Glampsites present some unique challenges for insurers, writes Tim Price.
Glamping has caught the imagination of the British population and early adopters in attractive locations are making good profits. However, there is a lot more to running a glamping enterprise than knocking together some rustic-looking yurts.
In reality, glamping and other themed self-catering holidays are about providing what visitors view as a rustic experience in an unusual or unique structure while ensuring they have a fantastic stay in a comfortable and, above all, safe environment.
Managing to combine these diametrically opposed elements is the key to a successful glamping enterprise. It calls for an integrated approach to design, construction, materials, maintenance and management right from the concept stage of the business.
To ease the journey from the planning stage to the opening of a new site, it helps to consult with insurers and other specialists from the beginning. Their experience of the types of incident that lead to claims and damage can help shape outline plans into viable blueprints for sites that successfully deliver the rural outdoor experience visitors seek, while minimising risks. This is essential because operators face the same legal liabilities and potential for large claims for damages whether a member of the public has an accident in a farmhouse B&B or a themed tree house.
Glamping accommodation is by its nature of non-standard construction and likely to involve potentially flammable materials such as canvas sheeting. A high profile issue for insurers will also be the use of stoves or burners – not just whether they are appropriate, of good quality and properly installed, but that any fuel or equipment supplied to use with the stove is suitable.
To understand the risks involved, insurers are likely to want to see detailed plans, inspect the site, and be confident that the firms installing the living accommodation and other features of the site are reputable and have plenty of experience in the sector. This approach helps to ensure that the site has safety features built into it from design stage, rather than expensively added at the last minute to satisfy safety or insurance concerns.
Supporting activities offered on site, such as cycling, fishing, saunas, farm visits and quad bikes, will also need to be well organised and carefully managed as experience has shown that they present a high claims risk. This is a particular concern for glamping sites, which often seek to provide activities and attractions ‘on site’, unlike traditional B&Bs or self-catering cottages whose visitors typically spend a lot of their holiday off-site walking or exploring the countryside.
The way the business is structured is also likely to be of interest to insurers. Some glamping enterprises are entirely owned and managed by the landowners, who have invested in the site to provide a new income source. Others are run as a separate company or even as a franchise.
Insurers should be involved in consultation at the planning stage to enable any ambiguities concerning legal responsibility for different aspects of the business to be ironed out. Providing these arrangements are clearly set out to show where responsibilities lie between the involved parties and are checked by solicitors, the way the business is structured is not likely to present difficulties when arranging insurance.
Glamping insurance checklist
As well as cover to protect buildings and contents from fire, storm, floods and theft, operators should consider the following insurance to protect their enterprises:
- Public Liability – to protect against claims from guests and other members of the public
- Employee Liability – a legal requirement, this applies not only to paid employees but also to family members who help out, even if this is on an occasional basis
- Product Liability – to protect against claims following use of food, fuel or other goods supplied
- Business Interruption – to make up lost income following an insured incident such as a fire or storm that means the business is unable to operate for a period
- Cyber Risk – glamping often relies on web-based services for promotion and administration. Insurance can cover data restoration and forensic investigation.
About the author
Tim Price is a rural affairs specialist with NFU Mutal, a leading rural insurer. With over 300 offices located in rural towns and villages throughout the UK, NFU Mutual has become part of the fabric of rural life and remains committed to serving the needs of people who visit, live or work in the countryside. Call 0808 223 0722 or go to www.nfumutual.co.uk