Second home insurance: A complete guide
There are a number of reasons as to why somebody might have a second home in their name; it might be a holiday home, a house passed down to them by a recently deceased relative or a property that they rent out.
Whatever the reason may be, there’s one thing that all of these properties have in common: they all require home insurance.
But can you insure a house you don’t live in? And is second home insurance more expensive? Find out all you need to know here.
Quite simply, second home insurance is an insurance policy held on a homeowner’s second property.
If you own two or more properties it is crucial that, on those that are not being lived in, you inform your insurer that this is a ‘second home’ – a standard home insurance policy could be invalid in the event of a claim if the relevant home is deemed to be unoccupied.
It’s a matter of fact that you can’t realistically live in two houses at the same time, so you may have other plans for that second home of yours. For example, you may:
- Use it/rent it out as a holiday home
- Leave it unoccupied for long periods of time
- Rent it out long-term
A standard home insurance policy is not designed with these circumstances in mind, meaning the provider may refuse to pay out if they suspect that the policyholder has not been living there themselves.
Luckily, there are a few types of second home insurance policies that will offer adequate protection.
If you’re lucky enough to own a second home designed specifically for taking a short break away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, then you probably already know that this luxury comes with additional responsibility – and the buck doesn’t stop with the extra taxes, or the cost of fuel to get there!
Holiday homes are often left unoccupied for long periods of time, making them a prime target for burglars and squatters alike. There is also an increased risk of minor issues, such as damp, leaks or damage caused by adverse weather conditions, which is likely to go unspotted for a potentially long period of time, getting gradually worse without you being there to realise.
If you can relate to this then you’ll need to take out a specialist holiday home insurance policy, not offered by many major providers – your best bet would be to go through a second home insurance broker.
You can read more about holiday home insurance holiday home insurance here.
If you own a second home that you plan on renting out, you’ll need to take out landlord insurance - sometimes referred to as buy-to-let insurance.
If somebody else is living in your property, no matter who that may be or how long they’re staying, it is seen as an increased risk to insurers – it is for this reason that you must declare that you are intending to rent it out when taking out a home insurance policy.
In the eyes of an insurance guru, nobody is as careful in your home as you are – whether somebody else is paying to stay there for 24 hours or 24 years, they are deemed more likely to cause damage. You can get varying levels of buy-to-let insurance, including policies that cover:
- Buildings insurance
- Content s insurance
- Public liability cover
- Rental protection insurance (if you can’t rent out a property due to damage)
- Vacant home insurance (for when you’re in-between tenants)
If you have a second home that you have no intention of either renting out or moving into, you’ll need a vacant home insurance policy.
You may own a vacant property if you:
- Have inherited a home and are waiting for it to be sold
- Have moved into a new home and are waiting for your old one to sell
- Are having your home renovated and have moved out in the meantime
- Are away on an extended trip
As shown in the examples above, a vacant property does not have to be a second home – it can be your sole place of residence that you, for one reason or another, are vacating for a lengthy period of time.
What counts as an unoccupied house? How long can I leave my house unoccupied?
This varies between insurance providers, but most will define an unoccupied property as one which has not been lived in continuously for longer than 90 days.
Be sure to check the terms and conditions of your home insurance policy to see how long you are able to vacate your property for before your cover becomes invalid.
Can I have 2 home insurance policies?
Why is vacant home insurance so expensive?
The reason that vacant home insurance costs more than a standard policy is that you are not there to protect it from burglars, squatters, Mother Nature or even just bad luck.
For example, if a pipe bursts in your vacated property, flooding the entire ground floor, it is unlikely that you’ll find out until the damage has already been done – this damage would cost more to repair, hence it costing more to insure.