On my recent points-based home exchange to southern California I purchased “swap protection” insurance through the exchange site Love Home Swap. This insurance cost me $79 for a 6 night stay. I never buy travel insurance, and in fact I wrote a whole post about why you don’t need insurance for home exchanges. But I had a few reasons to be concerned about this home exchange and I decided $79 was a fine price to pay for peace of mind that we’d have lodging for the week if the swap fell through at the last minute.
So what did I learn? Is swap protection worth the cost? First let me explain why I decided to buy it this time.
I was worried things might not work out because I had agreed to a house swap with someone who had never done a home exchange before. She repeatedly said she wanted to talk on the phone about exchange details, but never actually called when I told her good days and times to reach me. And she went for long periods of time without responding to my email messages. Also my swap partner didn’t have very many pictures up of her home (also the ones she had were blurry), and she didn’t have a picture of herself. These are all potential warning flags. And finally, at the last minute she emailed me to ask if we could take care of her dog while staying in her home, something that was never mentioned or discussed before. I love dogs but I’m allergic so I politely told her I didn’t think this would work for me, but she never responded to assure me that the dog would not be left in the house.
I suspect that experienced swappers reading the above are wondering why I even agreed to this home exchange. But the trip was not flexible, and this was the only person I found willing to do an exchange. And her home really was in an ideal location. So I decided the risk was worth the potential savings (even a cheap Holiday Inn in that area costs $125/night).
The LoveHomeSwap protection fee covers trip cancellation up to £2,500 towards alternative lodging. So once I paid the $79 I stopped worrying about all the potential things that could go wrong with this home exchange. Worst case we would have paid $79 for 6 nights in a hotel. And best case we paid $79 to stay in a nice home.
In the end my $79 swap protection was unnecessary. In reality the percentage of home exchanges that go so badly that someone needs alternative lodging is so low that I’m sure LoveHomeSwap is profiting off of these fees. In general I wouldn’t recommend paying for swap protection because you are very unlikely to need it. But if you are in a swap that seems risky, or if the fee is low and paying it will help you relax and enjoy the trip, it’s something to consider.