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Home Exchange – Security and Insurance Issues

How do I secure the safety of my valuables?
Will my insurance covers damages to my properties during the exchange?
Does my car insurance cover any damages in case of accidents?

Home exchange, like any other transaction, works like a two-way street. While someone is in your home, you are occupying theirs. You and your exchange partner have exactly the same concerns on everything – your possessions, damages, and possible accidents to your properties.

Fortunately, surveys showed that incidents on security in home exchanges are virtually absent. Local insurers and the police both agree that occupied homes are safer than those that are empty.

Some practical guidelines

The first rule is getting to know your exchange partner as thoroughly as you can. Aside from emails, phone calls and photos, you might want to chat with them in the Internet for a real-time face-to-face conversation, if possible.

You and your partner should be clear on some ground rules – locked rooms or closets, books or things that cannot be disturbed or moved, things to be carefully handled, etc. On certain cases, remove or lock away in safe places items of extreme value.

It is very good to discuss in advance issues regarding breakage or damages. Most people will agree to replace or pay for any broken item. Proper use of utilities and appliances need to be discussed in case of future accidents.

Some people also inform their trusted neighbors of their plans. The neighbors can keep an eye on their property, providing that extra level of mental comfort. They can help the exchange partner, too, if need be.

Insurance issues

Before buying any kind of insurance, shop first for the most competitive price. Prices radically differ worldwide. Get the physical address of your insurer, their toll-free number, and a direct point of contact while abroad, if any.

Determine how long you will be traveling and add two weeks to insure your lost luggage is covered. Read your policy carefully. You may not be covered in some areas. Be ready to pay for additional premiums if you want them covered. Be aware of rules on how and when these companies are notified in the event of a loss.

Regarding home insurance, most policies have a good comprehensive coverage, although insurance policies differ from country to country. Most travelers, therefore, are more concerned about medical and travel insurance as well as car insurance policies. Here’s a quick rundown.

Many insurance companies have different restrictions on benefits if travel is for an extended period. Many try to cover travel assistance, protection, personal accidents, losses, travel interruptions and others. The premiums differ according to the scope of your coverage. Read your policy carefully to find out exactly what you are covered for. Other countries have steep costs for emergencies, and they can be avoided beforehand.

In the United States, a car insurance policy has the usual provision line of “any other person while using such a car within the scope of the consent of the insured and his or her spouse”. This means anyone using the car with the owner’s (policyholder) consent is fully covered. There are exceptions and other restrictions, to be sure, depending from country to country.

As always, double checking your policy is a good practice. Also, provide a permission letter from yourself should you decide to let your home exchange partner use your car. This is for emergency purposes. Have him provide you of his valid driver’s license.

Lastly, be aware that travel and car insurance policies vary. Companies have their own restrictions. Some policies include home exchangers in their coverage by listing them as friends of the insured. Additional policies can be bought separately to insure your adequate protection.

Having these security issues covered and taken care of makes one’s vacation worry-free and enjoyable. And with all the advantages of a home exchange, what could be more satisfying than that?


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