If you own a cottage or plan on purchasing a cottage your insurance broker should be well versed in property and liability insurance that is specific to that market. While it might seem a cottage policy would mirror that of a primary homeowner’s policy, there are a few notable differences. For example, contents limits are usually lower than a primary residence because most people don’t keep valuables at their cottage.

Prior to insuring your cottage, your broker may try to gauge how much you value it.

For example, some cottage owners hire a property management company or caretakers to check and maintain the property.

“What insurance companies want to see is an owner who is thinking ahead, doesn’t want to have claims and takes steps to protect his assets,” she says.

Andrew Pettipas, broker at J.M & C.W Hope Grant Insurance agrees that proper care and maintenance is important for insurers when assessing an account.

“This affects rates, and even if the company will [insure] them,” he says. “The better shape the property is in (e.g. the roof is under 15 years old, floors are clean, yards are maintained, good quality construction), the easier it is to insure.”

Cottage Risks

According to experts, cottage claims typically include damage to property due to wind and fire, or liability due to slip and falls. Water damage is a risk for any property, but with cottages it is even more troublesome because the property is typically vacant for long periods of time.

“Things can happen when owners are absent,” says Leggett. “If you experience a really hard winter and you aren’t up at the cottage regularly, ice and snow can be a factor causing burst pipes and water damage.”

She recommends having alarms installed so the property is monitored year round for fire, burglary and low temperature. If an emergency does occur, this will provide the earliest alert to the fire department or police and the greatest potential for minimizing a loss at the location.

Also, if you have a boat it is a separate liability that requires additional coverage.

“If [owners] have a canoe on the property and [renters] take it out, we’re not covering liability for that,” she says. “Brokers need to explain to their clients exactly what is included in one of these policies.”

Additionally, some cottages have wood-burning stoves, which are typically freestanding units that are used to heat the cottage, and this can also be a risk.

Christine Horuc-Lake, manager of personal lines, Totten Insurance Group says owners should ensure the stove is “ULC or CFA approved and that it’s installed to code.” If the wood-burning stove meets these requirements, the customer can get coverage for it.

Other common exclusions include wear and tear/deterioration of the building, moving and bulging of earth/property, loss or damage caused by birds/vermin/insects/rodents, water damage/continual seepage into the home and freezing.

“The more information you can provide to your broker, the better they can rate it for you with the best coverage,” adds Horuc-Lake.

This article was originally published on citopbroker.com.