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We all know that from time to time accidents happen; perhaps someone spills a glass of wine (hopefully not red!) or smashes a glass fresh from the dishwasher. We can accept those and understand that accidents happen to the best of us. However what if someone were to cause malicious damage to your holiday home? Whether the malicious damage is caused by a paying guest or a trespasser, you’ll be faced with making repairs before your next guests arrive.

Do you know where you stand and what you need to do when it comes to your insurance?

What is malicious damage?

In the insurance industry, the term ‘malicious damage’ generally refers to any damage caused to your property on purpose.  There is a clear distinction between this and ‘accidental damage’, in that the damage caused has to be proven as being deliberate, rather than just an accident (for example spilling wine after tripping or smashing a glass that slipped through the hands).

Check your holiday home insurance policy

As specialists in holiday home insurance, our aim is to always give our policy holders the right cover so that should something happen, you know you’re not going to be left significantly out of pocket.

Malicious damage is covered under our policy as standard but is not by all policies on the market, so if you’re not currently insured with us, it’s worth checking your own documents.

The financial implications of your holiday letting property suffering malicious damage can be far reaching. In addition to repairing the material damage to your buildings and / or contents you may also suffer loss of rental income.

What do you do if you think someone has deliberately damaged your property?

Step 1

The first step to take would be to contact the police as soon as reasonably possible so the incident can be investigated. Take photos of the damage as this will assist your insurers with your claim. You also need to let your insurer know about the incident at this point by reporting the claim. If the damage is significant your insurers will appoint a loss adjuster to help settle your claim and appoint contractors to make repairs.

Step 2

Once your insurer is aware of the incident, it’s important that you forward them all communication and documentation surrounding it as soon as it comes through (including any knowledge of any impending prosecution or enquiry in connection with the event), as well providing them with any further information they request in order to process your claim.

The importance of being proactive

Although we’ve outlined the initial steps to take if you feel that your property has been damaged on purpose, it’s worth reiterating that before ever needing to take these steps, you should make sure you understand your insurance policy and what is covered within it.

If you haven’t already, search your policy document for the term ‘malicious’ to ensure you know what’s covered and what isn’t before you need to rely on it.

For more information on specialist insurance cover for your holiday home please give our experienced team a call on 01237 429444.

*This blog post is only intended as an introduction to malicious damage cover.  Please always refer to your insurance policy to gain a full understanding of your current level of cover.

self-catering cottage businessHaving the right insurance cover will help you run your self-catering cottage business with confidence. As a holiday letting insurance specialist we have pulled together a few pointers to consider when insuring your cottage complex:

  • Don’t forget however many bookings you take, you are running a self-catering cottage business

There are a wide range of properties being made available for holiday letting. You may holiday let an annexe of your main home, stable or barn conversions, a gate house, or even shepherd’s huts that you intend to holiday let. If they are within the grounds of your home, be sure to make your home insurers aware, as they often do not like businesses being run from the premises and you risk invalidating your cover. Seeking advice from a holiday letting insurance specialist will help you ensure you get the right cover for both the holiday cottage business and your home.

  • Make sure you have the right liability cover for holiday letting

Inviting paying guests into holiday accommodation will inevitably see the occasional slip, trip or injury. It’s vital that you have sufficient Public Liability cover and if you have a hot tub or swimming pool there is a greater risk of Legionellosis so check you also have cover for this. You may employ gardeners, maintenance and housekeeping staff for changeovers. If you do, it is a legal requirement for you to have Employers Liability insurance. Remember, even if you are directing the work of self-employed contractors or employing friends to work on your property, you’ll still need this cover.

  • Protect your income, not just your assets

Loss of income whilst a cottage is unavailable following a claim is often overlooked. Make sure your policy covers all potential bookings lost, not just pre-booked holidays. Your property may be unavailable for a sustained period in the event of a major loss such as a fire, flood or burst pipe, ensure your self-catering cottage business income is fully protected.

  • Heed guidance if you are providing facilities to your guests

Many owners provide additional facilities to help attract guests and secure increased occupancy levels. This may be outdoor play equipment, a swimming pool, sauna or hot tubs. Equally we see pets’ corners, fishing lakes and wedding venues. To protect yourself and your guests, risk assess your additional facilities, provide instruction leaflets and refer to RoSPA safety guidelines. Remember to inspect equipment regularly. Declare all facilities to your insurers and be aware that your policy may contain conditions that you need to follow.

Get the right insurance advice for your self-catering cottage business

The team here at Boshers devote their time to advising owners across the UK on insurance for their self-catering cottages. We’ve been arranging this specialist type of insurance for 30 years. We understand that each self-catering cottage business is unique. We’ll take time to understand your needs and provide you with insurance advice and the right cover.

For additional tips and information on holiday letting visit boshers.co.uk/blog. If you would like an insurance quote for an individual holiday home or cottage or for your self-catering cottage business, give the team a call on 01237 429444.

Negative feedback and guest complaints

Negative feedback and guest complaintsTimes they are a changing, and never has that been truer than in the area of negative feedback and guest complaints. Where people would in times gone by leave their feedback in a comment book placed within your holiday home and raise any issues over the phone during their stay, these comments and issues are now often left online once they get home for the world to see.

So what is the best way to address negative feedback or guest complaints made after they have left your holiday home, and the option of rectifying any issue is no longer on the table?

The TripAdvisor conundrum

Love it or loath it, TripAdvisor plays a large role in effecting the buying decisions of potential guests. Therefore any negative reviews need to be dealt with effectively, efficiently and also without emotion.

You should have a strategy and approach to Tripadvisor which should include the following:

  1. Having someone responsible for reviewing and responding to your reviews, both positive and negative.
  2. Have a time frame for responding to any ongoing reviews.
  3. Create a review process for any response to a negative review which brings in more than one person.

The final point is a key one here; when writing online it can be very difficult to denote tone, which means that in the majority of cases the person reading the response you’ve written (whether that’s the person that’s left the complaint or a potential guest) will apply their own perceived tone to it.

Ensuring that more than one person has read the response, and that it isn’t posted in haste, will help to ensure you’ve struck the correct chord.

Is it all lost or can the situation be resolved?

If a guest has left a negative review then it can be understandably difficult to not take it personally; you’ll spend a lot of time, effort and money in making your cottage a great place for guests to stay so any complaint can seem as somewhat of an attack.

Because of that the default position may be to revert to defense.  However, take some time to think how best to resolve the issue rather than pointing elements out to the contrary of what they’ve said.

Entering into conversation away from the public eye is a positive way of moving toward a resolution and away from an unseemly TripAdvisor spat, which can quickly and frequently, go viral.

If points they’ve made do need clarification make sure they’re made in a factual and non-emotive way.

What if they’re not made on Tripadvisor?

The question here is how to find them! Although TripAdvisor is a massive part of holiday home and tourism life, not all comments and reviews will be made through the platform.

You should regularly monitor your brand online through Google, Twitter and Facebook.

How to find recent mentions of your cottage on Google

When it comes to Google, try putting in the name of your cottage, or your website url (try both).  If you select ‘Tools’ which is just underneath the search box on Google and alter the ‘Any Time’ drop down to ‘Past week’ you will only be seeing new information added to Google in the last seven days.  This can be a great way of keeping on top of the vast search engine.

How to find mentions of your cottage on Twitter

Are you already using the third party application Hootsuite for Twitter? If not then here is a great reason to do so. Hootsuite provides quick and easy access to recent mentions of your holiday cottage from the millions of tweets made every hour.

You can do this in seconds by:

  • adding a tab / stream into the platform; and
  • setting the search to the name of your cottage.

This will let you see mentions of your cottage when they’ve not included your Twitter handle in their tweet. (These will appear automatically in your @mentions tab on Twitter).

For more information on adding columns to Hootsuite, take a look at these instructions:

How to find mentions of your cottage on Facebook

Last but not least; you can find mentions of your cottage on Facebook by using the simple search tool available on all profiles.

And once you’ve located the comments?

Once you have found any feedback and comments from your guests ensure you always respond. Do so in the same effective, efficient and non-emotive way as you should on TripAdvisor.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For information on how specialist insurance can help protect your holiday home business, call us on 01237 429444

Equality Act 2010

Equality Act 2010As a self-catering business providing accommodation to paying guests you’ll need to know about the Equality Act 2010. You’ll also need to be complying with it.

The Act, which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act, aims to protect anyone that is:

  • disabled
  • thought to be disabled
  • or is associated with someone who is disabled.

What does this mean for your holiday cottage business? It means that you may need to undertake reasonable adjustments in order to make your holiday home easier for disabled guests to use.

Let’s take a closer look at the legal bits of the act, and the simple actions you can take to not only comply with it, but also potentially attract even more people to your cottage.

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 covers a wide range of disabilities, and it’s important that holiday let owners take this into consideration. In law, people with disabilities are defined as those whose physical and mental impairments have an adverse effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

There are many different types of discrimination, and being aware of them will allow you to avoid accidentally breaking The Equality Act 2010.

Direct discrimination

This includes actions such as refusing to serve someone, or offering a lower standard of service due to their disability.

Indirect discrimination

An example of this is if a B&B serves breakfast in a room that is down a set of stairs and therefore inaccessible for some people.

Discrimination arising from a disability

This discrimination can include situations such as banning a person with Tourette’s syndrome from a bar area because their outbursts may offend other customers.

Discrimination by association

An example here would be if a guest house were to make the carer of the disabled person sleep in the same room to ensure that they don’t disturb other guests.

What can you do?

There are plenty of things you can do to ensure that you are complying with the Equality Act. The law requires you to make reasonable adjustments to both your holiday let and your business practices, so here’re a few ways you can do just that…

Make booking easier

There are a few simple changes you can make to your website to help potential guests should they have a disability. This could include an option to change the size of the text, having a sufficient contrast between the foreground and background, or even having clear and consistent navigation options. The copy that you have should also advise of anything they may need to be aware of before making a booking.

Ask them what they need

It’s important that you do not assume whether a guest has a disability or not. During the booking process it is beneficial to ask if they have any special requirements. If you learn that a guest is disabled and you aren’t sure what they will need, then just ask! Alternatively, seek out an appropriate organisation for advice and guidance.

Create an accessibility guide

Providing disabled guests with honest and accurate information is vital. An accessibility guide can be provided to guests prior to their stay. It’s helpful to make this readily available on your website.

These helpful guides enable visitors to make an informed decision as to whether your holiday cottage is right for them. The document should be clear and honest, and highlight any areas that could cause access issues for some visitors. Visit Britain provide indepth guidance on writing an accessibilty guide.

Do you employ staff?

Education is the key to understanding therefore providing staff with appropriate training is important. Training can make a huge difference to a disabled guest’s stay. As you welcome guests into your holiday cottages, you should be putting any training into practice. Ensure that your guests know how, where and when they can ask for help or assistance.

Go the extra mile

One of the best things you can do for a disabled guest is to go the extra mile. Providing them with any help or support that they need can ensure that their stay is a positive one. Little touches like a large print welcome pack for visually impaired guests can make their visit easier and more enjoyable.

Please note this article is only an initial guide to the Equality Act 2010, for matters specific to your own holiday cottage business seek legal advice.

For more information on the Equality Act 2010 visit the link below: 

Need an insurance quote for your holiday let or cottage complex? Give us a call us on 01237 429444.

holiday letting property images

holiday letting property imagesMore than 400 million people login to the photo sharing app Instagram every single day, and as a result one thing that a growing number of us will take for granted is the ability to quickly and easily edit our photos, add a filter and improve their quality, all with just a few flicks of our finger on a smart phone screen.

It’s not just reserved to our own personal photos either; many of the photographs gracing glossy magazines and daily papers are now enhanced to ensure they’re looking their best.

This is however no modern phenomenon; the process of enhancing photos has actually been around for decades, but is now becoming increasingly common in estate agency, and more recently in the marketing of holiday letting properties.

So what are your options when it comes to making sure that your photos really are doing your holiday cottage justice?

Why would you need to enhance your holiday letting property images?

The online world in which we market our cottages is becoming increasingly instantaneous; more than 50% of all traffic will now arrive to a cottage site from a smart phone.  People want information and they want it quickly; this places a perennial pressure on the instant impact that a great photograph can make.

A photograph really can make or break an online booking decision.

We also need to bear in mind that the great British weather won’t always play ball; how often do cottage owners book in that professional photographer only to be scuppered by dark skies and rain?

So what can you do to make your holiday letting property images as good as they can be and just how much can they be altered to do you justice?

What sort of thing might you want to change?

It’s important to state here that you’re not going to be able to alter things beyond recognition, nor are you going to want to when it comes to managing the expectations of paying guests.  There are, however some aspects that can be tinkered with in order to tip the booking balance in your favour.

Interior issues

Getting great photos of the interior rooms of a property is notoriously tricky and why a specialist professional photographer is worth their weight in gold when shooting them. A photo enhancing service will be able to easily adjust exposure, shadows, colours and the saturation of your photo.

Rooms can essentially be made to feel as light and airy as they are in real life, which is great if the rain clouds arrived along with your photographer.

Handling those rain clouds

Once they’re finished inside, you’re still going to want some external shots of your cottage. A blue sky adds something to every holiday home, and the good news is that the sky can easily be changed to slightly sunnier times.

Visitor cars and other large objects

For most cottages, you’ll want to take your photos in the summer when the leaves are green, the grass is cut and everything is looking at its very best. There-in lays an age-old problem; how do you take the best photos you can when there are guests around?

Issues such as cars parked in the drive, children’s toys scattered across the lawn or wetsuits splayed across a fence are all things that will detract from the perfect picture. The good news again is that these can be edited out of your photo by enhancing services, providing you with the perfect combination of taking a photo at the best time of the year, whilst not having to worry about your guests.

There are a number of photo editing solutions and services out there; as always make sure you get a few quotes to ensure you’re getting the best possible price, and also ask to see some examples of their previous work (including before and after shots). 

If this all sounds like too much trouble all good holiday home letting agents will be able to offer these services as part of their package. This tends to be either in house or by using professional freelance photographers and editing services.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For information on how we can help and support your holiday home business call us on 01237 429444.

Family friendly holiday letting

Family friendly holiday lettingWhether your family friendly holiday letting property will be welcoming babies, toddlers, or older children this year, one thing every family will appreciate is the cottage owner that goes that extra mile to make their stay a home away from home.

Achieving this in reality will be a process of finding a balance between fun and practical; you’ll need to think of things that might not make it into that packed car. Make life easier for them on arrival, whilst also providing them with some entertainment facilities in order to keep minds and bodies active.

Here are a few easy wins for your guests, and your property when it comes to welcoming young families…

Keep the wet shoes, umbrella and swimwear elsewhere

Kids love to run around and get mucky, and if you don’t provide an area for muddy or wet shoes you’ll probably find yourself scrubbing the carpet stains next week! The same goes for water stains from swimming costumes that have been draped over wooden chairs, or a nice puddle from a wet umbrella.

When it comes to the great British summer having an area for all of these items is essential, so if your holiday home already has one ensure that your guests know to use it, and where to hang those soggy swimming costumes.  If you haven’t got an area like this, where could you create one in order to make it convenient for your guests, and less wearing on your cottage?

Make it safe and sturdy

When it comes to furnishing your holiday home ensure that all items are sturdy, robust and safe. If you’re welcoming children then glass, whether in a coffee table or a balustrade mightn’t be a good mix, so always think about your target market before adding items such as these.

Aside from furniture, you should be thinking about other things in the cottage that could pose a threat. Uncovered sockets, wires, and even cleaning products should all be looked at and put out of reach where possible.  Vases and similar items should also be moved accordingly.

Garden security, and safety

Have large outdoor spaces for children to play in? Your holiday home might well be a big hit with young families! The only thing you’ll need to be mindful of is access and security; does your garden back onto a road? Is it enclosed or is it going to be easy for children to wonder off? Having child proof locks on gates and exits from the garden are a must to create a secure and safe environment. If you haven’t already, consider installing these.

You may also have outdoor play equipment for your younger guests; these create a little something extra for those staying in the cottage. Make sure you’re familiar with what you’ll need to be considering when installing and maintaining this equipment by visiting our post here:

Entertain them

Whilst us brits are eternal optimists when it comes to the weather, sometimes the realist in us has to take over. Accept that on occasion, we are going to have to tolerate the odd rainy day. On such a day, your visiting family may choose to stay indoors and that is when entertainment becomes vital. Board games, books, and maybe some DVDs can turn a dull day into one filled with family fun. You can read more suggestions of rainy day entertainment here:

Practical items

Taking young children on holiday can be stressful; there’ll be plenty to remember for the family headed to your cottage. Sometimes things will be forgotten, or simply not fit in the car.  Make their trip a little less chaotic by providing high chairs, cots, or a smaller toilet seat for little ones?

This extra care will really be appreciated by the adults, and they’ll remember it long after their stay! This could easily result in recommendations to their friends or a return visit, which is great for your bookings.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Require a quote for your holiday apartment, cottage or complex? Please give us a call on 01237 429444.

Outdoor Play Equipment

Outdoor Play EquipmentWith spring and summer ahead, it will be natural for holiday cottage guests to start spending more time outside. For many families, having the space and facilities for kids to play during their stay is important. For this reason installing outdoor play equipment, if you haven’t already got it, could be a great idea.

If you’re looking to purchase or replace outdoor play equipment at your holiday home or cottage complex, there are a few things for you to consider. Let’s take a look at what those are before you take the plunge…

Invest in quality outdoor play equipment

When it comes to your holiday home it’s essential that you invest in the highest quality equipment available. It not only reduces the risk of accidents as a result of faulty parts or poor construction, it will also last longer, making it a solid long term investment.

We always recommend purchasing any play equipment from a reputable seller, and always follow installation and maintenance guidelines, as tempting as it may be to believe you don’t need the instructions.

Whilst insurance policies tend to come with public liability as standard. You have a duty of care to take reasonable precautions to reduce any potential risks to your guests. Make sure that any play equipment carries the CE or GS mark. Equally it is important that the equipment is installed, maintained, and operated in accordance with manufacturers guidelines. (It’s worth keeping a log of when you last checked it, and other things such as when it is stored inside for winter).

What is the recommended age?

Not all outdoor play equipment is suitable for all ages, so make sure that you’re clear on what age group your outdoor play equipment is suitable for. Ensure that this age is explicitly stated in your welcome information pack, and stress to families that children above and below that age should not be using the equipment.

Essential safety features

Making your new outdoor play equipment as safe as possible. Thus ensuring that your guests have a safe stay in your cottage. Only install equipment that can be secured to the ground. Also it’s important to provide children with plenty of space around the equipment. This is particularly important with items such as trampolines, which will dictate a safe distance in their literature. Check that ropes have protection against wear at their fixing points on swings, and that the sides of slides are at least 64mm high.

Climbing frames must not be any more than 2 metres high. Any equipment that is over 0.6 meters high must have an impact absorbent surface beneath.

Regular inspections

Detailed monthly inspections of play equipment need to be carried out to ensure that it is fit for use. Ropes, bolts, and security must all be checked and repaired or disposed of as necessary. You will also need to frequently clean the equipment.

Always keep a record of when maintenance checks have been undertaken and be sure to have a process for undertaking this activity in place.

Do you have a sand pit?

If you do then you’ll need to be be aware of Toxocariasis, an infection caused by worms commonly found in the intestines of dogs. Children who come into contact with contaminated sand or soil are at risk. We recommend that sand pits are covered when not in use. Animal faeces should be cleaned up at the earliest opportunity. If your accommodation is dog friendly then it’s good to make sure guests are aware of this in their welcome pack.

Check your holiday cottage insurance cover

When making any changes, we always encourage clients to let us know. Play equipment of the type can be found in many DIY stores and some garden centres. Outdoor play equipment carrying the CE or GS mark will generally be fine. It should always be installed, maintained, and operated in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines. It is always worth getting in touch with your holiday home insurance broker for guidance when adding additional facilities.

Please note that this article on outdoor play equipment and guest safety is only intended as an overview of what you need to be doing in each of these areas.  For further information please contact the relevant authority and read up on all procedures and requirements. Please read the ROSPA guidance which can be found here.

If you have questions about outdoor play equipment and your policy, get in touch on cottages@boshers.co.uk

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Require a quote for your holiday apartment, cottage or complex? Please give us a call on 01237 429444.

accident report guest injured holiday home

accident report guest injured holiday homeAccidents happen, and whilst health and safety measures will reduce potential risks there may still be a time when a guest is injured at your holiday home. Our holiday home insurance policy comes with public liability as standard, but there are some steps you’ll need to carry out should an accident occur.

Make sure communication is at the forefront of your mind

First and foremost, make sure that as soon as you’re made aware that a guest has been injured, you check on their condition. Identify how serious the incident was, and also exactly where, how and when it took place. Having firm and hard facts will be important when dealing with your insurance provider.

Don’t admit liability

It can be a very English thing to say sorry as soon as someone has been hurt. However, sometimes accidents happen, so until it is completely apparent that the incident has taken place as a result of your actions, don’t steam in and admit any liability.

If someone has been injured discussions in the immediate aftermath can become heated. Think of the best way to deal with the situation. Whether that would be through a face to face meeting or asking them to provide a written account of what has happened (often a good way for them to let off some steam). Do not respond to any correspondence beyond acknowledging receipt and stating that you have passed it on to your insurers. It is imperative that you forward correspondence to your insurers as soon as you receive it.

Inform your insurance company

Next, you will need to inform your insurance provider. We recommend you do this as soon as possible for the benefit of you and your guest. Provide them with full details of what happened (which is why it’s vitally important you gather this information), as well as information on any injuries sustained. The more information you let your insurance provider have the better. If it’s received as quickly as possible they’ll be able to deal with your claim and resolve it. Afterall, this is ultimately what you and the injured party will both want.

Begin gathering information

Once your insurer has been informed, you may need to gather evidence which proves your holiday let is well run. Paying particular attention to how you manage it in accordance with health and safety regulations. This evidence could include maintenance schedules, proof of adherence with legislation, updated risk assessments. Gather these, together with anything else that may be relevant. By displaying that your property and grounds are safe and well maintained will demonstrate that you’ve taken reasonable precautions. Don’t be alarmed if the insurance company appoint an independent adjuster to take photos and discuss the claim with you. They are just gathering the facts, so always be open and honest with them. They’ll take the matter forward with the intention of concluding the claim on the best terms.

Forward all communication to your insurance provider

Finally, ensure that any correspondence from the injured party (or their representative) is dealt with promptly. Where possible forward it to your broker or insurance company by return of post or immediately if by email. Any delay could prejudice your position.

Whilst reading this article you’ve probably been asking yourself if you have taken all possible measures to protect visitors to your holiday home. We have many other articles on these subjects, here are links to a few which may be of interest to you:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call. Alternatively for further information on holiday home insurance visit the website page most relevant to you:

 

water leaks

water leaksPreventing damage from water leaks

Each year, water leaks produce enough water to fill almost 4,000 Olympic sized swimming pools, and create millions of pounds of damage. As the weather gets colder, holiday homes are often left empty for longer periods during this time of year, hence the risk of water leaks is only increased.

FREE Water Leak Action Pack

To help you try to avoid leaks in your holiday home and to help your guests act quickly if one is discovered, we’re sending every one of our holiday home insurance policyholders a Water Leak Action Pack which contains:

  • Guidance on preventing water leaks
  • What to do if you, your housekeeper or guests discover a leak
  • Somewhere to record where your stopcock is to be found
  • Labels and stickers to clearly mark your stopcock
  • Somewhere to record contact numbers incase of a leak

Once you have used the contents and recorded the important numbers the Water Leak Action Pack can be slipped into your holiday cottage welcome folder as useful aide memoir.

New customers will receive the pack when you take out a holiday home insurance policy. Existing customers will be sent one with your renewal receipt. If you can’t wait until your policy is due for renewal or if we usually correspond with you by email, contact us now and we’ll behappy to post one to you without delay.

Common causes of water leaks

Here we explain some of the common causes of water leaks in your holiday home and how you can combat them to ensure your cottage is always ready for your visitors.

Pipework failure

One of the most common causes of water leaks is pipework failure. The issue will often occur at the joint at which one pipe meets with another. Most noteworthy is where flexible hose tails have failed. These are often used on wash basins, and to connect washing machines and dishwashers. Valves and ball cocks are also prone to failure, with all resulting in leaks that can have the potential to escalate quickly if not identified, which is an issue in unoccupied holiday homes that are not regularly checked.

Reasons for pipework failure

The failure can occur for a number of reasons; copper pipes are prone to corrosion over time, whilst poor workmanship can leave you with pipes that aren’t fit for use and ultimately cause big problems.  It’s important to state here that if any alterations or additions are made to the pipework of your holiday home then they should be carried out by a qualified and reputable professional.

Freezing pipes

The most common of all causes of damage to pipework is freezing, which is why it’s vital that your pipes are sufficiently lagged, the heating is left on to maintain a minimum temperature throughout your holiday home to prevent pipes freezing or your water is turned off and the system is drained.

The temperatures have already dropped so if your holiday home is currently unoccupied then ensure these steps have been taken.

What to do if you find a leak

If you discover a suspected leak, it is vital that you take immediate action. The potential water loss from a burst pipe can be as much as 400 litres every hour; that’s about 4 full bath tubs of water, which if left floating around your cottage is going to quickly begin doing some serious damage.

Step one: Turn off the water supply and electrics

First port of call is always to turn off your water supply at the main stopcock; make sure you know where it is located so you can get to it as quickly as possible and have clear instructions for anyone looking after your property to do so. You will also need to turn off the electrics and heating to prevent any further damage or risk of fire.

Step two: drain the water system and take safe action

Next, drain the water system using the taps within the property, ensuring that the system is empty and no more water can leak and cause damage and empty the contents that are at risk and move them into a dry area.

If water is coming through the ceiling, collect it in a suitable receptacle. Similarly, if the ceiling is bulging you can consider piercing it to release the water. Furthermore this may help prevent the ceiling from collapsing. With both of these situations, only carry out the action if it is completely safe to do so.

Preventing leaks

The best way to stop leaks is to prevent it from happening at all. There are several measures you can take to keep your holiday let safe from water damage.

Measure one: Check your stopcock and systems on a regular basis

Checking your stopcock periodically can make things a lot easier if you do get a leak in the future. Check that it turns on and off easily; a stiff stopcock only adds extra worry to an already stressful situation.

Alongside checking the stopcock, regularly inspect and maintain your systems. Use an accredited plumber to inspect your pipework, in addition change washers and fix leaking taps without delay. You will also need to check water tanks and cylinders for any corrosion.

Measure two: Identify any high risk areas in your holiday cottage

Walk through your holiday home and identify any high risk areas and exposed pipework as these exposed pipes could be at risk of freezing, so will need proper insulation and lagging.

Measure three: Empty property procedures

If your holiday let is left empty for an extended period of time, isolate and drain down the water supply. Also, ensure that heating is properly maintained. Check that sink plugs are not left in, as water from any dripping taps could build up and cause issues.

Measure four: Helping your guests

We also recommend that you provide guests with important information on what to do should a leak occur, especially relevant:

  • Instructions of where to find the stopcock
  • Emergency contact information

Use your Water Leak Action Pack and follow these simple guidelines to prevent water leaks from turning into a bigger problem. Finally contact your holiday home insurance claims line without delay as they’ll provide you with advice and guidance and appoint specialists to help dry out and repair your property. Afterall you’ll want to get your holiday home up and running again without delay.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. We’re here to help and support you as a holiday homeowner. If you require advice or an insurance quote please give us a call on 01237 429444.

Year round holiday letting occupancy

Year round holiday let occupancyIs year round holiday let occupancy achievable? There’s no denying that most holidays take place during the summer months. That doesn’t mean that your holiday home should only focus on the warmest season to attract guests. In recent years there has been a marked increase in autumn, winter, and spring breaks, particularly within the British Isles. This means you could get a great amount of trade during the rest of the year, but you’ll have to be active online to get the message across.

Good photography will increase holiday let occupancy

When was the last time you updated the photography on your website? Many owners can be guilty of leaving the same photos on their site for years on end, so now is the time to stand up and get it changed in order to attract those winter warmers in your holiday home!

Having great photography to show off your holiday home is always a good thing. You can make it even better by featuring photos of your property throughout the different seasons. People respond well to images, so show them that your cottage is a wonderful and cosy place to stay in autumn or winter. it will really encourage them to book during the low season.

Balance shots of the exterior and interior, but do make sure the winter pictures are cosy and charming, not rainy and grey!

Let people know you’re open

Now is a great time to be highlighting winter availability. Potential guests may be unsure as to whether you’re open throughout the year, so you’ve got to tell them. Many holiday homes will already be promoting Christmas and new year availability so if your cottage is the perfect new year or festive pad, ensure that you don’t miss the boat by leaving it too late.

You may think it’s obvious that your let is available, and that people can check the availability themselves through an online booking system, but that extra reminder could convince a few extra guests to book a winter retreat.

Email, Twitter and Facebook should all be in your plans. Use social media to drive people to your website to book, not rely on them finding it and researching your open season themselves.

Tell people about activities

This is where you can really make the most of social media. Tweet and post on Facebook and Instagram about different things to do in the local area. From indoor play areas for kids, to museums and galleries, let people know that there is plenty to do rain or shine. Tag the accounts of the attractions and you may get a re-tweet and have your cottage shown off to their followers, of which there could be thousands.

Remember that winter attractions will be different to summer. Ensure your content is up to date and that you’re working with all of the other local businesses to promote your destination and local area to potential visitors.

Blog about the seasons

Does your website have a blog? Then you should be making the most of it. Remember this doesn’t need to be reams and reams of words; you’ll get more engagement through photography. Whether it’s the snow or the autumn leaves falling, ensure photos are displayed throughout your blog. Share them on social media too.

For some other ideas; is your garden full of beautiful flowers in the spring? Let people know. If you provide buckets and spades in the summer, tell everyone. If the autumn brings out your great selection of puzzles and books, show them off. And if winter makes your house feel cosy and warm, make sure guests know about it.

Use testimonials from all year round

Testimonials and reviews are becoming increasingly important in gaining bookings and increasing year round holiday let occupancy. When your autumn guests provide a testimonial, show it off. Letting potential guests know that you do get bookings at that time will help you increase your holiday let occupancy. The positive words of another guest will really seal the deal for many future visitors.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support you if you’re buying a holiday cottage to let, please give us a call on 01237 429444.