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Protecting Your Investment

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 16 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
United Kingdom Estimate Contract Abroad

Once you’ve bought your property you need to think about protecting it from risk after all, it’s your investment. In fact, this process needs to start even before the conclusion of your purchase, as in many countries it’s illegal not to have the fabric of the building insured.

The exact risks that need to be considered will differ depending on why you have bought the property, whether it is a fully managed holiday let in a complex, a holiday home or a pure buy-to-let property?

Insure the Building

In all cases though, you will need to insure the building itself, even if it’s not a legal requirement, and the extent of the cover will depend on the region where you’ve invested. Cyprus, for example, has a moderate earthquake risk, and parts of southern France have become more susceptible to flooding and forest fires. Research the area and talk to local and regional councils to find out what the risks are, then make sure the policy covers them adequately.

Unfortunately the only way to do this is wade through the policy document, and if it’s in a foreign language, consider getting a translation and even asking a bilingual lawyer to go through it for you. Believing you're covered and then discovering you aren't could cost you much more than a few hours worth of expert advice.


If this is a buy-to-let property which will be rented out to long-term tenants, for example a city apartment, then contents insurance can be left up to the tenants. This must be made plain in the tenancy agreement. It is almost certain that a property of this kind would be let through a letting agency. This may not stop the property from damage or abuse from tenants, but if they have done their job correctly then you should be able to get redress from tenants, or if not, from the agency.

Complex Issues

If you have bought a property in a complex, such as a ski apartment or holiday villa, on a fully managed basis, then the risk is likely to be handled for you by the complex management staff. There may be different levels of service and insurance that you can opt for, but it should all be spelt out for you.

Holiday Home

For a property that you are letting out as a holiday base to other people, there are a number of extra risks to consider. Contents insurance is likely to be worthwhile although the cost will vary depending on whether it’s just you and you family using it or not. If you are letting it out as much as you can, possibly using agencies or advertising through your own website, it will be more expensive, but probably still worthwhile.

It may also be worth considering third party insurance or public liability cover. Policies like this will cover you against damages claims, if for example a paying guest tripped on a path and broke their leg.

Management Service

To cover the basics, like making sure that your guests can get in to the property and that all is in order, a management service is worth considering. Apart from anything else it means that people are visiting the property even when it’s empty and that can help keep people away. This could be an informal arrangement, such as asking a neighbour to keep an eye out and meeting guests.

If you are letting the property out regular as a holiday let though, it’s worth paying for a professional management service. They will make sure that bedding is changed and the property cleaned up in between guests and keep the garden tidy so that it doesn’t look obviously unoccupied. Some services will keep an eye on the property in the off season and automatic monitoring with cameras linked over the Internet is now becoming available.

Be Realistic

In the case of a holiday property that you are not going to let out to anyone but simply use for yourself throughout the year, then it may be more cost effective to spend money on solid doors, window bars and locks and simply batten down the hatches each time you leave. Assess the costs of policies, the cost of repairs or replacements and make your own choice.And remember, it’s your hard-earned money that you spent buying property abroad, so it makes sense to take the appropriate level of caution for peace of mind.

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