When insuring your holiday home, one thing you need to consider carefully is how you are going to manage your contents cover. What you almost certainly will not be able to do is insure the contents under your main home contents policy. You are going to need specific holiday home contents insurance.
When applying for your holiday home contents insurance, the insurers will need to know whether the holiday home is solely for your own use, for the use of family and friends as well as yourselves, or to be rented out. The conditions for your policy will be different in each case. Of course you will not be likely to have the same amount of contents in your holiday home as in your main home. In particular it’s extremely unwise to keep jewellery or other personal valuables in your holiday home. If you take them with you when you go to stay there, see if you can have them covered under you main home contents policy – and make sure you tell your insurers when you are taking them with you.
So what do the contents of your holiday home need to be insured against? The main risks are:
• Theft when the house is unoccupied.
• Theft when guests are there, because of careless security, e.g. leaving windows open or forgetting to lock the door.
• Damage by guests, whether accidental or through carelessness.
• Damage when the property is empty, because of fire, flood, burst pipes etc.
When you take out your holiday home contents insurance, you will be required by the insurers to take as many precautions as possible to safeguard your contents. Steps you can take include:
• Using photographs. You can take photographs of the larger items, or you can photograph every room with its contents.
• Make a detailed inventory. If you are letting out the property, make sure that guests have a copy of the inventory. Also make sure that they are clear that they are responsible for any damage or loss.
• Charge your guests a refundable deposit. Don’t refund the deposit until the contents have carefully inspected at the end of the visit.
• Check your contents insurance policy carefully, to make sure it covers theft without forcible entry while the property is occupied. Guests in unfamiliar surroundings don’t have the routines they have at home. It’s easy for them to forget to secure the windows carefully when they go out or go to bed. But do put reminders around the place and in the visitors’ pack, so the insurers know you have done as much as you can. (Your holiday home contents insurance only covers your belongings, not those of your guests. Make sure your guests are aware of this and remind them to insure their own belongings.)
• Again, remind your guests to put garden furniture away when they are not using it. Make sure your policy covers garden furniture and anything removable that is outside, and also ensure there is somewhere it can be stored easily such as a shed.
There’s no need to have too much expensive stuff around your holiday home. However, if you are letting it out to guests, they will expect items such as television, DVD player and CD player. Your holiday home contents insurance will be more expensive than your normal home contents insurance – but the more precautions you take, the less it will cost you.