Back in the days of Downton Abbey, a wealthy family might well own both a London townhouse and a country seat. Although that might seem like another world, a surprising number of UK families today own a second residential property. Maybe you’re one of them.
Government data suggests that about 2.4 million households in England own a second home of some kind. The majority of these are rented out, but some are used as holiday homes or let to friends or family, while others may be inherited properties that are currently unoccupied.
While there’s no legal requirement to insure your second home, you could lose a lot of money if it’s damaged while uninsured. In any case, if you have a mortgage, it’s likely to be a requirement to have at least Building cover.
The problem is that second homes generally face different threats from your main home, and this needs to be reflected in the insurance cover needed. Otherwise, the insurer’s loss adjuster may turn you down if you have to make an insurance claim on this property.
What Kind of Insurance Do You Need?
You’ll normally need both Building and Contents insurance, unless you’re renting the property out unfurnished, in which case it’s up to the tenant to arrange Contents insurance. If you’re using it as a holiday home, on the other hand, it’s generally advisable to have Contents cover for the items you leave in the property while you’re not using it.
However, the policies you use for your main home won’t necessarily be appropriate for a second home. If the property tends to be left empty for long periods, you’ll need a special policy allowing this, while a rented-out property may need cover for public liability, legal costs, alternative accommodation or loss of income or rent. You may also require employer’s liability insurance if you have a housekeeper, gardener etc., as well as cover for emergency travel to sort out problems.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that some insurers may not offer certain types of cover. This might include insuring a large building or a listed building (not only a problem if you’ve inherited a stately home), while policies for second homes may exclude pets, stag or hen parties or unplanned guests.
You can generally get a better deal for your second home insurance if you combine Building and Contents policies and pay annually. Improving security measures and keeping the property well maintained will also help.
However, Allied Claims would always recommend going through an insurance broker, who will advise you on exactly what you need and find you the right cover and the best deal. That way, if you need to make an insurance claim, the loss adjuster will have no reason to object to anything, and we can ensure you get a full pay-out.
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