Canadian Underwriter

What separates cottage thefts from city thefts

August 19, 2021   by Canadian Underwriter

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With provinces across Canada lifting mobility restrictions, one survey by shows that 23% of Canadians are ready for a getaway — perhaps to the cabin near trees, beaches and the lake.

But some cottagers may be in for a rude welcome when they arrive, according to claims patterns observed by Aviva Canada.

“Where are those life jackets? I could have sworn I left them in the shed. And I don’t see the boat paddles anywhere.”

“Have you seen my watch? I left it in the dresser drawer…”

Excluding damage due to natural perils, such as fire, wind, and water, theft ranks the highest among the types of claims insurers see most often in wilderness settings.

And while Aviva Canada says thefts in cottage country aren’t any higher or lower than you would see in the big city, the patterns of theft are different.

For example, thefts in cottage country are “unique in the sense that cottages are unoccupied a lot of time,” says Shawn Mckone, a senior manager with specialty claims at Aviva Canada. “They tend to be attractive targets for thefts to happen.”

“Because a cottage tends to be unoccupied, or because it doesn’t look occupied, [thieves] tend to spend more time going through things. They will look for anything that has any value, and they will take their time. It’s not a quick five minutes, in-and-out, to steal a laptop.”

Before the pandemic, in urban areas, insurers would see a lot of break-ins occur because people were out at work during the day. It is a topic for discussion within the property and casualty insurance industry whether COVID-19 — which caused a majority of Canadians to work from home — indirectly contributed to fewer home insurance theft claims. The reason being that more residences in the city were occupied during the pandemic.

But out in the wilderness, you’re not likely to see a similar snatch-and-grab sort of theft. The window of opportunity to steal something is much longer than in an urban setting.

“It’s a bit more targeted,” McKone said of theft patterns in cottage country. “People can go out there and identify the places they want to break into. Fewer people are walking by, so there is more time for thieves to decide on an opportunity.”

To reduce the risk of theft, cottagers are advised to take extra precautions with their valuables.

“Obviously if something is not located at the cottage, it can’t be stolen,” McKone said. “If you have valuables, bring them back to your principal dwelling. You can also get security systems — things like alarms, motion sensors, light timers, and other things that make the place looked lived-in.

“And secure [valuables] better. Lock up things like toys. And if you have a lot of ATVs and motorbikes, and they are in visible places when people are around, that’s obviously a target if people are looking to steal something.”


The content in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional or expert advice.

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