Holiday home insurance is a specialised type of insurance. Not all insurance firms offer it and yet it is something you simply must have if you own a holiday home. Ordinary household insurance simply won’t do.
So why is holiday home insurance so different?
The reason is of course that there are a lot more risks attached to a holiday home, both because it is likely to be left unoccupied for longer, and because it may be occupied by all sorts of different people. If you are looking for holiday home insurance, the more you can be aware of the various risks involved and how you can minimise them, the better the deal you are likely to get.
So what kind of risks are we talking about?
• Theft and vandalism. It’s very difficult to disguise the fact that a property is empty for long periods. If you’re not near enough to check it regularly, you need to arrange for an agent or a friendly neighbour to clear away rubbish, flyers from the letter-box etc. The insurance company will expect you to fit effective locks to doors and windows, and timer switches for lights are a good idea.
• Water damage. There is always a greater risk of burst pipes and leaking roofs if a property is unoccupied during the winter months – and also, of course, of the damage going unnoticed for longer. What’s more, in recent years, the risk of flood damage has increased greatly, in areas that were not previously subject to flood risk. Some insurers insist that a holiday home is checked regularly –e.g. weekly – as a condition of cover. But even if they don’t, the more often you get it checked the better. Some also insist that the heating system is drained down for the winter. You must make sure you comply with conditions or you may find you’re not covered if something happens.
• Damage from other occupiers. If you are letting out your holiday home as a commercial venture, you need a different type of insurance. However, even if it’s mainly for your own use, you may want to let it out sometimes to help with the finances, or just let relatives and friends use it. Obviously, the more people that use your holiday home, the higher the risk in terms of damage and you must make sure your insurers agree.
• Public liability. Similarly, the more people that use your holiday home, the greater the risk of the people themselves incurring some sort of injury, for which you will be legally liable. Your holiday home insurance must always include public liability cover. It’s important for you to check regularly for anything that might possibly cause injury – rotten tree branches, loose roof tiles, uneven floorboards etc. It’s possible that an insurer could use the suggestion of negligence on your part to avoid paying out.
It’s not surprising that insurance firms are cautious about offering holiday home insurance and of course when they do, the premiums will be higher. What’s more, insurers vary enormously as to the level of restrictions they impose – maximum length of time unoccupied, frequency of checks etc. Be very careful when choosing your insurance company that you are aware of any restrictions and that you can comply with them. Your best plan is to use a broker who can help you find the best policy for your needs.