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September 2017

Cottage safety 101

Cottages are great for escaping the hustle and bustle, recharging your batteries with friends or family, getting back to nature, and enjoying peace and quiet, campfires and cozy duvets. But if you don't take steps to protect your cottage, it can also quickly become a source of stress if a break-in, accident or natural disaster occurs. Here are a few really easy things you can do to protect your summer retreat.

Risks while you're away

By definition, cottages are not lived in year round. Burglars are well aware of this, and major storms often seem to hit right after you've packed up and gone back to your regular life. How can you mitigate the risk of damage while away from your cottage? For starters, good neighbours can act as an excellent alarm system. Maintain a good relationship with your neighbours and ask them to stop by your cottage from time to time when you're not there. Always lock all the doors and windows and, if possible, don't leave any valuable items around that might look appealing to thieves.

Since cottages are often vacant, we recommend maintaining your property on a regular basis, especially when the seasons change. And since the neighbours won't always be able to keep a watchful eye on your cottage, have a home security system installed to detect fire and break-ins, and get it linked up to a remote monitoring centre. You can also get a water leak detection system that automatically shuts off the water supply if a leak is detected. Finally, be sure to "close down" your cottage whenever you're not going to be there: shut off the water supply, unplug all electronic devices and dispose of any ashes from the campfire or fireplace.

Insurance is a most

Cottage owners often forget to take out third-party liability insurance. But if anyone gets seriously injured on your property, or if you cause damage to someone else's property, liability insurance will save you a lot of stress.

Make sure to take out the right insurance specifically for your cottage. Having a good, honest chat with an insurance broker will help you get coverage tailored to your needs. But be careful: insurance for summer homes often covers less than for your primary residence, which could leave you with a nasty surprise if you ever need to make a claim. Your insurance broker can offer supplemental coverage to make sure your cottage is fully protected.

If you rent out your cottage to other people during the weeks you're not there, let your insurance company know so that they can tell you about any mandatory coverage for rentals. In addition to covering normal damages, some insurers also offer rental income protection to replace the money you won't be earning due to a covered loss event.

Expect to be asked a lot of questions by your broker or insurer, as cottages represent a big risk for them. Patience and transparency are your best bet here.

So, the more you do to protect your cottage, the more peace of mind you'll have. And after all, isn't having peace of mind the point of owning a cottage?

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