Marie-Claude Dulac

By Marie-Claude Dulac

June 10, 2016

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Cottage Insurance: 6 Tips for Insuring Your Cottage

Article revised on 23 September 2020

The cottage is the perfect place to relax and get away from it all. But before you settle into your deck chair, there are a few things to think about.

By taking a few precautionary measures and making sure the cottage is properly insured, you’ll avoid problems down the road and be able to enjoy it with complete peace of mind!

1.   Get civil liability coverage

Regardless of how much your cottage is worth or how often it’s used, civil liability insurance is a must. What if someone gets injured at your cottage or you accidentally damage someone else’s property? Civil liability insurance protects you against lawsuits in these situations.

2.   Get the right coverage for your cottage

Insurance for your cottage, like any other residence, is based on various criteria. Where it’s located, how it’s used, the age of the building and how accessible it is are all factors insurers look at when determining what kind of coverage to offer and how much it will cost.

In case of ongoing improvements…
Do you carry out little renovation jobs from time to time? If so, you have to review your coverage annually. Whether minor or major, renovations increase the value of cottages: After a few years with no updates, yours could end up being under-insured in the event of a loss!

Your insurance agent needs all the details on your cottage to advise you on the coverage that’s best suited to your needs. You could have access to the full range of home insurance coverage  generally offered for primary residences. Or your agent might offer you more limited coverage that mainly protects you against damage to the building due to fire or certain types of water damage. In that case, talk to your agent about adding à la carte coverage to insure the contents of your cottage.

Do you rent out your cottage? It’s important to let your insurer know if and how often you rent it out to make sure you have all the coverage you need. Some insurers, including La Capitale, can offer special coverage that protects you against lost rental income if your cottage were to become uninhabitable as a result of a covered loss.

3.   Be prepared to get several quotes

Cottages represent a greater risk for insurers since there’s not someone there all the time. If a loss occurs when there’s no one there to deal with it right away, the damage will likely be a lot more significant.

As a result, most insurers state their conditions up front before agreeing to insure a cottage. However, these conditions vary from one insurer to another. For instance, some insurers, including La Capitale, will agree to insure your cottage even if they don’t insure your primary residence. Others will not.

That’s why it’s worth it to compare a number of different quotes.

4.   Make sure the cottage is safe

  • To reduce the risk of injury, make sure the cottage and the land are properly maintained.
  • Install smoke detectors and change the batteries once a year.
  • If your heating system or appliances run on propane, oil, wood or some other fuel:
    • Install carbon monoxide detectors to keep you safe.
    • Always carry out manufacturer recommended maintenance on all propane appliances.
  • Never store propane tanks indoors.

5.   Minimize the risk of theft and vandalism when you’re away

  • If you can, set up a sort of neighbourhood watch where everyone keeps an eye on neighbouring cottages when the owners aren’t there.
  • Lock doors, windows, sheds, etc.
  • Don’t leave anything of value in the cottage when you’re not there like bicycles, electronic devices, jewelry, etc. If possible, take these items home with you each time. They’ll be covered by the insurance policy on your primary residence, which normally offers broader coverage than cottage insurance.

6.   Minimize the risk of damage

    • Keep on top of cottage maintenance to minimize the risk of avoidable damage. Refer to our handy spring and fall maintenance tips to make sure you don’t miss anything!
  • Equip your cottage with rapid response alarm and prevention systems for when you’re not there. For instance:
    • A fire alarm system connected to a central monitoring station
    • A theft alarm system connected to a central monitoring station
    • A water leak detection system with automatic water shut-off if there’s a leak
  •  “Close up” your cottage if you’re not planning to be there for several days:
    • Turn off the water supply valve, if there is one
    • Unplug all electrical appliances
    • Make sure all the doors and windows are closed and locked
    • Safely dispose of ashes from any indoor or outdoor fires

Need advice or have a question about cottage insurance? Talk to your insurance agent! His or her role is to explain the various coverage options and help you determine what’s right for you. To learn more about cottage insurance, visit our website.

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