Cottage ownership is one of the great joys of living in Ontario. Whether your jam is sitting on the dock soaking in the sunshine or hosting fabulous barbecues for friends and family, it’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Owning one means you need to understand some key points about cottage insurance in Ontario, because it works a little differently from normal home insurance.
What is cottage insurance in Ontario?
Just like home insurance, cottage insurance protects your cottage building as well as the contents of that building. It also includes personal liability coverage that protects you in case someone gets hurt on the property.
Unlike home insurance, however, the coverage offered on seasonal policies tends to be limited compared to a standard policy for homes where you spend most of the calendar year.
You might want to consider all-risk insurance coverage for your cottage if it’s available, meaning that every type of loss is covered unless it is specifically excluded. On the other hand, a seasonal home insurance policy may be offered on a “named peril” basis, meaning that only the type of losses mentioned specifically in the policy are covered.
The distinction is important for cottage insurance in Ontario, as there are many types of losses that are usually not included on a named peril policy. These could include:
- Damage from animals or insect infestations.
- Roof damage from snow and ice build-up.
- Damage from extreme weather storms and natural disasters.
- Burst pipes in the off-season.
Are there restrictions on cottage insurance in Ontario?
Cottage insurance in Ontario often comes with clauses that require you to do something or take specific actions in order for coverage to remain in force. Some typical examples include a requirement to own a fire detection system that is monitored by an alarm company or the need to hire a caretaker to drop by once a week during the off season (insurance and home vacancy don’t mix without regular check-ins on the property).
If your cottage has a wood furnace or stove, you may also be required to have it inspected to ensure it aligns with local safety and fire laws.
One feature usually included in a home insurance policy that’s harder to find for cottage policies is “rebuilding to code.” This pays any additional costs needed to rebuild your cottage according to modern building and environmental by-law codes. Building codes can change over time, so it pays to inquire about it!
For example, a 60-year-old building that is partially built over a lake on pillars might not be approved today. Without this coverage, any additional costs required to change the design of your cottage to meet modern laws would not be paid under the policy.
Does it protect my boathouse and my bunkies?
A seasonal home insurance policy will typically include some coverage for other buildings on the property. The amount of this coverage varies between insurance providers and individual policies, though. It’s wise to discuss the value of all of your outbuildings with your insurance provider, making sure that everything is actually covered for a reasonable price.
Does it cover my boats?
While most seasonal home insurance policies will include coverage for a canoe or rowboat, anything larger than that becomes more complicated to insure. You’d need dedicated boat insurance for that. Boats can’t be covered as special, scheduled property because they’re subject to specific dangers outside of the cottage structure itself.
Your insurance advisor can help you determine how best to protect your motor and sailboats, but they may require add-ons or independent policies.
Owning a cottage can be magical. Just be sure to cover yourself appropriately so that you can get the peace of mind it’s supposed to bring you. Cottage insurance in Ontario has a few extra lines of fine print that our brokers are happy to help decipher.
Re-evaluating your insurance policy? Start with a 3-minute home insurance quote right here.