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TD Insurance advises first time buyers to call the experts before sealing the deal

TORONTO, April 21 /CNW/ - The spring home buying season is in high gear and for most Canadians, a home is the biggest investment they'll make in their lifetime. It's critical that new home buyers do their research and know what they're buying before they sign on the dotted line. Having the information they need can help prevent home buyers from discovering surprises that can be costly to fix, dangerous or even invalidate home insurance, says TD Insurance.

"A house doesn't come with a money-back guarantee, which is why it's so important to be aware of potential issues before you buy," says Henry Blumenthal, Vice President and Chief Underwriter, TD Insurance. "New home owners need to know what they're buying and ensure they can maintain and protect their most valuable asset, because once the sold sign goes up, the buck stops with them."

Equally important as a home's curb appeal is the cost to repair and maintain it and the potential insurance implications that come along with it. The best way to understand a home's condition is to hire a professional home inspector. A home inspection analyzes the structure and major systems: roof, exterior, electrical, heating, cooling and plumbing. By sharing the details found in the inspection report with your insurance provider, your insurer can help identify problem areas that could increase premiums, prevent you from qualifying for home insurance or require additional riders.

"We provide home buyers with information they need to make an educated decision," says Bob Dunlop, President, Carson Dunlop. "Because every buyer is different - one person's fixer-upper is another person's nightmare - it's not a question of whether a house passes or fails, it's whether it works for a particular buyer's needs."

When assessing risk, insurers are primarily looking at two factors: the frequency with which a particular problem tends to occur and the potential magnitude of the loss associated with the problem. Water damage is one of the most common home insurance claims and has the potential to cause major damage. Five years ago, water damage represented a quarter of the claims TD Insurance paid out; today it's up to one half. On average, water damage costs policyholders more than $7,500 to repair.

A home inspector assesses a home's vulnerability to water damage and can flag items like poor maintenance of eaves troughs and downspouts, improper installation of a basement backup valve, cracks in the foundation or an aging roof.

"With a roof that's 20 years old, the only guarantee you have is that it's going to leak at some point," adds Blumenthal. "An insurer's unique insight and experience can help you make your buying decision. If your insurer isn't comfortable with an item in the home inspection report, you should take a closer look before you buy."

Other common items that a home inspector will look at that could ultimately impact your insurance premiums and eligibility include:

    
    -  Plumbing and electrical. An outdated plumbing or electrical system can
       be potential hazards if they haven't been properly maintained or
       updated.
    -  Heating. An older heating system, such as an oil furnace, could leak
       and cause damage to your home and the surrounding area if not
       maintained properly.
    -  Liability exposure. A pool that isn't properly fenced creates a higher
       probability of an accident.
    -  Previous renovations. If renovations were clearly the work of a
       corner-cutting do-it-yourselfer they could pose a safety threat.
    -  Smoke detectors. Without functioning smoke detectors there's a higher
       potential for significant damage from a fire, including danger to you
       and your family.
    -  Alarm systems. A functioning alarm system is a theft deterrent that
       could help lower your insurance premiums.
    

"The inspection identifies what repairs need to be made and at what cost," adds Dunlop. "Depending on your financial situation, what comes out of our report could have an impact on your purchase decision. It could even give you some bargaining power with the seller."

According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a typical home inspection is in the range of $500, depending on the size and condition of the home.

"Buying a first home is exciting and it's easy to get carried away and overlook the details, but the most important thing buyers can do is take time to ask questions so there are no surprises," says Blumenthal. "That way, they can feel confident that their new home is a safe investment and a safe haven."

To find out more and to get a free quote, visit www.tdinsurance.com or call 1.888.791.5346.

About Carson Dunlop

Carson Dunlop (www.carsondunlop.com) has long been regarded as a leader and innovator in the Home Inspection industry. Founded in 1978 by Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, Carson Dunlop & Associates Ltd., has grown and evolved over the past 30 years, having completed over 100,000 residential inspections during that time. In addition to home inspections, Carson Dunlop provides training and report writing systems to home inspectors across Canada and the United States.

About TD Insurance

The TD Bank Financial Group through its insurance companies which together are referred to as TD Insurance, offers a wide range of products to help protect clients from the 'accidents of life' including credit protection, life, health, travel, home and auto insurance. With more than three million clients, TD Insurance authorized products and services are available through a network of more than 1,000 TD Canada Trust branches, the Internet and telephone. The TD Insurance brands include TD Insurance Credit Protection and TD Insurance Life and Health, which are the number one provider of critical illness insurance and direct life and health premium origination in Canada. And through TD Insurance Meloche Monnex and TD Insurance Home and Auto, it is the largest direct-response insurance group in the country. For more information, visit www.tdinsurance.com.

SOURCE TD Insurance

For further information: For further information: Jacqueline Burns, TD Bank Financial Group, (416) 308-0177, jacqueline.burns@td.com; Karen McCullough, Anne Locke, Paradigm Public Relations, (416) 203-2223, kmccullough@paradigmpr.ca, alocke@paradigmpr.ca


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