Marie-Claude Dulac

By Marie-Claude Dulac

November 17, 2017


Car Shelters: What You Need to Know

Article revised on 17 November 2017

It’s time to get ready for winter and all the snow that gave our country the moniker Great White North! Do you have a car shelter or are you planning on renting one? Here’s what you need to know to extend the lifespan of your car shelter and limit the risk of making a home insurance or auto insurance claim as a result of poor installation or maintenance.

1. Installation

Make sure you comply with municipal bylaws for the installation of a temporary car shelters. Even though some municipalities do not allow car shelters, most do so if a few guidelines are met.

Your best bet is to read and comply with municipal regulations. This will help you avoid problems with your neighbours and a hefty fine!

Make sure your car shelter is firmly anchored to the ground so that it can withstand all that winter can throw at it.

  • The so-called U-anchors, usually provided by tarp car shelter manufacturers, may be used if you don’t live in an area with gusts of high winds and fits with the configuration of your entrance. The anchors can be used on asphalt, gravel or grass, but they can’t be used on a paved driveway.
  • Permanent anchors are required if you live in a high wind area or if the anchors provided with the shelter can’t be used for your entrance. You should ideally have the shelter installed by a professional. It’s better to pay a little more and anchor your car shelter properly than have to deal with the costs and headaches that come with a car shelter that gets blown away by the wind!
  • For a more solid grip, in addition to anchors, you can add anti-wind strips, or sandbags or water bags on the base of the canvas, outside the car shelter.
  • Don’t use concrete blocks! Even though they’re sold in most major hardware stores, they’re unstable and don’t anchor the shelter adequately.

2. Maintenance

  • Regularly inspect your car shelter, paying special attention to the bolts, anchors and your shelter’s structure to make sure everything is still holding up.
  • Pay attention to public weather alerts issued by Environment Canada. In the event of storms or violent winds, firmly close all the car shelter’s flaps.
  • Remove the snow from the roof of your car shelter after each snowfall. By doing so, you will extend its lifespan and reduce the risk of collapse. When you’re removing the snow, stay outside of the shelter and use a broom or roof shovel (T-shaped).

If the car shelter is covered by a thick layer of snow, remove some from one side, then another, and so on to ensure the structure remains stable.

  • Once winter ends, carefully examine your car shelter’s canvas before bringing it down. Make sure it’s not torn and all the stitching is still in place. If necessary, you can have it repaired at certain shelter manufacturers.
  • Clean and dry your car shelter’s canvas before storing it. Use a mild cleanser. Rinse well and make sure the fabric is dry before storing it in a dry, well-ventilated area, away from the sun.
  • Store your car shelter’s structure in a weatherproof area.

 3. Insurance

If your car shelter is damaged, for example, by violent winds or by the weight of the snow, it should be covered under your basic home insurance coverage. Damage caused to your vehicle by your shelter is covered under your auto insurance.

But what about the damage or injuries caused to a third party?

If your properly installed and maintained car shelter causes damage or injury to a neighbour owing to an event beyond anyone’s control, such as strong winds, the neighbour must make a claim with his or her own insurer.

However, if it is shown that improper installation, poor maintenance and non-compliance with municipal bylaws is the cause, you may be liable for the damages. Your neighbour could take legal action against you to get reimbursed for damages incurred. In such a case, your civil liability coverage, which is included with your home insurance, would cover damages sustained by your neighbour.


Additional resource:
What to do in the event of damage to your temporary car shelter

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