Tiny Houses

By Mark Files, Regional Sales Manager

Tiny Houses….what are they? Why would you want one? What’s the big deal with this little living idea? Needless to say, I had a lot more questions than answers when I got asked about insuring Tiny Houses.

When I was 12 years old, I experienced what one could compare to the current Tiny House experience. My folks were building a new home and it wasn’t ready for us to move in by the time we moved out of our old house that had been sold. So for 60 glorious or torturous days my family of four lived in a 32 foot fifth wheel camper on my grandparent’s farm. Quarters were cramped, we were limited on the clothes we had access to, and needless to say there wasn’t much space to lounge around in the camper. (Did I mention this happened during the summer months of July/August/September?) We made it work but wow, I can remember how happy all four of us were glad to be in our new house. When I look back, it wasn’t that bad and could have been much worse. After laughing about this adventure with my Mom she let us know 60 days was supposed to have been two weeks…..

So let’s start from the beginning, what’s a Tiny House? Well there are three versions:  Trailer, Foundation and Hybrid. Thanks to the Tiny House Blog and their book review “Tiny House Parking,” by Ethan Waldman, the book provides more detail about each type, benefits of each and also the pitfalls.

Here are some highlights from the book review:

  • A Trailer Tiny House will likely be deemed as a “temporary structure”, much like an RV. Local regulations may only allow you to live in your tiny house for a month at a time.  Checking your local regulations not only about length of parking, but the size of it will be a must.  If you like to travel, a tiny house on a trailer will give you that freedom.
  • A Foundation Tiny House means you will more than likely need to purchase land, which will increase your costs. You will also be tied to one place, but the upside is you will have more options when it comes to the shape and size of your tiny house compared to one built on a trailer.
  • A Hybrid Tiny House is built on a semi-permanent foundation that can be transported when necessary, much like a park-model mobile home. This flexibility is indeed a plus.  Checking local regulations about how long you can live in the tiny house is a must.

Here’s my take of the Tiny House fad:

Tiny houses are a new version of Modular, Mobile Homes and RV’s. Though the mortgage process has relaxed somewhat, the industry has tried to capitalize on the restricted access to loanable dollars. It also plays to the dissatisfaction some Americans are expressing with the way the country is being run and the direction they believe it’s headed. Having a small mobile house makes it much easier to “stay below the radar” if the U.S. starts to waiver in their eyes.

Folks with an “environment first” mind set may see this housing option as a way to get in touch with nature and a way to do their part to reduce their environmental footprint.

The third group looking to utilize the Tiny Home model is the entrepreneur. This group has found a way to market tiny homes as “Granny Pods” aka Mother-in-law quarters, “Tiny Towns” aka over 55 maintenance provided communities and “Tailgate Party Zones” aka tiny homes located on designated property on Major University Campus to help improve and control the fan experience.

I think it’s safe to say the “Tiny House” phenomenon is here to stay and will play a part in the landscape of the U.S. for years to come. If you can handle the tight quarters and find a place to park, it may be the way of the future.

About Mark FilesHeadshot

Mark Files Married, Father of 2.5 kids: son, daughter and son-in-law, Independent Insurance Agency Recruiter, Insurance Agent

Mark has worked at MAX for 6 years and has over 20 years of experience in the insurance industry as an agent and company representative. After business hours, Mark likes to work on his smoking, grilling and cooking techniques, spend time on the lake boating and fishing, but most of all he enjoys relaxing at home with his wife and dogs. He also volunteers with several youth organizations at his church and in the community helping out when and where he can.

Photo by joncallas

Chelsea Avondale Continues MAX Canada Name, Personnel & Values as it Acquires Canadian Insurance Operations


(Kitchener, ON, December 1, 2016) – MAX North America announced that MAX Canada Insurance Company will continue to serve faith-based and Anabaptist communities following its sale to Chelsea Avondale. In addition, MAX Canada will continue to donate to the Mutual Aid Ministries. This is the pledge made by officers of Chelsea Avondale as they announced the purchase of the Canadian operations of MAX North America.

The purchase closed on November 30 and included acquisition of all MAX related operations in Canada including Mutual Aid Insurance Brokers Company (MAIBC). Both companies will continue to operate from their current locations. MAX Canada will retain its brand, values, brokers, and personnel and will continue to honour MAX Canada’s deeply held values.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

“We are deeply impressed by the MAX Canada team and their very special way of doing business,” said Nilesh Vasani, Chief Executive Officer & Chief Investment Officer of Chelsea Avondale. “MAX Canada cares beyond the contract. We agree that’s the way insurance should be and that’s what we intend to do as we enhance, strengthen and extend the MAX name across Canada.”

“We have been seeking a partner that would help us strengthen and expand services for our Canadian policyholders,” said David Wine, President and CEO of MAX North America. “Chelsea Avondale is the perfect choice.”

Wine, who helped launch MAX North America in 2000, has agreed to stay on as President and CEO of MAX Canada during the transition. Elaine Shantz, current MAX Canada board chair, will also continue in that role under the new ownership.

John Lewis, Managing Director, Acquisitions and Operations of Chelsea Avondale added, “It is very important for us to listen carefully to those who established MAX to help us shape and frame the future with all the care and sensitivities of the legacy already established. I cannot begin to tell you how committed we are to continuing and expanding upon this special company. Chelsea Avondale will be investing significantly to provide MAX Canada with industry leading systems, investment management, enhanced staffing and access to capital to continue its growth.”

About Chelsea Avondale
Chelsea Avondale has been established to acquire property and casualty insurance companies and invest the assets of our subsidiaries following a value investing philosophy to deliver exceptional risk adjusted returns. We aim to improve performance through first class investment management, technology, systems and risk management frameworks.

We firmly believe that community-based insurers better serve their policyholders and outperform the industry as a whole.  We approach our acquisitions of community-based insurers as partnerships with management, policyholders and all other stakeholders.

To learn more about Chelsea Avondale, visit www.ChelseaAvondale.com.

Contact:  John Lewis
50 Queen Street North, Suite 860
Kitchener, ON N2H 6P4

About MutualAid eXchange
MutualAid eXchange (MAX) is a unique, member-owned property and casualty insurance enterprise that offers a full range of competitively priced auto, homeowners, farm, business, life and related forms of insurance. MAX was founded on the principles of fairness, faith and social responsibility.

One thing that makes MAX special is that it devotes a portion of its revenues to a fund that helps people regain and sustain wholeness after an unexpected loss or tragedy. The company also follows socially responsible business practices including volunteerism by employees, cooperative ownership, sustainability and life-work balance.

To learn more about MAX, visit

Contact:  Lisa Bage
4400 College Boulevard, Suite 250
Overland Park, KS 66211