How to Keep Your Holiday Home Safe and Secure

Because holiday homes are regularly left unoccupied, they’re more vulnerable to certain kinds of damage and are at an increased risk of being broken into. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to keep things safe and secure so that your second home is just as you remembered leaving it when you next pay a visit.

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Tips for keeping your holiday home safe and secure

Your valuables

When you’re away from your holiday home, you want to make sure that any and all valuable items are out of sight of windows to deter thieves. Ideally, you would take all of your valuables with you when leaving, but this isn’t always possible, so making sure your valuables are tucked away is the next best option.

Regular check-ups

If you know anyone local to the location of your holiday home, ask a neighbour or friend to visit your property while you’re away to check that all is well. It’s also a good idea to ask them to pick up your post for you, as a pile of mail in your letterbox is a clear sign to criminals and thieves that the property is vacant.

If it’s within your budget, consider installing alarms and CCTV cameras for that extra bit of peace of mind while you’re away.

Doing your bit

The insurers we work with require your property to have a certain level of security before they’ll consider covering it. Ideally, you must have locks which meet BS3621 standards on all external doors to avoid your cover becoming invalid. Patio door locks should be multi-point or have a lock on the central rail at the top and bottom of the door.

If your home does not have these protections, you still may be able to obtain a quote, but your underwriter will need to assess if the locks you do have are adequate. As an extra measure, you can use a house alarm to keep your property even more secure.

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Avoiding water problems in your holiday home

Another common danger for unoccupied holiday homes is water leakage. This is normally caused by a burst pipe, leaking toilet or central heating system malfunction.

It’s likely that you’ll spend less time in your holiday home over the winter months, and this is the time when burst pipes are most likely to happen, especially as a result of freezing temperatures. There are a few things you can do prevent this from happening, though.

Insulate pipes

This is known as 'lagging' and involves wrapping waterproof and insulating material around pipes to stop them freezing. Most DIY shops sell materials for you to do this yourself.

Insulate water tanks

Your water tanks can also freeze over in cold conditions, so they will need lagging as well if you’re planning to be away from the property over winter.

Keep the property heated

Prevent pipes from freezing by leaving the temperature on a minimum of 13°C. Heating that works on a timer is particularly useful for heating your property while you’re away.

Locate the stopcock

If you’re in your house when disaster strikes, it’s useful to know where the stopcock is so that you can shut off the water quickly and minimise damage. Similarly, if you aren’t there and you need to call out a plumber, you can direct them to the stopcock with ease. It’s better to know where it is before an emergency rather than after.

Maintain your boiler

Cold snaps and frost can result in extreme property damage to a vacant home. Make sure you have your boiler serviced annually and ensure that any external pipes (i.e. condensing boiler pipes) are insulated properly.

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Checklist: securing your holiday home on departure

When you or your tenants are leaving the property, use this checklist to prepare your home for every possible emergency.

  • Hot water system: Make sure your storage tanks and hot water cylinders are in good working order. You’ll also want me to insulate them to prevent them from freezing and breaking.

  • Foliage: In windy or stormy weather, debris could smash through windows, resulting in serious property damage. Make sure the trees and hedges surrounding your property are pruned sensibly and away from nearby cables.

  • Gutters: Ensure that your gutters, eaves, and drains are clear of debris and free of leaks, to prevent overflow and blockages.

  • Heating systems: Leave your heating on a minimum of 13°C using a timer. You could also install a central heating app to manage the property's temperature. If you have to turn your central heating system off, make sure it’s properly drained down to avoid burst pipes. 

  • Loft: Help your home retain heat by insulating your loft and leaving the loft hatch open to allow for better air circulation.

  • Roof: Check your roof for broken, loose or leaking tiles, and treat any disrepair with urgency as there’s a risk of causing not only property damage but injury.

  • Water pipes: Drain down your water pipes to prevent excess water being trapped in them and freezing and bursting. You should also protect your pipes by insulating them with lagging. If you’re unsure how to do this, contact a plumber for advice.

  • Windows: Make sure all windows are in good repair and free of water. Check window sills for rot and damp, and double-check the sealant around the windows of your home and outbuildings, making appropriate repairs to any areas of damage.

Remember: If your holiday home might be subject to natural disasters such as typhoons or earthquakes, make sure you’ve weather-proofed your home to withstand those threats.

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Safety at your holiday home

  • Aerials: If your house has any aerials (e.g. antenna, satellite dish, etc), make sure they’re still firmly attached to your home.

  • Appliances: Double-check your home for leaks, especially potential problem areas such as your dishwasher, washing machine, and your taps and showers. Also consider unplugging all appliances except for your refrigerator and freezer to save energy and reduce the risk of fire.

  • Emergency pack: Store emergency supplies (e.g. first aid kit, torch, important documents, etc) in an easily accessible location, so that you can find it during emergencies and power outages.

  • Surge protector: Install or check existing surge protectors to protect your sensitive electronics from power surges and electrical storms.

  • Smoke detectors: Test all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace old batteries if necessary.

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Holiday home security

  • Basic security: Tightly close and lock all the doors and windows of your property and its outbuildings (e.g. garage, shed, barn, etc). Also, remove any keys you may have hidden outside.

  • Lighting: Illuminating entry points will often dissuade would-be burglars from entering your home. For extra security, you can also put your internal lights on a timer to make it appear as though someone is home.

  • Valuables: Take whatever valuables you can with you, and hide whatever you cannot take out of sight. You might also consider installing a safe to protect small valuables.

This is a marketing article by Towergate Insurance.

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Holiday home insurance from Towergate

The right insurance will give you peace of mind and save you a fortune should the unthinkable ever occur. For more information, visit our holiday home insurance webpage or call one of our specialist advisers on 0344 892 1750.

The information contained in this blog post is based on sources that we believe are reliable and should be understood as general information only. It is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any specific or individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such.

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About the author

James Cooper is a respected industry leader with around 10 years' experience in the home and property insurance sector. He works across a broad range of insurance product and policy development and delivery, including product development; customer sales and marketing; and P&L accountability.