Getting Insurance for Second Homes and Vacation Homes

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  • Getting Insurance for Second Homes and Vacation Homes

The luxury of a second home is something you won’t want to waste. Whether you use your additional property as a second home, a seasonal home, or a vacation stay every so often, you should protect your investment with homeowners insurance.

Unfortunately, many aspects that make second homes so appealing can also make them riskier to insure. And if you rent out your second property to tenants, you may need more than just homeowners insurance. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of insuring a second home.

What You Need to Know About Second Home Insurance

Generally, insurance policies for second homes provide the same coverage as plans for primary properties do. But, it will likely cost more, and some companies may limit the causes of damage they protect second homes from.

When you have two properties, you typically need two separate home insurance policies. It’s difficult for one plan to extend coverage to another house because each property has its own variables and factors that affect policy costs. Insurers need to account correctly for the many risks, and they need two separate policies to do so.

If you have a mortgage on your second home, your lender will require you to get homeowners insurance on it. Even if your primary insurer extends liability coverage to your second property, you’ll need a plan that protects you from physical damage, too.

When you’re getting quotes for second home insurance, the insurer will ask you if the property will be your primary residence or not. They need to know so they can accurately assess your risk. 

Secondary Home Insurance Limitations

When looking for a second home insurance policy, you might find that some carriers limit the things they cover on your additional property. Sometimes, you might have limited coverage for other structures on your second property, so your insurance might not fully cover detached garages, boathouses, and fences.

Many insurers may also want you to get an umbrella policy on your second home, which extends your liability coverage. Home insurance policies often limit the liability coverage you can get to $500,000. 

But, if you’ve got multiple properties, you’ve probably got more than $500,000 in assets, which means the limits in a standard home insurance plan may not be enough to fully cover all your assets if someone pursues you for damages. 

Insurance companies may recommend umbrella liability insurance which can provide a million dollars or more of liability protection.

If you plan to rent out your second property at any point, you should notify your insurance company beforehand. A damage claim or a liability claim from tenants in your home that your insurance company didn’t know about probably won’t be covered.

Many companies will let you add a rider to your policy that covers an occasional renter. But, if renting your second home is a regular source of income, or if you want to turn the property into a short-term vacation rental with tenants in and out weekly, you’ll need either landlord insurance or business insurance.

What’s the Difference Between Seasonal vs Secondary Home Insurance?

While technically a seasonal home differs from a second home – you’d be at a seasonal home in particular seasons, while you’d be at a second home sporadically at any time – the difference won’t matter to insurers too much.  You’ll typically always have to get a second policy to cover your second property.

Both types of properties present similar risks that don’t apply to your primary residence since the house is empty often. You’d need a different second home contents insurance policy to account for these risks. 

What is important to your carrier is that there are belongings in the home and that it will be occupied at some point. If your second house is void of furniture and you won’t be going there any time soon, like when it’s sitting on the real estate market waiting to be sold, you’d need vacant home insurance

Vacant home insurance is yet another different type of plan. Vacant homes won’t be maintained in the same way as occupied homes since no one is on the property, so insurers see vacant homes as quite risky to protect. Not all insurance companies write policies that cover them. Vacant home insurance plans are more costly than standard policies.

Is Second Home Insurance More Expensive?

Insurance for a second home is generally more expensive than insurance for your regular residence because 1) second homes are often in areas prone to severe weather, and 2) by nature, second homes are unoccupied for parts of the year. Both of these considerations make the property riskier and increase the chances of a claim.

A home without people in it is a problem for insurance companies. If something goes wrong in that house, such as a fire or a burst pipe, no one is around to stop or mitigate the damage. Also, unoccupied homes have increased possibilities of theft and vandalism.

Here are more factors that make a second home insurance rates higher:

Location

Second houses are often in desirable places, like on the water or in rural mountains. Unfortunately, both of these scenic locations can increase insurance premiums. Being on the water means being more prone to flood damage, which is an issue insurers have to account for. 

Also, many vacation homes are in southern states like Florida and South Carolina. In addition to the increased flooding risk, these states also have to worry about hurricanes, which are incredibly costly for insurance companies in the southeast. Properties in hurricane-prone areas often cost more and may have separate hurricane deductibles

On the other hand, being in a rural spot in the mountains could also be costly for your policy. Some carriers may not like a home far from emergency services, like the fire department, and it may cause your rates to be a bit higher.

Attractive Nuisances

Vacation homes often have many features that can make them more expensive to insure, called attractive nuisances. Pools are a primary one. Pools greatly increase a property’s liability risk, so insurers typically charge higher premiums on houses with pools – and even hot tubs – to offset this risk. Trampolines, playground equipment, and more fun-loving features that may accompany your vacation home can make insurance on a vacation home more costly.

Homeowners Association

A condo or townhouse in a community with a homeowners association may have lower insurance rates than a standalone house. This is because the HOA may have its own insurance policy that covers shared areas and building exteriors. This means your policy has to cover fewer things, so you can have lower premiums. 

Also, a condominium would need condo insurance, not standard homeowners insurance. Since condo owners generally only have to insure their personal belongings and limited features of their dwelling inside their unit, condo insurance on a second property usually costs less than homeowners insurance on a second home.

What Is the Best Homeowners Insurance For a Second Home?

The best homeowners insurance for a second home is the plan that covers everything you need at the right price. Most carriers will offer secondary home insurance, so be sure to shop around for the best policy.

Some carriers may want to limit the sources of damage their vacation home insurance protects your house from. Don’t settle for this. You should be able to find an open perils seasonal home insurance policy that protects your second house the same as your primary residence.

An independent insurance agent can help you compare quotes from several providers. Plus, they’ll have insight and experience in dealing with insuring vacation homes, so you can ask them questions that need to be clarified.

How to Get Second Home Insurance Quotes

At Clovered, our online quoting platform can get you quotes from many of the country’s top insurance companies in minutes for your second house. When gathering the information we need for a quote, we ask if the property that needs to be insured is a primary residence or secondary residence early on.

As you’re going through the quote flow, you have one of our licensed agents on standby, ready to answer any questions. You can also call us at 833-255-4117 to speak with an agent and get your quote started that way.

We’ve got experience insuring second homes, and we’d like to help match you with the best homeowners insurance for yours through a second home insurance online quote or help over the phone.

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.