Find Unoccupied Property Insurance For Greek Property
For owners of holiday homes in Greece, unoccupied property insurance is essential as a protection against the forces of nature and ill luck. Whilst there is no more chance of having your Greek holiday home damaged by accident or misfortune than in the UK, the recent battle against the flames and the risks of living in an earthquake zone has seen a rise in the uptake of unoccupied property insurance in Greece.
When your Greek holiday home is empty for much of the year, finding an insurance company that will offer coverage is much more difficult than for a permanently occupied residence. However, if you are applying for an overseas mortgage using a Greek bank, they insist that you are fully insured, and navigating the sales speak is not an easy task.
I am not an insurance broker or advisor, so cannot give you any specific advice about the best unoccupied property insurance Greece products, but I will point out some of the things that you should be asking brokers, the questions that will help you to separate the good products from the mediocre. Obviously, if you are unsure about anything, it is always a good idea to seek advice from an expert, whether in Greece or in your home country.
Greek insurance is a little behind the times and they are only just catching up with the range of policies offered in the UK and elsewhere, belatedly realizing that the summer wildfires have given them a unique selling point as worried Greeks flock to protect their homes. Most of these questions should be asked of any insurance broker, but they especially apply to Greece.
As with any insurance policy, especially when applying over the phone or online:
Get everything in writing.
You have only yourself to blame if you allow yourself to sign a policy without tangible evidence of the answers given to your questions. Whilst the vast majority of insurance brokers are honest, as with estate agents, assume that they are crooks and give them no room to wriggle out of their promises.
Without any further ado, here are some of the questions that you should be asking your insurance broker about the terms of your unoccupied property mortgage.
What are the time limits on occupancy? You should seek a policy that places no restrictions on how much time you spend in your Greek holiday home. If the policy tries to set a minimum or maximum, then they have taken away your flexibility.
Do I Have Public Indemnity Insurance? Until recently, Greek insurance companies were reluctant to offer public indemnity insurance as part of the policy. If you plan on letting friends and relatives stay, then this is crucially important. Even if you receive no money for letting the Greek holiday home out to friends, you can be sued if anybody has an accident on your property.
Does the policy cover the property both when occupied and when unoccupied? Whilst most insurance products make no such stipulation, it is still worth asking this question to ensure that you do not fall through the cracks. In addition, some policies insist that the house must be checked every 30 or 60 days, which means that you will be trusting friends or neighbors with your keys. Again, this is becoming rarer, although it can be handy if you do have somebody check the house periodically and ensure that there are no burst water-pipes or other nasty surprises.
Are the documents in English? This may seem like a very basic provision, but so many foreign buyers in Greece trust the broker’s word and sign documents written in Greek. If a Greek insurance broker is serious about providing unoccupied property insurance Greece, they should have made the effort to provide an English translation, still a legally binding document in Greece.
In what currency are the premiums and settlements paid? This is largely a matter of personal choice, but many Greek holiday home owners prefer to deal purely in Sterling, avoiding the fluctuations of exchange rates and excessive currency charges.
Does the policy cover temporary accommodation and emergency flights? If you do have problems with your home, when you are back in your home country, it is practical to have a policy that will cover flights to Greece and temporary accommodation whilst staying to organise contractors and chase paperwork. Some policies offer this as standard, some charge a premium and it is largely up to personal choice. However, if anything happens to you home during peak holiday periods, flights and accommodation can be expensive.
Does the broker have an office in my home country? Again this is largely down to personal choice, but many Greek holiday home owners prefer to have an office based in their home country that makes the process a little smoother. Many Greek companies have bases in the UK, for example, and most UK unoccupied property insurance brokers liaise with local Greek agents to provide a faster response.
If you are awaiting the construction of a new holiday home in Greece, it is a good idea to take out a policy just before the final exchange of contracts. If anything happens during the building phase, you will be covered, even if the contractor is uninsured, all too common in Greece. Conversely, when selling the property, you should make sure that it is protected right up until the moment that the purchaser signs the final contract.
Of course, there are many other things that you should check in the small print, such as the excess and the maximum payouts, but these are something that you should check in every policy, not just unoccupied property insurance Greece coverage.
Landlord’s House Insurance: Renting Your Vacation Home
For those of you who are seriously thinking about trying to let out your Greek holiday home, as a handy source of income, you will need an extra layer of insurance protection. You will have to pay a little more for this and you should be aware that you require a license from the EOT to let out your home, even if to friends.
Does the policy cover long and short term lets? This is extremely important if you plan on letting out the property commercially. Even if you charge friends a token fee for staying in your Greek holiday home, you will be breaking the law if you do not have a licence. Please see below for more details about the EOT licensing in Greece.
Does the Policy Cover the Loss of Rent in Case of a Claim? If you do make a substantial income from letting out the home for large parts of the year, you will want to ensure that the policy covers your loss of earnings, especially if you are using it to pay off your overseas mortgages.
Is the policy third party? For Greek holiday homes that you will be letting out, this is extremely important because you will be responsible for any damages caused by the occupants. For example, if the occupants have a barbecue that gets out of control and starts a wildfire, you could be liable, so you need insurance with a high maximum payout if your Greek property is situated in a high risk zone.
An EOT license is essential if you hope to let out your property
One aside, if you plan to let out the home when it is unoccupied: The Greek tourist board is becoming very strict with lets for Greek holiday homes. You must have the necessary license to rent out the home for money, even if it is to friends, and your Greek holiday home will be inspected to ensure that it meets the relevant regulations. Without a license, you face hefty fines and will also find it difficult to find a company that will cover your home or, more seriously, they could quite legitimately use this as a reason not to pay if the home was let illegally.
Obtaining the license can be difficult, so check the local conditions before buying, as the EOT will not issue licenses in saturated areas, and be aware that you will have to pay at least 2000 – 4000 Euros for the first five years coverage. On the positive side, different laws apply for longer term lets, of longer than 3 months, but you may need to look for a different product as it will be difficult to claim that the holiday home needs unoccupied property insurance.
Greek Insurance vs Home Country Based Overseas Property Insurance
Whilst Greek insurance companies are slowly catching up and developing a portfolio of products aimed at owners of holiday homes in Greece, you are still safer with a good insurance broker based in your home country. More companies are starting to offer Europe-wide policies and the market is competitive and keenly priced. Again, before signing anything, seek professional advice about any unclear stipulations in the contract.
Whatever road you decide to follow, I hope that you never need to make a claim.
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