Winter tips for holiday caravans and lodges
Protecting your happy place against weather-related loss and damage during the colder months of the year is part and parcel of being a holiday caravan/lodge owner.
If your park closes its gates from October/November through to the Spring, you’ll have no choice but to put your happy place “to bed” during this period.
Even if your park is open all year round, you’ll still need to take winter precautions from the Autumn until the Spring.
What can go wrong?
The biggest risk your holiday caravan/lodge faces in the winter is frost and water damage.
This can occur if the water supply to the unit is left on and/or excess water is left to sit in any pipework, sanitary ware, heating, and domestic appliances.
If this water freezes, it will expand, which may cause pipes etc to crack. When the ice melts, water may leak out through the cracks and cause damage.
Leaks can be bad news for a holiday caravan or lodge at the best of times. However, during the winter months, when parks are closed or you don’t regularly visit your happy place, a leak may not be discovered until severe damage has occurred. In the worst case scenario, a total loss can result.
The colder months can also see an increase in incidences of theft and vermin damage. Again, any such loss or damage may not be discovered for some time.
Much like with frost and water damage, a good insurance provider will offer cover for these risks, as long as you meet any requirements they may have to safeguard your happy place against them.
Take a look at our checklist overleaf to get an idea of the steps you can take to safeguard your happy place against the most common winter risks.
Check your insurance policy for “unoccupancy” conditions
>> Please check your insurance policy and establish if there are any conditions relating to the occupancy of your holiday caravan/lodge, ESPECIALLY during the winter months.
• is there a maximum number of days your unit can be unoccupied for, after which your insurance cover may be restricted?
• are there any other unoccupancy conditions or exclusions that apply?
>> Please also ensure you adhere to your insurance policy’s other winter-related conditions, including drain-down requirements.
>> Be careful to note any excesses that may apply under your policy in this regard.
Compass unoccupancy conditions
The Compass Holiday Caravan and Lodge Insurance Policy defines your holiday caravan/lodge as being “unoccupied” as follows:
Thereafter, the ONLY clause relating to “unoccupancy” in the Compass policy wording relates to the freezing of/escape of water during the period of 1st October to 14th March.
If you’re insured with us and you don’t take the precautions detailed on p12 of the policy wording (see the right hand column below) you will not be covered for loss or damage from water freezing/escape of water if your happy place is unoccupied during this time:
Safeguarding your happy place against the cold
To identify how you should safeguard your happy place against frost/water damage during the winter months, please refer to your manufacturer’s handbook. You will normally need to do one of two things:
• your holiday caravan/lodge will need to be drained down; or
• you will need to switch your central heating system onto a ‘frost prevention’ setting.
>> If your unit needs to be drained down, ask your park for help. Many offer a professional drain down service and their staff will ensure the process is carried out correctly.
>> If you want to drain down your unit yourself, it is essential that you follow the guidance detailed in your manufacturer’s handbook.
>> If you do not need to drain down your unit, make sure you set your central heating system as per the instructions in your caravan/lodge handbook.
If you’re insured with Compass and your park is closed at any point during the period of 1st October and 14th March you’ll need to take the appropriate action before you close your holiday caravan/lodge down for the winter. If your park remains open during this period, you’ll need to take the appropriate action each time you
leave your unit for 72 hours or more.
If you’re not insured with Compass, check your insurance policy wording and make sure you comply with any requirements laid down by your provider.
Security measures to prevent theft
>> Remove all valuables and small, portable electrical equipment. Hide anything that cannot be taken away.
>> Secure or put away garden furniture and accessories.
>> Bedding and soft furnishings should be removed or sealed in bags. Mattresses, furniture seats cushions, rugs etc should be propped up (giving an opportunity to clean away any hidden crumbs!).
>> This helps to give the impression that nothing has been left behind.
>> Fully open your curtains/blinds so people can see inside your unit – with a view to would-be thieves being able to see that there is nothing easily portable to take.
>> Turn off all electrical appliances.
>> Turn off the gas supply and disconnect any gas bottles.
>> Set your alarm. If you don’t have one, consider getting one.
>> Lock up! Ensure that you lock up your windows, doors and outdoor storage sheds/bins etc.
Measures to prevent vermin and pest damage
Compass is one of the few insurance providers to cover loss or damage caused by vermin. If you’re not insured with us, please check your policy.
Covered or not though, nobody wants to have their happy places invaded by critters! The following steps should help to prevent this:
>> Remove all food. If you need to leave any behind, store it in metal or glass containers with tight fitting lids.
>> Dispose of all waste. Do not leave any rubbish outside of your caravan/lodge.
>> Tidy up outside areas, including underneath the caravan/lodge if possible (and safe), especially piles of grasses/ weeds/leaves or anything that could prove a warm nest for insects/vermin.
>> Check for gaps and/or damage to doors, window frames, vents, guttering, pipes, roofs, skylights, flooring, outdoor storage bins etc. Also, for signs of gnawing or holes. Do not delay in taking steps to rectify such damage.
>> Check compost/garden waste bins for unwanted guests.
>> Clear up any fallen food from bird feeders. Ensure all bird food is stored in a sealed container above floor height, or ideally take it home.
A note about lockdown…
Your holiday caravan/lodge insurance policy requires you to take precautions against loss and damage and maintain your property in a good condition.
As noted above, those of you who are insured with Compass need to drain-down your unit/set your heating to prevent frost and water damage between the period of 1st October and 14th March every year.
If for any reason you’ve not been able to travel to your park in the past few months to do so, we’d recommend you speak to your park as soon as possible to see if they can support you in:
• draining-down/setting your heating on your behalf
• emptying the contents of your freezer
• locking up/making safe any of your belongings that had been left outside.
It’s worth noting that many parks who don’t normally offer such services may make an exception to help you this year, so it’s worth asking the question.
It’s particularly important to ensure your unit has been appropriately prepared if your park is now closed for the winter season. In terms of park “closure”, your park is classed as being “open” during any period of lockdown unless the park was due to close anyway during this period, or does not plan to reopen this season after its local lockdown restrictions end.