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Holiday home insurance explained

Port Isaac Cornwall

What is holiday home insurance?

Like standard household cover, holiday home insurance is split into two elements, buildings and contents cover

Buildings insurance covers the structure of your property against fire, flood, storm damage, burst pipes and subsidence, and should foot the bill for any repairs or rebuilding work.

This should include outbuildings, gates and fences, swimming pools and so on.

Contents insurance should cover anything in your home that isn’t nailed down, such as beds, sofas, TVs and stereos.

If you’re letting the house out, consider including an accidental damage add-on to protect your belongings against guests who may not be as careful as you.

Getting started

Finding insurance for a second home isn't as easy as you think. 

If you buy a standard household insurance policy without telling the insurer that you want to cover a house that isn’t your main home, it could lead to the insurer refusing to pay out in the event of a claim.

As with any financial investment it makes sense to protect against risks that may leave you out of pocket if something goes wrong. 

Make sure you get the right level of cover and read the small print on the policy. For buildings insurance, you'll also need to calculate the re-build cost of your home.

What makes holiday homes different?

Insurance companies view holiday homes as a bigger risk because they’re typically left empty for lengthy periods, which makes them easy prey for thieves and squatters.

Another worry is that the owner isn’t around to check up on any weather-related damage. So if roof slates are blown off in a storm, or a frozen pipe bursts in winter, things could go from bad to worse before you find out something’s wrong.

Most standard household insurance policies exclude properties that are left empty for more than 30 days at a stretch.

And if you let your house out to paying guests, there’s a further risk of damage. So what you need is a specialist holiday home policy that covers occasional use, and possibly holiday letting as well.

Extra cover

If you’re letting out your property, you must buy public liability insurance. This type of cover should pay legal costs and expenses if gets injured while using your holiday home.

If you’re serious about the holiday lettings business, you should also consider employers’ liability insurance to cover any staff, possibly including gardeners or cleaners.

You might also want cover for loss of rent, say, following a fire or flood at your property.

Finally, you should also consider legal expenses cover, which will pay any legal fees up to around £50,000, in case you have any disputes with tenants.

Be sure to read the policy carefully. Most companies will insist you have correct window and door locks, otherwise they may refuse to cover you for any break-ins. 

Top tips

Check your roof regularly – Roof tiles can become loose, especially in bad weather. If you plan on leaving your property empty for winter months, make sure your roof stays water tight.

Insulate your pipes – One of the most common claims for home insurance is burst pipes. Insulating them properly can help avoid pipes from freezing during colder months. Setting your heating to come on regularly can also help.

Secure your home – Use locks to secure your windows and doors. Timing your lights to come on in the evenings is a good way to make it look like someone’s home. Always keep valuables out of sight, e.g. TVs and stereos. An alarm system is a good way to put off intruders.

Maintain your garden – If you have trees surrounding the property, make sure they are trimmed regularly to avoid branches damaging your property in bad weather. 

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