Standard home insurance is unsuitable for holiday homes. This is because most properties are left empty for more than 30 consecutive days, so the risk of theft or damage increases. Plus, if you rent your holiday cottage out to paying guests, there’s a further risk of damage or injury.
What you need is a specialist holiday homes 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.
Like standard house insurance, holiday home insurance is split into two elements, buildings and contents cover. If you're renting your second 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.
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, note that the sum insured should cover the full rebuilding cost of your property. 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.
Our flexible 'catch-all' policy covers you whether you use your holiday cottage 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 property. Then there are policies that cover letting, but not personal use. Something to check when comparing policies.
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
Many second 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.
If you're letting out your holiday house, you'll need public liability insurance.
We will pay for your legal liability as owner or occupier of your holiday property 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 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.