You love your second home on the water, but you know it also doesn’t come without its challenges. A lot can go awry in your home that’s built for rest and relaxation. To protect your vacations and your financial investment, you want to be fully aware of how your homeowners’ insurance works for your beach or lake house.
Lake houses and other second homes are a unique beast. What kind of concerns do you need to be aware of when insuring your vacation home?
Insuring a Vacation Home
1. Supplement homeowners’ policy.
Some homeowners’ policies extend to two homes, while others don’t. Some insurers may also exclude certain properties or not offer the necessary forms of coverage.
We recommend talking to your homeowners’ insurance agent to see if your current homeowners’ policy will extend to your second home. If not, they may offer you a deal on a second policy for that home by bundling the two.
It usually doesn’t hurt to have a second policy for your second home. Your vacation home will have hazards that your primary home doesn’t, so a separate policy allows you to tailor your coverage to better suit your needs.
To get started, give one of our insurance advisors a call at (844) 824-2887 to compare quotes!
2. Be aware of the water.
Living by the water isn’t like living in a city or suburbs. Your home has different requirements to keep it safe and protected against the water. If your home is near a body of water, you’re at an increased risk of damage. There can be catastrophic losses like huge waves, hurricanes, or floods that can completely destroy your home. But nearby bodies of water can also cause smaller damage, like strong gusts of wind or humidity-grown mold or long-term rust.
That’s why you want to work with an agent who also has experience with waterfront properties. Your agent will help ensure you have the right forms of coverage for your waterfront property, including a homeowners policy suited to coastal risks and flood insurance. Call an insurance advisor at (844) 824-2887 to learn more.
3. Get flood insurance.
Most waterfront properties are considered high-risk for flood, even if you’re not in a designated “high-risk” zone. Any body of water can flood at any time. Even if you’re not right on the water itself, it can still flood down the streets and make its way to your home.
If your vacation home is anywhere near water, you should consider flood insurance. Most homeowners’ policies don’t include flood insurance, so you’ll need to purchase it separately. Get more information about flood insurance here.
4. Prevent theft.
If this is your second home, you likely don’t occupy it full time. That means there’s an increased risk of theft and vandalism while you’re gone. This is especially true if your second home is in a typical “off-season” town, where most of the homeowners leave for a part of the year. This makes the town—and your home—ripe picking for thieves.
We recommend investing in a security system, especially a smart home security system with cameras. This lets you always have eyes on your home, even when you’re across the state or across the country. Some cities also let you register for police checks, where a police officer or registered volunteer will periodically check your home while you’re away.
You’ll also want to make sure to take a home inventory of the items you keep in your vacation home, in case of a claim. A home inventory will help you ensure you’ve accounted for all of your belongings under your contents coverage. Also keep in mind that your valuables may not be covered by your standard contents coverage. Consult your agent to make sure you have the right amount of coverage and the right coverage in place for your valuables, jewelry or antiques that you may keep in your home.
5. Prevent fire.
Fire is also more common in less-frequently lived in homes, because you’re not there to keep up with the goings on of your house. A small spark in your electrical unit could instantly cause a fire. Not running your A/C could make your plumbing or electrical heat up.
Worse yet, a lot of second homes are in more secluded areas, which means the fire department may be far away. By the time the fire team can get to your house and find a water source (like a fire hydrant), you may already have a major—if not total—loss on your hands.
Most homeowners policies will cover fire. But it doesn’t hurt to talk to your insurance agent to ensure you’re fully covered in the case a fire damaged or destroyed your vacation.
You can prevent fires when you’re gone by:
- Checking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Fixing any damaged power cords or lines
- Taking a look at the strength of your electrical wiring
- Inspecting gas appliances (or turning them off)
- Getting an annual inspection
You may also want to install a smart thermostat. This allows you to control your A/C unit from anywhere, right from your phone. You can schedule your thermostat to periodically turn on to cool or heat your house, which can prevent fire and other disasters.
6. Acknowledge the concerns of renting.
If you rent out your lake house or beach house, you run into other challenges and concerns as well. You’ll need someone there to let the renters in, have the place cleaned, and check on them. You run the risk of theft or damage in your home as well.
When renting your home, we recommend taking everything with you to your primary home to avoid loss or theft. If you need to keep it in the second home, have a room or closet you keep locked with your valuables and items you don’t want touched.
If you have frequent different vacation tenants, use a changeable lock to periodically reprogram the key. This will change the code each time a tenant leaves, so previous renters can’t break in over the winter or another time. This will make you and your current tenants feel more secure.
You may also want to hire a property manager to maintain security and handle your renters if you’re not there for several weeks. They’ll also ensure your home is cared for, which helps minimize theft, fires, and other damage.
A standard homeowners insurance policy is generally not equipped or suited to insure you if you rent out your home. You’ll want to look into landlord insurance. Learn more here: What type of policy do I need if I occasionally rent out my second home?
Umbrella insurance supplements your existing liability coverage, which can help protect against any injuries renters may have on your property. The more people you have on your property, the higher the risk that something could go wrong. Supplemental umbrella insurance can provide additional protection for your home and wallet.
Help protect your vacation
Having a second home on the lake or beach is one of the best ways to unwind, relax, and have a lot of fun. But you’re also assuming the responsibility of a second house—and one that may have a lot of hazards associated with it. That’s why it can be so important to work with an insurance agency you trust to have the right policy in place to help protect your home. You want the best price, but you also want the best coverage possible.
Review your lake house insurance coverage with an expert insurance advisor today at (844) 824-2887.
Not by the phone? Request a quote online or schedule an appointment here: