Accidental or malicious damage by holiday let guest

Written by Nick Grant


Published on 26th June 2018


Last Updated on 27th February 2024


Read time: 4 minutes

red wine on carpet

Anyone who owns a holiday let often has this question on their mind: is accidental or malicious damage cover worth it? This will help you decide whether or not to add this optional cover to your holiday home insurance

There is always a risk that damage might occur, and these situations highlight the importance of having a policy that includes accidental damage or malicious damage cover if you’re letting your holiday home. As an optional extra on your holiday home insurance in the UK or abroad you can include damage caused by the tenants, to cover you up to the sum insured on buildings and contents and get your property back to normal if it needs repair work or redecoration.

What is accidental damage cover?

Accidental damage cover, as its name suggests, covers those situations that occur unintentionally and unexpectedly in your home or holiday home, and it might cover damage to your property or its contents.

Some examples of accidental damage might be:

  • It’s your guests’ last at your holiday cottage and during the dinner a split glass of red wine ruins a carpet.
  • There’s a vase that breaks when taking away the suitcases out of the bedroom.
  • Somebody reheats a container from a take away and damage the microwave (these disposal food containers are made of plastic).
  • Somebody drops a heavy object (e.g. saucepan) on to a tiled floor causing some of the tiles to crack or break.

*Examples provided by the Intasure Claims team from real claims in 2017.

Who pays for accidental damage to a rental property?

In the case of your holiday letting, the tenant is responsible for any damage they or their friends have caused, and they should report a genuine incident they have caused in your property and communicate with the holiday home owner to repair the problem. Hiding the damage or denying any knowledge of it could be avoidable if there’s an inventory to protect both parties in the short-tenancy agreement: both holiday home owner and guests.

What is malicious damage?

Stains on the carpet of broken glasses are common issues a holiday let owner might encounter, but what if the guests are deliberately causing damage to your property? Malicious damage is any damage caused to another person’s property of another person in the form of vandalism, and it can potentially cause serious damage to your holiday letting income. But, happily, such incidents are not as common as accidental damage if you are selective about the guest you accept in your property, and that’s why from time to time we can find cases of malicious damage by tenants against properties.

Is accidental damage cover worth it?

As a holiday let owner, obligations are stringent, and you need to meet minimum standards (smoke detectors, electrical and gas safety certificate, fire blanket, etc.), and most insurers offer optional accidental damage cover to protect your investment in the event of damage to your property or a neighbour’s property (e.g. flooding if you live in a flat).

So there are some very important distinctions when it comes to malicious damage or accidental damage cover. Generally speaking, there are a couple of preventative steps you can take to reduce or identify in advance any damage to your holiday let, even if they’re not always 100% effective:

  • Think about the profile of your guests: a group of friends in their twenties in your flat located in a Spanish costa or a couple with a couple of dogs in your cottage in the countryside during a winter weekend. On the surface both of them might sound risky, right?
  • Ask for a security deposit in your property: it won’t come out of your pocket financially if there’s damage, and if guests think they may lose money they will be far more careful with your property and its content.
broken glass

Should you get optional accidental damage cover?

Accidental damage cover could be considered as important a feature as public liability in a holiday home, especially if you rent it out when you’re not enjoying your property. Accidental damage cover for holiday lets provides peace of mind to holiday let owners and their guests and might improve the chances of bringing more happy guests to your property.

*The opinions and views expressed in the above articles are those of the author only and are for guidance purposes only. The authors disclaim any liability for reliance upon those opinions and would encourage readers to rely upon more than one source before making a decision based on the information.

Nick Grant is a Business Development Manager at Intasure with 10 years of insurance experience.