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Understanding Total Insurable Value

There are two types of appraisals that measure the value of a property in Canada: a market value appraisal and a replacement cost appraisal. A market value appraisal is useful when applying for a mortgage or selling your home, and it uses a specific valuation approach. A replacement cost appraisal on the other hand, also known as an insurance appraisal, is used for insurance purposes.


With an insurance appraisal, the value of a property is defined as its full replacement cost, known to appraisers and brokers as the Total Insurable Value.

TIV Explained

The Total Insurable Value (TIV) is the single most important figure in expressing the cost to fully replace a property in the event of a total loss and includes the cost of materials, labour and professional fees, bylaw and building code revisions, demolition and removal expenses, taxes, and inflation.


The process of establishing an accurate TIV starts with hiring a professional insurance appraiser from an experienced, third party firm. The appraiser will inspect and assess the property, identify all the physical elements, materials, and systems, review the architectural blueprints, bylaws, declarations, other relevant legal documents, and determine accurate square footage of various sections of the property. After a comprehensive analysis of all available data, an estimate is made, and a report detailing the property and its TIV is created. Insurance appraisers use a valuation method called the Cost Approach to estimate TIV, which determines the cost to reproduce the property or replace it with an equal substitute.


Conversely, market value appraisals use different valuation methods, typically the Income Approach or the Direct Comparison Approach. These market valuation methods consider different things, such as the land value or future income that a property is capable of producing. Using an incorrect valuation method when determining TIV would drastically and negatively impact the estimate for placement of property insurance.


The insurance appraisal is used to place property insurance and ensure sufficient coverage. If appraised too high, a condominium corporation or property owner might find themselves paying excess amounts of insurance premiums. If appraised too low, the asset is at high risk of being underinsured in the unfortunate event of a total loss. An experienced appraiser who specializes in replacement costs will consider many factors to achieve an accurate and reliable TIV for their clients.

Considerations to TIV

When determining TIV, there are many physical components that must be evaluated: the entire building structure and mechanical systems, both the hard and soft landscaping, all common elements such as amenity rooms or swimming pools, and the typical finishes of units. 


In addition to this, there are other critical considerations that will impact the TIV such as type and quality of materials, location, building code and bylaw review, and the cost of demolition.

Structural, Material, and Labour Considerations

Normac relies on our proprietary costing database and local cost guides to assist our team in determining accurate replacement costs. Our costing algorithms are routinely updated to account for material and labour variances from multiple regions across Canada to produce our estimates and valuation updates. As economic conditions fluctuate, so do these variables. Changes to supply and demand, workforce composition, even international trade can all contribute to significant annual construction cost fluctuations.

Our costing algorithms account for material and labour variances from multiple regions across Canada

While land or market value are not considered for TIV, the location of a property can have a substantial impact on the replacement cost.  Many contractors charge more for their services in remote areas than in cities. As access to materials and labour is typically challenging in remote areas, transportation costs are factored into contractor pricing to account for this.

Demolition and Removal

This is another significant contributor to the total insurable value. Not all appraisers include this in their assessment, but it necessary to remove the existing structure before a rebuild can begin. Demolition and removal in urban areas will cost more due to space limitations, traffic restrictions, and permits that may be required. Furthermore, the type of property and frame type has a major impact on demolition costs. As an example, a concrete high-rise would be significantly more expensive on a square foot basis to demolish than a wood-frame low-rise building.

Size of Unit

The size of the units can also impact costs. Although many condo units in downtown apartments are smaller than what you would find elsewhere, smaller apartments still require all the typical amenities and systems such as appliances, plumbing fixtures, electrical fixtures, and HVAC, etc. This compression of expensive components into a smaller space will increase the cost per foot compared to larger units.

Building Code and Bylaw Reviews

Building code and bylaw reviews are an important consideration in determining TIV and require special knowledge of provincial and municipal requirements for building codes. The national building code sets the bare minimum requirements for construction. However, additional requirements vary by each province and each municipality.


Due to these variations, bylaws and building codes must be assessed in detail (on a case-by-case basis or annually) as discrepancies between current standards and older structures can reflect large portions of a building’s full replacement value. In some instances, upgrades can account for up to 20% of the TIV. Major upgrades may include additional handicap access such as ramps or elevators, installation of superior fire protection, and extra parking spaces required for new constructions. The knowledge required to complete these reviews in a competent manner is considerable and should be a top of mind for anyone looking for an insurance appraisal company.

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In order to determine a replacement cost that is justifiable, all these factors must be accounted for. Property Owners, Strata and Condominium Corporations, Property Managers, and Insurance Brokers have all come to trust Normac for our comprehensive and detailed replacement cost reports.

Normac provides three-year appraisal programs with complimentary updates. 
Our industry-leading reports are prepared by replacement cost experts.

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