If you are lucky enough to have a holiday home, you have probably found already that holiday home insurance is more difficult and expensive than normal home insurance. Of course this is because a holiday home carries greater risks than a normal home, and so insurers are more wary.
Obviously it’s essential to take out holiday home insurance. But if at the same time you can find ways of managing and reducing the risks, you will pay less for your insurance as well as having more peace of mind.
So here are some suggestions for managing the risks.
• Keep the property looking tidy at all times, whether there is anybody there or not. Prevent build-up of rubbish which betrays the fact that the house is empty. If you can’t prevent people from sticking circulars through the letter-box, get someone to remove them on a regular basis. A friendly neighbour may help, or you may employ someone to come in and clean occasionally.
• Ensure the pipes are well lagged, as well as water tanks and cisterns if there are any. If your holiday home is left unoccupied for any length of time, especially in winter, you need to make absolutely sure that the water in the system doesn’t get frozen and cause a burst.
• Keep checking the roof, or get someone you trust to do it for you. A roof is always a problem as you can’t see all of it, and you are vulnerable to cowboys who will try to tell you that you need expensive work doing. However, just one or two loose slates or tiles, crumbling pointing, or wear and tear on a flat roof, can result in water entry, especially during a very wet spell. This can cause major internal damage if not noticed for a long period. The holiday home insurance may not cover the roof repair, as it counts as maintenance, but it may cover the internal damage if your policy covers accidental damage. However, if the damage got worse because it went unnoticed for a long period, they may use this as a reason to refuse to pay.
• Many holiday home insurance providers demand that you drain down the water system and/or switch off the electrics at the mains, if the house is unoccupied for any length of time. However if you don’t wish to do this, check the policy before taking it out to make sure it isn’t a requirement. If you switch off the electrics, the place will look dark and silent, which will be an invitation to burglars. It’s a good idea to have lights and music on timer switches, making the place look occupied. In addition, keeping the heating system on, with a thermostat, can keep the place warm and be better for the fabric of the building.
• Climate change has meant that a lot of areas of the UK are at risk of floods, which formerly were not. Keep abreast of flood risk areas through the Environment Agency web site. If there is any possibility of flooding in the vicinity of your holiday home, you should keep your holiday home insurance company informed. They may increase your premium but that is a lot better than not being insured. And of course, be aware of any local instructions for protecting your property against flood.
These are just a few risk management techniques that you can use to make your holiday home safer and your holiday home insurance premiums lower. You may be able to think of some more! The more you reduce the risk, the more you can enjoy the experience of having a holiday home.