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Temporary car shelters: 6 damage prevention tips

Published on November 21, 2018

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Did you know that poorly installed or maintained car shelters are more likely to become damaged and to cause damage to your property and that of your neighbours? The L'Unique General Insurance team has prepared a few tips on how to reduce the risk that your car shelter will become a source of concern... or the cause of a home insurance or auto insurance claim!

  1. Check to see if your municipality permits the installation of temporary car shelters and, if so, under what conditions. By complying with municipal bylaws, you are less likely to receive a fine, sustain damage or have problems with your neighbours.
  2. Anchor your car shelter firmly to the ground with the type of fasteners most appropriate to your situation. It’s important to use adequate anchors to ensure that your shelter is able to hold up in the worst winter weather.
    • If you don’t live in an area with gusts of high winds, or if the installation surface is gravel, asphalt or grass, you can go ahead and use the anchors provided by the shelter manufacturer.
    • If you live in a high wind area, or if the installation surface is a paved driveway, it’s recommended that you have permanent anchors installed, ideally by an expert, to ensure that your shelter is stable.
    • For maximum risk reduction, make your shelter extra secure by placing bags filled with water or sand on the bottom of the canvas, or by adding anti-wind straps.
    In any case, don’t rely on concrete blocks! Even though you can find them in most hardware stores, they are not suitable for securing a canvas shelter well enough to withstand winter gusts.
  3. Inspect your shelter regularly to ensure that the anchors, bolts and structure are still holding up.
  4. Heed storm or strong wind warnings issued by Environment Canada. If such weather is in the forecast, make sure all the car shelter’s flaps are firmly closed.
  5. Clear the snow from your shelter after each accumulation of snow or freezing rain to reduce the risks of collapse and premature wear. To remove the snow safely, you need to do it from outside the shelter, using a broom or roof shovel (T-shaped). For heavier accumulations, it’s recommended that you remove a small amount of snow at a time, by alternating sides, to minimize risk to the stability of your structure.
  6. When winter is finally over, inspect your shelter. Then, dismantle and store it properly to reduce the risk of unpleasant surprises next fall.
    • Before being dismantled, the canvas structure should be inspected. Look for any tears or gaps in the stitching. Certain car shelter manufacturers offer a repair service.
    • Make sure the canvas and structure are clean and dry when storing them. Put them in an area that is dry, ventilated and protected from the sun and elements.

If your shelter has sustained or caused damage, here’s what you need to know about insurance.

  • Damaged shelter
    The weight of snow or strong winds can cause significant damage to canvas shelters. Your home insurance should normally cover this type of damage.
  • Damage caused by your shelter to your vehicle
    If your shelter collapses, is stolen or causes damage to your vehicle, your auto insurance will cover the damage, if you have Section B coverage for this type of damage.
  • Damage caused by your shelter to other people
    Even if you adequately install and maintain your shelter, an uncontrollable event can cause bodily injury or property damage to another person. In such a case, that person will have to assume the resulting expenses or contact his or her insurance broker regarding compensation.

    However, if it is proven that the damage is due to negligence on your part (poor maintenance, non secure installation, non-compliance with the municipal bylaw), you could be held liable. The person who has sustained the damage could then sue you for compensation. If so, the civil liability insurance included with your home insurance would cover the expenses.

Your insurance broker is there to help you prevent losses. Feel free to contact him or her!

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