Do you need a separate home insurance policy for your vacation home?

Generally, yes. You should insure a vacation home on its own policy. It’s a separate home and has separate risks. The insurance company will determine the replacement cost of that home separately from your primary residence, consider all of the risks, and write a policy accordingly.

Some companies can bundle your second home policy with the primary policy, sharing a single bill and, in some cases, even a single deductible. However, the second home itself will have its own policy.

Can you have homeowners insurance on two homes?

You can insure as many homes as you like as long as you are the owner of the home. The coverage will vary depending on how the home is used. A home you rent out to others, for example, needs different coverage from a vacation home for personal use only.

However, each home will generally need its own policy.

What is a secondary or vacation home endorsement?

A secondary home endorsement extends some of the coverage on your primary residence to your vacation home. This may include coverage for personal property or, more commonly, personal liability.

Scheduled personal property is covered at most places that you go with most companies having limitations on foreign countries. I can also see the potential that a boat or golf cart that is listed on the primary home policy having coverage extended to the secondary home. The final coverage that may extend is certain liability coverage such as having personal injury coverage on your primary home,” Pope says.

Some vacation home insurance policies are basic: they cover the structure for named perils and include some personal property coverage. However, they may not automatically include liability. While you can likely add that coverage to the standalone policy, you may also be able to simply extend the coverage from your primary policy. 

“All that being said, it is not advisable to think of other coverage extending and just to carry all the proper coverages you need/ want on both policies,” Pope says.

Furthermore, not all insurance companies offer this option, so speak with a representative to find out what’s available.

Is second home insurance more expensive?

It generally costs more to insure a second home than a primary residence due to the risks associated with vacation homes. They’re not always occupied, leaving them open to the risk of break-ins or vandalism, and problems may not be noticed until the damage has become serious.

Vacation homes are also often located in areas with increased risks: waterfront where floods are more likely, in forested areas where wildfires can occur and a long distance from a fire department.

“Other differences may include the possibility of the individual renting the other location out when not in use through services like Airbnb,” Pope says, leading to surcharges to cover additional risks. “A good way to avoid that surcharge is to hire a certified property manager,” he says.

On the other hand, a second home is often smaller than a primary residence and may not have the kind of high-end materials found in a primary residence. Second homes also tend to have less in the way of personal property. So, while rates overall are higher, you may still pay less than for your primary residence.

Second home insurance coverage

Like your primary home, your second home requires coverage for the house itself, other structures on the property, personal property and liability. These coverages are offered similarly to a primary policy, but there may be some differences.

Dwelling coverage. The dwelling coverage covers the house itself. Unlike your HO-3 homeowners policy, which covers all perils (unless specifically excluded), homeowners insurance for a second home usually covers only named perils (if it’s not named, it’s not covered). This coverage is usually calculated at the replacement cost of the home (how much it would cost to rebuild).

Other structures. This covers any structure not attached to the residence, like a garage or a boat house. It’s usually set at 10% of the dwelling coverage but may be more limited on a second home.

Personal property. This covers the contents of your home. It’s usually calculated as a percentage of the dwelling coverage, ranging from 50% to 70%. For a vacation home, this coverage may be lower.

Personal liability. This covers you if you’re found liable for injuries or property damage to others. This is optional coverage on some second home policies and may be extended from your primary policy in some cases.

Your coverage needs will differ if your second home is a condo, which requires a condo insurance policy.

Seasonal vs. secondary home insurance

Seasonal and secondary homes have different meanings that may affect the type of insurance you need. A secondary home is a place where you spend time occasionally but not for extended periods of time. A seasonal home is a place where you spend a specific season. 

Snowbirds, for example, may have a primary home in a northern state like Minnesota but spend the winter in Florida. The Florida home would be considered seasonal. If that same Minnesota resident has a lakefront cabin where they spend summer weekends, that home would be considered a secondary or vacation home.

Seasonal and secondary homes have similar risk issues and may be rated or insured similarly. It’s important to discuss how you use a second home with your insurance company so that you can insure it properly.

How to save on vacation home insurance

There are a few ways to get cheaper homeowners insurance for your second home.

  • Shop around. Compare rates from multiple companies to find the best deal. It may not be with your current home insurer; in fact, this is a good time to shop that policy around too.
  • Ask about bundling. Bundling policies with the same company can earn you a discount on all of the policies. See how much you can save if you insure your home, second home and car(s) all in one place.
  • Raise your deductible. A higher deductible means lower premiums; just make sure you can afford it if you need to pay it.
  • Safeguard your home for discounts. Especially in a home that isn’t occupied regularly, security upgrades like monitored alarms are a good idea, and they’ll also earn you a discount.