Second Home Insurance: Everything You Should Know

June 2, 2022

More and more Americans are trying to get a cozy piece of real estate somewhere besides the sea or on a mountain. There’s something magical about the smell of sea spray unlocked by a second home that you inherited or bought. But it comes at a price, which is the need for homeowners insurance for a second home.

Unfortunately, standard home insurance cannot apply to secondary homes, so you’ll need a separate one for your getaway property. But don’t worry, we’ll walk you through all the nuances of selecting your second home insurance. With no further ado, let’s dig into it.

What Is Second Home Insurance?

Just like the name of this type of insurance suggests, second home insurance, or vacation home insurance, is coverage for your properties – your second, third, fourth, etc. home – located separately from your primary residence.

As per the laws of the United States, you cannot include your second home in your standard policy because of the increased risks of owning a second home. From fires to burglary to other damages, anything can happen while no one is around, and this higher risk is always reflected in second home insurance policies.

What Makes a Residence a Second Home?

If you’re a citizen of the world and cannot decide which of your residencies is your second home, then proceed by determining the following:

  • The time you and your family spend at each of your properties
  • Which of your properties do you use for legal and banking purposes
  • Where you keep most of your belongings

Still unsure? Then refer to an insurance agent or ask your own.

What Does Second Home Insurance Cover?

Second home insurance provides the same coverage as standard home insurance, but at a higher cost due to the higher risks that a second home bears.

Second Home Insurance

A typical second home insurance plan includes:

  • Dwelling coverage: covers the full cost of rebuilding your second home – the structure of the building (floors, roof, walls, etc.) and its fixtures (fitted kitchen, bathroom suites, etc.) – from damage caused by events outside your control: fire, flood, storm, and vandalism.
  • Contents coverage: covers your personal belongings (furniture, jewelry, electronics, clothes, etc.) from damage caused by events outside your control (fire, flood, storm, and vandalism), loss, or theft.

Keep in mind that every policy has a limit, and everything not covered is paid out of pocket. Or – if you don’t want to bear such risks – you can purchase extra coverage (for example, umbrella coverage) or riders to get the type of coverage and limits that you would feed safe with.

An extended second home insurance plan may include:

  • Combined coverage: dwelling coverage and contents coverage in a single cheaper policy.
  • Liability coverage: covers the medical costs related to accidental bodily injury to another person or damage to their property that occurred on your property.

Important: your basic home insurance liability coverage may extend to your second home, so make sure to review your policy. Also, pay special attention to whether the coverage applies to risks posed by particular items at your second property (pools, fire pits, etc.). In general, insurance for a second home is more sensitive to the aforementioned perils, meaning that any perils that are not mentioned in the policy will likely not be covered.

  • Riders: extra coverage at the expense of a higher premium. Depending on your needs, risk tolerance, and budget, you can add any rider to your second home insurance, including jewelry (expensive jewelry may not be fully covered by contents coverage), water backups, and more.

What Is Excluded from Second Home Insurance?

There are a few types of coverage that are usually excluded from standard second home insurance, but which you may need. These types of coverage include:

  • Umbrella coverage. Umbrella coverage increases your coverage limits for property damage, injuries, lawsuits, and personal liability. However, it doesn’t cover your own injuries or damages to your home or property.
  • Earthquake, flood, and hurricane coverage. Many second homes are located alongshore, by the sea, or near mountains, which bears additional risks, although the price of such property may be lower.
    • Earthquake-prone states, in descending order: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Oregon.
    • Flood-prone states, in descending order: Florida, Louisiana, California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Georgia.
    • Hurricane-prone states, in descending order: Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, New York, and Massachusetts.
  • Boat coverage. Boat insurance will cover your boat if it’s damaged by a covered peril (life, lightning, etc.), stolen, suffered an accident, or if you damage or injure someone with your watercraft.

Second home insurance may even cover damage caused by pets, defective design, and anything else that you want to cover or safeguard against. No matter the coverage you’re looking for, there’s always an insurer that will deliver what you need.

How to Save on Second Home Insurance?

There are three main factors affecting the price of second home insurance:

  • The house itself. The type of dwelling, the building materials, and whether the house is standalone or belongs to a homeowners association that can take care of the property impact the premium.
  • Location. Location in a flood-prone, hurricane-prone, or earthquake-prone area increases the premium and makes it reasonable to purchase additional insurance. A house in the mountains may be in danger of landslides; a home beside the sea may be exposed to wind damage and hurricanes, and so on.
  • Amenities on your property. Amenities like relaxation zones, pools, and hot tubs run additional risks for insurance companies and thus affect the premium as well. Besides, if you throw parties at your property, you may need liability insurance.

To save on your premium, choose the right location, only the amenities you need, and make sure the house was built using cost-effective materials. Also, you can save on your second home insurance by bundling policies or installing security systems on your property should the respective discounts be provided by your insurance company. Finally, you can adjust your amount of coverage, deductible, and premium, the three parameters that correlate with each other within any home insurance.

Second House Insurance

How to Insure a Second Home?

When shopping around for the best deal, make sure the insurance covers everything you want to cover (otherwise, consider buying riders) and has a reasonable coverage limit, premium, and deductible. Also, look for bonuses and discounts. Many insurers will allow you to bundle policies (for example, home and auto insurance) or save by installing security systems on your home.


Why Is Second Home Insurance so Expensive?

The cost of homeowners insurance for a second home is greater than that of the primary home because second home insurance runs a higher risk for insurance companies.

Are Home Insurance Riders Worth It?

Riders may be of value if you want to get coverage for a particular case excluded by your standard plan. Riders can cover almost anything and usually have a low deductible. But then again, whether this or that rider makes sense depends on your needs, budget, and risk tolerance.

How Much Is an Insurance Rider?

The cost of a rider is a percentage (usually, one or two percent) of the value of the covered item. For example, if you cover a pendant worth $1,000, you might have to pay $10 to $20 for it.

Is a Holiday Home the Same as a Second Home?

Holiday homes and second homes are not the same. A holiday home usually has longer periods when it is unoccupied, which is a higher risk for insurance companies. When buying a policy, explain to the insurer how you will use the home. Some insurers may require a weekly inspection or put forward other conditions and limitations.

Will My Second Home Insurance Cover the Property if I Rent It Out?

Renting out a house is considered commercial use and should be covered separately. Therefore, if you rent out your second home, a standard policy will not cover it.

How to Get Home Insurance for a Jointly Owned Second Home in a Trust?

This complex question requires assistance from an insurance agent or lawyer. Without proper adjustments from your insurance company, you or the trust may be left partially or fully uncovered.

Second Home Insurance: Everything You Should Know 3

Oleksandr Rohovnin is a Content Marketer at and an expert contributor to CoverExplore. His passion is digital marketing, innovative technologies, tech industries, and – above all – distilling vast amounts of complex information into engrossing narratives anyone can relate to. At CoverExplore, Oleksandr stokes passion for auto insurance and the automotive industry in general in every story he curates.