Holiday home insurance explained
Is your holiday home protected? Our guide can tell you what you need to know.
What is holiday home insurance?
Like standard home insurance policy, 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. It could also foot the bill for any repairs or rebuilding work.
This includes outbuildings, gates and fences, swimming pools and so on.
Contents insurance covers anything in your home that isn’t nailed down, such as your sofa, TV, curtains and carpets.
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.
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Finding insurance for a second home isn't as easy as you think.
You can't just buy a standard home insurance policy without telling the insurer that you want to cover a house that isn’t your main home. This could lead to the insurer refusing to pay out in the event of a claim.
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 rebuild 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 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 insurance policy that covers occasional use, and possibly holiday letting as well.
If you’re letting out your property, you'll need public liability insurance. This type of cover should pay legal costs and expenses if anyone gets injured while staying in your holiday home.
If you’re serious about the holiday lettings business, you should also consider employers’ liability insurance. It covers any staff, possibly including gardeners or cleaners.
You might also want extra 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.
READ MORE: How to claim on your home insurance policy
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 all 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. An alarm system is a good way to put off intruders.
Maintain your garden – If you have trees surrounding the property, make sure they're trimmed regularly to avoid branches damaging your property in bad weather.
READ MORE: How to reduce the risk of burst pipes