Ice houses have come a long way in the last few years. Many of us hardy Northerners have invested in fish houses which are becoming more and more like full-amenity camping trailers, with the added bonuses of being much better heated and insulated and being able to be lowered onto the ice. We now have a manufacturer right here in Bemidji cranking out these units fast as they can.
First of all, is there a legal requirement to carry insurance coverage on an ice house? The state of Minnesota requires you to carry Liability coverage while on public roads. The good news is that for a trailer, your Minnesota Personal Auto policy will extend Liability coverage from the vehicle pulling the trailer. (Note that coverage might work differently on a commercial auto policy.) But as long as your pickup is covered under your Minnesota Personal Auto policy, whatever it is hauling is covered for Liability. So if you backup into something with the trailer or swing to wide and hit another vehicle, the resulting property damage will be covered by the policy covering your vehicle pulling it.
However, this does not mean that any damage to the fish house from such a collision will also be covered by your Auto insurance policy. Unless you add the fish house as a trailer to your policy for additional premium, your Personal Auto insurance won't cover any damage to it, even if it is being pulled by a covered vehicle at the time the damage occurs. Homeowners policies do usually provide some coverage for trailers, but this is usually limited to one or two thousand dollars - not nearly enough for newer fish houses - many of which are worth $10,000 to $25,000 new.
So how should you go about insuring your investment? You have a couple options.
As mentioned above, you may be able to add the fish house as a trailer to your Auto policy. This will typically give you coverage for physical damage, theft or falling through the ice. However, coverage will usually be limited to the current depreciated value (or the value you stated, whichever is less). Also, if someone breaks into your ice house and steals personal property, most Auto policies won't cover the personal property loss - only the damage to fish house itself.
Keep in mind that in the event of a break-in, you may be able to file a claim on your Homeowners policy for the items stolen from your ice house, but this would mean absorbing both your fish house deductible and your Homeowners deductible -which is usually $1000 or even more. Also, filing a theft claim on your Homeowners policy usually leads to increased rates going forward.
To get better, more well-rounded coverage, we recommend considering a specialized RV policy to insure your fish house. Not only can you get coverage for its contents, but if it is brand new you may be able to secure Total Loss Replacement coverage - which would pay for a new unit in the event of a total loss within the first few years (instead of just paying the current depreciated value). You may also be able to add Roadside Assistance and other coverage features as well.
What questions do you have about insuring your fish house? Send us a message and let us know.
Ken Cobb is owner of Pine Country Insurance and has been active in the insurance industry for over 15 years. Meet Ken.
Coverage descriptions found in this blog are summaries provided for general educational purposes and cannot fully detail the terms, conditions, limitations or exclusions of a specific insurance policy. Please read your policy carefully.