Vacation homes are where memories are made, however they can be expensive to protect and maintain. Checking in with your insurance broker and making a few small adjustments to see if there are ways to lower your cabin insurance costs is a smart way to tighten up your bottom line and make your time spent away even more enjoyable.
Consider sprinklers or your own water source
Cabin insurance can be costly because vacation home locations are often far from fire and emergency services, which insurers take into consideration when calculating your premium. Because it takes longer for help to arrive, damage is often worse when something happens. If your cabin is in an isolated area but you want to bring your insurance rates down, consider installing an interior sprinkler system if you have water service to your property. If you don’t have your own water supply, contact the appropriate municipal or county authorities about perhaps installing your own fire hydrant or bringing in water through an alternate source. Then, ensure to let your cabin insurance provider know when the upgrades have been made.
Thinning out trees near your property is also a good idea to protect from wildfires encroaching on your property.
Install a security system
Cabins can often be targets for thieves due to their remote locations and being left unoccupied for long bouts of time. Installing a security system can provide you more peace of mind when you are not at your cabin and may earn you a discount on your cabin insurance. If you have electricity and Wi-Fi at your cabin, there are several low-cost options available that will send you an alert and sound an alarm if someone is spotted on your property.
For those who choose to unplug from the internet when at their cabin, you can purchase an alarm that connects to nearby cell towers. If there isn’t a nearby cell tower, then you can install a cellular transmitter on your property.
Battery-powered security systems are also available if there is no electricity at your vacation home, although, of course, they will need to be checked and changed regularly.
Window locks, solar-powered trail cameras and motion-detector lights will also work to deter thieves away from your home-away-from-home.
Make sure you have sewer backup and flood coverages
Water damage is by far the most common property insurance claim. Extended water damage endorsements should include coverage for accidents such as groundwater entering your home through basement windows or the foundation, as well as sewer backups and sump pump overflows.
Sewer backup coverage is extremely important, as these incidents happen often and can be devastating. One way to avoid your sewer backing up is to have a backflow valve installed by a professional.
Renting your cabin out? Check your insurance
Lots of people enjoy a little extra income from renting out their vacation property, but if you do so, be sure to check your insurance. Any time you rent out your property for use by other parties, you are essentially becoming a landlord and you need to protect yourself like one. Depending on how much you will be renting out your cabin, you may want to consider switching to landlord insurance permanently or speaking to your broker about short-term landlord insurance.
The four most important protections you will need when renting out your property are:
- Liability protections for tenants, in case they suffer personal injuries during their stay.
- Property damage and property loss protections for any items you own that are available for tenants to use during their stay, for example, boats and sports and recreation equipment.
- Coverage for potential disasters, including fires, floods, and weather-related accidents.
- Protections from property damage or loss due to theft, vandalism, or tenant negligence.
Using a company such as Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO can helpfully take insurance worries away. When you sign up you are automatically provided host protection insurance, which includes liability coverage for up to $1 million in the event of a third-party claim for an injury or property damage while on your premises. They also provide host guarantee protection, which protects owners from damage to their home or possessions caused by a guest that is above and beyond the amount stipulated in the security deposit (or if there is no deposit in place).
Again, it is a good idea to reach out to your insurance broker regardless of what path you are considering for their advice and expertise. They can help make sure you are fully covered no matter what happens.
Lay down some boundaries for your renters
Ensure to leave your tenants a comprehensive list of instructions and rules. For example, many who choose to rent out their cabins do not allow tenants to use their boats or recreational vehicles to avoid having to purchase extra coverage.
Additional information to provide:
- The location of the first-aid kit (and be sure to keep it stocked!)
- Emergency phone numbers and addresses
- The location of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- The location of the fire extinguishers
- If they should be aware of any steep slopes, tripping hazards, and so on
- Where pets may go (or not go)
- Which sports and recreation equipment they are allowed to use and instructions
- The depth of the water and other tips about use of the lake/river/stream
- The presence of wildlife
- Wi-Fi and entertainment centre information
- What to expect from annoying insects such as mosquitoes and ticks and how to treat bites
- Interesting sites and activities
The above list is not comprehensive. There is lots of information you can share with your renters to ensure they have a safe and happy stay. Keep updating your document each time you receive a question or notice a potential liability. It will help protect you and your guests.
Enlist the services of an insurance broker
Insurance brokers such as us at Lane’s can access better cabin insurance rates than a regular agent because we are free to shop around to different providers. We have the experience necessary and are trained to select the correct policy for our customers. We are highly knowledgeable about the products we work with and the insurance industry as a whole, and can effectively cross-check different companies’ policies to be sure to tick off all of the boxes on your insurance to-do list.
Experienced brokers excel at educating customers, answering questions and explaining coverage, so you know you have the best insurance for you and your family. Contact us at our Calgary, Banff, Edmonton and greater Alberta offices to see what we can do for you.