There are many different reasons why people have second homes. Some like to split their time between properties, either to be nearer work or just to have a change of scene. Others have holiday homes, which they may also let out to holidaymakers.
In recent years, the number of second homeowners has increased. During 2021-22, there were 809,000 second homes owned by households in England – up nearly 10,000 from a decade before. Meanwhile, analysis of the 2021 census data reveals that 70,000 properties in England and Wales were used as holiday homes by people who spent at least 30 days annually at the address. The total is, therefore, likely to be higher.
There are other types of second homes as well. Some people own properties that they renovate while living in their current residence. Others own an empty property, which they may have inherited or be in the process of selling. Then, of course, there are buy-to-let landlords who let out homes to private tenants.
No matter what type of second home you own, you must ensure you have the appropriate insurance. In this article, we look at the different kinds of second home insurance available, why they’re important, and how you can select the correct cover.
- What exactly is insurance for a second home?
- Do I need second home insurance?
- How does insurance for a second home differ from standard home insurance?
- Why is a different policy required for insuring a second home?
- What sort of insurance is necessary for a second home?
- How does home security affect the insurance of a second home?
- Is it possible to hold two policies for home insurance?
- Can I take out insurance on a property in which I don’t reside?
- Is specialist insurance for a second home required if it is a listed building?
Insurance for a second home is separate from your home insurance for your main residence. The type of second home insurance you need depends on the type of additional property – or properties – you own.
There is no legal requirement to have second home insurance. However, if you have a mortgage on a property, your lender will almost certainly require you to have appropriate cover. Given that second homes are valuable assets, protecting them and (where appropriate) their contents with an insurance policy makes sense.
Standard home insurance policies usually only cover properties that are unoccupied for a relatively small number of days in any given year, for example, while you are on holiday (the maximum can be as little as 30 consecutive days). Leaving a house unoccupied for longer than this presents a higher risk to an insurer, so you’ll need different cover. Similarly, specialist cover is needed if you let a property to tenants or holidaymakers.
Does the frequency of my visits to my second home impact the insurance?
Yes, your insurer will require regular visits and internal inspections of your second home. This is because homes are more at risk when you are absent for long periods; for example, burst pipes can go undetected and empty properties are more likely to be targeted by burglars. Your insurer may impose certain conditions on the cover, such as how often the property must be checked; this could be every 7, 14 or 30 days.
Different properties are used for different purposes and have their own levels and types of risk. For this reason, you need distinct policies for each home. The exception is for landlords who want to insure multiple rental properties on a single policy (see below).
The type of insurance needed for a second home depends on what the property is used for. Below are the kinds of insurance you’ll commonly need.
- Holiday home insurance. If you have a second home you don’t let out to other people, you can take out a policy covering both buildings and contents. If you do rent it out to holidaymakers, you can choose holiday let insurance that includes public liability cover. This protects you if someone has an accident at your holiday home.
- Serviced accommodation insurance. If your holiday home offers amenities for self-catering holidaymakers such as laundry, cleaning or even use of gyms or concierge services, you’ll need more comprehensive serviced accommodation insurance. This can cover buildings, contents, public and employers’ liability, theft, pet damage, business interruption and legal expenses.
- Unoccupied property insurance. If you own a property that will be unoccupied for significant periods, you should take out unoccupied property insurance. This can cover your empty property for buildings, contents, and property owner’s liability and will cover damage caused by events such as storm, flood, theft, malicious damage and fire.
- Home renovation insurance. This is very similar to unoccupied property insurance. With both types of cover, it’s important to note that the property must be reasonably secured and in a reasonable state of repair before taking out cover. For example, if the building doesn’t have windows, you’ll need to install them before taking out cover.
- Landlord insurance. If you rent a property to a full-time tenant, it’s crucial that you have specialist landlord insurance. You can tailor cover to include buildings, contents that belong to you, plus rent guarantee insurance to protect you against non-payment of rent. Policies may also protect you against malicious damage by tenants or their guests.
Insurers are more likely to require specific door and window locks to secure your second home. Many policies will also require you to make a certain number of visits to the property each month. Empty properties are among the most difficult to keep secure, so do check out our essential tips for maintaining and securing your empty property.
Yes, having multiple home insurance policies for main and second homes is possible. For example, you could buy buildings and contents insurance separately for either your principal residence or second home. That said, many insurers will combine the cover you need under one policy.
Can I insure two properties at once?
Yes, but this would normally be done by landlords who wish to insure their portfolio with multi-property landlord insurance. If you have a main residence and a second home, you may need separate policies for each, although some insurers can insure both under just one policy.
Yes, you can take out insurance on a property you don’t live in as long as you own the property. Unoccupied home insurance and landlord insurance are two examples of policies covering a property you don’t reside in.
What makes a property a ‘principal residence’?
From an insurance perspective, your principal residence is the one you spend the most time living in. To qualify for a normal home insurance policy, you can’t leave your principal residence unoccupied for significant periods – some policies insist the home isn’t unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days. If you’re unsure, check the terms with your insurer.
A listed building requires specialist listed building insurance if it is your main residence or a second home.
Choosing the right second home insurance
Different types of second homes require different types of insurance. Whether you need cover for a holiday home, serviced accommodation, unoccupied or rental property, talk to the specialist team at Alan Boswell Group to tailor the right insurance package for your needs at a competitive rate. To learn more, call us today on 01603 216399.