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FAQ: Insuring recreational vehicles and seasonal properties

With the weather heating up and summer vacation quickly approaching, you’re probably thinking more about trips to the cottage or camping trips in the RV rather than your insurance. 

However, summer activities that involve the use of recreational vehicles or seasonal properties often require specialized insurance coverage. It’s important to regularly review your insurance policies for these seasonal items with your broker so that you can be confident that you and your loved ones are protected. 

Below are a few frequently asked questions about insuring seasonal vehicles and properties.

What counts as a recreational vehicle?
This answer varies depending on the province or territory you live in. In Ontario, summer recreational vehicles include:

  • Boats

  • ATVs

  • RVs: motorhomes and travel/holiday trailers

  • Off road vehicles (ORVs), including off road motorcycles and dirt bikes

  • Personal watercrafts, such as Seadoos and Jet-Skis

Do I need to insure my recreational vehicle?
Whether or not a recreational vehicle needs to be insured is dependent on the type of vehicle and where you plan on using it:

  • Motorhomes– in Ontario, these vehicles are legally required to have insurance if driven on a road.

  • Travel/holiday trailers – if you want physical damage covered while pulling the trailer behind your vehicle or attached to your vehicle, physical damage coverage is required. 

  • ATVs and off-road vehicles, driven on private property – when driven strictly on private property that you own, these vehicles are not required to be plated or insured. However, it is strongly recommended that liability insurance is purchased in the event of unintentional property damage or bodily injury to others on private property. It is also important to confirm age restrictions and permit requirements for ATVs and off-road vehicles.

  • ATVs and off-road vehicles, driven off private property – in Ontario, when driven off private property (including across highways, where permitted), these vehicles must be plated and insured under a motor vehicle liability policy. As with ATVs and off-road vehicles purchased for private property use, it is important to confirm age restrictions and permit requirements.

  • Boats and personal watercraft vehicles – watercraft vehicles are not legally required to be insured in Ontario. However, liability insurance is highly recommended especially in the event of unintentional bodily injury or property damage to others. 
  • Kayaks and Canoes – these are not considered recreational vehicles and are often covered under your home insurance. Be sure to check with your insurance broker.

Aside from legal requirements, why should I insure my recreational vehicle?
Having insurance on your recreational vehicle helps to ensure the protection of your vehicle, yourself, your passengers and others. You’ll want to talk with your broker about how the following types of insurance coverage apply to you and your recreational vehicles*:

  • Liability insurance protects you in the event you are sued for unintentional bodily injury or property damage to others as a result of your ownership and use of the recreational vehicle. 

  • Collision insurance can protect the vehicle itself in the event of an accident. 

  • Comprehensive insurance protects for losses other than those covered by collision or upset, fire, theft, vandalism, falling or flying objects etc.

*Motorhomes and travel/holiday trailers insurance written with a specialty Leisure and Lifestyle Insurer may provide other coverage – speak with your broker.

How do I insure my recreational vehicle?
Not all insurance companies offer recreational vehicle insurance or cover them in the same way. It’s best to contact your insurance broker to discuss how owning a recreational vehicle might affect your insurance, as well as if recreational vehicles are covered under a standalone policy or can be added to or bundled with your existing insurance policy.

Can I include my seasonal property on my current home insurance policy?
This is dependent on your current policy and insurance provider. Oftentimes, it is possible to include your cottage or beach house on your home insurance policy as a seasonal or secondary location. Otherwise, you could insure your seasonal property as an entirely separate policy. Talk with your insurance broker about which option is best-suited to your insurance needs.

What unique considerations are factored into insuring a seasonal property versus a primary home?
There are many different considerations that have to be made when insuring your seasonal property. Some of the most common include:

  • Waterfront access/exposure

  • Inflated rebuild cost

  • Presence of a working fireplace or wood stove

  • Renting to third parties

  • Presence of outbuildings (e.g. boathouse, shed, detached cabin, etc.)

Why are seasonal properties often considered higher risk?

Any home is automatically considered to be at an increased risk when there is nobody there to monitor it. Due to their remote location and unoccupied premises, seasonal properties are often at a higher exposure to the following risks:

  • Storm damage

  • Burst pipes and extensive water damage

  • Flooding

  • Theft

  • Vandalism

  • Animal damage

  • Fire

If you own a recreational vehicle or seasonal property, or are planning on purchasing one, contact your OTIP broker today at 1-866-561-5559 to discuss your insurance options. Enjoy your summer knowing that you’re covered!


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