After this week’s humungous snowfall and a look at the forecast, sadly it seems like cabin season is most likely over. We’re hoping those who have plans to spend the Thanksgiving weekend at their recreational property can still enjoy their time with friends and family.
We’d like to provide a gentle reminder, however, that there are steps that need to be taken before you vacate your cabin until next year. Failure to do so could result in your cabin insurance not covering damages incurred. Keep in mind that most insurance companies will not provide protection for your recreational property unless they also insure your primary residence. You may have your cabin insured on a separate, standalone policy or listed on your home insurance as a secondary property.
Common Cabin Insurance Claims
The most common cabin insurance claims we see include:
- Wind damage caused by trees being knocked down and damaging the exterior and interior.
- Fire damage caused by faulty electrical outlets.
- Damage as the result of wood fireplaces not being properly extinguished.
- Sewer back-up claims due to defective or non-existent backflow valves.
- Wild animals gaining access to the cabin for shelter and/or searching for food.
And even though thunderstorm season is long over, lightning remains one of the most common cabin insurance claims. Electrical storms are extremely common in Alberta, with an average of 400,000 strikes. According to the Canada Safety Council, lightning flashes occur about every three seconds in the summer, with Canadian Underwriter tallying the total number of hits at somewhere between 2 and 2.5 million a year for the country as a whole.
Tips for Shutting Your Cabin Down
Tick these tasks off of your “to do” list before leaving your favourite property behind for the winter months.
- Have your septic tank inspected (or read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to inspect it yourself). It must be shut down correctly to avoid a bad surprise in the spring.
- Turn off your water and drain all your pipes to ensure they will not freeze and possibly burst. Turn on all your taps and run the water until dry, and then force the remaining water out using an air compressor. A professional best performs this job.
- Check your sump pump to make sure it is operational and will keep your property free of water.
- Closely inspect your roof for broken or missing shingles to stop snow build-up from causing leaks when it melts.
- Keep your gutters free of leaves and debris to prevent destructive ice dams and to allow melting snow to run off freely.
- Cover your chimney and check for any holes where birds and other animals may be able to gain entrance.
- Secure any valuable papers and electronics in a fire- and water-proof safe or lockbox.
- Unplug all electrical devices if you are not turning off your power supply entirely.
- Make sure to empty out freezers and refrigerators and remove perishables from cupboards
- If you have a furnace, turn it down to about 10º Celsius to prevent frost and ice from building up on windows, or else turn it off entirely (but only if you have drained your pipes first!). If you turn off your furnace, be sure to also turn off your natural gas supply as well.
Cabin Insurance Considerations
The experienced insurance brokers at Lane’s are here to answer your questions about all of your insurance policies. When purchasing or renewing your cabin insurance, we encourage you to take the following into consideration:
- How you use your cabin. Some may be lucky enough to have access to their recreational property for the entirety of the year, but for many Alberta cabin owners it’s not feasible to keep their second home operational during the winter. Insurers will take into consideration how often you use your property and whether you rent it out.
- Named perils. Because cabin owners are only there part time, insurance coverage is most commonly based on named perils. Your insurance will cover for instances such as fire, explosion or smoke damage that were above and beyond your control. An incidence such as water damage is not likely to be covered.
- Liability coverage. All cabin insurance policies will include a liability component to protect against damages incurred from someone being hurt on your property.
- Additional coverages. Be sure to include contents coverage for permanent furniture and appliances in your cabin. Detached structures such as sheds and garages should also be covered, and do not forget your recreational watercraft such as boats and sea-doos as well.
Get Great Advice and Low Rates at Lane’s Insurance
If you need insurance advice, or if you’re thinking about changing insurance providers, the knowledgeable brokers at Lane’s Insurance are a great resource. Lane’s is a full-service Alberta-based brokerage, offering competitive home insurance rates in Calgary. We work for you, not the insurance companies, and always offer excellent claims support and outstanding customer service. Contact us at our Calgary, Banff, Edmonton or Alberta offices for a fast, free quote.