Buying a recreational property is a big purchase decision. There are considerations around price, taxes, location and accessibility, but protecting your slice of paradise is also a priority. Buying insurance for your cabin, cottage or chalet can be expensive and in fact, the more isolated your idyllic patch is, the higher rates could be.

If that’s a determining factor in your purchase decision or if you are thinking of ways to keep the insurance costs down, here are the main considerations that could influence your insurance bill. Amar Sodi, National Manager of Residential Appraisals, TD Insurance, offers these ideas to think about.

Distance from emergency services

You will get the best rates if there is a fire department within eight kilometres of your property and there’s a fire hydrant within 300 metres. The further away you are from these services, the higher the rates. If you are isolated but want to bring rates down, consider installing a sprinkler system, your own fire hydrant or alternate water supply for emergency services on your property. Costs start at $10,000 and can typically go up to $60,000, but can be much higher depending on site conditions. If you have a multi-million dollar property, it may be worth it. You may also want to thin the woodland on your property into a defensive fire perimeter if you are in an area at risk of a forest fire. If you are intent on these kinds of improvements, work with your local fire department and insurance company before implementing any enhancements.

Occupancy

You may pay a higher premium if there is no proof of occupancy. In such cases, consider using a caretaker or property management team to check on the cabin and to ensure snow is cleared in the winter so that emergency vehicles can get to your place.

Actual cash value vs. replacement cost insurance

"Actual cash value insurance" takes into consideration depreciation and may only cover the value of the structure at the time it was destroyed — and it may not cover the costs of building a new structure. You may pay more for "replacement cost insurance" but it will cover the costs of replacing the structure.

Additional structures

Recreational properties often come with other buildings such as bunk houses, tool sheds and saunas. These may be covered with your property insurance or you may wish to insure them separately. Some boat houses with bedrooms on the second floor are the wonders of Canadian architecture, but ensure you know how these secondary buildings are covered.

DON SUTTON

MONEYTALK LIFE