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Ask the Expert: Alberta Home Insurance Basics

By AMA Staff

Since joining AMA Insurance in early 2016, Ted Koleff has worked with the professionals who help AMA members and policyholders put their homes and lives back together. Here, the vice-president of claims answers some pressing home insurance questions.

What is home insurance?
It helps protect policyholders and their families from exposure to the costs of unexpected incidents like fire, water damage and theft—not to mention identity theft, an evacuation, or if a person is injured on your property. But it’s not a maintenance plan; it doesn’t cover wear and tear or neglect.

How do deductibles work? 
When a claim is made, the policyholder agrees to pay a portion of the claim equal to their deductible amount. In general, the higher the deductible (i.e. the greater the portion of risk you’re willing and able to absorb), the less you pay per year for your policy. If you carry a $2,000 deductible as opposed to a $500 deductible, you’ll likely pay a lower premium, but you’ll also probably make fewer claims overall, which helps keep insurance rates lower for everyone.

Are there other things homeowners can do to lower their premiums?

Installing devices like sewer backflow prevention valves, burglar alarms and smoke detectors can significantly reduce the risk of losses, and therefore lower your premiums.

Home insurance: five steps to get the right policy for you.

Can you outline a typical insurance claim scenario?
Say you have a $1,000 deductible. A storm rips through Edmonton; high winds blow some siding off your house and a number of shingles from the roof. You call your insurance company to assess the covered damage, which comes to a total of $5,000. After your deductible, your claim would pay the remaining $4,000 to repair the roof and siding. In general, any time you have a loss that significantly exceeds your deductible, you’ll want to consider making a claim. That’s why we’re here—to protect the things that matter most to you.

Are there benefits to policyholders who maintain claims-free status?
Yes, there could be if it’s been a long time since you’ve made a claim, or if you’ve never made one. Your advisor can help you understand your premium and any opportunities for savings that may be available to you.

Why is it important to take an inventory of your home’s contents?
When theft or fire impacts your personal property, it can be overwhelming to have to make a list of everything that’s been lost or destroyed. Having up-to-date and accessible inventory lists and photos can reduce your stress during the claims process and help ensure no items are overlooked.

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Why do you need to tell your insurer if you’re planning renovations?
Your insurance company insures the home you describe to them. If you alter it without advising your insurer, you could be changing the nature of the risk and the applicable premium, as well as voiding certain elements of coverage in the event of a claim. It’s also possible you might not be covered for something that you would be, had you told your advisor to add it to your policy.

What’s the most fulfilling part of your work at AMA Insurance?

We help people put their lives back together after something bad happens. Every day, we work to make people’s lives easier. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than that.


Learn more about home insurance policies through AMA Insurance, get a quote or report a claim at

This article is intended for general information purposes only. All policies are subject to various terms, conditions, limitations, and exclusions that may limit coverage.