Many of us pay insurance – on our cars, homes and businesses – but how many of us really believe we will be compensated in full when we need to claim? Probably very few: We all know that the (very) small print in many policies can include exclusions, limited compensation, deductibles and indemnity limits.
The answer, according to Maddalena Casucci of Reale Mutua Insurance, is to treat an insurance policy as seriously as you would any other binding contract. If this means sitting down with an insurer (or two) and going through each clause with a magnifying glass, so be it. Better to be safe and properly insured, than to be sorry. Here are some tips from Maddalena about insuring your second home in Italy:
Working in the world of insurance, I realize how difficult it can be for someone who does not work in the sector, to choose not only the right insurer but also the right policy.
In Cortona there are many second homes.
Is second home insurance mandatory?
In practice, our law provides that insurance is mandatory only if you have a mortgage. The insurance coverage must include a guarantee for fire and explosion and, therefore, protect you and the credit institution from unforeseeable damage. Without this, the institution may not grant the mortgage or loan.
In the absence of a mortgage, there are no laws stipulating that a second home, often left empty, need have an alarm system, or even regular checks for break-ins, infiltrations or broken pipes.
What can I do to avoid damages in my absence?
To play it safe, it makes sense to have someone go by your property every now and again, to check that everything is in order and functioning.
For example, bad weather can often trip the circuit breaker.
So even if you go away in the winter, leaving the boiler on minimum, without someone to check that it is functional, you could still return to find your house under water from pipes that have frozen and broken. Without electricity, the boiler doesn’t work! (To play it safe and to reduce the possibility of damage, a good idea is to turn off the water to all bathroom and kitchen taps, every time you leave).
Every year, we have so many cases of worn or broken pipes, breaking and flooding homes. With the water closed the damage is minimized.
The following coverage is especially recommended for those who leave their houses unattended for long periods of the year:
1. Insure your homes and the valuables and furnishings within, for all damages that may occur as a result of:
· fire and accidental events such as electrical phenomena
· atmospheric events
· acts of vandalism
· broken pipes
· smashed or broken glass windows and doors
· catastrophic risks (earthquakes-floods).
2. The issue of theft is also increasingly topical. In the last ten years, the number of home burglaries have increased. So, I would also advise coverage for theft which should importantly, also include any damage caused to the property, by the break-in.
3. Third Party Liability (or civil liability) is also a fundamental necessity for those who own a property. It protects you against all damages that can be involuntarily caused to other people. For instance, if someone has a fall on your patio or a roof tile should damage them or their car, they could claim for damages against you.
4. For those with an activity such as seasonal rentals, I would strongly suggest that you insure against such accidents happening to your guests and their personal belongings and valuables. Unfortunately, thefts in the area would seem to target small, easily pocketed valuables which rental guests tend to leave accessible (often having nowhere to put them). Not being able to compensate them can be an unpleasant experience. This cover can be incorporated into your policy.
How much does second home insurance cost?
The cost of second home insurance depends a lot on the company you choose, but also on the type of coverage required.
Other factors include the municipality in which the property is located and the overall value of the property. It is also influenced by what type of property it is, such as an apartment or villa or cottage, its size in square metres and the seismic or morphological zone. Much also depends on the value of the contents owned and present within the property.
Is there a policy that protects the owners of second homes?
With legal protection insurance you can count on the assistance of a lawyer both to sue the person responsible for causing you unjust damage, and to defend yourself in the event you are sued.
Legal protection is a guarantee that will protect you personally with regard to any dispute that you may incur: as property owner and as a private individual. It also covers your family members. It operates at ‘second risk’, meaning it will only come into play after the civil liability insurance which operates at ‘first risk’.
How to choose the right insurance company?
Like any contract entered into, it is advisable to read the general conditions of insurance which must, by law, be attached to any estimate provided. A good, cheap deal does not necessarily mean the best coverage. It is the quality of the coverage and the guarantees given that should be scrutinized and assessed. If you have questions or queries, the best thing you can do is to request an appointment with your insurer, and discuss, step by step, the policy best suited to your requirements and its annual cost.
Reale Mutua, Camucia
Viale Gramsci 42/l 52044 Cortona Ar