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Second home insurance

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What is second home insurance?

If you’re lucky enough to own a second property (or a third, a fourth or a fifth), you probably want to make sure it’s insured as well as your main residence is. But what you might not know is that you can’t legally insure a second home with a standard home insurance policy.

In fact, second homes are treated differently by the law in all sorts of ways, including for the purposes of council tax and capital gains tax, as well as home insurance. So what makes a house a second home? 

There are several deciding factors, including:

  • How much time you spend at each property

  • Which address you use for legal, voting and banking purposes

  • Where you keep most of your possessions

  • Where your family spend most of their time

house interior image

What type of second home insurance do you need?

Second home insurance might use a different policy, but it covers the same main things as regular home insurance:

  • number 1

    Buildings insurance

    This covers the full cost of rebuilding your home from the ground up, including materials and labour, but not the value of the land it’s built on

  • number 2

    Contents insurance

    This covers what’s inside your house: everything you own, from jewellery and electronics to clothes and furniture, including white goods and fittings

  • number 3

    Combined insurance

    A joint policy which covers the whole works – the structure of your home and your belongings. It’s often cheaper than buying two separate policies

Faith Archer

Our expert says

How long is your second home likely to be empty between visits? Most standard home insurance policies only cover properties that are unoccupied for up to 30 days. If your second home might be unoccupied for longer, you’ll need to say so when applying for insurance, to make sure you get suitable cover.

- Faith Archer, Personal Finance Expert

Other types of second home insurance

There are certain types of property which don’t count as second homes for insurance purposes – and which will need a different type of policy to get them covered. If you own any of the following, second home insurance is not the right choice:

  • Holiday homes

    Holiday homes are unoccupied for most of the year, and require dedicated insurance cover for the extra risks they involve

    Holiday home insurance

  • Rental properties

    If you’re a landlord, you need to take out landlord insurance, because your property is constantly occupied by others

    Landlord insurance

  • Unoccupied property

    Lots can go wrong in unoccupied homes, and any problems can get a lot worse without anyone there to fix things

    Unoccupied property insurance

  • Unoccupied rentals

    Unoccupied buy-to-let properties are in an insurance category all of their own, so you need a very specific policy

    Unoccupied rental insurance

If you have more than one home, yes. Each property you own needs its own insurance policy, because each home is different. Either they’re constructed out of different materials, or the risks in the local area are different.

Even if you visit your second home regularly, you live in it for a lot less of the time than your main residence. This means there are certain additional risks.

For instance, a home that’s often unoccupied can be more attractive to thieves. What’s more, if anything goes wrong, like a broken window or a burst pipe, you might not be around to catch it early – meaning the repair bill could be much higher. Insurers take account of that in the premiums they offer you.

Yes you can, though you’ll need an insurance policy for unoccupied homes rather than a second home insurance policy.

Listed buildings and buildings with unusual construction, such as thatched roofs, need specialist insurance products. They’ll cost you more to insure, because they’re more expensive to repair.

Everyone’s situation is different, but in law you must have a main residence. There are a few considerations for deciding on what constitutes this, including:

  • Where you live for longest

  • Where your family lives for the longest

  • Where you are registered to vote and pay tax

  • Where you keep your personal possessions

Yes, because there are many more things that can go wrong in a house that’s empty for a while. A burst pipe over winter can cause massive repair bills if you don’t see it for six months, for instance.

Houses need constant maintenance, and your insurance policy will reflect the additional potential costs.

As with all home insurance policies, there are plenty of additions you can include in your policy for a small surcharge. The most popular include the following:

  • Accidental damage: This will cover damage to possessions caused by human accident

  • Legal expense cover: This will cover legal expenses incurred by something going wrong in your home that affects someone else, including leaks and subsidence

  • Home emergency cover: This covers the cost of emergency call-outs to fix problems with your utilities, including plumbing, heating and electricity

  • Garden insurance: This specifically covers your garden, and the plants, ornaments and furniture you keep there

  • Garage insurance: Garages are often full of valuable tools and equipment, and a specific policy can be useful peace of mind

  • Shed insurance: Likewise, sheds tend to be full of expensive kit and a separate policy might be a wise idea

You work hard to earn your money, and we don’t think you should waste a penny of it paying over the odds on your household bills. That’s why at MoneySuperMarket, we’re on a mission to save Britain money.

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So how do we make our money? In a nutshell, when you use us to buy something, we get a reward from the company you’re buying from.

You might be wondering if we work with all the companies in the market, or if our commercial relationships with our partners might make us feature one company above another. We’ve got nothing to hide, and we want to give you clear answers when it comes to questions like these, so we’ve pulled together everything you need to know on this page.

We aim to show you home insurance quotes from as many insurance companies as possible, so that you can find the right policy for you.

Unfortunately, we can’t promise to show quotes from every insurance provider, because not all companies want to be included on comparison websites.

We won’t offer you advice or make a recommendation, but we will provide you with all the information you need to help you decide which is the right policy for you.

You can find out more about how we work here.

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