Private clients

Preparing your holiday home for the high season – your contents checklist

Preparing your holiday home for the high season – your contents checklist 1920 1280 James Hallam

With another busy season ahead, if you have a holiday home – in the UK or abroad – that you let out to guests, it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve taken stock of all your contents so that you can make sure nothing goes missing and that you can keep an eye on the condition of your furniture and other items over the course of the year. It will also help you to make sure you have the right levels of contents insurance in place.

Why create a contents check list for your holiday home?

If you regularly let out your holiday home, your contents are likely to get a lot more use, and therefore wear and tear. With a checklist, you can make notes on the condition of your contents at regular intervals, meaning you can keep track of damage deposits and make sure your guests are more careful with your things.

Your checklist is also a great way of showing your holiday homes extra features and benefits to your guests – even if that’s just as an aide memoire for you to use when you are marketing your property.

What to include on your holiday home contents checklist

As well as listing each of your contents, it’s a great idea to include some notes on each of the items, including any features and existing damage. You could include the cost or worth of each item on your personal copy. Photographs are also a great addition, especially if you need to make an insurance claim.

Your checklist will be easier to manage if you separate it into zones – living, sleeping, kitchen, bathroom and outdoor. Remember to include the smaller items, as well as larger and more expensive items, as well as fire alarms, extinguishers, hose pipes outside, etc.

How often should you check the list?

It’s probably not feasible to run through your checklist between every let, but it’s a good idea to schedule in a full inspection every quarter, or at least every six months.

Hygiene is top of the agenda for holiday lets, hostels, hotels and any other accommodation that checks guests in and out regularly. It always has been. But now, more than ever your customers will be looking for good hygiene measures to be in place.

If you’re looking for insurance options for your holiday home, or if you’re looking to buy a property abroad and want to check what cover is available, contact our Private Clients team on 020 7977 7846 or

Water leak detection

Water leak detection 1920 1280 James Hallam

Understand how to avoid costly water damage to your property by way of installing a water leak detection or prevention system and those that are available on the market today.

At some point you may have heard of a friend or family member who has suffered a water leak or burst pipe at their home and you may think that this will never happen to you, but how sure are you that your plumbing system will not fail at any given moment?

The Household Insurance market has seen a dramatic increase in both the frequency and severity of claims relating to Escape of Water from pipes, tanks and general apparatus with 1 in 4 claims being attributed to Escape of Water, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The amount of water that can pour into your home when a pipe bursts is unfathomable which can be very distressing. A Household Insurance Policy will, of course, operate in the event of an “Escape of Water”, and insurers will arrange for the property to be dried out, replace damaged belongings and even provide you with alternative accommodation, but subsequently, how will your insurance policy be impacted?

For example, insurers may increase premiums payable at your next renewal, apply larger policy excess and even request a plumbing system survey be carried out.  In addition, there may be the requirement for a Water Leak Detection System to be installed.

Post loss, some insurers will provide a contribution towards the cost of installing a Water Leak Detection System, but do you want to risk being in the position where you have to leave your family home for months to enable insurers to carry out the required remedial works.

Why not act first and install a system that will monitor your plumbing, giving you complete peace of mind, preventing this awful scenario from happening.

How does a water leak detector or prevention system work?

Water Leak Detection Systems detect potential plumbing problems by monitoring the water flow within the pipes, which could result in a water leak and damage to your property.

These systems can detect and notify you of a leak via an application on a smart device. This will enable you to receive the alert no matter where you are, allowing you to return home to shut off your water at the mains supply and arrange for a plumber to attend your property before major damage has been sustained.

The prevention systems can help to safeguard your home further, by automatically shutting off the water in approximately five seconds after a leak has been detected, saving you the worry of rushing home wondering what awaits you, and of course a large insurance claim which could take months to rectify the damage caused.

These systems can also be linked to your intruder alarm monitoring station so that when you are away from home you will still have the peace of mind that should a leak occur it will be taken care of in your absence.

For more information please contact our Private Clients team on

Is it safe to travel in 2021?

Is it safe to travel in 2021? 1920 1280 James Hallam

After Boris Johnson unveiled his lockdown exit plan many people will find summer holiday deals very tempting, but the risk that plans could be disrupted due to Covid-19 is ever present. The roll-out of the vaccine has seen a surge of optimism that travel will be possible again this summer. But many won’t have had their first vaccination, or will be uncertain whether individual counties will allow British nationals to travel.

Here is everything you need to know: from the latest on package holidays, vaccinations, and flight cancellations.

What do we know about foreign travel?

In England the earliest that foreign holidays will be allowed to resume is 17 May however another surge in Covid cases in Europe, as well as a slow roll out of vaccines has cast doubt whether foreign travel can go ahead. A review into the safety of reopening borders will need to be conducted, considering the infection rates and vaccine take-up.

Currently, travellers are required to test for Covid-19 at their own expense both when leaving the UK and returning home. These measures are likely to stay in place until at least mid-May along with the need to quarantine for 10 days for arrivals from red list countries. However the latest legislation, set to come in next week, will be for those attempting to take a holiday abroad without a reasonable excuse will result in £5000 fine.

What is the travel traffic light system and how will it work?

Travel destinations will be ranked green, amber or red according to vaccination rates, Covid variants and number of cases and various other factors.

The guidelines haven’t been released yet, but it is likely to look something like this:

  • Travellers returning from low-risk “green” countries will need to take a Covid test before they return to UK, followed by two further tests on day 2 and day 8 after they arrive.
  • Travellers returning from medium risk “amber” countries will have to take a pre-departure test, then self isolate at home for ten days. They will also have to take a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 of quarantine, but could also take a private test on day 5 in order to leave self-isolation.
  • Travellers returning from high risk “red” countries will have to take a test before entering the UK and then pay £1,70 to quarantine in a hotel for 11 days. They will then have to take two further Covid tests at their own expense on day 2 and day 8 of isolation.

What Covid restrictions are likely to be in place in other countries?

If their borders are open at all, most destinations will only allow travellers with proof of two Covid vaccinations however some may accept a recent negative Covid-19 test result. Check the government website for each country’s specific requirements.

How can I protect my holiday booking?

This year a package holiday could be the safest way to travel for one simple reason: if the tour operator is forced to cancel because of restrictions, you are entitled to a full refund via the package regulations.

Please note that Coronavirus remains a known event and therefore cancellation claims through some insurers will not covered on trips booked during the lockdown period.

Are airlines issuing refunds?

If your flight is cancelled by the airline, you are due a refund. This applies for all flights on any airline that departs from an EU country. Outside the EU it is slightly more complex and you will need to contact the individual airline. For those wishing to cancel their own flight, the majority of airlines are allowing cancellations but in some cases this has taken over a month to process.

What about vaccine passports?

To be able to travel this year you may require proof in the form of a vaccine passport. A vaccine passport can be defined as a piece of documentation, likely to be in the form of a mobile app or similar system, proving someone has been inoculated against COVID-19.

I don’t want to be vaccinated – will I be able to travel abroad?

You may find certain avenues closed to you. Some countries and holiday firms may require you to have been vaccinated, and to be able to prove it.

If you currently arranging you travel insurance through us at James Hallam please get in contact before arranging your trip so we can provide you with up to date information.

You can find the latest travel advice and warnings on the Government website here.

Preventing Storm Damage

Preventing Storm Damage 1920 1440 James Hallam

If your home has been damaged by a storm, dealing with the aftermath can be emotionally and financially exhausting.

To help you avoid the worst, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can help protect your home from suffering a significant loss in event of a flood.

Before a flood

The best thing you can do at any time of the year is to make sure your property is safe. Regular checks can help your home stand up to bad weather when it comes.

  • Check your roof for any loose or missing tiles, crumbling pointing or any other signs of damage.
  • Remove hazardous branches in your garden, particularly those close to windows or power lines. Be careful as some trees are safeguarded, so if you’re unsure whether a tree can be cut check with your local planning authority.
  • Keep gutters clear of moss and leaves. If your gutters overflow during a downpour, it’s time to give them a good clean.
  • Prepare a storm emergency kit, just in case you need to leave your home during the storm. Pack warm clothes, medicines, a torch and batteries.

Find out if your postcode is at risk from a flood at here.

During a flood

  • Prevent water getting into your premises where possible by using flood barriers such as sandbags.
  • Move any furniture and possessions to a higher floor level or raised location
  • Check to see if your gas/water/electricity supply is working, and if not, call the suppliers to report it.
  • Switch off any gas/electricity supply that might be affected.

After a flood

Experiencing a flood can be frightening, and the activities of normal life can be disrupted. It is important not to underestimate the stress and strain of being flooded and cleaning up after floods. Here are a few steps to help deal with the aftermath.

  • List any damage to your property and don’t throw anything away in case it’s needed for the claims process. Don’t dispose of anything until you have photographed it for your records.
  • Check in on vulnerable neighbours or relatives and help them make any arrangements for repairs
  • Remember to keep clear of electrical or telephone cables that have been blown down or are hanging loose
  • Make sure the building is structurally safe
  • Ventilate and dehumidify the property.
  • Listen to the advice of the authorities and follow any instructions they give to leave the property.
  • If you are told to wait for the rescue service please do so.

If you have been affected and need to make a claim you can contact our team here.

Steps for preparing yourself for winter

Steps for preparing yourself for winter 1432 1006 James Hallam

As we continue through a period of uncertainty one thing is for sure, winter is coming. The cold weather can increase the probability of major disruption and damage to your property or vehicle. We do not know how a winter with COVID-19 will look, but we can prepare ourselves, our homes and our vehicles for the season ahead. By taking the following precautions you can help to ensure you are ready for winter.

Preparing your homes

  • Regular inspections and maintenance of your property like clearing your gutters will help limit the risk of blockages.
  • Keep your boiler on during the winter months. It’s important to check your boiler is in good health by having a regular service.
  • Pre winter checks by your central heating service provider with indicate any improvements needed to the efficiency of your heating.
  • If there is a risk of flooding try to move as many possessions upstairs. If your property has been flooded do not attempt to enter the premises until the electricity has been turned off at the mains.
  • Check for carbon monoxide leaks: This is a silent killer which can easily be detected with an inexpensive test badge or battery-operated alarm.
  • Make yourself aware your stopcock in case you need to stop the water supply quickly after frozen pipes.
  • Keep updated on weather warning and Met Office reports.
  • If properties are permanently unoccupied we would suggest disconnecting water supplies and draining all pipes and heating systems. However if you are only temporarily unoccupied heating systems should remain on to maintain a consistent temperature and avoid freeing.

It goes without saying that drivers need to keep their cars in good condition throughout the year, however even more so during the winter months. Recovery firms suggest that you’re twice as likely to break down during this season, so here are some precautions you can take to minimize the risk.

Preparing your vehicle

  • Plan your route and check road conditions. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination.
  • Make sure your car has been serviced .
  • Check your battery. Cold weather also has a negative impact on the power a battery and if you haven’t changed your car battery recently, then it could become faulty in the cold.
  • Keep a full tank of fuel. When there is a lot of empty space in the tank moisture can start to build up, and if this can dilutes the fuel can eventually freeze.
  • Ensure your tyres are correctly inflated and don’t get below the minimum of 1.6mm. Also check your tyre pressures regularly, as these can change with a drop in air temperature.
  • Clean your exterior lights and check that all your lights and indicators are working.
  • Carry an emergency kit in case of a breakdown. This should include first aid kid, extra clothing, hi- visibility jacket, food and drink, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid, tow rope, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, warning light or road flares.

Are you prepared for an accident in your home?

Are you prepared for an accident in your home? 1920 1280 James Hallam

Creating a safe environment where your family can grow and thrive is a top priority.  Accidents can happen at any time in your home, so it’s even more important to be prepared during a pandemic.  Make sure you’re doing everything you can to achieve maximum safety at home.

Some common hazards you should be aware of:

Fires – Cooking, heating, smoking, faulty electrics or candles all can cause a fire, make sure you have checked that all your smoke alarms are working correctly. Ensure that you and all members of your household are aware of the fire exits. Check that all your windows can be opened with ease and if they have security bars that they can be easily released. At no point after leaving the house should you go back inside, wait for the emergency services to arrive.

Carbon Monoxide – Carbon monoxide is virtually impossible to detect and low levels can cause headaches and dizziness, while high levels can lead to vomiting, impaired vision, and even death. It’s vital you install a CO detector in your home, this will alert you if CO reaches dangerous levels in your home.

Falls – Wet floors, slippery surfaces, and scattered toys all create the potential for falls. Make sure all staircases are well lit, have handrails, securely affixed flooring, and safety gates if there are small children at home. Keep the stairs clear of any tripping hazards and use grip tape to secure mats in place.

Electrical Safety – Many accidents and fatalities involve electricity and must always be treated with respect. Have your wiring installation checked at least once every five years by an approved contractor. Do not use appliances that are worn or damaged flexes. Keep mains-operated appliances out of the bathroom.

Safety with medicines and cleaners – Chemical preparations should always be treated with caution. Consider having a proper lockable cabinet fitted in the kitchen and bathroom to keep out of the reach of children. Always follow the label directions when using any household cleaning products.

Here are three things to consider while planning for an emergency:

If you are required to have contractors visit, ask them about their COVID-19 health and safety practices. Make sure everyone understands best practices and continues to follow government guidelines to protect each another from risk of infection. Try to pay your bill online to and if any family members are showing symptoms make sure you inform them.

Emergency kit
Gather a go to bag of supplies which you can grab quickly. It should include personal items like toiletries, food, and water. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic additional items will needed to be added to this bag: extra face masks, hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol, disinfectant supplies, tissues, and as well as personal hygiene items.

Evacuation Plan
If you are required to leave your property at during an evacuation , unplug major electrical equipment such as televisions and small appliances. Do not unplug your refrigerator or freezer unless there is a flood risk. And do not forget to secure your home by locking all the doors and windows.



Valuing your Possessions for Insurance

Valuing your Possessions for Insurance 1392 992 James Hallam

If you are the owner of any antiques or treasured possessions it is important to insure them properly. Regardless of their worth they are likely to hold significant personal value and having insurance will not only protect them but help give you some peace of mind.

Insuring valuables can bring with it challenges given the uniqueness of some of the items, as well as the high value that some hold. Even with specialist insurance, the amount and type of protection you need may change as your life does. Your policy may be able to cope with small fluctuations, if your possessions rise significantly in price, you will need your insurance policy reviewed to check it is still suitable.

Why do valuations matter?

Fluctuations in the market could have an impact on the insurance protection you need. Having an accurate valuation of your antiques will allow you to decide if a standard policy will be sufficient or if you need to consider a specialist insurance policy such as a high net worth policy. Many standard contents insurance policies will set a sum insured limit, while others may require you to individually list items which exceed a certain value.

From classic cars, rare watches or bottles of whisky, we can recommend skilled and independent valuers to assist with reviewing your valuable collections. An up to date valuation can help avoid financial losses in the case of a claim or having to accept a lesser quality replacement item.

The benefits of professional valuation are:

  • A professional, fully detailed valuation makes it more likely for an insurer’s loss adjuster to accept the claim and speed up the process in case of loss/theft.
  • A valuer will confirm the authenticity of the item and its certificates.
  • Experts will give you an accurate market price.
  • They will be able to advise the best care and check for any repair work to your item.
  • It could provide a far better description or more accurate details of the item that might not be available from purchase receipt or older valuations.
  • An ‘agreed value’ will be made on your item which means in the event of a claim, you will receive its full value – or even more in certain circumstances.


If you own any antiques or treasured items, then it is vital to get them valued correctly. If you do not keep abreast of market fluctuations which could impact the price of an item you may be surprised to find out the cost price has significantly risen. We recommend getting your items valued regularly, for example expensive high end jewellery could be valued annually but we recommend this be done every 3 years at the very least. You may want to consider security for your valuables. This could include storing your valuables in a safe, having a home alarm system installed or considering CCTV to increase the security of your home. By doing this, you ensure your possessions are fully protected.

Be Aware – 18th Edition IET Wiring Regulations Launched

Be Aware – 18th Edition IET Wiring Regulations Launched 1920 1280 James Hallam

Last year saw the publication of the 18th Edition IET Wiring Regulations. The regulations apply to the design, erection and verification of electrical installations; and additions and alterations to existing installations.

Also known as BS 7671:2018 Requirements for Electrical Installations, these changes were issued on 2nd July 2018 and came into effect on 1st January 2019. The period between publication and application gave a 6-month window for electrical contractors and others responsible for installing and maintaining electrical installations to become familiar with the new regulations.

Whilst there are many small changes from the previous 17th Edition, some of the significant updates in the new 18th Edition cover include:

  • Protection Against Electric Shock – changes to regulations relating to protective equipotential bonding and those relating to disconnection times.
  • Protection Against Thermal Effects – of particular relevance to fire, a new regulation has been introduced recommending the installation of arc fault detection devices (AFDDs) to mitigate the risk of fire in final circuits of a fixed installation due to the effects of arc fault currents.
  • Protection Against Voltage Disturbances – stipulating that transient over-voltage protection has to be installed when (amongst others) the consequences caused by over-voltage results in interruption of commercial or industrial activity.
  • Inspection and Testing – this has been revised to align Inspection and Testing requirements to other revisions within the 18th Edition.
  • Energy Efficiency – recommendations for the design and erection of electrical installations with local production and storage of energy to optimise the use of electricity. These are listed in a new appendix.

This doesn’t mean that existing electrical installations installed in accordance with earlier editions of the wiring regulations are now unsafe or require upgrading, but any new installations, alteration or additions made from 1st January 2019 onwards will need to comply with the new regulations.

It is always recommended to hire contractors who are members of a trade body such as NICEIC when choosing an electrical contractor to inspect and test electrical installations within your premises. Many commercial insurance contracts contain a fixed wiring electrical inspection condition and generally stipulate use of an NICIEC contractor.

For more information, please contact us on 01923 298435.