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What types of overseas properties can be insured?

If you have a home abroad you will want to protect it in the same way that you protect your main place of residence in the UK.

Most types of overseas properties can be covered by insurance and it is a good idea to make sure you are protected for events such as fire, theft and flooding.

You can insure the following types of properties abroad in popular European countries like Spain and Portugal:

  • Villas

  • Chalets

  • Cottages

  • Static caravans

Some locations that are subject to particularly high natural disasters may be excluded from overseas holiday home insurance. So for example if you holiday home is sited close to a river that floods regularly, is in a coastal location that is vulnerable to storm surges or coastal erosion, or your home is located in a hurricane belt where homes are damaged on a regular basis by storms and hurricanes, then you may not be able to get cover.

What type of overseas property insurance coverage should I get?

The coverage will be similar to your building and contents insurance you might already hold for your primary place of residence in the UK. However, due to the unique nature of overseas property, you can also be covered by your insurance for the travel costs of attending to emergencies at the property. If you have extra contents like golf clubs or solar panels in the property, this can be covered too.

The terms and conditions of each policy will outline what is included, and what is excluded.

Many people leave a number of their belongings at their overseas home while they are not living there or visiting. If these items are valuable, ie worth over £500 for a single item, or you take them out of your overseas property on a regular basis, then they may need to be covered separately or added as an additional risk on your standard overseas home insurance policy.

Do different types of overseas property need different cover?

The type of cover you need will depend on the type and location of your property. A chalet or static caravan will have a different physical construction from a villas and will be built from different materials. 

With a static caravan you may not be directly responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the site on which it is situated, and so you may need to check the terms and conditions of your lease contract.

With a cottage, your property made need specialist insurance if it is timber-framed or a thatched cottage, made of unusual materials, or over a certain age. For specialist properties you may need cover from a specialist insurer who understands and is prepared to cover the specific risks involved in these types of homes.

Can I insure a property in another country?

If your property is abroad, you may think you can only insure the property through an insurer based in that country. You can choose to do that, however there may be language barriers and those policies may be more difficult to understand.  The legal rules and claims process may be different to a British policy, for example. 

You have the option of instead taking out a policy from a UK-based insurer which you may find more straightforward. You will understand the policy as it will be written in English, and you will mostly likely find the claims process easier to navigate if you are dealing with an English-speaking representative to whom you can talk in your own time zone.

Find out about home insurance for high net worth homes

Do I need overseas property insurance if I rent out my overseas property?

If you rent out your overseas property to holidaymakers, paying guests or even friends and family, then standard home insurance may not be sufficient. If you rely on regular rental income you may wish to consider insurance coverage for loss of rental income, should there be unforeseen circumstances, like a global pandemic.

Overseas property insurance can also cover things like liability insurance for both guests who stay in your property, as well as any employees attending to the property for management, cleaning or maintenance reasons.

Some of these inclusions will be offered as standard in an overseas property insurance policy, others may be optional extras at an additional cost.

Find out about second home and unoccupied home insurance policies with Uswitch

What can overseas property insurance cover as standard? 

Building and contents: The main structure of the building and fixtures and fittings. It will also cover things like appliances, and furniture, including soft furnishing.

Theft: Note that if you are allowing friends or relatives to stay there, some policies may exclude theft if there is no sign of forced entry.

Unoccupied periods: If the home is for your holidays only, it is likely to remain empty for regular periods of time. Different policies will offer different periods of coverage for unoccupied property, such as more than 30 days, or 60 days.

What other optional extras should I consider?

Accidental damage: Especially on holidays, accidents can happen to your property as people unwind and enjoy themselves. Your overseas property insurance can cover this.

Home emergency cover: If you need an urgent tradesperson, such as for a faulty hot water service, or a locksmith if you lock yourself out, you can add this as an optional extra.

Public liability cover: for guests and staff on the property.

Read more about home insurance with our Uswitch Guide: What is home insurance?

Frequently Asked Questions

No, but it may be a condition of the mortgage you might have for the property that the property is insured at all times. 

You may also feel more comfortable knowing the property is fully insured, if you are not visiting the property regularly, and it is empty much of the time.

A standard home insurance policy may exclude renting the property on a commercial basis if you are considering doing this when you are not using the property. It may also require your property to be regularly occupied. An overseas property you only use occasionally may be unoccupied regularly.

Different policies will allow different periods of time the property can remain unoccupied for. You can choose a policy based on how long you anticipate these periods will be during the life of the policy.

This will depend on the location of both properties. One thing to keep in mind is that if your holiday home is regularly empty, this poses a security risk. You could improve the security of your property with additional locks on doors and windows and consider an alarm system to deter intruders.

For this reason you may find it more expensive to insure your overseas property abroad than your primary residence in the UK.

Try not to leave valuables in your overseas home if it is unoccupied for regular periods of time.

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