It’s been a beautiful summer for the lucky owners of cabins across the country’s remarkable landscape. These properties are valued escapes for entire families, often passed down from generation to generation. They are little slices of heaven where people can fully unwind and concentrate on what’s happening in the moment.
Whether your cabin is tucked away in the woods alongside a babbling brook, perched on a ski hill with a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains, or metres away from a cool, serene lake, you need seasonal property insurance.
The Onus is on You
Seasonal property insurance works the same as most property insurance policies, in that the onus is on you to do whatever you can to prevent loss or damage. So, if you fail to take care of your roof and one of Alberta’s famous hail storms rips it apart, your insurance company will probably not provide its full replacement value. The same thing could happen if food left in your cupboards causes a full-on rodent infestation in your cabin. Regular maintenance is imperative for the longevity of your property and for keeping your property insurance rates low.
Before you leave your cabin for the winter, remember that most insurance companies require that properties be checked regularly. Review your coverage details and ensure that if you are not able to stop by within the required amount of time, someone else responsible that you trust can make regular checks. If you fail to do so, and something like a slow water leak ends up causing mould, your insurance company has the right to refuse your claim.
Shutting Down Your Cabin for the Winter
In order to avoid a seasonal property insurance claim, create an annual checklist for yourself to cover all the steps of shutting down your property. Tasks to consider include:
- Setting your thermostat to the correct level to keep the inside dry and above freezing
- Changing the furnace filter
- Cleaning out gutters to avoid blockages and the potential of ice dams
- Safely storing and locking away all sports and outdoor equipment
- Remove all perishables and anything expired, store non-perishables in airtight containers
- Restock your emergency kit
- Unplug or shut off appliances. A major power surge, such as one cause by a lightning strike, can severely damage electronics. Only keep what you need plugged in, and if possible, shut of any unneeded breakers.
- Water heaters can be shut off or placed on vacation mode
- Winterize all landscaping equipment and anything gas-powered
- Disconnect your barbecue
- Test all exterior lights and install motion detectors
- Check all of your locks and windows before you leave
- Shut the doors to rooms
Water damage is by far the most common property insurance claim. Before leaving, it’s advisable to turn off the water to your entire property and run taps and flush toilets until empty. This will prevent water from freezing in your pipes and potentially causing damage when you turn your system back on again. If you have a septic tank, follow its recommended maintenance schedule closely.
It’s also highly recommended that all remote properties have a security system installed. Not only can security systems keep out thieves, they can also monitor the temperature of your home, help detect unwanted critters like mice, and be the first to alert local response units in case of a fire. In addition, security systems usually mean you pay a little less for your seasonal property insurance.
Replacement Cost vs: Actual Cash Value Insurance
For every property insurance policy, we recommend replacement cost insurance over actual cash value. The cost of home repairs and replacing items can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars, which is extremely difficult for most to access without having to take out an expensive loan or re-mortgage their home.
The premiums for replacement cost insurance are slightly more expensive, however it will ensure your claim will provide the funds necessary to restore your home and/or replace your lost items. This is how the two differ:
Actual cash value insurance is calculated by taking an item’s original purchase price and then factoring in any subsequent appreciation or depreciation. With actual cash value insurance, you would receive the amount it would cost to replace the item as is, meaning (in most cases) far less than what it would cost to replace new.
Replacement cost insurance will provide the amount you would have to spend to newly replace a damaged or stolen item.
We also advise to check on the special limits for your seasonal property insurance. Lots of people keep a number of high-value items at their cabin, ranging from sports equipment to old family heirlooms. These types of items commonly have “special limits” for the overall value placed on them. Jewelry is a common example. Policies often have a less-than-$5,000 special limit, which many find low.
All homeowners are responsible for the safety of everyone on their property. But, if an accident happens, you are covered by the liability aspect of your property insurance. Liability can be defined as “being responsible for consequences.” It can arise both from action, and from failure to take action. Liability that stems from failing to do something that you should have done is known as “negligence.”
So, if you fail to keep your dock in good shape and someone hurts themselves badly on an exposed nail, technically that is your fault. Or, if someone slips and falls down the rickety, old, and dangerous stairs up to your deck. An insurance company could find these types of accidents to have been preventable, and then the homeowner to be at fault.
Perform a Final Inspection and Take Photos
Refer to your yearly checklist and go through everything before you leave, and also take photos. These will be for your benefit if you have to make a claim. Also, carry out an annual home evaluation and keep your seasonal property insurance company apprised of any valuable purchases or value-adding renovation work.
Home Insurance in Calgary: Get the Lane’s Team Working for You
Lane’s Insurance is a leading Alberta-based brokerage. Choosing a broker is a wise move for consumers looking to protect their interests when dealing with insurance providers. Brokers work for you, not the insurance companies, and look out for their clients’ best interests
Lane’s Insurance offers a complete range of policies and coverage options for just about every imaginable situation. We are pleased to serve homeowners and residents throughout Alberta. Contact us at: