A Guide to House Swap Insurance or Renting Your Home to Holidaymakers
You’ve heard the horror stories. Someone opens up their home to strangers only to have them hold a big party and trash the place, or steal from them.
Luckily, such incidents are a rarity and for many people renting out their home to holidaymakers is an attractive way of earning money. House swapping arrangements are also increasingly popular because you don’t have to pay for a hotel and you get a glimpse of life as a local.
Plus, if you’re away when your guests are over, your house is less likely to be burgled because it won’t be empty. The guests may even be happy to take care of your pet for you.
Despite the popularity of house swapping and Airbnb rentals, getting insurance can still be a minefield, as there’s no industry standard for what you can get cover for.
To get the insurance you need to cover a range of scenarios, you’ll need to do your research and spend some time shopping around. These tips will help you get started:
The number one rule: speak to your home insurance provider
If there’s one thing you shouldn’t forget to do – it’s tell your home insurance provider when you’re planning to open up your house to strangers. Failing to let them know is classed as ‘non-disclosure’ and can invalidate your insurance. Your insurer may be able to temporarily increase the level of cover you have, for a one-off fee, or they may increase your premium or excess while you have guests.
When you speak to your insurer, be clear about your circumstances to make sure you get the right cover for your situation. For instance, your policy may not cover renting out a second home. You’re also likely to need different cover depending on whether your guests are paying or not.
Questions to ask about your home insurance
Don’t assume anything! If you’re unsure about any aspect of your insurance – ask your provider. The kind of questions that are good to ask include:
- What scenarios does your existing insurance cover and what do you need extra cover for? Your regular home insurance is unlikely to cover you for accidental damage by strangers, or for theft, if there’s no sign of forced entry.
- Are you covered if you stay in the property while your guests are over? This sometimes invalidates insurance for certain scenarios, like theft or accidental damage.
- Are you covered for damage caused to communal areas?
- Does your policy stipulate a maximum length of stay?
- Is there a maximum number of people you can host in a single visit?
- Are you covered for harm to guests while in your house?
- Will you be covered for harm to pets?
Specialist home insurance
If you’re planning on hosting guests regularly, then it’s probably worth taking out specialist home insurance cover. You’ll still need to check the insurance covers all the scenarios we’ve previously mentioned.
But once you’ve got the cover, you may not need to keep telling your insurer every time you have guests over.
Even if you’re part of the Airbnb network, which automatically includes a host guarantee, remember it’s not a substitute for insurance. There are several scenarios you’ll still need insurance for, so make sure you read the guarantee’s terms and conditions carefully.
Extra insurance you may need
Depending on your arrangement, you may need more than home insurance.
If you’re also renting out your car, you may need to arrange for temporary cover for the driver, if their insurance doesn’t cover them already.
If you’re hosting paying guests, you may need loss of income insurance. You may also need a travel insurance policy that covers you if the house swap falls through at the last minute.
Before guests arrive
- References are a good way of finding out if you’re opening your home up to a safe pair of hands or not. Some holiday rental networks like Airbnb already have a system in place for doing this.
- Take photos of how you left the house. These will provide invaluable evidence if you need to make a claim.
- Put together a brief guide with useful information for guests, like how to operate your heating, or who to call if there’s an emergency.
- Safely lock away valuables items.
- Agree who’ll pay bills beforehand.