With the Christmas holidays looming, many of us are lucky enough to be heading away for a much-deserved break. And whether it’s short or long, local or overseas, many of you will be using the services of a house or pet sitter. From bringing in the mail to walking and feeding the dog or watering the plants, unfortunately household maintenance doesn’t disappear just because you have!
Home security expert and founder of My Home Watch, Natasha Morgan, has plenty of warnings if you’re about to engage someone to help around the home in your absence. “Recent research has uncovered that the majority of house and pet sitters aren’t covered by your home insurance if something were to go terribly wrong,” says Natasha who shared some pretty scary findings.
“If you engage a house or pet sitter and they steal anything or “clean out” your home while you’re gone, or damage anything, it’s not covered by your insurance and you can’t call it a criminal act, because you invited them into your home!” says Natasha which I’ll admit was news to me despite it making complete sense.
“Accidental loss and damage are covered as standard, but all insurers will have exclusions for deliberate damage and theft caused by people lawfully on the property, including house sitters and their guests, so be aware who you are getting to house sit,” says Natasha who explains that your policy may differ depending on the length of stay. “If a house sitter was going to be staying at a property for two weeks or more, an insurer may treat them as a tenant and amend a policy as a result,” says Natasha.
Furthermore, personal injury is a consideration too. “If your house sitter injures themselves in or around your home, you’re liable for their injury and most likely your insurance won’t cover the claim. To be covered by public liability insurance you have to be a registered business, which nearly every house and pet sitter isn’t as no money is exchanged and they usually aren’t operating as a business,” says Natasha who shares her six top tips below.
- Use a trusted service that’s insured.
- Love for pets: Look for a person with a genuine love for pets. Caring for a pet involves extra responsibilities and it is important that the carer is up to the challenge. Apart from providing food and water, the responsibilities involve general pet care. If the pet is elderly, sick or injured, medication may need to be administered on a schedule.
- First impressions count: Homeowners prefer property and pet carers that are well groomed and caring people. Experience, skills, and qualifications should be considered which will enable the homeowner to make an informed choice. An individual with experience and good skills will be able to look after the home better and will also be equipped to handle challenges and find solutions to problems. Even the best-maintained homes can throw surprises and they should be trained to handle them.
- References: References or reviews reassure homeowners. Always look for companies with good reviews or people with references.
- Flexibility: Homeowners prefer carers who are flexible with dates and locations. They should be able to cater to your schedule. You should not have to change your travel plans according to their availability.
- Great communication skills: Choose someone with good communication skills. Homeowners want to be reassured that they have left their homes and pets in good hands. You don’t want to come back to a badly maintained home because you misunderstood each other. Lack of communication can ruin the entire experience.