Owners of holiday homes abroad could be left in a panic this summer unless they have access to 24/7 interpreters to help them out in an emergency.
European and UK holiday home insurance provider, British Insurance, offers such a service, but fears it’s the only one.
The firm randomly picked 10 European holiday home insurance firms * to see whether they provided interpreters to support their customers in a crisis abroad and found that none did.
Whilst in some cases, customers had access to bilingual claims staff; they would not have been able to contact their insurer for translation assistance.
Call logs from British Insurance’s ‘Pass the Phone’ interpretation service show European holiday home owners not only want help at the time of a claim, but require the services of linguists to deal with everyday matters such as speaking to utility firms and builders.
Translator requests include; contacting electricity provider to organise a date for meter reading, speaking to police following a car accident, talking to a local builder to discuss paint and guttering problems with a recently-purchased property, asking the maid to give local contractors a key so they can work on the house and contacting a locksmith following an airport robbery.
On the claims side, interpreters are regularly called upon to assist with burst water pipes and leaks (sourcing builders and plumbers) and break-ins (contacting locksmiths, replacement glass firms and police liaison).
Those with homes in Spain account for the majority of calls and at times, there are requests for three-way conversations between owner, interpreter and overseas contact.
During its research, British Insurance also found its public liability limit was higher than some providers - £5m as opposed to £2m - and that emergency travel, automatically included within its policy, is classed as an ‘optional extra’ by other providers, which could result in additional costs.
Managing Director Nel Mooy comments: “The basis of insurance is to give help when and where it’s needed most and our call logs evidence that it’s not just at the time of a claim when overseas holiday home owners require interpretation support.
“Things we take for granted in the UK, such as contacting utility companies, local tradesmen and the police, are much harder when you’re not fluent in that country’s language and our call logs confirm the demand for linguists to help in these situations. I fear many people facing an emergency will not get the support they need.”
British Insurance’s holiday home policy provides; building and contents cover up to £500,000 and £60,000 respectively, emergency travel assistance (helping owners get to their property quickly in an emergency), public liability (taking into account French, Spanish and Portuguese requirements) and unoccupied and rental cover.
‘Pass the Phone’ is an interpretation service with multi-lingual advisers.
As well as instant interpretation, they offer assistance following an emergency or crime, help with lost passports, credit cards and money, liaise with utility companies and locate local tradesmen and professional services.
Owners with properties in Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Southern Cyprus and Bulgaria have access to interpreters, those in the UK and the Republic of Ireland can call a 24/7 emergency helpline.
British Insurance extended its product range earlier this year, widening its offering beyond its reputable Payment Protection products. Alongside PPI and cover for people with overseas and UK holiday/second homes, the firm has policies for unoccupied properties and landlords.