The construction, purchase or renovations are finally complete on your cottage. Your vision was realized and you can finally enjoy time with family and friends.
Your main cottage, your guest properties, bunkie, boathouse, and dock are what you have been dreaming of. But, before you can fully enjoy all that you worked so hard for, you’ll need insurance to protect it all.
Finding the right coverage to protect a multi-million-dollar property and all its valuables can be a daunting experience. Muskoka cottagers often face some frustrating expectations to protect their vacation properties, explains Ian Baxter, a co-owner of BST Prestige.
“Many insurance companies cannot substantiate the high values,” he explains. “Thus, we focus our efforts on placing coverage with insurance companies who are experts in the high-valued property space.”
“They will not balk at the limits. And although other insurance companies require insuring your cottage and your primary residence, some of our insuring partners who do specialize in this space do not expect you to insure your primary residence at the same time.”
He adds, however, that it is in your best interest to include your primary residence if feasible, as there can be many benefits in doing so.
“If you are happy with your primary residence provider, however they cannot offer the required coverage for your cottage or secondary vacation property due to the value, you may be forced to move your entire personal insurance portfolio to one company.”
This process can be especially challenging for Muskoka cottagers whose main residence is in the U.S. or overseas. Trying to get the same company to protect your extremely high-value cottage while also covering your home in another country is not an easy task.
“We have been able to find fully comprehensive vacation home coverage and policies with flexible primary residence requirements,” says Ted Currie, Vice President of the Commercial Insurance and Private Client Group at BST Prestige Insurance.
BST Prestige uses a common-sense and consultative approach to finding the right insurance policy for their valued clients.
A rather significant challenge they have come across is unreasonable requirements regarding monitored alarms at cottage properties. There are insurance companies who have a written rule requiring a monitored alarm on every building of your property, no matter the value. In many cases, this is indeed prudent to protect your interest and your investment. In others, having alarms installed at the boathouse which stays empty many months of the year is an unnecessary expense.
“We can provide policies which have flexibility with alarm requirements where they are needed,” says Ian.
Cottagers helping cottagers
Ian and Ted use their first-hand knowledge to help write custom policies for properties and businesses in the region. After all, Muskoka cottagers’ insurance needs do not fit into a one-size-fits-all template.
Long-time insurance professionals, they started focusing on cottage insurance after helping a friend with his policy. Other cottagers heard about the service through word-of-mouth, and BST Prestige has grown from there.
“As cottagers ourselves, we understand the challenges cottagers face,” says Ian. “Your cottage, your boathouse, your property have each been customized to meet your desires; and we know you need a custom policy to protect it all.”
BST Prestige, a division of BST Insurance Brokers Limited, exclusively handles high-net-worth clients and their valuables. They provide a level of service and knowledge needed to properly navigate the landscape.
“There are many factors which come into play when finding insurance for vacation homes, not the least of which is the immense values of many properties,” explains Ted. “It’s not just about premiums, it’s about the ability to get the high levels of coverage people need to protect their valuables.”
Finding an insurer to take on a high-risk, large value policy can be a challenge. BST Prestige recently managed to source coverage for an island property with a total insured value of $19 million.
With properties like this, most insurance companies wouldn’t take the risk, says Ian. The value of the property is one consideration, but a major factor that insurance companies look at is the lack of access emergency services have to an island property.
BST Prestige still managed to source a policy for this island for the full value. Ted says it’s a matter of due diligence and going the extra mile for their clients.
“To find the right coverage for each cottager, we go out and visit their property,” he says. “This is people’s life’s passion, so it’s really important for them to have proper protection. Taking stock of everything you’ve worked hard to achieve is how we can find the ideal solution for you.”
Not only buildings
What some may initially overlook is something the BST Prestige team takes very seriously: protecting your valuables as well as your property.
In addition to their high value Muskoka properties, cottagers often have watercraft in need of the right coverage. BST Prestige has a variety of watercraft solutions for their clients as well. Boating is more than an activity in Muskoka: for many it’s a passion bordering on obsession. This is especially true for those who are collectors of wooden boats.
There have been a number of classic boat enthusiasts who haven’t been able to get their watercraft insured and on the water.
“Some models are irreplaceable,” says Ted. “It’s difficult to put an accurate value on them, which then translates into challenges when finding insurance.”
BST Prestige can help them find a policy that fits all their needs.
“We realize we have this wonderful opportunity to help fellow cottagers get the right insurance for their needs,” says Ian. “We know the challenges you face because we’ve faced them too.”
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN