Tips for Opening your Cottage

Rent Cottage Insurance Ontario

Posted On April 15, 2023

Jeremy Matheson

Written by Jeremy Matheson

CAIB, CIP Sales Manager, New Hamburg
Spring is a time of renewal, and for many Ontarians, it’s also the time to open up their cottages for the season. Whether you’re a seasoned cottage owner or a first-time buyer, opening up your cottage can be an exciting, yet daunting task. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with some ideas on how to open your cottage in the spring.

For some, it is the start of many holiday weeks and weekends spent relaxing on the dock or beach. For others, it is the time that you can start to earn an addition income from your investment property.

Obtaining coverage through our Zehr Cottage PLUS Insurance program will accommodate for both.

Cottage country

Re-opening your cottage

When you open your cottage, it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure that your property is safe and ready for use after the winter months. Check out these tips when opening your cottage in the spring:

Inspect the exterior

Check for any damage to the roof, siding, windows, screens and foundation. Watch for signs of critters that may have entered your cottage during the winter months. Decks and sheds provide the perfect space for skunks and other animals to hang out.
Back in 2019, I arrived at our cottage to find that a family of skunks had taken up residence underneath the shed. Once the skunks left the property, we decided to dig out around the shed and installed steel mesh in an ‘L’ shape to prevent the skunks from returning to under the shed.
Check out this video for a description on how to keep those pesky vermin away from your shed.

Clear the yard

Remove any debris, fallen branches, or other hazards from the yard. Check for other hanging limbs and remove those as well. Make sure there are no hazards hanging on electrical wires. Be diligent in checking for tree branches that may have fallen but are still caught up in the trees, likely to come down in the next windstorm.

Check the plumbing

Turn on the water and check for any leaks or burst pipes. If you drained your pipes before winter, make sure to refill them and turn on the water heater. If you have a tank water heater, make sure the water heater is filled before you turn it back on. Turning the unit on prior to filling it could result in damage to your water heating system.

Check the electrical system

Test your electrical outlets, switches, and appliances. Look for any frayed wires or other damage. Double and triple check that all breakers and fuses are working properly. Mice and other vermin can work havoc on your electrical systems over the winter.



Clean the interior

Sweep, dust, and vacuum the floors, furniture, and fixtures. Wipe down and sanitize any countertops and appliances.

Inspect the chimney

Check for any damage or blockages in the chimney. If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, make sure it is cleaned and ready to use. It is usually recommended that solid fuel heating appliances and their chimneys be cleaned annually. Check with your local HVAC contractor.

Check the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) recommends that batteries should be replaced every six month to ensure they will always be working when needed. Although not six months, many people will use the start and end of daylight savings time as a reminder to make the switch. Test the detectors and be sure that they are not out of date, generally they have a ten year life span.

Check the septic system

If you have a septic system, make sure it is working properly and has been pumped if needed. A septic system should be pumped every three to five years in most cases, depending on the usage and number of people living at the property and its usage.

Prepare the boat and dock

Check the condition of the boat and dock and make any necessary repairs. If you removed them for the winter, reinstall and anchor them. Check all deck board for rot and any steel pieces for corrosion that may have occurred over the winter.

Stock up on supplies

Make sure you have enough food, water, toilet paper, paper towels, towels and other supplies for your stay at the cottage.

  • Cleaning supplies for the interior and exterior, bathroom and kitchen
  • Multiple sets of bedding and linens
  • Food and drinks
  • Tools – it is always hands to have a small tool kit available at the cottage, including a set of screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, pipe wrench, etc. for small repairs that might need to be done
  • Safety equipment (e.g., life jackets, fire extinguishers, etc.) – check for rips and tears in life jackets that may affect their functionality.

Get your insurance policy up to date!

Call your broker at Zehr and review your policy details. Always make sure you let your broker know of any changes or updates to the property, including whether it is being rented or not and what avenue you are using to rent it out. Reviewing your rebuilding limits, deductibles and coverage extensions is also an important part of your annul review.

Through our new partnership with the Ontario Cottage Rental Managers Association (OCRMA,, clients of the OCRMA will receive additional discounts on your insurance package (subject to certain restrictions).

By following these steps, you can ensure that your cottage is safe and ready for use in the spring.

Enjoy your time at the cottage!

Call Zehr Insurance brokers and see if we can help you with your insurance needs.

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