Insurance for seasonal or secondary properties works differently than insurance for your primary home. This is because these properties are often occupied only on weekends, for weeks or months at a time. Seasonal properties are used primarily for recreation at certain times of the year or month. Secondary residences are typically used all year long.

How Is The Property Used?

Insurers consider:

  • how frequently a property is used
  • how often it is occupied
  • if it is rented.

Ideally, your recreational property can be listed on your home insurance as a secondary or seasonal location. You can also have property insurance as a separate, stand-alone policy.

Insuring Named Perils Only

Due to the risks associated with part-time occupation, recreational property insurance is generally provided on a named perils policy instead of a comprehensive or all risks policy.
Named perils policies cover specific risks such as fire, explosion or smoke damage. Coverage for certain risks, such as water damage or vandalism, may be more difficult or expensive to arrange, due to part-time occupancy. For example, if a water pipe bursts or if vandals break in while your property is vacant, damage is likely to be more severe because it could take longer for it to be discovered.

Common Exclusions

Common exclusions to secondary and seasonal home insurance policies include sewer backup and damage to, or loss of:

  • fences
  • food in a freezer
  • garden equipment
  • outdoor plants
  • trees and shrubs.

Remember, every policy has limits for watercraft. If you have  a boat at your seasonal or secondary residence, speak to your insurance representative to make sure you have adequate coverage. Even a “fixer-upper” of low value still requires third party liability coverage. This protects you if someone is hurt on your property or if you start a fire that accidently spreads to neighbouring properties.

3 Additional Coverages to Consider

  1. Contents. Some insurance packages automatically include contents up to a certain percentage of the dwelling limit. This applies to contents permanently kept at the vacation home. Anything you take back and forth (such as clothing) is covered by your primary home insurance policy. If inadequate, you can buy additional coverage.
  2. Detached private structures. Some insurance packages include limited coverage for outbuildings such as boathouses, garages or sheds. This is generally a percentage of the dwelling limit. If inadequate, you can buy additional coverage.
  3. Replacement cost. This covers the cost of repairing an item or replacing it with a new one, without any deduction for depreciation.

Contact your insurance representative for more information about your options.

Sources: Insurance Bureau of Canada