Skip to Content Skip to Navigation Skip to Sitemap

MindMyHouse News 13 November 2007

by Susan Holtham, 12th November 2007

Tune into edition number 21 of MindMyHouse News for all of the following: we form a mutual appreciation society with a savvy blogger at www.thesavvyboomer.com; excitement builds as we prepare to roll out a new site feature: your very own MindMyHouse message centre; liability insurance for house sitters – who needs it?; and finally, please show courtesy to your fellow MindMyHousies and respond to EVERY email you receive through your membership.

Posted in: MindMyHouse News2007

Dear MindMyHousies,
Hello again! Can you believe that there are only six weeks until Christmas? As you can guess, this is traditionally a busy time for our house sitter membership. Although not everyone wants to be away from home and family for Christmas, some eagerly welcome the opportunity to escape! We are on the other side of ‘birthday week’ here at our place, so we are now the proud parents of princess number one (now four) and princess number two (now one). Phew!

Thanks to those people who wrote to me to explain why 120 Canadians registered with our service on the same day in September. I actually heard from the journalist and ‘consumer commentator’ herself, Kerry Moore. She decided to feature our site on Canada’s British Columbia-wide TV news show ‘Global Morning News’ after a friend of hers got a very welcome house sitting assignment through us. Great huh!

Tune into edition number 21 of MindMyHouse News for all of the following: we form a mutual appreciation society with a savvy blogger at www.thesavvyboomer.com; excitement builds as we prepare to roll out a new site feature: your very own MindMyHouse message centre; liability insurance for house sitters – who needs it?; and finally, please show courtesy to your fellow MindMyHousies and respond to EVERY email you receive through your membership.

We form a mutual appreciation society with a savvy blogger at www.thesavvyboomer.com

As a result of our recent exposure on Canadian day time TV, a rather charming chap known only as ‘The Savvy Boomer’ wrote a very warm and well-received review of our service on his blogsite www.thesavvyboomer.com. We in turn, are rather impressed by Brian’s attempt to educate the over-50s in the way of all things techno and new-fangled. His tagline ‘a blogger from the generation that formed the tech landscape’ is a good introduction to the writing of this very ballsy (I’m not sure this word works for all of our readers – it means plucky and resilient) man. This older Canadian doesn’t share his name or his age with his readers but describes himself variously as ‘an old fart’ and a ‘boomer’. I’ve looked the term ‘boomer’ up and while it does seem contentious it is generally thought to describe those people born in the UK, US, Canada or Australia between 1946 and 1964 (although it’s probably not useful to get hung up on dates – if you feel like a boomer, you probably are!). We think www.thesavvyboomer.com is a fabulous example of what a really good blog can be: a daily unrehearsed article on whatever seems relevant; written with obvious passion, lots of pluck and specialist knowledge for an audience that the writer cares about. Give us some of that human caring!

We think that Brian’s demographic audience (those over 50 who are not afraid of going online) are right up our street here at MindMyHouse. We have just today analysed the demographic profile of our house sitter membership and it would seem that almost 40% of our house sitter members are over 46. While this doesn’t seem like a majority stakeholding, I suspect that these older members are busy with more than 40% of our house sitting assignments. Let’s face it, home owners want older house sitters and our older members are just plain better at it. To our younger house sitters who are peeved that they aren’t getting enough house sitting action, you’ll be an old fart like The Savvy Boomer one day and can house sit your little socks off for home owners worldwide!

Sitter member age demographic
MindMyHouse sitter member age demographic

On another subject, we were surprised to read that Brian spent close to $1000 Canadian dollars to have his cat looked after for five weeks last year. Ouch! Do register with us as a home owner Brian. A number of our enthusiastic and well-qualified members will most definitely be interested in minding your cat and home (with ocean views near Vancouver) the next time you go away!

Excitement builds as we prepare to roll out a new site feature: your very own MindMyHouse message centre!

Having just written the title for this paragraph, I can hear our membership collectively saying ‘It’s about time you gave us our very own message centre!’. You may be asking why it took us over two years to get around to this. Don’t be too hard on the webmaster: he’s a very busy dad with two little princesses and a demanding job in IT so he can’t always develop new site features as fast as you would like them! We are still in the process of creating this fabulous new site feature but we hope to roll it out to all 9000 of our cherished members in the next few months. Essentially, you will be able to read all of the saved copies of messages you have sent and received through our system from your personal account area on our site. Exciting we know!

Liability insurance for house sitters – who needs it?

The whole idea of house sitters having ‘insurance’ sounded a bit mystifying to me. What could you possibly be insured for (or is it against)? Surely you didn’t have to worry about insuring your own stuff while on assignment? Don’t home owners have their own home and contents insurance to cover what is usually their most valuable asset? And doesn’t the daily presence of a house sitter mean that the home owner’s cover continues as if they were there themselves?

To help us out of this fog, I asked Tom Hill, the first of our members to be profiled in our Meet the house sitters section of our Community Area, to tell us about the kind of insurance policy that he uses. In case you haven’t read Tom and Linda’s profile, they are a 40-something couple from the UK who have re-made their less than enjoyable lives into something altogether new and exciting. They are semi-professional house sitters who charge home owners around £25 per day to house sit at any number of locations on mainland Europe (but also in the UK, US and Australia).

As semi-professional house and pet sitters, we saw an early need for some form of liability insurance. Why? Because we charge for our services, so we think that a contractual relationship and duty of care should exist with home owners beyond any verbal agreement we could make with them.

Our insurance policy costs us £200 (US$400 approx) per year and covers us for several different eventualities, namely:

  1. Public liability – If we accidentally injure anyone or damage property belonging to our clients, their neighbours or anyone else.

  2. Dog walking – But, the cover doesn’t extend to any injury to, or treatment of, a dog in our care. The cover is only for third party liability. For example, if Fido slips the lead, then causes a car to swerve, in turn causing an accident, we’re covered, and so is the dog’s owner.

  3. Employer’s liability – As we are both employees of our own UK limited company, we are legally obliged to insure ourselves against injury or accident.

But our policy DOESN’T cover:

  1. Non attendance or turning up late to an assignment – so if one of us breaks a leg the day before the assignment, no compensation is available to the home owner as it is impossible to litigate against not providing a service.

  2. Pet illness or injury – so a local vet should be informed that house and pet sitters are on assignment. Home owners should preferably have their pets insured in any event.

We think that the fact that we are insured offers peace of mind to our clients, in as much as disasters are covered. So if a house sitter is negligent, and – every sitter’s nightmare – the house burns down or major damage is caused, the client can recoup losses from their house sitter’s insurance provider. However, in the final analysis, an insurance policy is more for the comfort of the house sitter than the home owner.

In summary, no matter how much (if anything) you charge for your house sitting services or how much liability insurance you carry, what’s really important is that you use a comprehensive house sitting agreement, signed in advance, outlining each party’s liabilities, rights and obligations.

Tom’s message to house sitters is not to let insurance cover replace good, effective communication between home owners and house sitters. Hear! Hear! I guess that insurance being what it is, it can offer everyone a bit of comfort that in the case of disaster, a nice big financial organisation is there to make everything good again. I also suspect that having this kind of liability insurance would put a house sitter ‘ahead of the pack’ in home owners’ eyes. Given how fierce the competition is for some of our assignments, this could be great thing! Being insured would also signal to home owners that not only were you serious about taking on assignments but that you were prepared to offer them something tangible toward their peace of mind. We reckon that the cost of the premium (not much more than a single US dollar per day) could potentially buy you a whole lot of great house sitting experiences!

If you have some specialty insurance knowledge, we would welcome your two cents on this subject for publication in the next edition of MindMyHouse News. Don’t be shy!

Please show courtesy to your fellow MindMyHousies and respond to EVERY email you receive through your membership

We are so thrilled to have created a space for a buzzing online community of upwards of 9000 people from around the globe. But can we be a bit bossy here (uncharacteristic I know ; j.) and remind you all that communities only work when those people in them are maintaining open lines of respectful communication.

Since we went live way back in early 2005, I have received no less than 19 versions of the following message from disappointed house sitter members:

I have written to xxx number of home owners and often don’t receive a reply from these people. Why can’t they acknowledge my application and tell me when the position is filled so I’m not left dangling? Frustrated!

Home owners – we understand that you may have received a deluge of responses to your sitter wanted listing from our enthusiastic membership. But please do the right thing and send every unsuccessful applicant a polite ‘thanks but no thanks’ email. This is easy to do and doesn’t have to compromise your anonymity in any way.

And just the other day I received a similar message from a home owner member! So it would seem that some of our house sitter members are simply not bothering to reply to offers of house sitting assignments. Why not? It’s so easy to reply to a home owner to say ‘thanks but no thanks’. People, it takes less than a minute to acknowledge someone who has contacted you through your membership. Please keep on trying to be good communicators and thus good MindMyHousies!

Right, that’s it for me. If someone could just help me down from this high horse…

Happy house sitting (or best of luck with your sitters!)

Susan Holtham

aka the team at MindMyHouse

About the author: Susan Holtham

Susan Holtham

The editor at MindMyHouse is a fun gal, intrepid traveller (in a former life), holder of three passports and enthusiastic house sitter. A book editor by trade, she did a three-year stint with Lonely Planet Publications at the start of her career. During her time at LP she shepherded many titles through the production process. Baaaa-aaaa-aaaaaa! Now that two gorgeous little girls call her mummy she's a very busy woman tending to their needs and to the occasional cries for help from among our 5000+ membership. No really, she's always keen to help!