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What is considered a second home?

For most insurers, a second home is usually anywhere that isn’t considered your primary residence. For many, this will be a rental home, or a holiday home.

A second home would suggest that you:

  • Spend less time at the property

  • Don’t keep your personal possessions at the property 

  • Don’t use the address for personal communications (voting, banking etc)

Different types of of home insurance

For both of your homes you should consider getting quotes for two types of insurance, or you can get one policy, which combines both.

Buildings insurance

Buildings insurance covers the structure of the property. The outside details, like the walls, roof. If there were a fire, flood or structural damage this insurance would cover the rebuilding of your home, and can include materials and labour. But it’s important to note it doesn’t cover the land.

Contents insurance

Contents insurance covers the contents within the home, such as electronics, clothes and furniture. You can add additional cover, which can include items like, gadgets and bikes either home or away.

The different types of second home insurance

Holiday home insurance, empty property insurance or unoccupied property insurance is also commonly referred to as unoccupied home insurance, unoccupied house insurance, or empty house insurance. The four main second homes are:

  • Rental properties 

  • Unoccupied property 

  • Holiday home

  • Unoccupied rental property

Due to these homes being vacant for periods of time, second home insurance is the only way to ensure peace of mind. Second homes have a natural attraction to criminals or squatters, so it’s best to consider both buildings and contents insurance.

Whilst they may not have the same valuables as your first home, replacing appliances and furniture can prove costly. 

Rental properties

If you have a second property that you’re renting out, like the difference between your mortgages, you will need a different type of insurance policy also.

As the owner of a rental property you’re now a landlord, so you will need landlord insurance. Unlike other types of second homes, it’s likely that your property will be occupied as often as your first home. Whilst landlord insurance isn’t a legal requirement, when you do take out your buy-to let mortgage your lender might require you to have it. 

Landlord insurance will ensure that you have the right cover for the building and furnishings you’ve provided for your tenants. As well as protection cover for income you would make from the property, and accidents that might occur with your tenants, where they consider you at fault.

Holiday home

Unless your holiday home is in a popular year round holiday destination, it’s likely that for a good part of the year, your home will be unoccupied. For this reason insurance companies may deem your home to be more high risk, and therefore it will require its own type of cover.

Holiday home insurance also protects homes in other parts of the world, in certain countries these homes might be at more risk to other elements like weather conditions that they wouldn’t be exposed to in the UK.

Unoccupied house/Unoccupied rental property

Unoccupied house insurance policies usually include an employers’ liability clause in the case of an accident.

It’s important to note that building insurance for a holiday home or unoccupied house isn’t going to be based on the market value of your property. It will be based on the cost of the rebuild instead. 

To get an accurate estimation of a rebuild cost, a chartered surveyor will do an assessment of your property. This might be something that you already have from your purchase or the home or previous building reports.

Why do you need two types of home insurance?

Insurance companies won’t offer the same policy as your first home, because each home comes with its own needs and risk factors.

Having insurance on your second home is vital, especially as the home is likely to be unoccupied for periods of time throughout the year.

The second home is more likely to be a target for burglary and possibly squatters. You also might not be able to fix issues within your home at the time of them occurring, meaning that the damage could become worse once you have even been made aware of the issue.

Do I need public liability insurance?

Unoccupied property insurance policies typically include a public liability clause, but this would only be something that would be necessary if your house is a rental home.

Public liability insurance covers you for the possibility of anyone taking legal action against you if there were an accident.  

This also protects you for any employees who you have working for you at the property whilst you aren’t there. Think gardeners, housekeeper, builders.

Limitations to second home insurance

How often your property is going to be vacant, will determine the insurance you should get. Read the terms and conditions carefully and compare what different providers can offer. 

If you know that your holiday home is likely to be vacant for more than 30 days, you might want to also get quotes for unoccupied property insurance. Holiday home insurance policies might be limited to a 30-day period. 

Any second homes, which are overseas could be subject to adverse weather conditions/natural disasters that you might not be familiar with in the UK. For this reason it’s common for insurance policies to exclude situations like earthquakes and hurricanes.

Am I covered for outside extras on the building?

In the event of damage to extras on your building like solar panels, you might not be covered  under your policy.

Much like your primary residence, incorrect or unapproved security features, can invalidate your insurance policy. Consider the locks and windows you have installed and make sure they comply with your policy. 

Having the wrong types of locks on doors or windows for instance could invalidate your cover, as could not keeping your insurer abreast of any fundamental changes to your property.

Uswitch top tips

Cover for emergencies  

Some policies may also include cover for emergency travel for holiday homes abroad, ensuring you can get out to your property quickly should something happen.

Missed rent 

Should you also consider rent guarantee insurance? This insurance will guarantee your insurance covers the rent if your tenant can’t make their agreed payments. Policies can cover between 6 - 12months.

Make a checklist

Similar to insurance on your main home, make a checklist of the items you have and will insure and keep this as an inventory. This will also be useful if you decide to rent out your property.

Don’t leave any valuables

Be careful not to leave anything valuable in the property. 

Consider additional cover

Additional cover, such as gadget insurance or extended warranty on domestic appliances might be worth looking into.

Get the best quote for your home

Shop around before deciding on the unoccupied property insurance quote that's right for you. The cheapest quote will not necessarily be the best for you, and might not include all that you need. 

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