Ask The Underwriter: Preventing Winter Woes with Nicole Martin

As the weather gets cold, snowy and icy, we took a moment with Nova Mutual Senior Underwriter Nicole Martin to ask a couple of ways you can prevent some winter woes at home or in your business.

Graeme: Nicole, thank you so much for joining me on this first mini episode. Can you give us before we get into some of those asked underwriting questions, can you give us Nicole’s notes on a little bit of your professional background?

Nicole: I started off getting my business insurance diploma from Fanshawe College. Now I am a Chartered Insurance Professional and I’m still working on my advanced designation as well. And I’ve been in the industry since 2013. And with Nova just close to five years now.

Graeme: This is a question for me because I’m new to the insurance world…I’ve realised the insurance world has a ton of opportunity. Say there’s people listening to this that are just getting introduced to the insurance world. What would you suggest would be a great starting path for them? Maybe if they wanted to get an education or step into this world?

Nicole: So there’s lots of opportunity. I would say if you’re looking to go to school or you’re a younger student, maybe just out of high school, the business insurance program at a lot of our interior colleges is a great place to start. It’ll cover all the different aspects of the insurance industry so you can get a little taste. If you’re looking for a career change, you’re not big on going back to school. If you can get your foot in the door at an insurance company like Nova Mutual, they will actually help you with your education as you work.

Graeme: The weather is getting colder. We’re getting more ice and snow. Do you have some snow removal tips for, say, the homeowner first?

Nicole: So if you’re a homeowner, one thing you might want to double check is the sidewalks in front of your home. So I know where I live in Otterville, the municipality is in charge of clearing the sidewalks and they have the little sidewalk plough that goes by. But I know in some other municipalities it’s actually the responsibility of the homeowner to keep that sidewalk clean. So you might want to just double check if that’s your responsibility, because you wouldn’t want to slip and fall out from your house and you could be on the hook for that person’s injuries.

Graeme: Say we’re a business owner. There’s probably a little bit more liability when that comes to that.

Nicole: Yes. And like you said, there’s a lot more foot traffic coming in and out of your business. One good tip for a business owner is just to keep a log. You could even scratch it on a piece of paper just of your date and time of when you shovelled and salted each time. That way, if there is a slip and fall, you can show your due diligence that you are out there making sure it was clear for your customers.

Graeme: I’ve never thought about having a log for a situation like that. Has something like this come up before where someone has had to address that log? Have you ever seen that happen?

Nicole: It is something we look for. For business owners, it shows pride in your business. It shows that you’re at great moral risk and you take care of your property. So it’s definitely a good asset when looking for insurance.

Graeme: Even knowing there are restrictions, people still have the right to travel and we can do so if we want. If someone were to go on vacation, business owners and homeowners to escape the snow and ice, what are some of the important things not to forget.

Nicole: Okay, well, don’t forget your sunscreen. But on a more serious note, one thing for sure you should do is you should have someone coming to check on your home at least maybe every 72 hours, once or twice a week. And they need to go in and check that basement because if your basement is flooded, they won’t be able to tell on the outside. Another good thing is to always leave your heat on, even just leave it at a low temperature so that your pipes don’t freeze up.

Graeme: A lot of people have been changing their lifestyle with either moving to more rural places. I know a lot of people that have bought new real estate out east and they might be leaving for extended amounts of time, more than two or three weeks. Should we notify anybody if we’re leaving for an extended amount of time?

Nicole: So that cut off is about 30 days. If you’re going to be gone from your home for more than 30 days, definitely let your insurance company know.

Graeme: Two years ago at around this time, the world was quickly changing. It rapidly changed. Can you share some of the hurdles that you’ve dealt with, maybe personally and professionally over the past two years? It’s even wild to think it’s only been about two years.

Nicole: It’s been a very long two years. So one thing on the underwriting side and because I do commercial business is a lot of our members have been shut down for an extended period of time. They’re not getting as much revenue as they previously were. So in turn, they might be looking for some savings where they can get it. So as an underwriter, we want to do what we can to help our community members, especially in this hard time, and show support for our members by offering different options for their insurance coverage.

Graeme: So would you say almost as much as probably a lot of business owners are being unique and agile in the way that they’ve had to flip and change their business for the ones that haven’t necessarily, unfortunately, given up on their business at Nova because we embrace traditional underwriting, old fashioned underwriting, the old school way. Are we offering kind of the same agility in our packages to make sure that we’re accommodating as people shift gears in their business?

Nicole: Yeah, a lot of businesses have shifted to more of a delivery takeout, virtual learning online sales, and we definitely try to accommodate that as best we can on their current policy.

Graeme: Say someone who’s listening to this podcast, they like what you’re laying down, what is the easiest way for someone to learn how to become a Nova policyholder?

Nicole: So the first step is to check out our Nova Mutual website. There’s a link right on there which says find a broker and you can find a broker that’s near you, local to you, and they can get you all set up with Nova.

Graeme: Awesome. Nicole, thank you so much for joining me on this first mini episode of Ask the Underwriter.

Nicole: Thank you for having me.

Do you want to be part of the Nova Mutual family? There are two ways. Check out the Careers page or click on that Find a Broker button on our website, Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook for all things Nova. Oh, and if you like this podcast, don’t forget to subscribe, share with a friend and leave us one of those five star reviews. We’d love to hear from you!

This uplifting feature was collaborated on by:

Nicole Martin, Senior Underwriter

Graeme Reed, Brand Production Specialist

Shane Drever, Digital Media Specialist