From January to mid-March, Lake Nipissing and other North Bay area lakes are home to many ice fishing huts. Ice fishing is a huge part of the North Bay experience, with many area residents taking part in the popular activity, trying to catch some walleye or a pile of perch. Tourists and North Bay residents alike use ice fishing as an excuse to socialize, waiting for their tip-ups to signal that a fish is on the line. But in the middle of all of this fun, there are some insurance considerations you should be aware of during ice fishing season.
Ice Fishing, Insurance and Your Vehicle
If your vehicle, including your snowmobile, ATV or truck go through the ice, you have to carry comprehensive coverage for it to be covered. This is the same type of insurance that offers coverage for wildlife collisions. If you aren’t sure if you have comprehensive on your auto policy, contact your broker to find out. If you are using your snowmobile or ATV to get out to your hut or on the ice, contact your broker to make sure you’ve got the right coverage on that particular vehicle.
Coverage on your hut and gear
While your ice hut isn’t considered a dwelling for insurance purposes, your homeowners/renters/condo insurance still covers you for personal liability for any potential incidents, unless they happen in or on your vehicle, in which case the liability on your vehicle policy will cover it. Your ice hut and fishing gear is considered to be personal property and is covered within your personal property limits on your homeowners, tenants or condo insurance policy. If you rent and don’t yet have tenants insurance, ownership of an ice hut is another good reason to consider it for both the contents insurance and the liability coverage.
Some basic condominium and tenants insurance policies don’t have high personal property limits; if you have a very basic plan and want to know if you need to add additional coverage for your ice hut, contact your broker.
Going Pro? Get Commercial Coverage
If you are considering starting an ice fishing operation, make sure you get insurance from a local broker who understands local conditions and the business. Kennedy Insurance commercial brokers understand the challenges faces by tourism operators and already insure a number of similar local businesses. If you are running a commercial operation, there are significant liability concerns as well as other risks that you need to be covered for.
Don’t play chicken with the weather
Play it safe with your vehicles and your ice hut by having your hut off the ice before Fisheries Management Zone deadlines for your area. Lake Nipissing and Temagami are in FMZ 11, for which the deadline is March 31st. Don’t let the date be your only guide though – if you notice that the temperature is rising steadily throughout March, be sure to get your hut off the ice early. When you set your hut up, set it up on wooden blocks to make it easier to take off at the end of the season, when warmer temperatures could see it sinking into the ice.
If you are venturing out for the first time, talk to industry operators or friends who own ice huts to determine the safest spot to set up your hut. The area around the output for the waste treatment plant on the North Bay waterfront, for example, is notorious for having vehicles go through the ice, due to warmer outflows from the plant.