Published: March 2015
Whether it's to live out each winter as a snowbird or spend summer weekends at a lakeside retreat, a second home can have tremendous appeal. But, as with your main residence, it's something that you'll probably want to protect with insurance.
But will your insurance policy on your primary home help protect your second home?
Perhaps, in part. It may be possible to extend the liability portion of your existing homeowners policy to your second home.
But you'll probably still need to line up a separate policy if you want to protect the structure and contents of your second home. If you have a mortgage on the home, insurance may actually be a condition of your loan, says the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
You'll find, though, that insurance for your second home may look a little different than what you have on your primary residence. That's because sometimes what makes a vacation home so appealing may be considered risky (a waterfront location, for instance), which can make the property more costly or difficult to insure, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
For that reason, second homes are typically covered by a more limited type of policy called "named perils," says the NAIC. With this insurance, your place would only be covered against events that are specifically called out in the policy, whether it's lightning damage, an explosion, theft or smoke damage. If your home is damaged by something not listed in your policy, it likely won't be covered.
Named perils policies may also be more restrictive with other protections. For instance, the NAIC says, other structures on your property like detached garages, sheds or boathouses may have more limited coverage than would be provided by a conventional homeowners policy.
There are things you can do, though, to help better protect your vacation home.
You may be able to add personal property coverage as an endorsement on the policy, to help protect the contents of your vacation home. You might also consider a personal umbrella policy, which provides greater liability protection. This protection generally extends to your second home and any other property you purchase or rent, the NAIC says. Discuss an umbrella policy with your agent to better understand what this coverage might include for you.
You may also want to talk with your agent to find out if there are any insurance protections you may have overlooked. For instance, you might want to purchase flood insurance, because flood damage isn't covered by typical homeowners policies.
And, of course, you'll want the time you spend at your second home to be carefree, so make sure you're always taking measures to protect your home any time you're away.