Holiday home insurance – how to get the best out of your cover

Digby Bodenham By Digby Bodenham

Guide to holiday home insurance

A holiday home can be a relaxing hideaway or a good source of rental income.

However you plan to use your holiday home, whether in the UK or abroad, you need to make sure it is well maintained and protected in the event of unexpected damage or disasters.

Mortgage providers may require buildings insurance to be in place before you buy the property, just like a normal home. But many insurers will not cover holiday homes because they believe they face greater risks because they are empty for long periods.

This guide aims to help you get the best buildings or contents holiday home insurance quote for your needs. It touches on some of the best providers, cover levels and cost.

We have teamed up with HomeProtect, a 5-star insurer that offers cover for a range of specialist houses, including holiday homes, to give our members 10% cashback with their cover.

Access the offer and get a quote by joining our specialist home insurance group.

What does holiday home insurance cover?

Holiday home insurance is very similar to standard home policies. It will cover structural damage to the building and issues such as a leaking roof.

It can also include contents cover for things like theft and accidental damage.

However, normal home policies often state the building cannot be empty for longer than 30 days and that the policy holder must be living at the property.

That is why separate holiday home policies exist. Houses that are empty for long periods – as holiday and second homes often are during off-seasons – can be more susceptible to damage (and therefore insurance claims) because people aren’t there to prevent damage or stop it getting worse once an incident has occurred.

For example, if no one rents or visits a house in January and February, water in the pipes may freeze and cause a pipe to crack. When it melts the water will leak and potentially damage floors, carpets and appliances until someone turns up to stop it.

Empty homes are also more likely to be burgled. Thieves can spot a vacant property and they’ll try their luck to see if anything is worth stealing. Even if you don’t leave anything of value in the home because it’s being let to guests, you may incur costs if windows or doors are damaged during the break in.

Insurers also see tenants as a greater risk. If people staying in a let holiday home damage it or injure themselves, insurers may have to pay out.

HomeProtect specialises in UK holiday home insurance, so they will cover properties while they’re empty and can include contents cover.

Get 10% cashback on separate or joint home and contents insurance from HomeProtect by joining Bought By Many.

Although contents insurance is not required by mortgage providers it can protect your possessions, including items outside the house such as garden furniture, which often costs a lot. It can be cheaper to buy a joint home and contents policy from one provider.

There are other insurance features worth considering. Some are unique to holiday home policies and others may be beneficial to people with second homes.

When comparing insurers think about whether these features could be useful, but bear in mind they may cost more.

  • Accidental damage - Check if it includes tenants because some holiday home policies may only include accidental damage caused by the policyholder
  • Home emergency cover – This feature means the insurer will organise and pay for engineers to fix certain issues, such as leaking pipes. It can be cheaper and more convenient than calling a plumber or electrician
  • Alternative accommodation – Many home policies include this, it pays for a hotel if you cannot stay in your home for a number of reasons. However, check if your holiday home insurance includes alternative accommodation for tenants
  • Loss of rent or income – Many landlord home insurance policies will pay out for an unexpected loss of rental income. Some holiday home policies also include this clause
  • Liability and legal cover – This comes with most home policies and can cover legal claims against you if someone injures themself in your property, which is particularly useful if you’re renting a home

How much does holiday home insurance cost?

Insurance quotes for holiday homes vary depending on factors such as the size and construction materials of the home, its postcode, how old it is and whether you have made a claim in the past.

It can be comparable to standard home insurance.

We got a test quote from HomeProtect for a 2 bed, semi-detached house on the Norfolk coast. We said it had no previous claims, there was nothing wrong with the house and it was expected to be empty for 46 to 60 days a year.

We were quoted £18.01 a month or a single payment of £194.94 for buildings and contents cover with a home emergency policy and a £250 excess.

Remember, if you join our specialist home insurance group you get 10% cashback from HomeProtect.

UK holiday home insurance

Not all insurance firms cover UK holiday homes. Some specialise in homes abroad while others provide cover for a range of countries or only the UK and Ireland.

There’s a well-established market for holiday apartments and cottages in the UK. Buying close to home makes it easy and cheap for the owner to use the property and it can be simpler for lettings too.

As we’ve seen in the previous sections you won’t be able to get standard home insurance because of the long periods the property will be empty, so you’ll need to find specialist insurers so you can compare holiday home insurance quotes.

We’ve used the group buying power of our members to negotiate a 10% cashback deal with HomeProtect, which insurers UK holiday homes.

They cover all kinds of holiday homes and allow you to select how long they are likely to be empty. You can also choose whether you want contents insurance or you can buy it as a separate policy, and its cover comes with a home emergency policy.

HomeProtect has a score of 8.7 out of 10 from 2,239 reviews on TrustPilot and is rated 5 Star by independent financial researcher Defaqto.

A Star Rating indicates where a product or proposition sits in the market based on the quality and comprehensiveness of the features it offers.

A 5 Star rated policy is “an excellent product with a comprehensive range of features and benefits”.

Other companies that cover UK holiday homes include the John Lewis, AA and Staysure.

Overseas holiday home insurance

If you’ve bought a holiday home abroad in a destination such as Spain, France, Greece, Turkey or Ireland you can still buy insurance from a UK provider.

In fact, there are a number of insurers to choose from.

Saga only covers overseas holiday homes; whereas John Lewis, the AA, Staysure and Towergate offer insurance for UK and overseas homes in select countries.

Spanish and French holiday homes are some of the most popular so all of the above companies cover them.

Although the process of getting cover can be similar to buying home insurance in the UK, there are a few things to think about that are different.

There may be exceptions that are applicable to certain countries, for example, some insurers will not cover damage caused by earthquakes in Greece or Italy.

And if you’re an expat based in Europe or a non-UK resident it may be more complicated buying insurance from a British provider. Speak to the company to find out what your options are.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on negotiations around Brexit in case new rules affect ownership of foreign holiday homes.

Static caravans, safety, landlord cover and other holiday home information

Many insurers will cover static caravans as holiday homes. There are also providers that offer specialist insurance for smaller touring caravans. We’ve listed the best providers for static and touring caravans here.

Whatever kind of home you own it’s important to make sure it’s safe and secure for yourself and guests.

That means installing smoke detectors throughout the house, making sure there are decent locks on doors and windows, and thinking about security devices such as burglar alarms and CCTV. Adding these features can also help reduce your insurance premium.

If you’re considering switching from holiday to full-time rental you’ll also need to switch to a landlord insurance policy. We’ve ranked the 12 best landlord insurance products.

We’ve also listed the top 10 standard home insurance companies.

Our holiday home partner HomeProtect also covers other specialist properties, such as listed buildings and homes at risk of flood, read our guide to specialist home cover here.

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