For many people, it’s a dream come true to own a holiday home. But you don’t want that dream to turn into a nightmare if something was to go wrong and you’ve failed to get adequate home insurance cover.
Nobody wants to think of the worst-case scenario, but being switched on to the risks surrounding your second home will provide you with peace of mind that you are covered in the event of something unexpected happening.
Regardless of whether you bought your holiday home for personal use, you let it out, or both, holiday home insurance is a worthwhile investment. Here’s why…
Why you need holiday home insurance
You might think that because your second home isn’t being used for every week of the year that holiday home insurance would offer poor value. But the very fact that you’re not living in the property all the time means it’s even more important that you seek cover.
If your second home is unoccupied for long periods of time, this could alert opportunist criminals, especially if there are valuables inside the property. For this reason, there is a higher risk of holiday homes being broken into.
There’s also a higher risk of your second home being damaged. Again, because it’s not being lived in permanently, small issues could manifest into something costly, for example if a frozen pipe was to burst during the winter causing water damage to the property and your belongings. By the time that you revisit the property and discover the problem, the damage has already been done.
For that reason, standard home insurance does not cover a property when it’s unoccupied for long periods of time; it only covers you while you are away on holiday, not when the property is empty and not your main residence.
Due to the increased risk associated with empty or occasionally-used holiday homes, you could find it difficult to get cover if the property is left dormant for more than 30 days at a time.
It’s perhaps more understandable why having holiday home insurance cover is so important if you rent your house out to guests. There’s an obvious risk of accidental damage which you need to protect yourself against. When people are on holiday, they aren’t always as careful as they are normally – they’re there to have a good time, after all.
What does holiday home insurance cover?
Most home insurance policies will cover you against accidental damage, as well as malicious damage and theft. However, if you rent out your holiday let, you’ll also need public liability and legal cover to be included in your policy, in case guests should ever make a claim against you.
The level of cover included in your policy depends on what you specify to the insurer. You can also get building and contents cover as part of your holiday home insurance policy, as opposed to taking out separate cover.
Many policies provide extra content cover for items that might be more common in a foreign holiday home, like: · Solar panels
· Hot tubs or Jacuzzis
· Golf carts and clubs
Speaking of holiday homes abroad, you’ll need to be clear and upfront with your chosen insurer if you require international holiday home insurance, for obvious reasons, declaring exactly where it is and what it is, e.g. a house, apartment or flat, cottage, chalet, villa etc.
Protecting your holiday home
As well as taking out cover for your holiday home, you should try to reduce the likelihood of having to claim on your policy by taking steps to keep your property safe and secure.
Depending on your insurer, you might be required to have a certain level of security in place before you’ll be considered for cover. For instance, many insurers will ask if your second home has locks which meet BS3621 standards on all external doors.
While not absolutely necessary for obtaining insurance cover, you might also want to consider installing alarms and CCTV cameras in your property – especially if it’s empty for long periods of time – to keep it more secure from burglary attempts.
When it comes to avoiding escape of water in your holiday home, the best way to guard against this is to ensure that the plumbing is watertight and that any pipes are insulated to stop them freezing. In an ideal world, you’d become friendly with a neighbour, who could check the property periodically when it is empty for signs of damage and leaks.
But if you’re unable to have someone check your property, you could add another layer of protection by installing a smart water-shutoff valve with built-in sensors that monitor water usage and detect leaks; alerting you when it shows there is an issue. However, you would still need somebody to go and physically look at the affected area in the property.
In the main, though, it just comes down to common sense. Hide valuable items away and out of sight where possible, or better still, take them with you. Carry out regular maintenance on your property. And whatever you do, don’t leave a spare key under the mat!
Finding the right holiday home cover for you
When you look at holiday home policies, you should ask yourself: 1. Does it cover the country your holiday home is located in?
2. Do you need extra contents insurance and, if so, are the items covered?
3. Do you intend to rent out the property? (This might require additional cover)
4. Have you done all you can to keep your holiday home safe and secure?
5: Do you need any additional insurance?
On that last question, you might want to consider unoccupied home insurance
, in addition to holiday home insurance, if you’re finding that your property is being left empty for long periods of time.
Also, if your property is of a high value, consider buying high net worth home insurance; or if your home has been flooded before or you know it is at risk of flooding in the future, you should look into getting home flood risk insurance.
First things first, get a no-obligation holiday home insurance