Protecting your Holiday Home for Winter

As the nights grow longer and the temperature drops we look forward to the holidays and New Year, the concern at the forefront of your mind might not be your holiday home insurance policy. However, winter is a time when your holiday home or second property may be more vulnerable, in particular to burst pipes.

At Intasure, we have over 15 years’ experience of protecting holiday homes in the UK and across Europe so are well positioned to offer some advice on winter protection for holiday homes. Here are our top tips:

Windows and doors locked

It’s common sense but make sure your property is properly locked up and secure when it is left unoccupied. Not only to prevent any break ins but also to protect against unwanted visitors seeking a cosy place for the winter, such as rodents.

Minimalist exteriors

Remove items outside your property, which may attract unwanted attention, store them safely inside.

Enlist the help of your neighbours

If you know your neighbours ask them to keep an eye on the place and make sure they know how to contact you in case of an emergency.

Safe house keys

Don’t leave the spare key under a mat or rock! If you use a key safe outside your property consider removing the keys if your property will be left empty for long periods of time. If you’re worried about losing your keys, why not consider our Key Cover product which you can add to your existing policy.

Make an inventory

It is worth making a list of all the electrical & valuable goods you leave behind at your holiday home. Write a list that details brands, models and serial numbers of each valuable item, as well as taking photos, because this can help the police to find them if they are stolen.

And probably most important of all

Turn your water supply off and drain the system
Keep the heating on a low temperature continuously

Important – action required

December is the month when our Winter Warranty condition applies, if you have holiday home insurance with us it’s important to make sure that you comply with the Winter Warranty in order to help ensure that you property is protected.

The period December to February is when your property is most at risk from freezing pipes, which can lead to a burst pipe and escape of water. Often the pipe doesn’t burst at the point where it’s frozen. What can happen is water in one part of the pipe freezes trapping water between the ice and the tap or faucet. As the ice expands it puts increased pressure on the trapped water. When the pressure becomes too great the pipe fails and water can escape.

A burst pipe at any property is an experience best avoided, but in a holiday home that may only be visited sporadically it can be particularly traumatic as some time can pass before the discovery of the damage. Taking preventative measures can help:

  • You avoid the distress of seeing your holiday home damaged
  • Keep the holiday home ready for use and enjoyment
  • Save you money by keeping your no claims discount
  • Save you money by helping us to keep premiums competitive.

So here is a reminder of the Intasure Winter Warranty:

In respect of Peril 6 section 1 & 2.
(a) We will not be liable for loss or damage unless
(i) For the period December to February inclusive the water supply is turned off at the mains and all fixed water tanks and pipes are drained (except central heating systems) should the Property be uninhabited (not lived in) for more than 48 hours.


(ii) For the period December to February inclusive the Home or Holiday Home is maintained at a minimum temperature of 59 degrees F (15 degrees C) at all times.

(b) For the period of December to February inclusive we will not cover the first £500 of any burst pipe or escape of water claim where the Property has been uninhabited (not lived in) for more than 48 hours.

So what exactly does this mean?

During the winter – December to February if you leave your property uninhabited (not lived in) for 48 hours or longer you must comply with one of the following options:

Option 1 (i) Preferred Option

Turn water off at the mains, and drain all fixed water tanks and pipes.

This means turning off water supply and turning on hot and cold taps to drain tanks and pipes. (This will not affect your central heating system).


Option 2 (ii)

Maintain your heating at a minimum temperature of 55 degrees F (15 degrees C) – 24 hours a day.

During this period when temperatures can fall below freezing, having your heating on a timed basis can still cause pipes to freeze and burst. Therefore, heating on a timer basis during the winter period is not effective.

When temperatures are below freezing even with the heating on, pipes in the loft can still freeze. So it is advisable that you leave the loft hatch open, this will help prevent pipes bursting in the roof space.

Other precautions you can take to help prevent freezing pipes include making sure that pipes in the loft, basement areas or other cold spaces of the property are properly lagged, with lagging in good condition. For particularly exposed areas there are products on the market that can offer protection against freezing pipes.

Whichever option you choose in order to comply with the Winter Warranty, December is the time to put it into practice as preventing a claim is better than making a claim, keeping your property safe, and your premiums down.

We hope you have found this helpful but if you have any questions about your insurance cover please contact us.

* Terms and Conditions apply. For limitations and exclusions, please read the policy documents for full details.

The sole purpose of this blog is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Intasure accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.

Updated November 28, 2018