Avoid These Cottage Insurance Nightmares


Burst pipes? Critter damage? Fallen tree? ... Are you sure you know what your cottage insurance covers? Paige Carey of Vasey Insurance Brokers Ltd. and the team at Dawson Insurance Brokers Ltd. tell us their most out-of-the-ordinary claims, most surprisingly common cottage claims, and what you should do about it.

Here's what we asked them: 

  1. What are the most common claims you see in Haliburton County?
  2. What are the most unexpected situations/claims you have come across?
  3. What things you would advise people to take into consideration when insuring their property in Haliburton county?

According to the team at Dawson Insurance Brokers Ltd., the most common claims they experience in Haliburton are: 
Fire Damage - caused by electrical outlets, wood stove fires relating to poor maintenance to the stove and chimney. 
Windstorm Damage - causing trees to fall on dwellings resulting in direct damage to the building and the appliances inside. 

And the most unexpected claims?
Sewage back up - is very expensive to clean up after an occurrence.
Wild Animals - such as bears entering seasonal dwellings looking for food and damaging doors, windows and interior contents. 

The team at Dawson Insurance Brokers Ltd. give this advice for people to take into consideration when insuring their property in Haliburton County. Each insurance company has specific wordings due to vermin entering a dwelling or doing damage i.e. raccoons entering or moving into an attic. Some companies will cover this and others exclude this in their wordings.

They suggest having a review of the replacement construction cost of your home or cottage every 3-5 years. An Insurance policy does provide replacement value coverage providing you have insured your home to replacement value. Your Home or Cottage policy insured limit should be based on construction cost not Tax Assessment values or Real Estate valuations. They also suggest taking pictures or video of your property including interior contents and to keep an inventory of contents and approximate replacement value as your loss will need to be shown in detail to the Insurance Company Adjuster at time of loss. Dawson Insurance Brokers Ltd. welcome the opportunity to be of service throughout the year.


We asked Paige Carey and the team at Vasey Insurance Brokers Ltd., Haliburton to educate us on insuring a property in Haliburton County. The most common cause of destruction in our area surprised us - lightning.  The granite rock formations in our area apparently attract lightning, and buildings nearby suffer the wrath.  

Talking about anomalies, recently Vaseys processed a claim for a pool that was 'crushed like a pop can' this winter. The cause? An animal of some sort had torn the pool liner causing the water leak, and then froze. Another case of animal destruction was a racoon getting into a boat and causing $9000 in damage, a claim which the insurance company tried to deny - stating vermin were excluded from the policy.  The Vasey team went to bat for their client by approaching the local wildlife preserve for the definition of vermin and raccoons and ultimately getting the company to pay up for their client.



Every insurance company offers different types of policies and the cottage insurance policies they offer may vary depending on how you use your property. The following are some things you should consider when shopping for the right cottage insurance policy for you:

  • Will you be using your cottage year round or seasonally (for example May to October, and closing the cottage for the winter)? If you use your cottage year round you may qualify for better coverage than a seasonal cottage would. When a cottage is unoccupied for longer periods the risk of loss is higher (burst pipes are less likely to be discovered before doing extensive damage, fires are less likely to be put out, burglary risk increases, etc.) therefore certain coverages may not be included.  
  • Similarly, access to the cottage will be taken into consideration. How far is your cottage from the responding fire hall? Generally, distance from the fire hall impacts your premium. Can fire crews get to your cottage? For example, do you keep your driveway ploughed in the winter or is your cottage located on an island? Discounts may be available to you if you install a monitored fire/burglar alarm.
  • Will you be renting your cottage? You need to consider this when looking for insurance. There are many insurance companies that do not allow rental. Renting may also increase your premium. The increase can vary depending on how many weeks you will be renting your cottage.
  • Make sure you are aware of your options to add additional coverages you may not already be covered for such as theft or vandalism, coverage for any detached structures such as garages, boathouses or bunkies and also consider increasing your limit for contents if necessary. Other optional coverages to consider are earthquake and water damage.
  • Determining the rebuilding cost of your cottage. What you paid for the property is not the amount of coverage you need. For insurance purposes, you are only covering the value of the building itself, whereas the real estate value would take your land or lot into consideration as well.
  • Watercraft: In most cases you can add extra coverage for watercraft to your cottage policy for an additional premium. You should discuss the pros and cons of doing so with your insurance professional. For example, if you insure your watercraft on its own separate policy and someone steals your boat your claim would not affect your cottage insurance policy in terms of your claims free discount.

Paige Carey and the team at Vasey Insurance Brokers Ltd. note that it is extremely important that you are aware of the coverages, exclusions and conditions you have under your policy to ensure you are properly covered. They always recommend you deal with a licensed Insurance Broker for all of your insurance needs. Insurance brokers can find the best company and policy for you, and are always there to explain your coverages to you.

Thank you to the teams at Vasey Insurance Brokers Ltd. and the team at Dawson Insurance Brokers Ltd. for their contributions to this article. 

Click here for more great articles from Team Haliburton Highlands RE/MAX. 

*Each office independently owned and operated.  An Aaron Berning Design  ©2016 Team Haliburton Highlands