Happy Holiday Home Away

Don't let your dream bolt-hole become a headache

If you had a choice of any holiday home, where would it be? In an 'undiscovered' Spanish fishing village beside a golden Mediterranean beach? A stone cottage just a step away from the Lake District fells? A spacious flat overlooking a yacht haven on the Adriatic?

The choices are endless and owning a second home can bring immense pleasure for you and your family – but also the chance of a few headaches. So here's the AA Insurance guide to looking after your holiday dream bolt-hole.

"Holiday home ownership among Brits is growing as property prices have fallen dramatically in places such as Spain and Portugal," says Joanne Guillan who looks after AA Holiday Home Insurance.

"Being able to buy property anywhere in the EU is one of the fundamental freedoms of European law, and there are now few places where you will find difficulty in owning property.

"Even Cyprus, which has long restricted property ownership by foreign nationals, is expected to toe the EU line and open its home-ownership market to the whole of the European community."

Figures published in April by the Office of National Statistics show that an extraordinary 13 per cent of Brits aged over 50 own a second home – often bought as an investment as well as a holiday bolt-hole.

"Owning a second home does have its hazards, though," Joanne points out. "While there are some real bargains to be had at the moment, it's vital to make sure that you use a competent UK lawyer versed in the property law of the country where you are buying, while it's important you're properly insured too."

Buildings cover is based on the rebuilding cost, which may be quite different to the property's market value. Always seek advice from a local surveyor.

And take out an extension to your own UK home insurance for your personal property outside the home. This will cover your travel baggage, cameras, mobile phone and so on when you are away. It will also get you a discount on your travel insurance as you won't need baggage cover.

Tips on insuring your holiday home

  • Contents cover – while buildings insurance covers items such as kitchen and bathroom fixtures, contents covers everything moveable such as free-standing cookers and appliances, carpets, curtains and furniture, as well as personal property and valuables. It's easy when calculating their value to miss some important things – for instance the carpet. The AA offers a useful contents calculator to help you work out the value of your belongings.
  • Public liability cover is important. A visitor, for example, could be injured through your negligence: if the deckchair on your patio collapses; they cut themselves on a broken glass; or a mat slips on your polished tiled floor. Overseas insurers often have very strict limits on liability claims.
  • Flood is included in AA Holiday Home Insurance. That could be an important consideration if your holiday home is very close to the sea. In some countries flood cover may have to be bought separately if you buy a policy from a local insurance company.
  • Cover when letting your home – clearly you aren't going to be in your holiday home all the time and you might want to let it to friends or through a holiday letting agency. And what if you had to drop everything to travel to your holiday home to sort out damage – does your insurance include that? Or does it cover commercially let property at all? And if your home is seriously damaged will lost letting income be covered too?
  • Help when you need it most – if you suffer a break-in or storm damage, you'll need local tradesmen to secure your home and carry out repairs very quickly. You may also need someone to translate for you; it's all very well getting by in a restaurant or asking directions, it's quite different trying to explain your leaking plumbing in the local language. So having someone on your side, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year who can step in to help sort these stressful matters out can be a real relief.

AA Holiday Home Insurance can provide all of these things – so make sure it's the first thing on your holiday 'to take' list. AA Breakdown Members and AA Insurance customers should use the following promotional discount codes when completing the online application form:

AA Members quote AAHH1 for a 7.5% discount

AA Insurance policyholders quote AAHH2 for a 5% discount