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What are the insurance risks for holiday homeowners

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Hundreds of holiday home owners across the South West could be unwittingly flouting the law by not taking compulsory insurance cover on their properties this summer.

Many people may be unaware employers’ liability insurance is a legal requirement and holiday homeowners could face a costly claim or even a prison sentence if a member of staff is injured whilst working on or in their let property.

Latest figures* from the Health & Safety Executive show there were 28 fatal injuries to workers in the South West in 2007/08 and 2,337 reported major injuries in the region – Over two thirds (66%) were amongst workers in service industries.

“Your employees may be injured at work and they might try to claim compensation from you if they believe you are responsible. It could be a cleaner who goes into the property on changeover day or a gardener you employ to maintain the property – anyone who’s working under your guidance and using your tools and equipment.”

Whilst public liability insurance is not a legal requirement, the cost of not having cover could amount to hefty claims from guests injured whilst staying in the property. With 20 per cent of all visitors to the South West choosing to stay in Self Catering accommodation**, it is important for property owners to make sure they have sufficient cover to guard against these risks.

Recent examples of claims experienced by Cornish Mutual include a guest who tripped over a step and fell onto a wood burner sustaining nasty burns and another guest who broke a number of bones after falling over a concrete mushroom in the garden. Other liability claims include damage to a property or its contents.

“We want all visitors to the South West to come to the region and have a safe and enjoyable time when they are here. There is so much to see and do in the South West and we are lucky to have some of the best self catering properties in the UK. Property owners need to make sure they do all they can to ensure their visitors enjoy their stay and this includes having adequate cover for their business.

“We would encourage property owners to take out public liability insurance to ensure they are covered should an accident happen.”

Iain and Gill Butterworth run specialist holiday homes letting agency ‘Holiday Homes & Cottages South West’, based in Torquay, Devon. Their Agency Agreement (legal contract between owner and the company) incorporates a declaration that the owner confirms that they have ‘adequate commercial public liability insurance’.

Gill added: “We recognise the importance of having insurance that is appropriate and offers the right level of cover. We, therefore, do not take on a new property before ensuring the owner has the right cover in place.”

*HSE, South West government office region (GOR), Statistics of occupational ill health, safety and enforcement 2007/08
**South West Tourism, South West Visitor Survey 2007