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10 Tips for Safe Summer Barbecues

Having a BBQ is a favorite summer activity, but each year thousands of people get injured or cause damage to their homes while grilling outdoors. Here are 10 tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe!

  1. Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house. Farther is even better. This includes portions attached to your house like carports, garages and porches. Grills should not be used underneath wooden overhangs either, as the fire could flare up into the structure above. This applies to both charcoal and gas grills.
  2. Clean your grill regularly. If you allow grease and fat to build up on your grill, they provide more fuel for a fire. Grease is a major source of flare ups.
  3. Check for gas leaks. You can make sure no gas is leaking from your gas grill by making a solution of half liquid dish soap and half water and rubbing it on the hoses and connections. Then, turn the gas on (with the grill lid open.) If the soap forms large bubbles, that’s a sign that the hoses have tiny holes or that the connections are not tight enough.
  4. Keep decorations away from your grill. Decorations like hanging baskets, pillows and umbrellas look pretty AND provide fuel for a fire. To make matters worse, today’s decor is mostly made of artificial fibers that burn fast and hot, making this tip even more important.
  5. Keep a spray bottle of water handy. That way, if you have a minor flare-up you can spray it with the water to instantly calm it. The bonus of this tip is that water won’t harm your food, so dinner won’t be ruined!
  6. Keep a fire extinguisher within a couple steps of your grill. And KNOW HOW TO USE IT. If you are unsure how to use the extinguisher, don’t waste time fiddling with it before calling 911. Firefighters say many fire deaths occur when people try to fight a fire themselves instead of calling for expert help and letting the fire department do its job.
  7. Don’t turn on the gas while your grill lid is closed. NEVER do this. It causes gas to build up inside your grill, and when you do light it and open it, a fireball can explode in your face. Click here to see our demonstration.
  8. Never leave a grill unattended. Fires double in size every minute. Plan so that all of your other food prep chores are done and you can focus on grilling.
  9. Don’t overload your grill with food. This applies especially fatty meats. The basic reason for this tip is that if too much fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a large flare-up that could light nearby things on fire.
  10. Never use a grill indoors. People often think it will be safe to use a grill, especially a small one, indoors. NOT TRUE. In addition to the fire hazard, grills release carbon monoxide, the deadly colorless, odorless gas. That gas needs to vent in fresh air or it can kill you, your family and pets.

If you would like more information on keeping your home safe, or if you have any questions on your home or auto insurance, please contact Munn Insurance toll free at 1-855-726-8627 today.

Guide to Buying Home Insurance for the First Time

You’re a first-time homebuyer, and you’ve searched for the perfect house for months. You may even have a picture in your mind of your dream home.  You find the perfect home.  You make an offer.  It’s accepted.  And now you must learn about a topic that might not be as fun as home-shopping, but it’s important — home insurance.

Your mortgage lender will likely require you to carry some level of home insurance. Don’t rely on the most basic coverage. Make sure that your home insurance protects you from financial disaster. After all, this was a huge investment.  Likely your most expensive purchase to date.

If you’re buying your first home, hopefully you have experience with condo or renter’s insurance. There are similarities with home insurance, such as personal property coverage, but there’s a lot more to home insurance. That’s because there is a lot more to insure when you own a home.

In this guide, we will take you through what home insurance covers and give you tips, so you’re a home insurance expert. By the end of this short read, you should be more confident about buying your first home insurance policy.

When to get homeowners insurance when buying a new house?

Since most mortgage lenders require home insurance, you will need to have insurance secured before the mortgage closing. However, we recommend that you begin shopping for new home insurance as soon as you sign a contract.

After you’ve signed the contract, you will have some number of days before closing. This gives you time to research home insurance providers, get some quotes, and select the right policy for your needs before the closing day. Your new home insurance provider will supply you with proof of insurance, that you will provide the mortgage lender before closing.

How much home insurance do I need?

This requires thinking about the worst-case scenario. As difficult as it is to do, imagine that your new home is destroyed, and you are faced with rebuilding the home and replacing your belongings. These are the costs you are insuring.

Dwelling coverage: Your new homeowners insurance policy’s dwelling coverage amount needs to be as close as possible to what it would cost to rebuild the home or the homes replacement value. Your broker will be able to help you determine this based on a calculator or after asking you a few simple questions about your new home. Most insurance brokers use software to determine the replacement cost. The software allows them to enter your home’s features and calculate the cost of replacement. Also, most policies include coverage for up to 125% of the replacement cost.

Personal property coverage: This coverage amount should be between 50% and 70% of the dwelling coverage. But, if you have an engagement ring, a customized computer, an expensive set of golf clubs, or even a signed Gretzky rookie card you should consider purchasing an additional personal articles policy. These add-ons to your home insurance are typically inexpensive (we’re talking a few dollars every month) but will protect those important items that would be costly to replace.

Liability coverage: Most homeowners policies include $100,000 worth of liability coverage, but up to $500,000 could be recommended, depending on your situation.

Additional Living Expense coverage: ALE coverage should be about 20% of the home’s replacement value.

How much is home insurance?

As a future new homeowner, the costs associated with buying a new home are probably at the top of your mind. Included in those costs is the cost for home insurance.

It is important to understand the difference between a deductible and a premium. Think of a premium as the amount of money you pay the insurance company to provide your home insurance policy. The premium is owed by you to the insurance company each year to maintain the policy.  The deductible is what you must pay initially when your insurance company approves your claim. It’s your share of the repair cost.

The cost (premium) of home insurance depends on many different factors including the where the home is located, the value, the age and condition of the home, and discounts you may qualify for among several variables.

Choose a home insurance deductible.

The deductible, unlike the premium, is only payable by you when your claim is approved. Remember, the deductible is your share of a repair cost. There is an inverse relationship between the home insurance premium and deductible. The higher the deductible, the lower the insurance premium. If you have a $500 deductible, you’re going to pay more on your premiums than if you have a $2,000 deductible. Going with a higher deductible will save you money. It will also reduce your home insurance claims.

Home insurance discounts.

Home insurance companies provide dozens of discounts, and you may qualify for many of them. Some of the most common discounts are:

  • Bundling (also called multi-policy)
  • Loyalty
  • Claims-free
  • Security system
  • Automatic payment

Ask your insurance broker about the discounts for which you may be entitled.

Find out what your policy doesn’t cover.

Read the exclusions section of your home insurance policy. Understanding what the insurance won’t cover is just as important as knowing what the insurance will cover – before you make a claim.

Shopping for home insurance.

You’ve just signed a contract to buy your future home. You now know more about home insurance.  It’s time to start shopping.  Call an insurance broker.  They can shop the market and get you the best rate available.

Many home insurance companies have online quoting tools on their websites to help you begin the quoting process (visit www.munninsurance.com to see ours). If you prefer a more one-on-one approach, most brokers have people readily available via phone to help you through the process.

Once you’ve collected the quotes, do a side-by-side comparison of premiums, deductibles, and coverage levels. If things are not clear, don’t hesitate to ask the insurance company for clarification before you proceed. Your broker can help with this.


Now, it is time to select the right insurance policy for your home. Once you’ve signed the new home insurance policy, you can enjoy your new home with the peace of mind of knowing you have great coverage at an affordable price.

If you would like more information on getting home insurance for the first time, or if you have any questions on your home or auto insurance, please contact Munn Insurance toll free at 1-855-726-8627 today.

Rebates Available for Renovations and New Home Builds

The provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador recently announced a $30-million residential construction rebate program; providing homeowners with rebates of up to $10,000 for home renovations or new home construction.

Homeowners who successfully apply will get a rebate of 25% of the cost of a renovation on a principal residence, up to a maximum rebate of $10,000. For a new home construction, a rebate of $10,000 is available for a project costing up to $350,000 before HST.

The rebate will be given for work contracted within 60 days from June 8 (when the provincial government’s Alert Level 3 is expected to begin); but must be “substantially complete” by March 31, 2021.

To qualify, a homeowner must use a registered contractor with general liability insurance.

Applications will be available on the Department of Finance’s website and through the Canadian Home Builders’ Association in the coming days.

If you have questions, please call Munn Insurance at 1-855-726-8627. We are here to help.

And for more information visit the news release on the gov.nl website: https://www.gov.nl.ca/releases/2020/fin/0603n03/

Protecting an Idle Business. 12 Tips for Managing a Business Shutdown

The continued spread of COVID-19 has forced communities, businesses and governments to adjust to an ever-changing reality. These are certainly unprecedented times. Business leaders have had to make some very difficult decisions; whether to stay open and how that would look or whether they should close.

If you have been forced to close your business, there are certain precautions that you should take to ensure the safety of your building.  We have put together these 12 tips to help you ensure that measures are in place should your business be forced to close and your property is vacant.

  1. Contact Your Insurance Broker: Should you be forced to close your building and are leaving your building vacant, it is important that you contact your insurance broker to let them know of the situation. They will work with you to look over your policy and ensure that any extra requirements are taken.
  2. Make sure that your employee contact information is up to date and that you have a plan to keep everyone updated regularly.
  3. Develop a communication plan to stay in touch with your customers and keep them informed.
  4. Contact all vendors and suppliers to ensure deliveries are halted or redirected. This would include mail, couriers, coffee and water suppliers, etc. Determine the frequency of cleaning that would be required as well and adjust that schedule.
  5. Ensure that all fire panels, sprinkler systems and alarms are operational. The risk of arson increases when buildings are vacant so ensure that all combustible materials are removed from the area around your building(s); at least 8 metres (26 feet) away from non-masonry and blank exterior walls of the building.
  6. Ensure that any stock or other valuables are locked up and stored securely. Remove all cash from the premises.
  7. Consider installing a security system if one is currently not installed. Security systems should be connected to a 24-hour central monitoring station to increase notification and police response times.
  8. Maintain electrical to your building if there are any appliances such as fridges, freezers, coolers, etc. that require uninterrupted power. If electrical is not required, switching the power off at the main breaker will help to prevent the possibility of an electrical short circuit causing a fire.
  9. To conserve energy, ensure that your building’s heating is set between 5 C and preferably at 15 C. In colder winter months, ensure that the temperature in vacant rooms doesn’t fall below 15 degrees as water pipes may freeze and burst, resulting in significant property damage. Rooms containing diesel engine drivers for fire pumps should be set at 21 C.
  10. Ensure that someone visits the property daily to perform visual inspections. When conducting inspections it is important to check every room to ensure that there are no water leaks or broken pipes. Keep a log noting date, time and capturing a signature from the individual conducting the inspection. If you have security patrols, increase the frequency of visits to the property.
  11. Empty all fridges and ensure there is nothing left at work stations that could spoil over time. Food and other garbage left around could attract rodents and other uninvited guests.

If you have questions about how to properly secure your building during a temporary shutdown or need advice on any other issue, please contact Munn Insurance toll free at 1-855-726-8627 today.

10 Working from Home Cyber Security Tips

One of the ways to help reduce the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19 is social distancing, which for many businesses means encouraging, or requiring, employees to work from home.  This can create cyber security problems for employers and employees and has the potential to increase the risks of a cyber-attack, as employees are not protected by the same security controls as their usual office environment.

When moving to a work from home set-up, it is important that you take the following steps to reduce the risk of a cyber-attack.

  1. Engage Your IT Department or get some technical support. The experts can help ensure that things are set up correctly. They will ensure that all devices being used for work are secured with up-to-date firewall, antivirus, anti-malware and data encryption software.  There may also be policies and procedures that you can out in place before employees access work data away from the office.
  2. Use a work-issued device when possible. Your organization will often have work-issued devices set up with additional security that will help keep your data safe. Using your personal computer to access work data increases the risk that your data can be stolen or compromised.
  3. Never Use Public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi networks pose significant security risks and should be avoided at all costs. Only connect to the Internet through a secure network. When connected to a public network, any information you share online or via a mobile app could be accessed by someone else.
  4. Always use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic so that it is unreadable to anyone who intercepts it, adding an extra layer of security to your web use. Most organizations will provide a VPN to their employees to ensure secure, remote access for work use, and personal VPN accounts are available from various service providers.
  5. Ensure that Home Routers are Secured. Ensure that the password on home routers have been changed from the factory default and set encryption to WPA2.
  6. Use Strong Passwords. Compromised passwords are still one of the leading ways that cybercriminals gain access to sensitive user data. Passwords should be complex, changed frequently and should never be used for multiple accounts. Many people use the same or similar version of a password for everything, even between work and home. This means a single stolen password can be reused on multiple sites to unlock dozens of accounts for hackers. Remembering many secure and complex passwords  can be difficult. Password management software can help and will ensure you have strong, unique passwords for everything.
  7. Use Multi Factor Authentication. This should be enabled for all employees. Logging remotely without being prompted for the SMS/OTP code this should raise a red flag. Contact local IT ASAP.
  8. Encourage employees not to respond to requests for information from unknown sources. This is even more important if the request is for personally identifiable information or passwords. There are people out there who will try to con you into sharing confidential information by pretending to be someone you know or work with. Take extra care in identifying who you’re sharing information with – even if you think the request came from a trusted resource or organization.
  9. Train staff to be on the lookout for phishing. Educate staff on how to recognize a phishing attempt, such as emails that request private information, use a generic introduction rather than your name, have spelling errors or use a suspicious email domain.
  10. Only click on links, open attachments, and download software from trusted resources. There are people out there who will try to take advantage by masking malicious links as something informative. Once clicked, those links can be used to gain access to private information and/or freeze computers or networks. If you’re unsure of the source, don’t click.

If you have questions about working from home cyber security or need advice on any other issue, please contact Munn Insurance toll free at 1-855-726-8627 today.

Free Roadside Assistance for First Responders and Healthcare Heroes

First responders and healthcare workers who are courageously helping those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic can now receive free roadside assistance until further notice from one of our primary insurance markets, Aviva Canada!  And this is regardless of where you are insured or who you are insured with!

We are thrilled that Aviva is offering complimentary free roadside assistance to first responders and healthcare workers. You are, and continue to be, heroes.  You deserve this and more! Here is what you need to know:

Who is eligible?

Canadians working amid the current COVID-19 crisis in the following professions:

  • First Responders– those employed to carry out the duties of a police officer, firefighter, or paramedic by an emergency service
  • Healthcare Personnel – those actively working in a hospital or health care center in either a front line or support capacity (e.g. doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab technicians, respiratory therapists)

This service is offered to all individuals mentioned above, including those currently insured with other companies.

What services are available?

Within Canada, 24/7 emergency roadside services for the following:

  • Towing (to the nearest repair facility up to a maximum of 90 km)
  • Battery boost
  • Flat tire
  • Lock out
  • Fuel delivery
  • Winching

When can I access these services?

These services are available 24-7.  Mechanical breakdown or free roadside assistance services needed during trips made using personally owned or leased private passenger automobiles are eligible. Commercial vehicles/automobiles are not eligible.

How do you receive the service?

If you’re in need of free roadside assistance, please call 1-844-398-2001. When the free roadside assistance driver shows up, simply show your ID and you’ll soon be on your way. If you have questions about your insurance policy or relief measures, please call Munn Insurance at 1-855-726-8627. We are here to help.

For more information  visit https://www.aviva.ca/en/tools/roadside-assistance/

Note: these services are subject to change without notice.