Should you own a holiday home, you are going to wish to protect your property should anything go wrong. Insurance is vital, so, what kind of insurance do you need?
A holiday home is just as vulnerable to the same problems as your main home: you could storm damage to the roof; the interior could be spoilt by flooding or your wide-screen TV could be burgled. If you are an owner of a second home, you are going to need both buildings and contents insurance.
Standard buildings and contents cover is insufficient for second homes as that does not normally pay out should you have left the property empty for more than 30 days per annum. This also excludes any lettings periods.
Why is holiday home insurance necessary?
Holiday homes are not insured as standard homes given the risk involved.
Should a home be left empty for long periods, there is of course a higher risk of a burst pipe or a water leak. An unoccupied home is also more susceptible to theft. Should a home be let, tenants do not always look after the property in same way as the owners.
Hence, you need to get insurance cover which specifically covers second or holiday homes.
Buildings insurance will cover your property's structure, like the roof, permanent fixtures and fittings, like fitted kitchens and baths, from various risks, such as, fire, storm damage, flood and subsidence.
Should you have a mortgage on your second home, your mortgage lender is going to insist that you have taken out the apt buildings insurance policy. Even if you have bought your home outright and have no mortgage on it, it would be unwise to ignore buildings insurance. You need to assess whether or not you can afford to rebuild the property should it be destroyed by a fire.
How much buildings insurance is needed for my holiday home?
The buildings insurance policy ought to cover the cost of rebuilding your home, including any outbuildings as well as swimming pools; the rebuild value is not identical to the market value. Should you have just taken out a mortgage, your mortgage valuation ought to have given you a rebuild figure. Alternatively, a surveyor from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) can assess your home.
Should your holiday home be abroad, the majority of lenders offer online calculators to work out the rebuild cost. This may be problematic so it may be wise to take out a policy which offers 'unlimited' cover, in order that you do not need to be concerned about the rebuild cost.
Certain policies index link the rebuild cost in order to keep apace with inflation. Should your policy not be index linked, you ought to ensure that the figure is frequently updated; otherwise you could face an insurance shortfall.
Is it necessary to buy contents insurance?
It is not necessary to buy contents insurance. However, it is vital to protect your belongings. There may not be anything of specific value in your holiday home. However, it is surprising how much it can set you back to replace its contents. Try to make any inventory of your possessions to calculate how much they are worth, including the barbeque and garden furniture.
If you are leaving your holiday home unoccupied or letting it out, try not to leave anything of value in it.
What is covered by holiday home insurance?
Holiday home insurance ought to cover all the risks on a standard policy. However, it also covers any periods of time when the home is unoccupied or let to family, friends or other tenants.
The majority of companies cover properties which are outside the UK. However, you can check that the country is listed should your home be abroad. In some areas cover can be restricted. Several insurers do not cover earthquakes in Italy or Greece. In certain overseas countries subsidence is excluded.
Should your second home be a static caravan, you need to check your policy details as the majority of insurers cover static caravans, however, not in some countries.
Is it necessary to get additional holiday home cover?
Insurance companies vary as cover for second homes, for example, some companies will include accidental damage for you and your family members, however, not so for any tenants. Therefore, it is vital to shop around, make comparisons and read the policy wording carefully.
The following extras might be included in your policy. If not, it may be worthwhile paying a higher premium for more extensive cover.
- Accidental damage Cover is useful if you intend to let out your property. Tenants are often not as careful as home owners.
- Home emergency cover is provided by certain insurers for you and tenants/guests. It is usually access to a 24-hour emergency helpline should you have a domestic emergency, like a burst pipe.
- Loss of income cover is comforting when you are unable to let out your property because it has been damaged by fire or flood. The majority of insurers will purely cover the loss of income of any pre-booked income.
- Alternative accommodation cover is available for dealing with the cost of placing your guests in alternative accommodation should your property be uninhabitable due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Public liability insurance cover is a great idea as it covers you for any death or injury to a third party on your property.
- Personal possessions cover can include items which you take out of the home, like mobile phones and laptops. However, you also need to check the details of the contents insurance for your main home, as you may have cover already.
Read the small print
It is vital to read the small print for all kinds of insurance to check for any exclusions. Should you be letting your property you have to comply with set rules and regulations, especially health and safety laws, or you will void your insurance. In addition, the majority of insurers insist you drain the heating system when leaving your property unoccupied.
Tips to obtain cheaper holiday home insurance
- Get several quotes. Shop for the best deal possible; note that the best deal is not necessarily the cheapest one.
- Ensure that your home has been fitted with approved security devices, like alarms and window locks.
- Every policy has an excess, that is, the amount you have to pay towards any claim. Should you be paying a higher excess, you ought to be rewarded with a lower premium.
- Try to keep your home maintained. In addition, insulate any pipes and tanks to prevent them from freezing in cold weather.
- You could get a cheaper combined deal by purchasing your buildings and contents cover from the same insurer. It is likely to be less expensive than buying two separate policies from different firms.