Before you go on holiday

Simple precautions to avoid domestic disasters

11 August 2011

If you take some simple precautions before you go away on holiday you can reduce the risk of coming home to a domestic disaster such as water leaks, pest infestations or power failure. Over eight million Britons have previously come back from holiday to domestic disasters like these.

With the summer holidays underway, homeowners are advised to take precautions before they leave home. Over eight million Britons (17%) have previously come back from holiday to a domestic disaster such as water leaks, pest infestations or power failure, according to new research from the AA's Home Emergency Response Service. The findings reveal that Brits collectively face an annual bill of £228 million to repair the damage caused by domestic disasters while they are away on their summer break.

  • 44% of those who suffered a domestic disaster weren't reimbursed by their home insurance provider for the cost of damage and fixing the problem.
  • Water leaks are the most common domestic disaster holidaymakers come home to, affecting 25% of those who have suffered problems.
  • One in five (20%) disaster-stricken homeowners have returned from holiday to a pest infestation, and one in nine (11%) to find no power in their home.
  • 9% of homeowners experiencing a post-holiday set back have found themselves locked out of their house and unable to get in, whilst for 7% it has been the opposite – they have come back to find smashed windows and their home at the mercy of passing burglars.

Leaving the house at risk

With water leaks being the most common problem, it's ironic that only 18% of homeowners turn off the water stopcock before they head off on holiday.

A third inadvertently attract pests by not wiping up crumbs or ensuring there are no food leftovers lying around before they set off. And half the population do not leave a spare key with a neighbour.

Who sorts out the problem?

Sorting out many of these holiday disasters is not covered by normal home insurance policies. Home emergency cover could prove to be invaluable

Tom Stringer, head of AA HER

Householders had home emergency cover in place to rectify the problem in only 9% of cases. 45% of disasters have had to be dealt with by the homeowners themselves, while 13% called a tradesman in, and 24% were resolved by their home insurance company.

Tom Stringer, head of the AA's Home Emergency Response Service, said: "The summer holiday is a key time of the year when we all want to be able to go away and relax. If you take a few simple precautions such as turning off the water at the stop cock and making sure all food is either thrown or put away, you are much more likely to be equally relaxed when you get back from your break.

"Sorting out many of these holiday disasters is not covered by normal home insurance policies. Home emergency cover could prove to be invaluable, whether the situation requires sending out a locksmith because the house keys are still buried somewhere on a beach in Lanzarote, or a plumber to deal with the burst pipe which has spent the last two weeks dripping water through the house."

Most common holiday disasters

Proportion of people who have been affected by each issue as a percentage of people coming home from holiday to any type of disaster

  1. Water leaks (25%)
  2. Pest infestation (20%)
  3. Flooding (12%)
  4. Power failure - specific to their home (11%)
  5. Being locked out (9%)
  6. Smashed windows    (7%)
  7. Overflowing drain (6%)
  8. Roof damage (6%)
  9. Electrical fire (2%)