February 2020 - Page 2 of 2 - Pikl

How to house swap for a holiday

Estimated Read: 5 minutes

Not all people like the anonymity of hotels. Luckily, there is a new, exciting way to travel. Welcome to the world of house swapping.

What is a house swap?

The concept of a house swap holiday is simple. You swap houses with another interested party, go on holiday and avoid the hassle of using hotels. Not only does this add a unique twist to your usual holidaying experience, house swapping may make you see travel in a different way.

In addition to being unique, there are some advantages to be had over your usual hotel experience, including:

No hotel fees. You could potentially save £1,000s in accommodation costs.

If the house you are staying in is in a local setting, you may get a more local, authentic experience rather than living in an anonymous hotel that is in a popular tourist area.

There is a growing global community of house swappers. Get involved, make new friends and have fun!

You may also want to consider the potential downsides of doing a house swap:

At the time of writing, the websites that facilitate house swaps do not verify the houses themselves. You will have to rely on your own judgement to make sure the experience goes well.

You may need to do more research than is typically involved in booking a hotel. You will need to establish if the property is suitable, establish a relationship with the other house swapper and set up ground rules.

Unlike some package holidays, there is no industry regulator to protect you if something goes wrong during your holiday.

How does a house swap work?

1. Find a website

To begin with, you will need to find somewhere to facilitate your house swap. There are plenty of established websites that allow you to do this if you search online. One of the benefits of using specific house swap websites is that they are already established communities. You can use their knowledge to make sure your experience goes smoothly and search for reviews of properties that you are looking to stay in. You could also consider using online advertisements or social media to reach out to people that could be interested. Doing so comes with its own risks as you will not have access to the infrastructure that house swap websites can provide.

2. List your property online.

Once you have decided how to do your house swap, you will need to create your online listing. Make sure your house is tidy and take photos with good lighting so that your property stands out. You will also need to create a description for your listing. It helps to be detailed in your description and make sure you mention any unique features. Potential house swappers may also be interested in any local information specific to your area.

3 . Find someone to swap with.

If you have settled on a particular house, you will need to reach out to the person that owns it. The other person could potentially be staying in your home so make sure that you establish a good relationship. If either of you have any specific requirements (e.g. looking after pets, putting the bins out for collection or paying for bills), make sure you both establish these early. Setting ground rules are essential to avoiding mishaps or falling out later on.

4 . Check your insurance.

If you have read our house swap guide to insurance, you may be aware that most home insurers do not provide adequate cover for house swaps. Check with your home insurer before you agree to swap. You may need to get additional cover elsewhere (more on this below).

5 . Agree your swap.

Once everything is established, agree a date and time and confirm everything in writing. Communication is essential and it is important that you keep talking up to the point of exchange. House swap websites recommend that you keep conversations online so that there is a record in case something goes wrong.

6 . Enjoy your holiday!

You have done the hard part so now it is time to enjoy your holiday. If you have established a good relationship with your fellow house swapper, you will hopefully have gleaned some useful local knowledge to maximise your experience. You may also pick up some new friends along the way!

Key house swap tips

Consider potential website costs. Whilst you will avoid the cost of hiring a hotel, you may want to factor in the costs of using different house swap websites to know if you are getting a good deal.

Is the house and location suitable for your needs? If you are used to staying in hotels whilst on holiday, you may be getting a completely different experience. Consider what is important to you. Does the house and location meets the needs of you and your family?

Consider asking for references. Not all house swappers have reviews. Independent verification may help and do not be afraid to ask for a character reference if your fellow house swapper does not have any reviews.

Pick your person wisely. No matter how careful you are, things do not always work out. Ultimately, it is down to your judgement. If you have not established enough rapport with the other person to build trust, do not be afraid to pull out before the exchange.

Keep valuables out of sight. If you leave your valuables in your home whilst another house swapper stays there, you could potentially increase the chances of them being stolen or damaged. Consider taking your valuables with you or putting them in storage. If this is not possible, you might want to lock them away securely if you are able to do this.

Consider specialist insurance for your home. Even if your home insurer does not cancel your home insurance policy, they may not provide all of the cover you require. A specialist insurance broker like Pikl can give you a high level cover of property insurance for house swapping if you think you need this.

You may want travel insurance. If you are going abroad, a flight cancellation or medical emergency could give you lots of hassle and stress. A good travel insurance policy should be able to cover you for these things.

Check with your landlord. You may need permission to do a house swap if you are renting as this type of activity could be excluded in your tenancy agreement.

Use the community. Find out the pros and cons of house swapping from people that have done it before.You can also get a feel for whether house swapping is right for you.

How does renting out your parking space affect home insurance?

Estimated Read: 5 minutes.

Many people may not realise that renting out their parking space for extra cash may not be covered by their home insurance if something happened and they needed to make a claim. Before you rent out your parking space, you may want to check with your insurer. Here are the important facts you need to know.

Many insurers won’t provide cover.

A survey of the UK’s biggest insurers revealed that many of them do not provide adequate buildings or contents insurance for claims caused as a result of customers renting out their parking space.

1/3 of home insurers in the UK we spoke to confirmed they would restrict cover for customers that rented out their parking space. If this applies to one of your insurers, key aspects of cover that you would normally expect to be covered for may be missing. However unlikely it is that something bad could happen, you could be taking an unnecessary risk without the right insurance.

If your home insurer does not provide any cover for your parking space, you may end up paying for property damage if your guest’s vehicle crashes into your home. You could be liable for injury damages if your guest drives into someone and be seriously out of pocket if liability cover is not provided.

Why don’t all insurers cover this?

Some insurers may class renting out your parking space as ‘commercial use’ and already exclude this type of activity in their terms and conditions.

Will I be covered by the parking website?

Many people that rent out their parking space do so through a parking website. The website itself may require guests to waive any responsibility if something happens. It is not clear however that you will be completely covered.

At the time of writing, parking websites do not provide specific cover for damage to your property. If your guest does not have car insurance and your home insurer will not cover you, that could leave you having to pay for damages.

Do I need specific insurance?

We would recommend you contact your insurer first and ask them if there is anything they are not prepared to cover you for. If you do not notify your insurer, they may cancel your policy or decide not to cover your claim. If you are not able to get adequate cover, a specialist provider like Pikl can provide cover if needed.

You will still need to speak to your insurer first to let them know you are intending to take out our cover. Alternatively, we can offer cover for your main home insurance as well as cover for renting out your parking space. 

Why your home insurer might not cover your Airbnb

Estimated Read: 5 minutes.

Many people are not aware that most insurers do not provide adequate cover for platforms like Airbnb, HomeAway and Booking.com. We discuss this in more detail and how to make sure you have the right insurance.

Airbnb and HomeAway offer some cover

Before we talk what most home insurers do cover, it important to point out that some of the platforms themselves do provide some measure of protection. If you list your property on either of these platforms then you will get some cover if something goes wrong. However, the protection offered is limited and is no substitute for a dedicated insurance policy. Our article for HomeAway and Airbnb discussed this in more depth if you are interested in what they offer.

How does home insurance work with Airbnb?

We surveyed 90%** of the UK’s property insurers and asked them how they would react if they found out a customer had listed their property on Airbnb or similar platforms.

All of the insurers we spoke to confirmed that they would not cover Airbnb, HomeAway or similar platforms automatically unless their customers had disclosed this beforehand. If you have not already told them that you are using your property as an Airbnb, your insurer may not cover your claim if something goes wrong. Over half of insurers said they would not provide any specific cover for Airbnb even if their customers told them they were doing this. That could mean no cover for things like:

Deliberate damage caused by a guest.
Theft by a guest with no forced entry (e.g. if you let the guest into your home).
Accidental damage caused by a guest.
Legal liability (e.g. if a guest is injured and holds you responsible).

Some insurers even confirmed that they would cancel their customer’s policy altogether if they found out that they were letting paying guests into their home. If you contact an insurer, they may recommend a business insurance policy (such as insurance for running a professional bed and breakfast). However, for customers not doing such businesses full time, these types of insurance policies may be expensive. They may also burden you with unsuitable terms and conditions such as health and safety regulations. These policies may also not offer adequate cover for things like the like the personal contents in your home.

What insurance do I need for Airbnb and what does it cover?

Attempting to get cover by ringing round insurers or using comparison sites is tricky as the cover offered by each provider is varied. 86% of insurers we spoke to said they did not take any specific steps to educate their customers about using Airbnb or similar platforms. That means that the only way to find out what each insurer offers is by writing down a list of the things you want covered and contacting each insurer to ask if they cover them. Not ideal if you do not have a lot of time on your hands. Luckily, we did a mystery shop of some well known insurers and brokers to give you an idea.

On the table above, the left hand side lists the kinds of things you may expect an insurer to cover you for if you listed your property on these platforms. For example, if you let a guest into your home and they stole something from you, this would be classed as ‘theft without forced entry’ as the guest did not need to break into your house to steal something. If you have at look at what each insurer said they would cover when we spoke to them directly however, you can see that many insurers were not prepared to cover anything at all. Some insurers were prepared to cover some things and not others. Calling round home insurers to get adequate cover is not straightforward, even if they say they offer specific ‘Airbnb insurance.’

I’m an running an Airbnb. What could this mean for me?

Your insurer may cancel your policy or stop your claim if they find out that you have not told them. If you have told them that you are hosting on Airbnb, you may want to ask if there is anything that they are not currently covering you for. Insurer policy wordings are regularly updated and it is best to contact them directly in addition to checking your documentation. If you have not already checked this out, you could be risking £1,000s worth of damage if you need to make a claim and are not covered.

How to stay protected.

It’s important you speak to your existing insurer first to find out if they will cover you. Write down a list of things that are important to you or that you would typically expect to be covered for before speaking to them. If you are not happy with the level of cover you are getting, you may want to consider speaking to a specialist broker such as Pikl that can cover you for this.

How specialist insurance can help

A specialist insurance policy specifically designed to cover your for platforms like Airbnb, HomeAway and Booking.com may give you more peace of mind and may be able to give you a higher level of cover so that your property is covered. Pikl insurance has been specifically designed to cover you for things like this.

Pikl provide specialist insurance for short-term letting, including cover for properties that are let out on websites such as Airbnb. If you already have insurance elsewhere, we offer a ‘Top-Up’ insurance policy. Your insurer can still continue to cover you whilst our cover can insure your home for any claims caused by your guests. You will need to let your insurer know that you are intending to do this but alternatively, we can also cover your home as well as cover for your guests. Our insurance for when you have short-term guests can cover you for:

  • Public liability including cover for guest accidents involving bodily injury.
  • Legal cover defend or pursue legal claims against guests.
  • Accidental and malicious damage by a guest.
  • Theft or attempted theft by a guest.
  • Alternative accommodation for you or your guest if your property is being fixed as the result of a guest related claim.
  • Fire and escape of water damage caused by a guest.
  • Loss of keys and replacement locks cover if renting out your entire property.

Getting cover with us with easy and relatively straightforward. We know that the world of insurance can be confusing. If you have any queries, our UK based team will be happy to help.

Do you manage other Airbnb properties?

If you are a company that manages multiple Airbnb properties for clients, offering insurance as part of your service offering can help you attract more business. If this applies to you, check out our page for businesses to see more regarding what is on offer.