Wouldn’t it be awesome to wake up over the winter holidays and find yourself in a smart city apartment in Rio? Or how about a cozy chalet in the Alps? Canada is a pretty sought-after destination when it comes to home swapping. It’s something I want to do more of, but you must make sure your bases are covered, especially when it comes to your insurance. Here’s what you need to know before home swapping over the holidays or any time of year, really.
What is home swapping and why do it
Home swapping is when you’re staying at your friend’s place, while they stay at your home. We’ve taken over friend’s homes in Victoria, London, Austria and Japan. Because we have a lovely little place in Canmore, we return the favour and have had many guests use our place when we’re out of town.
Home swapping is awesome because it’s cheap and easy. You’re not shelling out for a hotel. You don’t have to pay resort fees, wait for the bathroom or eat out at restaurants. Throw in little perks like a fireplace, yard, maybe the ability to use their vehicle and suddenly you’ve got an affordable, restful holiday.
The first thing you need to do before considering home swapping
Before you make home sharing arrangements, don’t assume anything. Call up your insurance provider and ask them how this jives with your policy. You don’t want to be talking about the finer points of what constitutes home swapping vs home sharing vs a home rental when you’re looking at a claim. Have that conversation with your insurance company, so you understand what you’re covered for before you take on the risk.
Most homeowner’s policies continue to run when you have guests in your house. But your homeowner’s policy isn’t going to cover your guest’s belongings. So, if they happen to travel with a large collection of jewelry or expensive clothing and something gets damaged or stolen, they’d get coverage from their own personal homeowner’s policy. Likewise, your homeowner’s policy covers your belongings as you travel around with them. Interestingly, some insurance companies, like Esurance (which is backed by Allstate) can tailor your contents insurance based on a certain category like, say, sporting equipment, a valuable baseball card collection or legit jewelry.
The difference between home sharing, home swapping and house sitting
It’s considered home sharing services when you’re renting out your home for a period of time. Renting is like running a business. If you’re renting out a room in your house, that’s usually no biggie. Still, you need to tell your insurance company because there’s a slight premium increase. But if you’re renting out your house for several months of the year in an effort to pay off your mortgage, it’s no longer viewed as your home. It’s now seen as a business, and most insurance policies won’t cover you under your regular home insurance policy. You’ll probably need to get revenue property insurance
So, if we wanted to rent out our Canmore place to make some dough, we’d have to let our insurance company know, and they’d change our policy. If we didn’t and something happened, we’d be in major hot water. Insurance fraud has got to be the least sexy thing you’ll ever want to deal with. Well, maybe parenting toddlers outranks it.
Home or house swapping is when you trade houses with someone. Sometimes you know the person, sometimes you don’t. (There are services online that can hook you up with potential home swappers around the world.) In this case, if someone damages your property when they’re staying at your home, their homeowner’s policy has liability coverage that will cover the damage. Same if you damage something at their place. Your insurance policy covers it.
House sitting is something many people need (for insurance purposes) if they’re away from their home for an extended period of time. At a minimum, you want someone in every few days to collect your mail, ensure there hasn’t been a leak, etc. Fantastically, if you hire someone to house sit, you probably don’t require any additional insurance coverage.
How make yourself a sought-after home swapper?
- You always want to leave the house in better condition than you found it. Make sure you do a proper clean so it’s a treat for the homeowner when they arrive back.
- If you use the last of something, for goodness sake, replace it. I can’t tell you how many boxes of tea I find with one teabag left in them.
- If you break something, either buy a new one (same brand!), provide the full replacement cost or make arrangements with your insurer to get it sorted. Companies like Esurance make this super easy. With their 24/7 support, you can start the claims process immediately after you damage or break the thing. Don’t forget to be upfront with the homeowner about the damage. You don’t want them finding out on their own.
- Leave the homeowner a little something as a thank you. A card, a bottle of wine or a gift certificate lets them know how much you appreciated the use of their home. Yes, you both swapped, but if you want to do it again, it’s worth the extra effort.
- Savvy house swappers want to work with individuals they know are protected. Before you go down the road of researching home swaps in glamorous locations, give Esurance a call. With their seamless online and telephone support, it’s a breeze to get the info you need tout suite.
Have you ever swapped homes with someone else? Would you do it again?
This post is sponsored by Esurance. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that help support Travels with Baggage.