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Common Household Insurance Issues

***If any of these issues are identified, it is advised that you contact your insurance company PRIOR TO SALE CLOSING to learn their specific policies.  Different companies have different requirements.***

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POLY-B (Polybutylene) Water Lines

Poly-B was installed from 1978-1995 due to its inexpensive material and ease of installation.  In the U.S it was originally installed with plastic fittings and metal clamps, which resulted in costing its manufacturer close to 1 BILLION dollars in damages and replacement costs due to leakage at the joints.  As you can imagine, this might make insurance companies nervous.  

In BC, Poly-B was typically installed with copper / brass fittings and crimp rings, rather than plastic, which has resulted in minimal failures compared to the plastic fitting installations.  Insurance companies usually do not have an issue with the copper / brass fitting installations of Poly-B, but if it is found in your house, we highly recommend verifying your insurance company's policy on the matter PRIOR TO SALE CLOSING.

Electrical Services Less Than 100 Amps:
These were often present up until the early 1960s.  New installations are not usually smaller than 100 amps because smaller services would not support most modern lifestyles in single family homes, which is a convenience issue.  To insurance companies, a 60 amp service indicates a potentially less safe electrical system due to being an old installation, which may result in refusing coverage. 

Electrical Fuse Panels:
Screw-in type fuses in the electrical distribution panels were commonly used until the mid-1950s.  Fuses can easily be replaced with fused that are the wrong size.  If a circuit is overloaded, its fuse will consistently burn out.  In such cases it is common for ill-informed occupants to replace fuses with ones that are rated for a higher amperage in order to prevent them from burning out.  This is a fire hazard, as the wire will overheat if the fuse allows it to be exposed to too much amperage. 

Knob and Tube Distribution Wiring:
This was commonly used from the 1920s - 1950s and is an ungrounded electrical distribution system identified by its separated hot and neutral lines and the use of white porcelain knobs and tubes to support the wires, isolating them from the wood framing members.  Although it is a relatively safe system (aside from the absence of grounding), potentially dangerous modifications and mechanical damage is quite common. 

Wood Burning Stoves and Fireplace Inserts:
Most insurance companies want to see documentation that the installation has been inspected and passed by the local authority.  If this was not obtained at the time of the original installation, it can be difficult to get.  Fireplace inserts are especially problematic.  A related issue is the lack of a flue liner in a masonry chimney.  Houses built prior to 1940 are most likely to have unlined flues, which creates greater potential for safety issues.

Galvanized Steel Water Distribution Lines:
These were used until the late 1940s and are identified by their grey colour and threaded fittings. They are prone to rusting and wear-through due to the abrasion of the water, which results in leakage.

Aged Roofing:
Typically, roofing materials 20-25 years will be suspect as far as many insurance companies are concerned.  Roofing that is near the end of its life may need to be replaced prior to purchasing insurance. 

 

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