Mackay Insurance Blog
14 Valuable Cottage Insurance Tips For a Successful Cottage Closing
Summer is quickly coming to a close - bringing a sad so-long to the heat and adventures of summer. And after spending as many long weekends and vacation days at the cottage as possible, it’s time to shore the docks.
As a cottage owner, you know the importance of closing down your cottage for the winter. And as insurance brokers, we have all the tips you need to get the job done right!
In this article, we have 14 valuable cottage insurance tips that will help you,
- Close your cottage down successfully.
- Limit the risk of unnecessary loss and damage over the winter season.
- Ensure your cottage insurance coverage is up to date.
Ready? Let’s get your Ontario cottage safely into hibernation mode!
1. Get your wood stoves and other heating systems checked.
Seasonal cottages usually have their heat source(s) shut down during the off-season.
This saves money on unnecessary heating costs and prevents your cottage heating from becoming a fire hazard.
So during your last visit to the cottage, be sure to shut off and clean your heating system - whether it's a fireplace, furnace or space heater!
You’ll also want to shut off/disconnect any gas lines and fuel supplies.
2. Turn off your main water supply.
Keeping your water on over the winter months is just asking for trouble.
Not only can this cause expensive water damage repairs. But it can also bring about mould and mildew growth!
If left unchecked, mould growth can even lead to:
- Floorboards caving in
- Ceiling collapses and
- Crumbling walls.
And none of these vulnerabilities is something your insurance company wants to risk.
So, as you're shutting your cottage down for the season, don’t forget to shut off your main water supply too!
3. Empty your pipes, water tanks and drain lines.
Standing water in your pipes, tanks and lines can lead to freezing and even bursting - causing extensive home and plumbing repairs.
To avoid this issue, remember to drain your:
- Water Tanks
- Drain Lines
- Appliances etc.
4. Turn off your electricity.
Since there is no heat or running water in your cottage during the winter, turning off your electricity is the next obvious step.
According to the ESA, there are four critical steps in powering down your cottage:
- Unplug all appliances before powering down.
- Turn off each breaker before flipping the main breaker switch. This protects your large appliances from experiencing a damaging power surge when powered back up in the spring.
- Store extension cords safely in a waterproof and rodent-proof location.
- Check for tree branches near powerlines on your property to prevent electrical damage and fire hazards).
Note: Before turning off your electricity, remember to empty your fridge and freezer of any perishable goods.
5. Inspect your roof.
A damaged roof increases the risk of leaks and cave-ins over winter. That’s why repairing your roof before winter arrives is so important!
Heavy snow and high gusts of wind can cause severe damage to your home - both internally and externally - if your roof is not secure.
When inspecting your roof, look for:
- Broken or missing shingles
- Mould growth
- Sagging areas
- Rusted nails
- Insect/Animal infestation
- Dark patches
And while you’re up there, don’t forget to clear your gutters!
6. Clear out your eavestroughs and downspouts
Rain water can’t drain properly from your roof with clogged eavestroughs and downspouts.
This water buildup can cause expensive water damage to your home, both internally and externally.
Before leaving your cottage for the winter, ensure your roof’s drainage system is fully intact and cleared out. This will prevent water from pooling in and leaking into your home.
7. Trim overhanging branches.
Trimming large, overhanging branches on your property is incredibly helpful for more than one reason.
We already mentioned how trimming branches near power lines help prevent electrical damage and fire hazards. But those aren’t the only trees you have to worry about.
Overhanging branches around your home, boathouse and sheds can also present a problem. That problem could be the branches themselves falling on these structures or even heavy snow and ice falling off them.
8. Ensure unwanted critters can’t get into your cottage.
Over the winter months, most critters are looking for a warm escape, shielded from heavy snowfall.
Unfortunately, your vacant cottage is the perfect hideaway for mice, racoons, squirrels and even bats.
And all of these creatures can wreak havoc on your home, its structural integrity, furniture and other valuables.
To keep your cabin guest-free over the winter, follow these steps:
- Keep wood piles far away from your cottage.
- Clear out your gutters.
- Reapply caulking around pipes, dryer vents and gas lines.
- Check window and door seals.
- Use steel wool to fill in small holes.
- Cover your chimney.
- Seal foods like oats, pancake mix and pet food (or, better yet, take them home with you).
- Set traps in and around your cottage.
9. Store your boat and other recreational vehicles safely away.
To keep your water-crafts safe over the winter, we recommend storing them in a secure location and investing in boat insurance.
Are you planning on storing your boat on your cottage property over the winter? If so, you’ll want to ensure it’s well protected from harsh weather, uninvited critters and robbery.
This is why boat insurance is so important!
10. Remove the doc from the water.
As water freezes and unfreezes, ice expands and contracts. And, since wooden docks soak up water, this expanding and contracting can cause breakages.
Removing your dock from the water ensures it doesn’t get ruined over the winter months.
Note: If you plan to keep your dock in the water over the winter with water agitators, don’t forget to post a sign on its location! Snowmobilers and skiers who use the frozen lakes for recreational use over the winter never expect docks to lie in their path. So labelling the location of your dock helps keep them safe.
11. Go over your current cottage insurance coverages.
Once you've packed up your cottage, it’s time to review your current cottage insurance plan.
This is especially important if the usage of your cottage has changed recently. Having up-to-date coverages that reflect your specific needs helps ensure that you,
a) Have the right protection, and
b) Are not overpaying for any unnecessary coverages.
12. Speak with your insurance broker about recent or upcoming cottage renovations.
Have you made any recent changes to your cottage lately? Or plan to?
If these renovations are not currently reflected in your policy, they aren't protected. This means that they are not reimbursable in the event of damage or loss.
Making sure your insurance company is aware of these changes ensures your property is fully protected. And that includes any recent, pricy upgrades!
13. Remove all valuables from your cottage property.
As you’re doing a final sweep of the cottage, make sure you pack up all valuables. That includes expensive equipment, recreational vehicles (i.e. kayaks), landscaping tools etc.
Removing your valuables from your vacant cottage helps prevent break-ins and theft.
14. Secure your cottage.
Lastly, secure your cottage as best you can!
Cottage security tips:
- Lock all doors.
- Lock all windows.
- Draw your curtains so people can’t see indoors.
- Store outdoor ladders and furniture away from your cottage.
- Install a gate at the front of the driveway.
- Ask a nearby neighbour to check in once in a while.
- Install security cameras and an alarm system.
Need An Updated Cottage Insurance Policy? Contact Mackay Insurance in Belleville and Napanee!
At Mackay Insurance, keeping your family and home as safe as possible is our number one goal. And that includes your home away from home!
Want more information on our cottage insurance packages? Whether looking for a new policy or upgrading your current coverages, your Mackay broker can help!
Is Boat Insurance Still Useful In Winter When It's In Storage?
It’s tempting to cancel your boat insurance in the off-season. But should you?
Now that summer is ending and you’re getting your boat ready for storage, it probably seems natural to cancel your insurance coverage. After all, why would you need your boat protected when it’s not even on the water?
While some consider winter boat insurance coverage to be an unnecessary expense, it’s quite the opposite.
During the summer, your boat is likely skimming across the Bay of Quinte, carrying multiple passengers. And while it’s on the water, it’s obvious how much of a risk it can become - whether that’s to you, the boat itself, your passengers or even other boats on the water.
In this case, this insurance coverage makes absolute sense.
But is boat insurance still useful in winter, when the boat is in storage?
It may not put other boats and passengers at risk while stored away, other factors can put it at risk - like theft, vandalism, fire etc.
In this article, our Mackay Insurance brokers discuss the value of winter boat insurance - keeping your investment as safe and protected as possible during the off-season.
What Does Boat Insurance Typically Cover?
Boat insurance typically covers two things - the boat itself and your liability in the event of an accident.
Let’s break down these coverages in more detail below:
Physical Boat Coverage
Boat insurance coverage protects the physical boat and attached/onboard boating equipment, such as the hull, boat motor, sails and engine.
This all-risk boat insurance covers physical risks such as:
- Weather-related perils,
- Theft and
If your boat is no longer useable (due to one of the above events), your insurance plan provides a loss settlement.
In an Agreed Value policy, insurance companies provide the agreed-upon amount in the policy. Physical depreciation is not factored into the agreed-upon value.
Actual Cash Value (ACV)
In an ACV policy, insurance companies reimburse the current market value. In this case, the insurance company does factor in physical depreciation.
Additional Boating Insurance Coverage:
Most insurance companies also offer additional boating insurance coverages. These are add-ons to your existing policy and offer further protection.
1. Personal Property Coverages
Extra insurance coverage that many boaters invest in is personal items coverage. This coverage protects personal belongings aboard your boats - such as clothing or fishing equipment.
2. Emergency Towing & Assistance Coverages
Emergency Towing & Assistance coverage reimburses you for costs associated with emergency services. This could include towing, fuel delivery or even emergency repairs.
What happens if you experience a boating accident and another party makes a claim against you?
In this situation, liability boat insurance is imperative.
It financially protects you, the boater, if you cause injury or damage to another person’s property or boat.
Note: Liability boating insurance is not required by law. However, it is highly recommended.
5 Reasons Why You Should Insure Your Boat In The Off-Season
Now that you know what boating insurance covers, let’s explore why it’s useful to keep this insurance over the winter months.
1. Theft and Vandalism
Although the in-water risks associated with boating are extensive, out-of-water risks to your boat exist too.
Over the winter months, you can store your boat in several different locations:
- On your property (i.e. in the garage or a boathouse).
- At a marine.
- In a storage facility.
But no matter where you choose to store it, your boat is still at risk of theft, damage and vandalism.
Anyone can steal the boat from your property, vandalize it at a public marine or damage it in a storage facility.
Thankfully, boat insurance covers these types of losses.
But if you do not have boat insurance, you are responsible for repairing/replacing your boat out-of-pocket.
2. Weather Damages
Your boat may have an off-season, but weather conditions are ongoing.
Even if your boat is safely stored away, weather damages can occur.
While your boat may not experience the same weather damages as it would on the water, there are others to consider.
For example, fire and flooding are two high-risk weather events that can cause extensive damage and loss. And without coverage, these damages and losses are your responsibility alone.
3. Homeowners Insurance Might Not Cover Your Boat
If you choose to store your boat on your property, does your home insurance policy cover it?
Yes and no.
Homeowners insurance can cover damages to your boat while it’s on your property, but these coverages have a strict limit.
Smaller watercraft, like canoes and kayaks, are typically covered in full. However, powerboats, pontoons and sailboats are not - leaving you to pay for most of the loss yourself.
4. Some Lenders and Storage Facilities Require Boat Insurance
Although boat insurance is not required by law, some lenders, marines and storage facilities do require it.
These parties are protecting themselves and their investments, just as you should!
5. Canceling or Pausing Your Coverage Could Cost You More In the Long Run
It may seem like cancelling your boat insurance during the winter can save you money. But this is not always the case.
Firstly, you could experience cancellation penalties if you exit your insurance plan before the end of your policy term.
Secondly, insurance companies typically prefer to ensure a boat that has already had insurance coverage in the past.
And thirdly, many insurance companies reward clients with a reduced deductible for each claim-free year. Cancelling your coverage plan would eradicate this reward.
Contact Mackay Insurance For Your All-Season Boat Insurance
Your boat is a major investment. Just like your home, trailer or car is! Keeping it protected, whether it’s in use or not, is invaluable.
Learn more about your Belleville Boat Insurance options from our Mackay Insurance Brokers today! You can reach our Belleville office at 613-966-5740 or our Napanee office at 613-354-2555. We also offer free boat insurance quotes online!