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.

Taking A Tourer To Europe

Caravans are a popular choice of vehicle for those who like to holiday in the great outdoors, and many take to the roads on a Bank Holiday and during school holidays in order to drive to campsites around the UK and into Europe.

If you’re looking to holiday across the Channel and take your caravan into Europe for a short trip, you must make sure your vehicle is in good condition, your documents are in place and up-to-date, and you have packed correctly for each country that you want to travel through.

So What Should You Be Preparing?

Before you begin your journey there are a few things you should check in preparation;

Do I have the right licence classification to tow a caravan?

Check your driving licence to see if you have the correct classification in order to tow your caravan. Depending on when you passed your driving test can affect what you are entitled to drive:

  • Before January 1st 1997 – any vehicle and trailer up to a maximum of 8.25 tonnes
  • From January 1st 1997 – any car and trailer up to a MAM of 3.5 tonnes
  • From January 19th 2013 – any car and trailer up to a MAM of 3.5 tonnes

What is the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of my vehicle?

The Maximum Authorised Mass is the total of the weight of your car and the caravan you are towing and takes into account a fully loaded caravan and a car with a full tank of petrol.

The MAM for holders of B1 and B classification driving licences is 3500kg (3.5 tonnes), if you want to tow a heavier load, you must pass a driving test for a C1+E licence in order to be able to safely tow a heavier caravan.

What documents should I be taking with me?

There are a number of compulsory documents that you will need for travelling to the EU, which you should make sure you to take at least one copy of these in a folder just in case:

What equipment should I have with me?

You should also make sure you have the following equipment in your car or caravan at all times, as some of them are required by law in some EU countries:

  • GB numberplate or GB sticker affixed to the back of your vehicle
  • Breathalyser – these are a legal requirement when driving in France, you can usually buy these on the ferry
  • Headlight converters – should be fitted on the ferry to ensure you don’t dazzle other drivers
  • Extendable mirrors – essential piece of kit for improving visibility when towing
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Warning triangle – or 2 in some countries; including Spain and Croatia
  • First Aid Kit
  • High visibility vest

Remember that in some countries, including Croatia, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, it is compulsory to use your headlights at all times, so having some converters on will help to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers.

What Else Should I Take With Me?

There are a few more extras that would be useful to have in your car or caravan for when they are required:

  • Road atlas of the countries you are visiting – if the satellite navigation system breaks down on the journey
  • Spare wheel and repair kit in case of an emergency
  • Spare headlight bulbs
  • Phrasebooks for each country you are travelling through
  • A small amount of local currency for the countries you will be travelling through – because chip and pin might not be available everywhere, so leave yourself a small amount of pocket money for petrol and food along the way
  • Keep an address book with essential contact details in the glovebox of your car, including insurance numbers, those of the British embassies and emergency contact numbers back home
  • Data roaming or international phone plan – with prices having recently been reduced you can take your phone along in the confidence that it won’t cost you too much to make calls or use data while abroad

Breakdowns

Should you break down on the way to the campsite, it is important to remain calm and ensure you get to a place of safety while you wait for help to arrive.

Make sure you use your warning triangles and hazard warning lights to warn other road users. Phone your breakdown provider using your smartphone or a nearby phone.

Many providers will make use of GPS in order to pinpoint your location before deploying help in the country that you have broken down in, make sure you double check if a cover is available in your chosen country before you take out a policy.

Get Insured

Before you travel and tow, whether you’re holidaying in the UK or abroad, you must make sure that your vehicle and caravan have insurance to cover you in the event of an accident.

Caravan insurance policies are separate from car insurance policies and are available for a number of models and sizes of a caravan. Check with your broker as to whether they will also include EU cover as part of a policy as an additional extra.

If you want to help drive down the cost of your caravan insurance before you drive off on holiday, try bearing a few of these in mind before you travel, as they could help to reduce your premium price:

  • Membership of a caravan club could help to reduce your policy
  • Fitting security devices – such as hitch locks and wheel clamps – in order to deter thieves when the caravan is not in motion
  • Take a towing course – to increase your confidence in towing a trailing caravan
  • Store the caravan safely when not in use, making use of wheel clamps to deter thieves when not in use

Booking a Holiday Using a Credit Card?

There is nothing better than the chance of jetting off on a much-deserved holiday.

Even though many usually wait for last-minute deals, families with children who are restricted to specific holiday dates might choose to book as far in advance as possible to make sure that they get the holiday they have been dreaming of.

Booking a holiday can be an exciting time, but no matter when you decide to take the plunge, it is important not to overlook how you will pay for it.

Paying with the use of a credit card?

Purchases that are made with the use of a credit card benefit from improved purchase protection that is included in the terms of the Consumer Credit Act.

If the travel provider goes bust and you have not got travel insurance, you can still claim the entire sum of your money from your credit card provider, even if you only paid for the deposit using a card and the rest of the balance in cash. However, as per Consumer Credit Act rules, take note that this only applies when the cost of the holiday that you are buying is more than £100.

[Note: if you purchase your holiday through a travel agent, you may only get this particular level of protection if you buy their entire suite of travel arrangements,  including a package holiday. For example,  if you just purchase an airline ticket, credit card protection may not be applied, as the agent is only the ticket’s supplier and not of the flight itself.]

There are additional benefits, too, especially if your card offers a generous cashback or reward scheme.

Credit Card Charges

However, you must weigh any rewards that you may receive versus any credit card charges that the tour operator or travel agent or the tour operator may charge. Many travel agents or tour operators still ask for credit surcharges, for example of 1.5 percent of the holiday cost. This covers them for credit card fees that they incur for using either the MasterCard or the Visa systems (also known as the interchange fee). The said fees are now capped at 0.3 percent of the total cost of the credit card transaction. The holiday company may, however, incur other fees for credit card transactions so many charge a higher amount.

Need to borrow?

Borrowing money in order to go on holiday is not an ideal solution. For most people, however, spreading the cost of a holiday on a percent credit card is the only way that they can be able to afford a family getaway. If this sounds a lot like you, make sure that you use a credit card that is offering a long introductory 0 percent interest period for purchases.

Make sure to set yourself a repayment plan. It is important that you pay off your holiday before the end of the 0 percent interest period, and preferably before you will need to book for next year’s holiday, otherwise, you risk an increasing debt that will only become more difficult to manage. Some credit cards will allow you to set up a direct debit for a fixed percentage, and many will permit a standing order for a set amount.

Clearing your balance by making these automated payments will help you achieve the discipline that is required to repay your holiday debt.

Begin saving for next year!

The earlier you begin saving, the easier things will be regarding booking and paying for your holiday. Starting to save in small monthly or weekly instalments is basically what you’re doing when you make  credit card repayments, so why not get ahead of the game and save some money immediately?

The first thing to accomplish is to open a new savings account. When analysing savings accounts, bear in mind that you will probably require access to your savings at least twice, first to pay for the deposit when you book your holiday, and the second to pay for the balance (typically around 12 weeks before you are due to depart). An account that enables you to make regular deposits is also a great idea, thereby allowing you to make small regular payments every time you get paid as compared to one lump sum, and meaning you are able to build up your holiday fund over the year.

A regular savings account could be a good way to kick-start the savings habit and ensure that you squirrel away a bit every month, or if you are planning in advance for a big trip abroad, then a short-term fixed rate bond may be a good idea.

Bonds that run for six months to a few years propose good returns, with some allowing early access to funds. It is always worth reviewing the terms and conditions of your chosen account, however, as penalties will usually apply for withdrawing funds within the term of the deal.

What are Your Holiday Cancellation Rights?

It is essential to understand where you stand before you talk to your travel agent or insurer if you need to cancel your holiday. Here is a guide on your rights when you have to cancel your holiday.

When can you cancel your holiday package?

If your travel operator modifies the terms and conditions of your packaged holiday, you can choose to cancel and get a full refund.

To receive a refund, they have to have made a change to your:

  • Accommodation
  • Travel dates
  • Flights

If the price of your holiday increases or after you have booked and you are urged to shell out more, you can cancel your booking and get a full refund.

Even if there have been no changes to your booking, you could still receive a refund. However, this depends on the terms and conditions of the booking.

This guide describes your rights if your flights are cancelled because of strike action.

Many travel agents allow you to cancel within an established period, but you will usually have to pay a cancellation fee.

How much is a cancellation fee?

This depends on when your holiday is planned; the longer there is to go, the higher the chance you will receive a refund.

  • 90 days before: the money you put down as a deposit will be lost
  • 60 days before: 50% of the cost of your holiday will be lost
  • 30 days before: 70% of the cost of your holiday will be lost
  • 10 days before: 100% of the cost of your holiday will be lost

Cancelling your flights and accommodation

If your hotel or airline makes important changes to your booking, you should be able to withdraw without paying a for charges.

Beyond this, you do not hold any legal rights to cancel, and you will be bound by your booking terms and conditions.

Some airlines will:

  • Give you a partial refund
  • Allow you to move your flight
  • Let you reclaim any airport tax paid

Other airlines (particularly budget airlines),  may not offer any of these options, although you will still be able to make use of a return flight if you are unable to make the outward journey.

Your provider accommodation may offer you some flexibility. However, this depends on their in-house policy, so it is still worth contacting the airline or hotel to discuss your options.

Transfer your holiday to someone else

This is a great way to get your money back if the person you are transferring your holiday to is willing to make payments.

Talk to your holiday company to ask for the transfer. Majority of providers will only let you transfer your holiday if you provide plenty of notice; normally at least 28 days prior to your departure date.

A fee will be charged for transferring your booking into someone else’s name, usually between £50 and £100 per passenger.

What if your provider goes bankrupt?

If you have reserved a package holiday and your tour operator goes bankrupt, you will usually be covered by insurance.

If your package includes flights

You should not worry since you are protected under the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CCA) Air Travel Organisers’ Licencing (ATOL) scheme.

You can apply for compensation by going to the ATOL website.

If your package does not include flights

You should also be protected. You will be covered by the trade association that your travel operator is a member of, which will usually be Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).

You will need to arrange your refund through your travel agent.

Can you claim through your travel insurance?

Yes. However, but only if your travel insurance policy includes cancellation cover.