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Safeguard Yourself Against the Top 3 Risks to Your Cottage

Have you ever wondered what the greatest risk to your cottage or rural property is?

As we know with home insurance coverage, part of our job as a home owner is to take proper care of our house and property and do what we can to mitigate various risks, so that we can avoid having to make a home insurance claim and deal with the resultant increases in rates. { Check out all of our posts about home maintenance here}.

The same goes for a cottage owner. Insuring a cottage or recreational property is different from insuring a home or primary residence. There are various different considerations and factors at play. Regardless of the type of insurance coverage you have in place for your out-of-town getaway, there are steps you can take to address possible risks.

So as summer is winding down, and the cottage owners out there are thinking about closing up their recreational properties until next year, consider the following risks that are most common for cabins and cottages (according to this article from the Canadian Underwriter) and take the steps to keep your little slice of heaven secure and ready to welcome you back for your next visit.

Risk # 1 – Fire

Even though the top risk to your home and the number one cause for home insurance claims is water, with cottages, fire is still the greatest risk.

Why is that?

For one, rural properties often don’t have a fire department close by, or it’s farther than it normally would be in a city like Toronto. This means that when a fire does start, the damage is often greater as the timeliness of the response is affected. Every second counts when it comes to fire damage and the possibility of salvage.

Also, when you think about the surrounds to a cottage, we’re normally talking about wooded areas and lots of trees, brush and debris. If the fire is coming from the forest, it can then easily jump to cottages during its trajectory.

Mitigating fire risk

So what you can you do the address the risk of fire? Take a look around your property for highly flammable materials that could be removed – think dead trees, and other deadfall that could easily catch fire. Also take a look to see how close trees and plants are to your cottage itself. Consider some removal or pruning, especially of any that are touching or extremely close to the building.

Also take a look at other flammable materials around the property and their proximity to your cottage. Gardening supplies for example, or your firewood pile. Keep items such as this stored away from your cottage if possible.

And don’t forget your gutters! If they are full of dead leaves and other dead fall, that could spark a fire if an ember were to fall in the gutter.

Risk #2 – Water

While water might not be the most common reason for a cottage insurance claim, it still ranks up there as the 2nd highest cause of loss.

Of course, it’s not hard to imagine that proximity to lakes or rivers, or even a torrential rain fall, could post a risk to a cottage property. But the greatest risk in water with these out of town, rural escapes is the fact that they are not continuously inhabited. So a frozen pipe, or a leaky roof could go unnoticed for quite some time. Which will make the problem worse over time, as well as pose risks such as mold, rot and deterioration which would be less serious if caught quickly.

Mitigating water risk

Since you will not be at your cabin most likely during the winter months, it’s important that you address water concern adequately when you’re doing your seasonal shut down. Make sure that you shut down all water and that you drain all the pipes before you close up shop for the year. And if you haven’t dealt with your gutters yet as per point #1, clearing them out is important for water damage as well. Water backups and leaks can happen with clogged eavestroughs and downspouts.

And while you’re at it, just as with your home, the roof on your cottage is important to preventing water damage, especially important in the wet, cold and freezing days of the off season months. Keep your roof well maintained.

Risk #3 – Wind

The third highest cause of damage to cottages is wind, again exacerbated by the fact that cottages often go unoccupied. Wind can damage the roof or structure, or alternatively, the surrounding trees can get blown over onto your cottage and cause considerable damage. Falling trees can also cause damage beyond the cottage, such as damaging outbuildings or sheds.

Mitigating wind risk

As mentioned above, a roof in good repair is important so that it can withstand winds. If your cottage lies in a really wind-prone area, discuss this with the roofer as there are materials and installation techniques that can help make a roof even more wind-proof.

And as with fire risk, look carefully at the trees that surround your cottage and address any that are dead or otherwise look like they could pose a risk to the building.

While it might not be fun to think about chores as you are enjoying the last days of summer at your cottage, taking a bit of time to address what we discussed above will put your mind at ease in the knowing that you did what you could to keep your recreational property safe from the most common risks. And the good news is that a lot of the steps to take address various risks at once.

Resource referenced for this post:

Canadian Underwriter – Top 3 ways Mother Nature can ruin your cottage

If you’re interested in some general information about cottage insurance, this page from the Insurance Bureau of Canada offers a helpful overview.

And here are a few posts that you might find helpful on cottage maintenance:

Cottage Maintenance Tips to Make Your Property Last – Zoocasa

Security & Maintenance Tips for Looking After a Vacant Cottage or Home – Budget Propane

Have any questions about cottage insurance or coverage for a rural/recreational property? Reach out to someone from our team here. Or click here to access our 24/7 online home insurance quote tool.

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