Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun..
January 9, 2015 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Our insurance company won't insure our solar panels on their own - they'll only add the value to our "replacement amount" on our insurance policy. We want them to have their own coverage. Any leads in Ontario Canada?

We have a solar array on our roof in Ontario Canada (already installed, up-and-running, all good!) that is part of the MicroFIT program. In a nutshell, we sell the generated electricity to our local power company. It is not used, at all, to provide power to our home.

Our insurance company (RBC) will not insure the panels/set up on their own - they simply added the value of the panels (about $30,000) to our overall house replacement value. Meaning that if our house burns down, the panels are covered as part of the big picture - but if something happens to just the panels they aren't covered.

I have searched all over the internet to find information about insurance companies that will insure solar panels as a 'big ticket' item (in the same way that most policies allow you to include high-price electronics or art or jewellery) rather than as an add-on value. There are all sorts of random notes on the internet about people insuring their panels - but no specifics and no one replies to my (polite) inquiries.

Do you have solar panels in Ontario and have them insured the way that we want to? Do you have a lead on a company that would do it?
posted by VioletU to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
 
Meaning that if our house burns down, the panels are covered as part of the big picture - but if something happens to just the panels they aren't covered.

Are you sure about this? Your insurance company is simply treating the panels like any other add-on to your home (like, for instance, a deck or a room addition.) If something happens to the deck, but not the rest of the house, insurance will still cover some of the repair cost.

Electronics and art are not part of the house (they fall into the category of personal possessions) which is why you can get them insured separately. The panels (no matter whether you use the energy they create or not) are affixed to, and are a part of, the house.

I'd double check to see if the panels really wouldn't be covered if, somehow, they were damaged. Like, in a freak hailstorm.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:23 AM on January 9, 2015


Sorry - I should have clarified. The insurance company specified very clearly that the panels are NOT covered for damage (whether accidental or act-of-god or otherwise) and neither is the roof underneath them if the problem with that roof is due in any way to the panels. And then they acted like it was a gift to increase the replacement value of our house and not cancel our insurance for putting panels up. Ahem.
posted by VioletU at 9:27 AM on January 9, 2015


Meaning that if our house burns down, the panels are covered as part of the big picture - but if something happens to just the panels they aren't covered.

I suggest a closer reading of your policy. What you describe here doesn't match common experience. Homeowner's policies generally cover everything about the house and individual parts would be replaced/repaired as a normal policy matter.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:30 AM on January 9, 2015


The insurance company specified very clearly that the panels are NOT covered for damage (whether accidental or act-of-god or otherwise).

That makes zero sense. Get a new insurance policy (or a new agent that understands the policy) that includes the panels as part and parcel of the house. By this same logic, they could say your kitchen isn't covered because the oven is an appliance merely installed in the house.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:33 AM on January 9, 2015


Have you called an independent insurance broker? This is exactly the kind of thing they do. I have a recommendation for a Waterloo one if that's your area.
posted by saradarlin at 10:20 AM on January 9, 2015


I work in the Ontario solar industry. I am not your solar installer.

Yes, this is typical. You'll need separate insurance for your MicroFIT. The IBC has some guidelines.
posted by scruss at 10:22 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


scruss...Is that because VioletU resells all of the output to the electric company? Would it be different if the panels were for personal/home use, with whatever (if any) excess produced sold to the electric company?
posted by Thorzdad at 11:22 AM on January 9, 2015


Yup, that was the answer we got from our insurance and one of the reasons why we (in Ontario as well) did not install them. It was particularly the roof parts, we could see arguments between two companies about what damaged what when.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:25 AM on January 9, 2015


Thorzdad, Ontario MicroFIT requires that all power (and green attributes) be sold to the provincial utility. You can't have a hybrid system. (Unless you're one of the early few who are happy to get merchant power prices for solar just to show that it was the right thing to do, and if you're rich enough to do that, you probably have dedicated brokers handling your affairs ...)

Little turf wars like this show up the insurance industry as the bad guys they are in holding back rooftop solar. Then again, I've heard of terrible advice being given by installers to homeowners. The ideal situation would have been to work out a plan/inspection with the home insurer before the solar modules went in, and have a separate insurer for the PV system work with the home insurer. I suspect this would be a world of hurt and legal fees for most domestic insurers, but would be the sort of thing that commercial insurers would be all up on.

Maybe the OP's installers might have ideas?
posted by scruss at 11:42 AM on January 9, 2015


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