Insuring your UK holiday home can be confusing. Exclusions and restrictions in the terms and conditions can leave you worried that you might not be covered should you need to claim.
What if you can't visit your holiday home often enough to comply with the minimum occupancy terms and winter warranties. Or there is a burst pipe or a break-in and it's weeks before you discover the damage. None of us likes to think about it, but what if a paying guest who is renting your holiday cottage is injured. Will you be covered?
Schofields specialist insurance for holiday homes in the UK is designed to give you peace of mind. There are no unoccupancy restrictions or winter warranties, plus you are covered when renting to holidaymakers. Our comprehensive policy is just that - comprehensive.
When the unthinkable happens and you need to make a claim, we are there to help you get back to normal.
- What is holiday home insurance?
Standard home insurance is unsuitable for holiday homes. This is because most holiday homes are left empty for more than 30 consecutive days, so the risk of theft or damage increases. Plus, if you rent your holiday home out to paying guests, there’s a further risk of damage or injury.
What you need is a specialist holiday home insurance policy that covers all the risks on a standard policy, but also covers any periods when the home is unoccupied, let to family, friends or let out short-term to paying guests.
- What does holiday home insurance cover?
Like standard home insurance, holiday home insurance is split into two elements, buildings and contents cover. If you’re renting your holiday home out, you should choose a policy that also includes cover for loss of rent, accidental damage, alternative accommodation, legal expenses, employers and public liability insurance.
- How much should I insure my holiday home for?
Buildings insurance should cover the cost of rebuilding your holiday home, including the structure of the building (walls, windows, roof) plus permanent 'fixtures and fittings' such as fitted kitchens. It should also cover any external property such as domestic outbuildings, garages, fixed fuel oil tanks, garden sheds, swimming pools, drives, patios, walls and fences.
When calculating how much buildings insurance you need for your holiday home note that the sum insured should cover the full rebuilding cost of your holiday home. The rebuild value does not reflect the market value of the property under any circumstances. It is your responsibility to provide an accurate rebuild value.
To obtain your rebuilding value refer to your purchase survey, index link the figure provided if the survey is old and add on any renovation costs. Alternatively, appoint a surveyor from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to assess your home and provide an insurance valuation.
To help you calculate how much you should insure your buildings for check out our guide.
Contents insurance should cover furniture, household goods, electrical equipment, carpets, curtains, plus items kept in the garden, garage or outbuildings. Typically, contents are considered to be anything you could reasonably remove and take to another home if you moved house.
Your contents insurance should cover the cost of replacing all your household goods as new. To calculate your contents sum insured use a contents calculator or simply go around your house from room to room adding up the value (new for old) of everything.
To help you calculate the cost of your contents, check out our guide.
- What if I rent out my holiday home?
Our flexible 'catch-all' policy covers you whether you use your holiday home yourself, lend it to friends and family or rent it out as a commercial holiday let. The specialist insurance for short term lets covers public and employers' liability insurance, theft or damage by guests/pets, the cost of alternative accommodation and loss of rental income.
Less comprehensive policies out there don't cover commercial holiday letting or friends saying at your holiday property. Then there are policies that cover holiday letting, but not personal use. Something to check when comparing policies.
- What do you consider a holiday home or second home - is my property suitable?
A holiday home or second home risk is one where the property is:
- Occupied as a weekend or holiday home by the proposers family/friends or
- Let commercially on a short term basis as holiday accommodation
- No more than 8 bedrooms (whether used as bedrooms or not)
- Situated in Great Britain, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man (excludes Northern Ireland)
- Built of brick, stone or concrete and roofed with slates, tiles, asphalt or concrete
- A wooden lodge securely built on a concrete base with a pitched roof tiled with tiles or slates
The home should not be:
- Used for business (other than holiday letting)
- A main residence or an unoccupied main residence
- Let on a long term basis to tenants
- Permanently unoccupied
- Permanently left empty and unused
- In the course of construction
- Being renovated
- Are there any unoccupancy restrictions?
Many holiday homes are left empty for long periods and it's during these periods that significant damage occurs. The expensive and disruptive damage caused by escape of water (burst pipes) can easily run into six figures, costing UK insurers nearly £1 billion a year. Empty properties are also easy targets for burglars.
We are confident that our unoccupancy cover and winter warranties are much more flexible than other insurers.
There are no unoccupancy restrictions or winter warranties. As standard, there are no requirements to drain down, leave the heating on or turn off the water. Upon review of applications, the Underwriters may apply terms.
Excess: The first £500 of every claim for escape of water from fixed water tanks, apparatus or pipes. The excess can be reduced for an additional premium.
- we don't require specific security measures and cover theft by non-forced entry
Other insurers typically:
- will not pay for loss or damage unless the water pipes, tanks and appliances are drained, or that the minimum temperature is maintained (15oc) when holiday homes are not being stayed in overnight or left uninhabited for more than 48 hours in winter. The unoccupied timescales vary by insurers but are often restrictive.
- have a higher excess for escape of water claims
- exclude theft unless specific security measures are installed or there is forcible and violent entry.
As you can see our policy has minimum unoccupancy restrictions and security requirements – giving you peace of mind that your property is protected when you need it the most.
- Do I need public liability insurance for a holiday let?
If you're letting out your holiday home, you'll need public liability insurance.
We will pay for your legal liability as owner or occupier of your holiday home for any amounts you become legally liable to pay (of up to £5m) for claims from an injured person or damaged property. Cover is provided under our buildings or contents policy – note we don't offer a standalone public liability policy.
This cover will protect you if someone is injured, falls ill or dies while they're on your property and subsequent legal action. Even if you don't let your holiday home you still need this cover as a tile could fall off of your roof and injure a visitor or someone could trip up over a loose rug.
Likewise, employers' liability of up to £5m is also included. This protects you in the event of someone directly employed by you having an accident and claiming for injuries, such as a gardener or housekeeper.
Need to Know More? 30 Things to Check Before Buying UK Holiday Home Insurance
When comparing insurance, the price should never be the deciding factor. While you obviously want to keep costs down, you also need the best cover possible. Cutting corners to save money could prove to be a false economy if the price is reflected by inadequate cover.
With some policy wordings exceeding 30,000 words, knowing what is, and isn't covered can be difficult. No insurance policy covers every eventuality. Use this checklist (in conjunction with a full policy wording) to help you compare policies and identify any shortfalls in cover.
Exclusions during unoccupancy
What to check: What restrictions apply when your holiday home in the UK is unoccupied? (and if they apply after 48 hours, 7 days or weeks).
Escape of water from fixed water tanks, apparatus or pipes
Nearly 1 in 5 claims made on buildings and contents insurance is for damage caused by the escape of water. Water damage is the main threat that holiday cottage owners face.
What to check: What unoccupancy and winter warranties apply to the policy? such as:
- After what period of unoccupancy do specific winter/unoccupancy warranties apply e.g. after 48 hours do you have to turn the water off?
- If you have to turn the water off at the main stopcock or also drain down – there is a big difference.
- The minimum temperature that needs to be maintained at all times e.g. 55°F (13°C).
- If an increased excess applies for escape of water claims e.g. £500.
Unless you comply with specific policy conditions whilst your UK holiday home is unoccupied, escape of water claims are generally excluded.
Theft or attempted theft
What to check: If the policy only covers theft as a result of 'violent and forcible entry' or if theft by ‘unforced entry' is covered e.g. a burglar entering via an unlocked door. Also, check if theft by paying guests is covered.
This can usually be added to your policy for an additional cost. For contents, this typically covers spilling a glass of red wine on your sofa for example, for buildings - a scorch mark on a kitchen worktop.
What to check: If accidental damage caused by paying guests, friends, relatives or domestic pets is covered.
What to check: If malicious damage caused by persons lawfully in the property or paying guests is covered. Many policies don’t cover malicious damage by tenants.
Public liability insurance
Covers you if someone is injured, falls ill, or their property is damaged at your holiday cottage and you are legally liable as owner or occupier.
What to check: Does it extend to cover paying guests when renting out your holiday cottage. What the limit is e.g. £5,000000.
If you only insure contents, are you only covered for public liability with regards to 'removable' items? Not if a guest slipped in the shower or tripped on a carpet for example. Would such liability claims only be covered if you also had buildings insurance with the insurer?
Choose a policy that doesn't differentiate, so you are covered for such public liability claims if you opt for buildings, contents or both.
Employer's liability cover
This section indemnifies you for legal liability, including costs and expenses, if a domestic employee (such as a gardener or cleaner) has an accident or becomes ill while working for you and you are legally responsible.
What to check: What the limit is e.g. £5,000000.
What to check: If theft cover is excluded unless specific locks/bolts are fitted to doors/windows and are put into operation when the property is left unattended or unoccupied.
What to check: If your contents will be replaced “new for old” e.g. items will be replaced with a new one, or will you receive the “market value” due to reductions for wear and tear. What the single article limit for contents is e.g. £3,000.
Contents in a garage/outbuildings
What to check: how much theft cover (usually around £2000) is provided for the contents of your garage or any outbuildings. What precautions do you have to take to secure both the buildings and its contents? Do you have to disclose that you have a ride-on lawnmower or quad bike?
Contents in the garden
What to check: What the standard limit is e.g. £2000 for contents in the garden, such as furniture.
Theft of pedal cycles
What to check: The security requirements when unused and if guests using your bicycle is covered.
Loss of rent
What to check: This typically covers rentals that are pre-booked in advance. What the maximum payout is.
What to check: Does it cover temporary accommodation costs for both the owner and paying guests in situ? Under what circumstances a claim is valid e.g. the holiday cottage has to be rendered uninhabitable.
This typically covers the costs of legal disputes such as property infringement, physical damage to your holiday home in the UK, breach of contract and eviction of overstaying guests.
What to check: The cost of adding it to your policy.
Storm, flood or weight of snow claims
What to check: Familiarise yourself with what's not covered e.g. outbuildings of non-standard construction, domestic fixed fuel oil tanks in the open, swimming pools and fences. Many insurers also have a threshold for rainfall and wind speed for a valid claim.
Open fire/Log burner
What to check: Do chimneys have to be professionally swept once a year with an appropriate certificate issued as confirmation. Are there specific installation requirements for chimney stacks and flues.
What to check: If your insurer will pay for the locks on your home to be replaced if keys are lost/stolen, or only if stolen. What the standard limit is e.g. £1000.
Loss of heating fuel or metered water
What to check: Check for any maintenance requirements for oil tanks and if finding the source of any escape of water, or oil, and subsequent repairs are covered. Oil contamination is very expensive to clear up.
What to check: Your flood excess, especially if the property/area has a history of flooding.
Swimming pool/hot tub
What to check: If you are covered for liability claims involving paying guests.
Will you be charged admin fees
What to check: If you will be charged an annual administration fee or for adjustments made throughout the year e.g. changing your name, address or job.
Refunds and cancellation
What to check: How easy is it to cancel the policy after the 14-day cooling-off period. How much notice do you have to give and what the cancellation charges are.
What to check: If there is a discount for claims-free periods or increased security.
What to check: Within how many days/hours of discovering the loss or damage must insurers and the police be informed. Will the insurer insist on receipts for every item lost or stolen?
What to check: Does the UK holiday home have to be inspected every week and a record of all visits logged.
What to check: What the mandatory excess is as they vary from £50 to £250 depending on the insurer. Are there any increased excesses that apply to specific claims e.g. flood, subsidence, the escape of water. If there is a discount for adding a 'voluntary' excess.
Who will you deal with
It's not until you come to claim that you realise how good your insurance is.
What to check: Who will be your main point of contact when you have a claim or query – an overseas call centre? What is their experience in insuring UK holiday homes? Is the introducer simply recommending the policy because they are getting a commission?
You have the right policy
33% of holiday home owners have the wrong insurance.
What to check: That the policy covers holiday cottages/holiday rentals. An owner-occupied main residence insurance policy isn't suitable.
Insurance comparison site pitfalls
It's important that when using price comparison websites you are aware of their pitfalls.
What to check: Look out for any assumptions and pre-ticked boxes comparison sites make about your property, especially if your holiday cottage is of non-standard construction or near a river. You don't want to take out an insurance policy that you may not be able to claim on. Policies may appear cheap, but don't offer the level of cover you need or have a large excess.
Focus on policies that offer comprehensive cover and value for money - not the just cheapest price. Insurance for holiday homes is only offered by a handful of insurers, many choose not to be featured on price comparison sites. Shop around to compare cover and value for money.
How do we compare? Give us a call on 01204 36 50 80 to discuss our cover.