Weekly Hack: 4 ways to reduce insurance costs

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Want to reduce your cottage insurance costs? Good news: almost any upgrade that has the potential to prevent a claim from happening is a smart move in the eyes of plenty of insurers. Here are four strategies to use.

1) Winterize. That’s a win for you anyway—you get more time at the cottage, and it increases your retreat’s resale value. But it can also mean lowered premiums. “If clients upgrade their heating systems to a ‘central’ type—gas, propane, or electric baseboard—and insulate fully, the cottage becomes more of a four-season structure,” says Bob Dixon of Mason Insurance Brokers in Welland, Ont. Companies aren’t wild about buildings that sit unattended for long stretches of time; winterizing suggests that you’re more likely to visit in the winter, and, more frequently in general. “This would help ‘re-rate’ the underwriting and insurance pricing with some companies,” says Dixon.

Here are questions to ask yourself before winterizing your cottage.

2) Already have a four-season place? Visit more frequently. It doesn’t need to be every weekend, or for a particularly long vacay: “One of our companies will give better pricing if a cottage is entered once or more a month—the ‘30-day rule,’” says Dixon. It doesn’t even have to be you that does the visiting. Hiring a caretaker (or, more economically, asking a year-round neighbour) to regularly check on your place can also help reduce your premiums. Just make sure this caretaker keeps a careful and clear log of all their visits. “This is a must,” says Dixon. It’s proof, after the fact and in the event of a claim, that you were conforming to the rules of your policy.

3) Install tech that can mitigate damage from storms or other weather-related disasters. A hard-wired, back-up generator that can run off propane or natural gas during a power outage can help lower the rating price of a policy, says Dixon (not to mention decrease the chances that you’ll have to make a claim). Some companies may be in favour of sprinkler systems—to lessen fire damage—but Dixon warns that this can backfire. What if something accidentally sets it off? You could get a lot of water damage. Not good.

4) Get a monitored alarm system. This may be the smartest upgrade of all if you’re looking to lower your cottage insurance. Depending on how remote your cottage is, you could get discounts of up to 15 per cent. “A 24-hour, professionally monitored system is always the best protection to mitigate almost any loss,” says Dixon. These kinds of alarms can monitor for burglary, fire, or even temperature fluctuations, and get police or other emergency personnel on the scene asap.

Here are five reasons to monitor your cottage when you’re not there.

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