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Top 5 Cottage Insurance Claims – and how to avoid them!

April 12, 2021
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Daydreaming of dockside days? Considering finally purchasing your lakefront retreat? When it comes to seasonal properties there are maintenance projects that can help maintain peace of mind. Let’s run through the top five cottage property claims – and how you can prepare yourself to avoid them, so you can rest on lake time.

1. Fire (61%)
The only thing getting “lit” at the lake should be your fly water ski tricks. To prevent the flames from catching lets run through some quick tips for both indoors and out at the cottage. First and foremost – before starting a bonfire it is always good to check with your local area if a fire ban is in place at that time and if a burn permit is required before you get the s’mores out!

Be mindful of where you are storing firewood and combustible materials (like spare tanks of propane and gasoline). Keep the roof and gutters free of debris and keep some firefighting tools (hose, bucket of water/sand, shovels) nearby when starting your bonfire. Keep wood burning appliances clean and clear of flammable debris. Consider installing a lightning rod system to prevent lightning fires. And, if anyone is smoking, ensure there’s a safe spot for them to put out their buts.

But both indoors and out, cooking is the leading cause of fires, unattended cooking at that. So, keep your cooktops clean and keep an eye on the grill (and the stove) when prepping your dockside feasts. As always, develop a fire escape plan, test your smoke alarms regularly, have fire extinguishers in key locations on the property, keep both the local emergency number and directions to the cottage handy should there be any unwanted sparks.

Oh, and if you are setting off your long weekend fireworks at the lake – ensure you light them in an open area, well away from people, buildings, and the forest.

2. Windstorm / Wind Damage (17%)
These days, extreme weather, from torrential rains to wild winds, are making what was extraordinary, kind of ordinary. Keeping an eye on the surrounding woods to trim back any trees beginning to rot to help prevent, or at least limit, the damage from the strong winds. Check in on your roof annually, ensuring you are not missing, and shingles and flashings are firmly in place.

And if you know a storm is coming in, store away items that could be blown and pushed around in heavy winds (ie umbrellas, lounge chairs and toys).

3. Sump Pump Failures (9%)
The most common cause for sump pump failure is an electrical power outage for which a backup generator is a great fix for a year-round property. But did you know there are battery water alarms? The alarm will notify you – either on your phone or just a loud beeping – so you have a heads up that there is a water issue. If you are away from your property, the notification to your phone is a simple way to stay in the know if a pipe bursts. Local hardware stores sell these kinds of alarms, and typically they are not very expensive.

The second most common cause is a clogged sump pump. A good (regular) cleaning and some quarterly maintenance can help prevent this. Installing a protective cover will prevent debris (and small animals) from causing a clog.

4. Burst Pipe (8%)
A pipe (or appliance) rupture comes in fourth place. So how do you avoid this flood all together? Keep water from freezing. Ensure you are clearing out water from outdoor pipes prior to the first frost. Shut off your water valves and drain excess water from the pipe. Cover interior pipes with insulation to keep them warm through the winter months. Ensure heating cables, when used, are well tied down to pipes that need any extra heat to stay warm. And remember, if pipes under the sink are on outdoor facing walls, open up the cabinets to allow the heat from the interior space flow under the sink as well.

If your cottage is open year-round, and you don’t turn off the water through the winter, it’s smart on the super frost days idea to keep one tap running on a slow drip to keep water moving through the pipes to prevent freezing

5. TIMBER!!! Falling Objects (5%)
Which are often trees or parts of them. Best way to prevent heavy branches falling on your property? Trim them. Stay on top of your maintenance especially before the heavy snowfall season weighs branches down further.

Our top tip, connect with your broker when taking these preventative measures. If you are taking some of the precautions above, you may be eligible for discounts. Take a moment to talk to your broker and understand how investments in prevention measures like these can impact your premium – in a good way!

Getting the right coverage for your needs starts with trust. Trust you have the coverage and protection you need should a day come that you need to access it. Working with the right insurance broker ensures you have an advocate on your side keeping you protected. At Gifford Carr Insurance Group, we are on your team. We are here to be your insurance advocates and protect your best interests. Find a broker you can turn to with your news so they can advocate on your behalf and ensure you have the best protection for your lifestyle – and the coverage and protection you need – for when you need it.

Connect with a Gifford Carr broker today to learn more: hello@giffordcarr.ca


*Top claim statistics provided by our partners at The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group

Learn more about Recreational Insurance solutions with Gifford Carr Insurance Group.


Questions about Cottage Life?

Tune in to our recent chat with experts in Real Estate, Finance and Insurance answering your questions on seasonal properties.

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