Holiday home insurance has become a serious consideration for 2020-21. With the United Kingdom operating with a variety of measures to restrict the spread of coronavirus, including England’s three-tier system, Scotland’s five-tier system, alert levels in Wales, and restrictions in Northern Ireland, the situation is changing all the time. Even with residents choosing to keep their holiday plans within the home nations for the forseeable future, there is still widespread disruption to travel.
This might mean that families are unable to get to their domestic holiday homes as much as they would have done last year, and for those that offer holiday lettings, they may find their bookings are at an all-time low. This creates management issues for holiday home owners that they may not have had to consider before.
It is common for a holiday home insurance policy to ask for the property to be inspected after it has been unoccupied for a certain amount of time. Often this is 30 days, but can be longer or shorter, so it is worthwhile checking your documents carefully to make sure you’re aware of all of your requirements, and able to comply with them.
Turning water off at the mains
Especially during a cold winter, it is possible for water to freeze within the pipes of a house, and the expansion can cause cracking, or even bursting of the pipes themselves. Not only can this cause leaks, but if mains water is still switched on, it will continually add more water into the system to replace what is leaking out. Even over a short period, there is potential for the house to sustain substantial water damage.
To reduce this risk, holiday home insurance companies may request that the water be turned off at the mains so that at worst, only the water left in the system can escape. While this is still damaging, it will cost far less for the insurers to rectify, and will keep your house out of action for less time. As an extra measure, the company may also ask for the system to be drained of any water, significantly reducing the chance of pipework being damaged in the first place.
One alternative that may be offered by the insurer is that they may allow you to keep the central heating on at a set temperature, such as 15 degrees centigrade, which they hope will stop the pipes from freezing. Some modern systems include an anti-frost setting as standard.
If you are travelling there less yourself, or taking less bookings, then it is more likely that the property would be empty long enough to be considered “unoccupied” by the insurer, which could restrict the cover you get if you do make a claim. It may also impose some of the requirements shown above, so it is worth being aware of what you need to do ahead of time, and allow you to take action.
While it isn’t always the case, the cover tends to decrease to Fire, Lightning, Explosion, Earthquake and Aircraft.
Please remember this isn’t a given, and some policies may even give you no cover whatsoever if you leave the building unoccupied, so we recommend speaking to your insurance company if you’re in any doubt.
Companies are generally quite sympathetic to the struggles that second home owners have come across as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. At GSI Insurance, we have been on-hand to assist our clients on what they need to be doing, when, and if their current policy isn’t suitable for their revised circumstances, coming up with other options for them. If you find yourself confused about the type of coverage you require, or your current company has told you that you need to look elsewhere, then we’re very keen to help. Call us on 0800 612 9376 or fill in our online quote form to discuss your requirements.