Insuring A Holiday Home Within the UK

If you own a second home within the UK and you want it rented to holidaymakers or make use of it as a second home, you will want to know the importance of making sure your investment is kept safe, even when you’re not there.

A standard home insurance policy will not usually cover a second home if it is left vacant for more than 30 days of the year – especially during periods of slow business or if you need to make repairs to the property.

The question is, if you own an apartment by the sea or a cottage in the sprawling countryside, what sort of insurances should you have in place on your UK holiday home?

Holiday Home Insurance

Holiday home insurance is specially designed for those properties that are left unoccupied for 30 days or more during a year. This is because most home insurance policies will not cover holiday homes under a regular house insurance policy due to the increase in risk.

Because you or anyone else might not be there for long periods of time, insurers will consider the property more at risk.

Empty houses may be more at risk of break-ins and vandalism in the periods between bookings, as well as being more at risk from burst pipes and storm damage, and because you as the owner aren’t based there all the time, you might not be able to remedy these issues quickly.

Buildings Insurance

When it comes to necessities, buildings insurance is a legal requirement if you have a mortgage on a second home. This covers the structure of the house, everything from the walls, ceilings, and to the rafters on the roof, but it can also cover any external buildings and other luxuries such as swimming pools.

Buildings insurance will help cover the property itself in the event of storm damage, flood damage or subsidence as a result of an extremely wet weather.

Contents Insurance

While it is not legally required, having a form of contents insurance for your holiday home is a wise investment, it helps to cover equipment, furniture, and even appliances against damage sustained by third parties – including your guests.

Because you’re not always present at the property, making a checklist of which belongings you leave when you are not there is a good idea – keep a note of any expensive equipment you might leave.

Securing these possessions against a contents insurance or gadget insurance policy can help to keep your mind at ease, knowing that they’ll be covered in the event of theft or become damaged due to the behaviour of one of your guests.

Public Liability Insurance

Because you’ll have guests staying at the property when you are not there, you need to ensure you have some Public Liability (PL) insurance in place. PL insurance helps to cover you as the homeowner in the event one of your guests gets injured or fall ill while staying at your property.

What Should Be Included?

Each insurer will be different in what they offer as part of a holiday home insurance policy, but you should be looking for the following features:

  • Accidental damage cover – helps to protect your property against unintentional damage caused by your guests.
  • Loss of income cover – helps to cover you if you are unable to rent out the property because of repairs in the event of weather-related damage or subsidence, which may have caused damage to the property and render it inhabitable.
  • Home emergency cover – gives you and your guests access to a 24-hour emergency hotline to call in the event of burst pipes or other domestic emergencies, which can then be used to arrange repairs in your absence.
  • Employers’ liability cover – if you employ a member of staff – such as a cleaner or maintenance man – and they get injured on your property, this cover will help cover legal costs if a case is brought against you.
  • Personal possessions cover – helps to cover your own possessions while they are in the home, it can be worth double checking that you don’t have similar cover elsewhere – such as gadget insurance or those offered as part of current accounts or credit cards – to ensure you don’t overinsure.
  • Alternative accommodation cover – helps to relocate your guests to alternative accommodation, such as a hotel, in the event of damage to the property that renders it inhabitable.
  • Emergency travel – if you need to travel home to carry out repairs or sort out a claim, this cover can help you to recoup some of the costs of travel expenses as a result.

As always with any insurance product, it is essential that you read the small print before you sign an agreement, as some insurers may include exclusions which may affect your policy price and level of cover.

Can I Reduce My Premium?

Much like with your regular home insurance policy, taking some steps to beef up the security of your holiday home can help bring down your holiday home policy price. Think about the following when it comes to securing your home before you start renting it out:

  • Change your current lock set for a newer, stronger set to decrease the chances of a break-in.
  • Consider putting locks on the windows to deter thieves.
  • Invest in an alarm system for when you’re not there, just remember to leave clear instructions for your guests as to how to turn it on and off again each time they leave the property vacated.
  • Buy a safe and keep it in a secure location, and use it to secure personal possessions such as spare keys and electronic devices.

Owning and maintaining a holiday home can be a long process, but by taking the time to get your insurance, you can help yourself to ease the burden and ensure that not only are your guests safe in the event of an incident but that your home is protected even when you’re not there.

Security For A Static Caravan

While we may more often than not think of caravans as being towed behind cars on the road, usually during busy Bank Holiday periods and during the school holidays, there are also static caravans which have more permanent bases (as well as plumbed in utilities).

Static caravans are usually based in holiday parks along the coast of the UK, as well as smaller campsites which may be based in more inland locations. Caravan sites will usually have a warden on site who perform daily patrols in order to ensure the safety and security of the camp’s residents.

Much like with a house, a static caravan can be filled with items which may be attractive to thieves – including electronic devices such as laptops and mobile phones – so making sure these are protected at times when you are not present at the property is essential in ensuring you don’t lose money should something go missing.

What Should I Secure?

Even though static caravans are static, it can still be worth securing them with devices that you would usually associate with a touring caravan, including:

  • Wheel clamps
  • Hitch locks
  • Corner steady leg locks
  • Hitch posts

Even if the caravan itself is not moving it can still be worth using these devices to reduce the risk of theft, but there are a number of other security features that you can add to a static caravan in order to ensure that it is protected.

Check That They Can’t Get In

Like with a house, static caravans will have two main points of entry for burglars to target – the doors and the windows – and by ensuring that both are securely protected with strong locks you can not only help to deter thieves but also help to bring down the cost of your caravan insurance policy by taking these extra steps to protect your property.

Should I Fit An Alarm?

Aside from fitting external deterrents such as those listed above, securing the interior of your static caravan using alarm systems and even small CCTV systems can help protect your belongings and bring down the cost of your static caravan insurance.

Whilst many touring caravans will come with a Thatcham-approved alarm system, static caravans may need beefing up with extra security. With the advent of digital technology and with security cameras getting much smaller, setting up a small home network with a couple of cameras can help keep an eye on the property when you are away, and get alerts sent to your mobile phone if a movement is detected.

Can Having A Safe Help?

If you’re based at the caravan for long periods of time or rent it out to friends, family members or holidaymakers, you’re likely to keep few personal possessions at the caravan for times when you are there, including documents and mobile phones.

By investing in a small, fireproof safe and keeping it hidden within the caravan, you can secure items such as vehicle documentation and personal belongings like jewellery and mobile phones and keep them safe when you’re not present at the caravan.

If you rent out your static caravan, making use of a key safe can be a good way of restricting access when you’re not there, allowing you to keep important keys and other belongings in a safe place while you have guests.

Can I Secure A Caravan On My Home Insurance?

While it may be possible to insure physical belongings at the caravan on another policy, the caravan itself needs to have its’ own specific static caravan insurance policy, even if it is stored on a secure compound with regular patrols.

However, for anything inside the caravan, it can be worth checking with your home insurance provider if it is possible to add the contents of your static caravan to any existing policies – this can include home insurance and gadget insurance policies.

What Does My Caravan Insurance Cover Then?

A caravan insurance policy will cover the caravan itself against any damage caused by weather – including storm damage – as well as those caused by fire or accidental damage by third parties.

Caravan insurance policies will usually include features such as new-for-old replacement, and relocation cover in case the site becomes inhospitable due to weather and you have to relocate your caravan and even cover for anything else on your pitch, including furniture and awnings.

Contents cover can also be added onto a policy to help cover appliances and gas bottles, but bear in mind that storing gas bottles in the caravan could help raise the risk factor and thus lead to a higher premium.

What is Excluded From a Policy?

There are few things which are excluded from a caravan insurance policy:

  • Damage caused by vermin or pets
  • Accidental damage caused by tenants
  • Damage caused by subsidence or a landslip
  • Damage caused to water pipes due to cold weather

There may be other exclusions depending on your broker, so it can be worth double checking before you commit to a policy. Caravan policies will vary in what they offer, so it can be worth shopping around until you find one that suits you.

By taking the time to further protect your static caravan from potential thieves, either using new technology or traditional methods such as deadlocks and even a small CCTV system, you can help to reduce the costs of your caravan insurance premiums.