Buyers' Advice: Residential Usage
As I’m writing this, we’re still in the throes of dealing with a substantial number of claims relating to freezing water in pipework and boilers up and down the UK. Whilst there’s always plenty to discuss when it comes to drain down and winterisation – it’s the way in which the caravan or lodge is used that has caused some raised eyebrows at NACO HQ.
We know that residential use of holiday caravans and lodges is happening, but other than a number of evictions and other issues that our Advice Team deal with, the real-world implications of the usage rarely come to the fore. However, if your main residence is a holiday home on a holiday park and your boiler bursts or there’s water running through the unit, the effect on you – and your family – can be colossal. Of course, dealing with high volumes of water inside a caravan or mobile home is always distressing.
The flooring, wallboards and fixed furniture are all very susceptible to swelling due to their materials. Carpets are laid first when a caravan is manufactured with the rest of the construction going on top. This means that cutting out and drying out can be difficult. Non-residential specification units also aren’t great at retaining heat especially when we’re dealing with low atmospheric temperatures whilst trying to dry them out. All of this makes for a very traumatic time – no matter how you use your unit.
However, if you are there full-time, the impact of this type of event is more severe. The claims that we received gave a clue to the number of people using their holiday home as their main residence. The losses incurred and the disruption caused illustrated that there is need for change.
We regularly encounter situations where a salesperson explains to a prospective residential owner how to get around the holiday licence ‘problem’. “Say that you’re maximising your usage…”, was a comment from a salesperson at a national park operator, reported to us recently. And so it is that customers are acclimatised to blurring the lines when it comes to the use of their holiday home.
Thus, people can be a bit coy with their insurer when arranging cover. This may be the behaviour adopted when dealing with the park or local authority, but it is imperative that customers are up front with their insurance provider. While the structure may be the same, it is the usage that dictates the most appropriate cover, with variations in occupancy requirements and cover for alternative accommodation being two important considerations.
It’s easy to be wise after the event, but if you were lucky enough to escape the recent arctic conditions unscathed, now might be the most apposite time to review your insurance cover to ensure it meets the requirements of your holiday home usage.
National Association of Caravan Owners