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Ultimate guide to holiday home insurance in the UK and abroad

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holiday home by the sea with a protective shield above

Who doesn’t want a holiday home? A home away from home in a stunning and sunny location is pretty hard to say no to! Whether you have a one in the UK or somewhere overseas like Spain or France, it’s wise to have holiday home insurance, especially if you rent it out when you aren’t using it yourself. This can protect it from damage, vandalism, theft and much more. Read on to find out why you need holiday home insurance and which type is best for you.

Holiday home insurance: What is it? Why do you need it?

You may think that as your holiday home is just like any other home, regular home insurance is sufficient to protect it, but unfortunately it is not. Your holiday home is subject to a few more risks than your main home, mainly because it is left empty for much longer periods of time.

holiday home on the beach

An empty home has a bigger risk of theft and burglary. Plus there is a greater chance of damage not being noticed quickly and causing more problems further down the line. For example, if a pipe breaks but no one visits the home for a few weeks (maybe even months!) the damage caused will be much greater than if it’s spotted within a day or so.

This is why holiday homes need specific holiday home insurance. Like a regular homeowner’s policy, holiday home insurance is made up of buildings insurance and contents insurance, but there are a few differences and extras. Let’s take a quick look at what it can cover.

  • Buildings insurance: cover to repair or completely rebuild your home if it gets damaged or destroyed by an insured catastrophe, such as a flood or fire. If your holiday home has any outbuildings, solar panels, a hot tub or swimming pool etc., these can also be covered. Find out more in our buildings insurance guide.
  • Contents insurance: insures all of your possessions and valuables in your holiday home in case they get broken/ruined in an insured peril (earthquake, water damage), or stolen. Read our guide on contents insurance to find out more.
  • Extended periods of unoccupancy: you will be able to leave the property empty for long periods of time and remain covered. The length of unoccupancy cover will depend on the policy. Some are very flexible and have no restrictions, but watch out for unoccupancy requirements.
  • Public liability coverage: protects you if someone is injured or dies at your property.
  • Emergency travel cover: cover to travel to your property in an emergency, such as a fire causing damage or a burst pipe causing flooding.
  • Different types of property: can cover a range of properties, including houses, apartments, chalets, cottages, villas and renovated barns.
  • Home emergency cover: gives you access to a 24/7 emergency helpline if you need assistance and means a domestic emergency, e.g. a burst pipe, is dealt with quickly.

Is caravan insurance different?

Holiday home insurance can cover lots of different types of property, but does not usually cover caravans. If you have a caravan as a holiday home, you will need caravan insurance. Insurance providers differentiate between touring caravans and static caravans.

Static caravan insurance is not dissimilar to holiday home insurance: it can protect the structure of your caravan; the possessions inside, and cover you to leave the caravan empty for long periods.

Touring caravan insurance has elements of car insurance and home insurance. It can protect your caravan from: internal and external damage, theft, and can include recovery services if you break down.

Touring vs static caravansVery simply, a static caravan stays in one place, usually in a caravan park, and a touring caravan is towed on the back of your car to wherever you want to go.

Renting your holiday home? You might need to add holiday let insurance

Renting your holiday home is pretty popular; it’s left empty for large proportions of the year so it’s an easy way to make a bit of extra cash. Whether you rent to friends, family members or paying guests, holiday let insurance can be a good idea.

Some normal holiday home insurance policies might cover you if you occasionally rent your home out (make sure you read the policy carefully), but if you make a habit of it, or have specifically bought the holiday home to let out, you should consider holiday let insurance. Very much like landlord insurance/buy to let insurance, holiday let insurance can cover:

burgular figure
  • Loss of rent insurance: if something makes your property uninhabitable while guests are staying there, they will be given alternative accommodation so they can continue enjoying their holiday.
  • Alternative accommodation: cover if your property becomes uninhabitable due to an insured event (burst pipe, flood damage etc.) and you can’t rent it out.
  • Theft, including theft by your guests: check to see if it covers theft by non-forcible entry, e.g. through an open window. You can’t always trust your guests to close windows and lock doors when they go out.
  • Damage by your guest: your guests can cause accidental and malicious damage to your property and belongings so make sure you are protected against this.
  • Damage by pets: no one likes to leave their pets behind when they go on holiday. If your holiday home is pet-friendly, make sure your insurance covers any damage they can cause. You don’t want to have to buy a new sofa because a dog has chewed it!
  • Public liability insurance: covers you for the legal costs if any of your guests get injured or die at your holiday home.
  • Employee liability insurance: covers anyone who comes to work at your property, such as a gardener or swimming pool cleaner.

Rather than taking out a separate holiday let insurance policy, some companies will let you add the above options onto your regular holiday home insurance as extra cover. The more you add on, the more expensive your insurance premium will be. It’s always a good idea to compare companies and the insurance rates they offer to make sure you get a good deal.

With the rise of accommodation sharing sites like Airbnb and HomeAway, letting your holiday home has become really easy and more and more people are joining the bandwagon. As a result, some home insurance providers have started to offer host insurance that is designed for Airbnb style renting.

Holiday home insurance or second home insurance

man looking confused

You may have seen the term second home insurance crop up and might be thinking WHAT!? Second home insurance is different to holiday home insurance, but sometimes it is not clear which will best suit you and your second property.

What is second home insurance? It’s designed to protect a property that is not your main home, but is somewhere you stay regularly, perhaps for holidays, or maybe for work and business trips. It is very similar to standard home insurance and includes buildings and contents insurance.

This doesn’t sound that different to holiday home insurance! So when do you need second home insurance and when do you need holiday home insurance?

The clearest identifier is whether your property is in the UK or overseas. If it is abroad, you are most likely going to need holiday home insurance, sometimes called overseas holiday home insurance. If it is in the UK, second home insurance may be a better option, but this depends on condition number two.

If you occupy the property with a patterned frequency, such as every weekend, every other weekend or every month, second home insurance is the best option. As the property is left unoccupied for shorter periods of time, you do not need the extended unoccupancy cover that comes with holiday home insurance.

If you visit and use the property more sporadically, for example during the school holidays, sometimes at Christmas, or an impromptu weekend every once in a while, holiday home insurance is the best cover for you.

  1. Where is your holiday home?
  2. How often do you use the property?

Holiday home insurance: UK

Who says your holiday home has to be abroad? If you have a holiday home in the UK, you can get specific UK holiday home insurance.

holiday home in the UK

Staycations - holidays taken in the country where you live - are on the rise. Letting you have spontaneous, last-minute weekends away and shorter but regular, well-deserved relaxing breaks, having a holiday home on home soil can be more practical and rewarding than having one abroad. With stunning destinations like Cornwall, the Lake District and Pembrokeshire, who needs to leave UK shores anyway!?

A lot of insurance providers split their holiday home insurance into UK holiday home insurance and overseas/European holiday home insurance. If you want to join the staycation trend and get a holiday home in Wales, Scotland, England or Northern Ireland, holiday home insurance for properties in the UK is the best option.

Holiday home insurance: Spain

man sunbathing on beach

Spain is the most popular European holiday destination for British holidaymakers. If you can’t get enough of the glorious sunshine and want to return year after year, a holiday home in one of the Costas is a great idea. After buying the perfect villa on the coast or in the mountains, holiday home insurance for Spain is a must to protect your little paradise in the sun.

This can cover a range of property types, from city apartments to coastal villas, all over Spain, including non-mainland Spain like the Canary Islands. Swimming pool cover will likely be included as standard, rather than as an optional add-on.

Other holiday destinations

Spain isn’t the only holiday home destination for Brits; what about France, Italy, Portugal and Greece? A lot of holiday home insurance providers will insure your property in popular European countries and sometimes beyond.

The exact countries covered vary from provider to provider. The table below outlines what countries a few of the UK’s main holiday home insurers and insurance brokers cover.

Provider UK Overseas
Schofields Insurance   France, Italy, Portugal, Spain
Towergate Insurancee   Bulgaria, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Southern Cyprus
Insurance For Holiday Homes (from A-Plan insurance)   Cyprus, France, Greece and Greek Islands, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain
Intasure   Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Channel Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE
HomeProtect (underwritten by AXA insurance)    

Insurance companies usually refuse to insure holiday homes in countries and areas that are prone to natural disasters (earthquakes, floods etc.), such as Turkey, certain areas of Italy and parts of Greece. Make sure you bear this in mind when choosing your holiday home destination.

Advantages of using a UK insurance company

If your holiday home is overseas, you may think it makes more sense to get insurance with a provider from that country (a French provider in France for example), but from a ski chalet in the Alps to a villa on the Spanish coast, it’s best to get cover with a UK company.

landline phone

Dealing with a UK company can make everything a little easier, espeically contacting the company and its call centre/emergency helpline. If you have any questions about your policy or need to make an insurance claim, it will be a lot easier to deal with English-speaking advisors and insurance agents. When something happens to your property, it can be upsetting and stressful. Making a claim will be easier and things will move faster if there are no communication difficulties with your insurance provider.

This also goes for all documentation. If you have insurance with a Spanish company, for instance, all of your policy wording and documents will be in Spanish, which, unless you speak fluent Spanish, will be a bit of a challenge to get through. With a UK company, all of your documents will be in English, making it much easier to read and understand, although it may still be a bit boring!

Make sure you can make a claim!

Sometimes the unoccupancy cover with holiday home insurance can seem a bit too good to be true. Can you really leave the property unoccupied for an unlimited period of time and it will remain fully covered? Well yes, but you need to be super careful that you follow all of the unoccupancy requirements, especially during the winter. These can include:

  1. Leaving the heating on: you might have to leave the central heating at a minimum temperature at all times to reduce the risk of pipes freezing and bursting.
  2. Turning water off: you might have to turn the water supply off at the mains and even drain all water systems to stop pipes bursting.
  3. Security cameras and alarms: if you are covered against theft, security cameras might be a requirement, especially if the value of contents in your property is high. You may also need to have a burglar alarm installed and activated.
  4. Specific locks and bolts: your theft cover may not be enforceable unless you have specific locks and bolts fitted and activated on your doors and windows.
  5. Property inspections: you might need to check on your property regularly (you can ask someone to do this for you).
  6. Claim period: if something happens to your property e.g. a burglary or fire, you will have to report it to the police and your insurer within a set amount of time.

If you don’t follow all of the unoccupancy guarantees stated in your policy and something happens while your property is empty, your insurer can reject your claim and won’t pay out.

Even if the above requirements aren’t stated in your policy, they can be useful hacks to ensure your property stays safe while no one's there. Something as simple as draining the water system can save a lot of unneeded and unwanted damage. Ensuring your home security is top notch (e.g. with solid door locks, burglar alarm systems) can also lower the cost of your holiday home insurance and who doesn’t want that?!

Need to make a claim? Read our step by step guide on how to claim on home insurance and find out what you need to do.

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