Guide to holiday home insurance
- A standard home insurance policy is unlikely to be suitable for a holiday home
- Dedicated holiday home policies can cover buildings, contents and more specialist requirements
- Read the terms and conditions with care and beware of exclusions in the policy details
If you're lucky enough to own a second home in the sun or in the snow, whether it's in the UK or overseas you'll probably want to protect your vacation property with holiday home insurance.
While a holiday home is vulnerable to the same risks as your main residence, it's also subject to other threats.
For example, if it's left unoccupied it may be more vulnerable to accidents like a burst pipe or water leak, and it may be more of a target for thieves.
Standard home insurance isn't usually suitable for second homes, as it doesn't normally pay out if you leave the property empty for more than about 30 days a year.
It will also typically exclude any lettings periods.
Dedicated holiday home insurance can offer buildings and/or contents protection whether the property is occupied or unoccupied.
Even so, you should look out for exclusions and the unoccupied periods may still be subject to set lengths of time.
Insurance may also cover things like emergency travel requirements and local taxes.
If you're renting the property out, the right policy can insure things like your buildings and possessions, offer public liability protection, and cover loss of rent.
Holiday home buildings insurance
As with your main home, buildings insurance covers the structure of the property and any outbuildings.
These are typically insured against the cost of repairs or rebuilding following loss or damage from fires, storms, floods and/or subsidence.
Buildings insurance is a legal requirement if you have a mortgage on your second home, but even if you own your holiday home outright it would be unwise to ignore buildings cover - you wouldn't let your main home go without it, would you?
As with standard home insurance, the buildings insurance policy should cover the cost of rebuilding your home, and you may need to think about any outbuildings or swimming pools.
If you have a holiday home in the UK, calculating the cost of rebuilding your home can be simple if you use a rebuild calculator.
The cost of rebuilding your home abroad will differ from the UK, so make sure you consider the circumstances and consult your insurer.
If you had a report done on the property at the time of the purchase it should include a rebuild figure, but think about whether this is outdated.
You may want to consider contacting a chartered surveyor for a rebuild assessment.
Holiday home contents insurance
Contents insurance is not a legal requirement, but it is essential if you wish to protect your belongings - basically anything inside your holiday home that could be classed as furniture or personal belongings.
Find out more more about how to calculate the value of your home's contents with our guide.
If you want contents insurance for your second home, remember that combining such cover with your buildings insurance is likely to prove cheaper and more convenient than sourcing two separate policies.
Try not to leave personal or valuable items in your holiday home if it's unoccupied or you're planning on letting it out - you may not be covered if items are stolen or damaged accidentally.
Also think about other policies that may offer you protection for your contents.
"When looking at contents insurance, remember that you may already have cover as part of travel insurance, your home insurance, or from another product like a paid-for bank account or credit card," said Gocompare.com's Ben Wilson.
"Try to make sure you're not doubling up on insurance, as this can cause complications when claiming and is best avoided if possible. "
What else could holiday home insurance cover?
Every holiday home insurance policy will differ and it's vital to read the terms and conditions with care, but some typical areas to consider on this type of product include:
Some policies require particular security measures, and simply having the wrong locks can invalidate a claim
Ben Wilson, Gocompare.com
If you plan to let your property out, cover for accident-prone guests could be useful.
Home emergency cover
Some insurers offer access to a 24-hour emergency helpline if you need assistance quickly.
Loss of income/rent
If you can't let your property because it's damaged, perhaps by a fire or a flood, your insurers could cover the loss.
If your property is uninhabitable due to unforeseen circumstances, your insurer could cover the cost of housing guests in alternative accommodation.
If you employ people to look after your property while you're away, this could cover legal costs and expenses should a member of staff have an accident.
A vital part of letting your holiday home, public liability covers you in the event that someone in your property has an accident and takes legal action against you.
Emergency travel could cover you in the event that you need to travel to sort out a claim.
Insurance could be extended to items that are taken out of the home, including laptops and smartphones. Check your home insurance to make sure you're not already covered, as you don't want to double up on insurance.
Did you know...?
- You may be able to cover things excluded from your policy by purchasing an add-on
As with any policy you should check the terms and conditions for any exclusions to cover, but some typical areas to be aware of with holiday home insurance include:
- Properties left unoccupied for extended periods
- Letting properties for extended periods of time
- Theft by guests
- Solar panels
- Boats, boards and watercraft
If these things are not included as standard on your policy, it's possible that you may be able to purchase cover as an optional extra. Bear in mind that you may need to speak to your insurer to arrange this, or for any more specialist cover.
Holiday home security matters
Given that a second home may be left unoccupied for long periods, security can be a key consideration - both for you and for your insurer.
"Think carefully about security for your holiday home - as you probably won't be there for the several months of the year, it's important to ensure that your second home is safe and secure," said Wilson.
"Some policies require particular security measures, and simply having the wrong locks can invalidate a claim."
Don't know what locks you have? Find out with our guide.
By Emily Bater