Cottage Q&A: Insurance for lake ice damage

Published: February 26, 2021

An aerial shot of a frozen lake with docks and boathouses By lupmotion/Shutterstock

Do any insurance companies sell policies to cover lake ice damage to docks and boathouses?—Mark Boehmer, Lake of Bays, Ont.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I’ve never seen a policy that does,” says Bob Dixon of Mason Insurance Brokers in Welland, Ont. “It’s been an exclusion forever.”

We asked the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada and the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Neither knew of any companies that covered lake ice damage to docks and boathouses. Then again, “we don’t have a way to track what the different companies offer,” admits Pete Karageorgos with the IBC. (After a lot of digging, we heard of one carrier in B.C. who had just begun offering coverage for ice damage to clients with dwellings worth more than $750,000. So it’s not impossible to find a company. But it is time-consuming homework.)

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When it comes to docks and boathouses, policies often exclude all weather-related losses, says Bev Mitchell, a special risks/high value underwriter with Johnston Meier Insurance Agency in Maple Ridge, B.C. This includes damage from wind, storms, floods, freezing, thawing, the pressure of ice or snow, surface water, waves, tidal waves, and “water borne objects.” 

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Why? “Docks and boathouses are just too susceptible to damage,” says Mitchell. And with weather-related perils there’s “no ‘spread of risk,’ ” she says: the likelihood is high that many policyholders are going to need payouts at the same time. Cash-wise, that’s not a great situation for the insurance company.

This article was originally published in the June/July 2019 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

Do you have a question for Cottage Q&A? Send it to answers@cottagelife.com.

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