Vacation Property Insurance: Is Your Vacation Home Properly Insured?

It’s time! Summer days are ahead and the weather is finally warm enough to dig out your bathing suit, blow up your beach toys, and head to the summer cottage on the lake. If you own a vacation property in Alberta or anywhere else in Canada or North America, you’ll want to make sure your vacation paradise is protected, including all the fun stuff you store there. 

Vacation property insurance can be highly confusing for owners. There are a few types, and a lot of the policies depend on your specific circumstances. When you’re shopping for vacation property insurance, you’ll want to shop with a professional broker who can source the best options from a wide range of insurance companies in Canada. It’s important to get solid information about the types of coverage available so you are fully protected in case of any major incidents – especially while you’re away from your property.

Regular Home Insurance Does Not Cover Vacation Homes

The first thing to know about vacation property insurance (also commonly referred to as cottage insurance) is that it isn’t covered under your regular home insurance. Depending on the circumstances, it may be added to your homeowners policy, or it could be written as a standalone policy (more on that below).

Vacation home insurance can actually cover a range of properties and buildings, from cottages to lakeside/summer residences to ski chalets to cabins. Basically, if you own a property you only visit a few times a year, it would most likely qualify as a vacation home. 

Of course, insurance for this major asset is essential, but you won’t want to pay for a full home insurance policy (and, as mentioned, your current home insurance policy for your primary residence won’t cover this additional location).

Seasonal, Secondary & Rental Property Insurance: Which Do You Need?

There are several types of vacation property insurance. The type of policy you need depends on several factors, such as how often and for how long the home is vacant. Let’s explore the three main types of insurance for vacation homes. 

Secondary home insurance typically applies to homes that are occupied regularly by the owner – at least once every 60 days. 

Meanwhile, seasonal properties are those that are typically only used for one season out of the year (for example, a ski chalet that’s only used in winter or a lakefront cottage only used in summer).

Rental properties are those that are rented for at least part of the year. For example, if you rent to students during the school year and use the property as a vacation home for the summer, you’ll need to disclose you’re renting to students and have rental insurance coverage. 

If you are renting through a short-term rental website like Airbnb, you’ll most likely need a specialty policy.

If you rent out part or all of your primary residence for certain periods of time while you’re away, you should also get in touch with your broker about a short-term rental policy, as this may not be covered under your standard homeowner’s policy.

Insurers typically add a seasonal, secondary, or rental residence to your primary home insurance policy instead of as a standalone policy. However this depends on the insurer and property type.

The best way to tell which type of insurance you need for your cottage or vacation home is by talking to your local insurance broker. We’ll be able to shop for policies and insurance rates on your behalf, all through our vetted insurance providers.

What Kind of Insurance Coverage Do You Need?

Similar to your home insurance policy, you can choose to protect your vacation home from different risks, including fire, theft, and vandalism. Your decisions may be impacted by the location of the property. For example, a policy for a home in British Columbia may include coverage for fires, since wildfires are a common occurrence. 

Characteristics Insurance Brokers Will Consider When Shopping for You

A lot of the questions your broker will ask you are the same you’d expect when you’re shopping for regular home insurance. However, there are a few distinct questions you might be asked by your Cornerstone broker, including:

  • Where is the property located?
  • How often do you use your vacation property or cottage?
  • Who uses the property other than you? 
  • Will there be someone monitoring and checking the property while you aren’t there? How often?
  • Are there outbuildings or detached structures like tool sheds or boat storage that also require coverage?
  • Are there fireplaces or wood stoves used for heating?
  • Is there year-round access to the site?
  • Are there appliances like hot tubs on site? How are they maintained while no one is at the property?

It’s important to note that if you rent out your vacation property when you’re not using it, you may need a different type of policy. 

Tips for Securing Your Vacation Home While You’re Away From It

When you’re away from your vacation home for extended periods of time, the risks increase significantly. For example, if a fire were to start, it might take longer for someone to discover, extending the amount of time it takes for the fire department to respond and increasing the level of damage to the property. Vacation properties may also be more vulnerable to crime and vandalism when no one is home.

There are several ways you can help lower risks while you’re away from your seasonal or secondary property: 

  • Keep a light on indoors and curtains closed so potential thieves don’t know you’re away (you can also leave a radio on at a low volume)
  • Have someone check and pick up the mail (for the same reason as above)
  • Have someone check on the property regularly
  • Turn off the water main before you leave the property to prevent flooding 
  • Maintain your sump pump in case of a flood
  • Secure all doors and windows before you leave

Request an Insurance Quote from Your Edmonton Insurance Brokers

If you want to learn more about insuring your home away from home, get in touch with your neighbours at Cornerstone Insurance Brokers today. We’d be happy to learn more about your escape and help you protect it so you and your family can enjoy it for years or decades to come.

Shopping around for insurance products for items other than vacation properties? We can also provide you with competitive quotes for life insurance, car insurance, and commercial insurance. Let us know what your current policy looks like and we’ll see if we can find you better coverage for a great price, completely risk-free and obligation-free.

We’re here for your insurance needs, whether you have properties, belongings, and businesses in Edmonton, or anywhere in Alberta. 

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