our team of insurance brokers shop your home insurance for you. Get a quote today!

Does your Business Need Errors & Omissions Insurance?

Mistakes happen. Yet when it comes to your business, mistakes can be serious enough that they threaten the survival of your business. Errors & Omissions Insurance (E&O) is one way to protect your business from serious mistakes that may otherwise be detrimental to your success. The threat of litigation is higher in today’s society and this can come at a significant cost. Your business may be successful, but there’s always the threat of a lawsuit — sometimes even when you’re not at fault.

Litigation occurs far more often than you think and the cost of fixing the situation can result in huge financial losses unless you are covered by Errors and Omissions Insurance.

What is Errors and Omissions insurance?

E&O insurance protects you against the errors you make when providing a professional service to your clients. It is a category of Professional Liability Insurance that protects companies and their employees against claims made by clients for misrepresentation, breach of professional services, wrongful business practices, misleading advice and conflict of interest. E&O safeguards you, your employees and your business against the cost of defending lawsuits and paying awards or arbitration settlements for making mistakes (errors) or failing to provide vital information (omissions).

Do I Need Errors & Omissions Insurance?

The majority of businesses are at risk of making mistakes or providing misleading information. Small businesses are not exempt from this.

If you already have business insurance, you may assume that you are covered for this. However,  it’s important to understand that most Commercial General Liability policies will not cover E&O.  Your broker will be able to investigate this on your behalf and determine where your coverage may leave you at risk.

Here are some examples of industries that may benefit from E&O Insurance:

Financial & Investment Advisers

Financial advisers and investment advisers provide advice on clients’ finances, this may include advise on investments, taxes, estate planning, mortgages, and retirement. If a financial or investment adviser provides misleading or incorrect advice they can put their client’s finances at risk. An unhappy client whose investments has not delivered the promised rate of return may decide that it’s the fault of the investment adviser. Any litigation resulting from errors or omissions, even if you are not at fault, can be very expensive to defend. E&O Insurance is highly recommended in this industry.

Design Professionals

Any professionals involved in design, including architects, website developers and software developers. When looking at architects, any errors in their design can cause expensive mistakes in building projects such as incorrect ordering of materials. For website and software developers, data breaches are another source of potential grievances that can be covered under E & O. If the client believes that the website or software developers security processes are inaccurate and resulted in a data breach.

Repair Services

If you provide repair or maintenance services, you will also benefit from Errors & Omissions Insurance. If your repair services result in a leak that floods an entire office, that office may then look to take legal action to pay for the error. For small businesses, this could be way out of their ability to cover the costs. Having E&O insurance protects you and your business from these costs.Painting Elephant - Billyard Insurance Group

What Does Errors & Omissions Insurance Cover?

Errors & Omissions coverage should be customized to your business and industry. Your policy is customized to reflect the service risks and exposures relevant to your business. Business size, industry type, business location as well as your desired coverage will all make up your unique Errors & Omissions Insurance coverage.

Defense costs

If you provide an action or recommendation that causes a negative outcome for a client, this may result in a lawsuit and legal defense costs. This not only results in financial loss but potential character damage. Even if you were not in the wrong, defense costs can become a financial burden on your business. Choosing an E&O policy that covers defense costs may be particularly beneficial for those who work in management consulting, property management, or real estate.


Negligence occurs when a company fails to show reasonable care in their actions which results in harm to their client. Your business is responsible for duty of care when providing your service. Errors or omissions may be considered a failure to uphold this duty of care. A client may have the legal grounds to seek compensation if they believe that they have been harmed or suffered loss due to negligence.

Libel or Slander

Libel and slander are forms of personal injury because they can cause character damage. This may result in suffering financial losses and other losses. Slander refers to when someone verbally makes a false claim. Libel is a false claim made in writing. Slander or libel directed to you or your business can have a negative impact on your business. This is even the case if the accusations are untrue.

Copyright infringement

Copyright Infringement is when  works that are protected by copyright law are used without the permission of the owner. Even if your business does its best to protect intellectual property, it is easy for mistakes to happen. This is especially true with the vast amount of content available on the internet.  Choosing an Errors & Omissions Insurance policy that covers copyright infringement may be particularly beneficial for those who work as advertisers, media consultants or graphic designers.

Billyard Insurance Group have a team of commercial brokers that specialize in providing insurance for your business. They will shop on your behalf to find the coverage that you need for your business. Contact us today for a quote.

Infographic E&O Insurance - Billyard Insurance Group

What Are The Cheapest Cars To Insure In Ontario?

If you’re looking at buying a new or used car, there are many costs that you need to consider including mandatory insurance on the vehicle. One of the ways you can save on car insurance is to choose to purchase one of the cheapest cars to insure. In this article we are going to investigate the factors that impact the cost of vehicle insurance focusing on which are the best cars to purchase for a cheaper insurance. However, it is important to note that there are many factors that insurance companies use to calculate your car insurance rates, not just the vehicle itself.

What Factors Determine your Car Insurance Rates?

As a driver, your personal information including your age, how many years you have been driving and your location all impact your insurance rates. For example, if you are a driver in Ontario, especially the Greater Toronto Area, you are living in one of the most expensive places to insure in Canada! Other factors that impact your insurance rates are the following:

  • Driving Record: If you have tickets or at-fault accidents this can make you higher risk to insure and will increase your car insurance rate.
  • Mileage: If you frequently drive such as having a lengthy commute to work, the more risk you have from being in accident so those who drive a lot will pay more for their insurance.
  • Insurance History: As you build your insurance history, show that you pay your premiums on time and have good driving habits, the lower your rates will be.
  • Your Vehicle: we will elaborate on this further throughout this blog but in general cars that are safer, have a low theft risk and are lower to repair typically have lower auto insurance rates

What Factors Determine the Cheapest Cars to Insure?

Insurance companies look at different factors to determine the insurance ratings for specific makes and models of cars. Here are the car related factors that determine the cheapest cars to insure:

What Factors Determine the Cheapest Cars to Insure - Billyard Insurance Group - Auto Insurance

1) Type of Car

Different types of car often reflect the life stage, lifestyle and vehicle usage of the owner. Based on statistics, insurance companies can predict the risk levels of people that drive certain types of vehicles. For example, a minivan or crossover is more likely driven by a married person with children. It is used to transport children, so Insurance companies have identified these as being lower risk than other types of vehicles as the driver is typically concerned with safety and drive with caution.

2) Safety Ratings

One of the most important factors an insurance company looks at when identifying the cheapest cars to insure, is the safety rating. Cars with higher safety ratings have the cheaper insurance rates. Each year car manufacturers increase safety of vehicles due to advances in engineering and technology. The Safety ratings are based on:

Crash Protection

In the event of a crash, how well does the car protect the driver and passengers? Things like airbags, crumple zones, frame design and resistance to rollover all play a role in crash protection.

Crash Avoidance

Several new technologies have been created to help prevent accidents. These include:

  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Rearview Camera
  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Blind Spot Detection

Choosing a car with a high safety rating will not only reduce your chances of being in an accident but will help reduce the amount you pay for insurance.

3) Repair or Replacement Costs

Cars with higher repair costs will cost more for insurance. This is because if the car is damaged or needs to be replaced, it will be higher cost to the insurance company to replace. Cars will lower replacement or repair costs will therefore be cheaper to insure.

Is a new car more expensive to insure than an old car? When looking at whether an older car and the price to insure compared to a newer car, all other factors considered a used car will be less expensive than its new counterpart because it would be worth less and so cost less to replace. However, this only works for like for like. You must also take into considerations the safety ratings of the vehicle which tend to have more of an impact on the insurance price.

4) Likelihood of Theft

Car theft is a risk and serious problem for insurance companies. Did you know that a car is stolen every 7 minutes in Canada! Certain cars have a higher rate of theft than others so if you drive a higher risk vehicle, your insurance premiums will be higher. If your vehicle has a theft alarm device, this can reduce insurance premiums.

Which Model of Car Has the Cheapest Insurance?

The cheapest cars to insure typically changes every year. This is because new vehicles become available, the insurers will adjust how they determine insurance rates. One of the cars that is consistently rated one of the cars with the cheapest insurance is the Honda Odyssey. This is followed closely by Jeep Wrangler, and the Honda CR-V. For smaller cars, the Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Cruze, and Nissan Versa have the cheapest auto insurance rates.

For 2018, here are the cheapest cars to insure in Ontario :

Tips to Save Money on your Car Insurance

Before you buy a new car. here are some tips to consider to help reduce your insurance rates:

  • Choose vehicles that have been identified and being lower to insure
  • Ask for help from a BIG insurance broker. We can shop rates on your behalf!
  • Check the cars safety ratings. A higher rating will cost less to insure.
  • Choose a hybrid or electric car. You may qualify for a green discount from an insurance company – ask your insurance broker!
  • Install an alarm system or anti-theft device to your vehicle.
  • Install winter tires for the winter months and many insurance companies will give you a discount.

Billyard Insurance Group has you covered for auto insurance. You don’t have the time to call every insurance company or visit every website in Ontario. We do the work for you and shop your renewal with our network of insurance companies. Contact us today for a free quote!

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