Holiday home property insurance

John Brady

Head of Commercial, John Lewis Insurance

A place in the sun

Thinking of investing in a second home? Or maybe you're already living the dream? Arm yourself with the facts – and a good insurance policy.

Buying a holiday home is a dream for many people who come back from holiday with that all too familiar "I want to go back and live there all the time" feeling.

In view of the economic downturn, it's now slightly easier to find a bargain than it was at the height of the holiday home boom 10 years ago, with fewer buyers competing for properties, and new destinations opening up.

Spain remains the number one place for retirement, and nearby neighbour France, with its varied climate and close proximity to the UK is popular. Hot new destinations to buy include Bulgaria, Croatia and Turkey, as they offer a beautiful climate and good value for money.

Pros and cons of buying abroad

Pros

  • A holiday home is something you can enjoy now, and use as an investment for your retirement
  • It's a 'home from home' base for your holiday, so you can relax as soon as you get there, and know that you're surrounded by familiar belongings and furnishings.
  • No more worrying about accommodation - all you have to do is book your ferry or flight.

Cons

  • Buying a holiday home abroad may seem cheaper than at home, but beware extra costs and taxes, which vary from country to country.
  • Like your home, it still needs maintaining, so part of your holiday will be spent doing jobs around the house.
  • If you need to sell, you might find it takes longer and becomes a drain on your finances.

Using an agent: The pros and cons

Although you'll have to pay a fee, it might be worth signing up to a property management agent, especially if you're planning on renting your holiday home out or leaving it empty for long periods of time.

An agent will be able to handle day-to-day problems as they occur, clean the house and answer questions from tenants, which can be reassuring if you're miles away. You can arrange for them to hold the keys for you, and make regular visits to the house to check it's well maintained. But this can be expensive, so may not be right for you if your budget's already stretched.

What if there's a problem with your holiday home?

Having your relaxing holiday ruined by a domestic problem can be a second home owner's worst nightmare. It's worth making a list of trusted local handymen such as electricians, plumbers and builders who you can call on if something does go wrong. Ask around with friends and neighbours to find out who's recommended. If your holiday home is in an isolated area, knowing there's someone on hand to help can be invaluable.

John Lewis Specialist Home Insurance can give you peace of mind with a 24-hour Home Emergency Service. If you arrive to find your heating, electricity or plumbing system has broken down, you've been infested by rats or mice or your locks have been damaged, you're covered for up to £1500 for parts and labour.

How to protect your home and its contents

It's essential that you take out a good insurance policy to protect your investment and your belongings. Many people automatically assume that you're 'safer' in a peaceful holiday location, but turning up at your holiday home to find you've been burgled is a traumatic experience, especially if you keep a lot of personal items there.

Knowing you're insured will give you peace of mind when you're far away, and it's worth looking into a specialist holiday home insurance policy.

John Lewis Specialist Home Insurance covers second homes abroad, as well as in the UK. You can relax wherever you are in the world, safe in the knowledge that your holiday home and its contents – including art and antiques - are insured. It also covers those costly things you don't always think about, such as heating oil and outdoor items. There's also cover for replacement locks and keys if they're lost or stolen.

Find out more