6 questions to ask before purchasing cottage insurance

Your cottage is more than a second home. It’s the space where you create memories, celebrate long weekends, and seek refuge when life becomes a little too fast-paced. And since the upkeep of a cottage requires time, energy, and money, at the end of the day you want to make sure that your investment is well protected. 

That means asking the right questions and ensuring that your property—and everything that goes along with it—is properly covered in case of an emergency or disaster. Here’s what to ask when you’re purchasing or upgrading your policy.

Are cottage toys covered?

Just because you store your boat or ATVs at the cottage doesn’t mean they’re a part of your coverage plan. When sitting down with any potential insurer, come prepared with a list of all of your essential toys you plan on keeping or using, from trampolines and inflatable docks to kayaks and paddleboards. Not only do you want to know if they’re covered, but it’s important to find out what the deductible will be and whether there are limitations. 

It’s also a good idea to call your current company any time you make a big purchase to see whether you can add to your coverage, or if there are any bundling options that will help you put together a more affordable plan.

Will you have legal liability for guests?

Hosting family and friends at the cottage is almost an obligation—if you have a beautiful property that you’re proud of and love, of course you want to share it. That’s why it’s important to protect yourself with  legal liability coverage. It sounds slightly ominous, but it’s meant to help you out in the event that someone is hurt on your property or in case you cause damage to your neighbours’ property. Accidents happen, so it’s a good idea to ask whether you’re covered.

Is there a benefit to adding onto home insurance?

Just like it often makes sense to bundle car and home insurance, sometimes bundling cottage insurance into your existing policies can save you a few bucks. Some companies insist you have home insurance with them first, while others specialize in cottage coverage. Sometimes one can offer bigger benefits at a better cost, but it’s worth shopping around to get the best customized deal for you and your situation.  

Is coverage affected by remote locations (e.g., island access) after damage?

Owning an island cottage is the reclusive vacationer’s dream, but it comes with a few complications—especially for insurance. If things go awry, it can be costly to transport materials and labour to your location to fix the problem, and in the case of a fire it’s harder for emergency services to respond in a timely manner. Because of those concerns, it’s important to be up front with any potential providers that your space is on an island, and to know how your fees will be affected by that so that you’re properly protected in a worst-case scenario.

What if I choose to rent out my cottage?

If you’re not using your cottage full-time or you’ve decided to make extra money by renting it out, it’s important to check with your current or future insurance provider to see if your policy allows for renters. Having an accident happen under the careless eye of a renter only to find out later that your company doesn’t cover it could be costly and frustrating. And while some policies do allow you to rent your space out, there are restrictions on the time period in which you’re allowed to do so. Make sure you have all your information before going with a policy or putting out that ad.

Are outbuildings covered?

Boathouses, detached garages, sheds, and bunkies are all important parts of your cottage. But because they aren’t a part of the main building, those structures aren’t automatically covered in some basic cottage insurance packages—and when they are, that coverage is limited. If you have structures on your property that you need insured, be sure to mention them and see what sort of coverage your provider can offer. And don’t forget to ask about any exclusions for things like damage from ice build-up or overland water. Those issues aren’t always included in a policy, so it’s good to know what you’re facing.

Want to ask specific questions about insuring your cottage? Learn more about your property’s insurance needs at