Cautionary closing stories from inside the world of claims

Find out what to advise your Lifestyle customers to do (and not do) as they close up for the coming winter.

‘Tis the season to start thinking about closing up summer vehicles and homes. Two of our Lifestyle claims experts share some cautionary tales and information you can share with your customers as they shut things down for the season.


Most boaters are aware of how important it is to properly winterize their boats to avoid damage over the frigid months. But Shawn McKone, a senior manager/technical lead in Aviva’s Lifestyle Specialty Claims team says the way you maintain your boat is equally critical.

“We had a claim last year where an insured found fuel pooling outside the boat. When attempting to clean it up, he used a wet/dry shop vac that set off a spark. The boat went up in flames,” he said.

“The good news is that he wasn’t injured but the bad news is that the boat was a total loss. The moral of the story is that, while there is work people can do themselves, they still need to be careful and take precautions.”

Blair McGregor, Aviva’s Western Lifestyle claims team leader, adds that it’s not uncommon for some boaters to miss a step or two during the winterization process. “When you leave things undone, you can end up with freezing damage. It’s usually best to get a professional to do the winterization.”

Storage is also an important consideration. McGregor points to the insured who didn’t winterize his boat because he kept his boat in a heated shop. When the shop lost heat last winter, the boat’s motor was damaged.

It may be helpful to remind winterization DIYers that if they miss something, such as not properly draining the engine and preparing it for winter, the engine may freeze and crack – and insurance won’t generally cover that kind of preventable damage.


Inexperienced RVers often run into trouble by not properly weatherizing their units for winter.

Water damage from faulty seals is a common – and avoidable – claim. “Seals on the roof of the unit should be redone every year to address deterioration and cracking. This is often the reason for severe water damage which could end up as a total loss. Insurance doesn’t cover that,” said McKone.

Slide-outs are another common issue for RVers, particularly for people who keep their trailer in one place. “We often see [water damage] claims from units that have had their slides left out all the time. They’re not meant to be out in the open weather 365 days a year – they can collect water and debris. Water can get inside and cause damage that wouldn’t be covered. Slides shouldn’t be left out for more than the time that a person is at the trailer,” said McGregor.

He recommends that brokers advise their first-year owners to perform seal (and other) maintenance, drawing attention to the fact that if they don’t do it, the insurance policy won’t cover damages.


“When it comes to cottages, one big problem we see is related to what people like most about cottages: trees,” said McKone.

One of the consequences of having a property in a heavily forested area is that wind and other storms can push trees over onto the cottage and cause damage as well as more easily allow for the spread of forest fires. 

“It’s really important that cottage owners pay attention to the trees around the property and ensure that they’re in good health and are pruned back away from the building. The good news is that generally trees falling on a structure are covered under insurance policies, but most people would want to avoid having to deal with damage and an insurance claim and deductible.”

As your customers begin preparing for winter, consider sharing these cautionary closing tales to help them make safe decisions.

If you have any questions, please contact your Broker Operations Specialist or your Broker Relationship Manager.

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