Here comes the sun.

‘Going green’ is no longer a fad, and more and more people are installing solar panels on homes and property. They are using solar to heat water, to generate electricity or for other tasks are an option for the environmentally aware homeowner or tenant who wishes to save on ongoing costs or energy consumption and is comfortable with the up-front investment.

Solar panels, like any other exterior part of your home, will have ongoing operational and maintenance upkeep that would be part of the decision making process. Another item to consider, which is often missed, is insurance.

The value of your home or building will increase by the cost of the solar panels, which means that your insurance premiums will likely increase some amount. But before you dash out and start installing, there may be other insurance implications around your solar panels you should consider.

Have you considered…?

The installation of solar panel systems can pose previously non-existent new risks to the property. Here are a just a few things for you to think about:

  • If the panels are angled, a heavy windstorm can rip them off and potentially damage another property, or even worse, another person. This could easily bring liability losses, which your home insurer may decline to cover, because you did not tell them about the panels or because 3rd party damage occurred outside of your property.
  • If the panels are angled, a heavy windstorm can also push the panel into the roof enough to damage the building and cause roof leaks, etc.
  • Installation of panels itself, if installed incorrectly, can cause result in damage to the roof that could lead to potential leaking.
  • Panels, and their components, add an additional element of electrical risk. These elements do present potential fire hazards that did not exist when underwriters wrote your policy.

 Questions to ask BEFORE beginning the installation:

  • Will your policy require that panels be installed by someone who is ULC Certified?
  • If a snow or hail storm damages the panels, or your system gets vandalized or pillaged, who will cover the losses?
  • If your system malfunctions and, despite required precautions, and causes electrical damage to connecting grid elements, who covers that damage?

Buyer beware

As always, it is up to you, the homeowner, to know and identify where you are at risk. For most of us, however, we don’t know what we don’t know, so it is important to seek out help from the experts.

Review your plan with your insurance advisor to see what potential implications exist before you make any significant changes to your property. Some brokers have insurance programs designed specifically for solar projects and they are managed by people who understand the solar industry.

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