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The charred remains of a home and vehicle in Fort McMurray.Scott Olson/Getty Images

By Rob Carrick

When assessing your home insurance policy, start by checking your coverage for water damage from a sewer backup or flood. That's the most likely claim for many Canadians. Still, as the situation in Fort McMurray reminds us, fire's also a risk. If you have a standard home insurance policy, you'll be covered for the cost of rebuilding a home of the same size.

Your policy may also cover living expenses if you're forced by fire to evacuate your home. Here are some tips for cleaning up when you return home after a fire.

Hundreds of insurance experts have been mobilized to handle claims of clients in the Fort McMurray area. Do you hold the shares of property insurers in your portfolio? One of the largest, Intact Financial, says its exposure to the Fort McMurray fires is manageable.

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Rob's top web links

Hurray for the 25-hour work week
> It's just the right amount of work to keep your mind sharp in middle age and older, new research shows. Useful into for retirees who can only play so much golf.

China and Canada's real estate market
> Maclean's reports on the impact in Vancouver and beyond of Chinese people buying houses in Canada. Useful reading if you're wondering what's driving the country's hot real estate markets.

So you think you're ready to start investing
> Here's a message you don't hear often enough: Before you start investing, you need to build a solid financial foundation. Cut debt, save for emergencies, get control of your spending and more.

The best and worst of Trader Joe's
> Trader Joe's is a U.S. specialty food chain that has incredibly loyal customers, including many Canadians who spend time south of the border. Here's a list of what to buy – and to avoid – from this company. Beware the turkey meatloaf muffins.

Pity Generation X
> This analysis starts out looking at whether the health care needs of boomers will bankrupt the millennial generation and concludes that it's people in their 40s who have the most reason to be resentful.

Four lies that sabotage your retirement
> A thorough list of excuses people give for not saving. They're all just rationalizing their failure to take care of business.

Today's featured investment tool
As house prices rise in some cities, the question of whether it's better to buy or rent becomes more urgent. Here's a buy or rent calculator that can help you decide.

Ask Rob
The question:
"Our investment adviser has 5 per cent of our investment account in preferred shares. These shares have lost about 40 per cent of their book value. The adviser suggests holding the shares as an income tool, and also with the hope that their market value will improve. What are your thoughts?"

My reply: The issue with preferred shares has to do with the interest rate environment and not their ability to keep paying dividends. So if you bought the shares for income, they're delivering the goods.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Questions and answers are edited for length.

Featured Video
I ask financial planner Shannon Lee Simmons a question that more and more millennials are throwing my way: Should I rush into the housing market now, before it gets so expensive I'll never be able to buy?

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