How to Insure a Vacation Home

(Secondary homes need first-class protection, too.)

Luxury Vacation Home On The Lakefront. How to insure a vacation home.

Whether it’s a house by the lake, a cottage near the beach, or a cabin in the woods, your vacation home is a place to unwind from the everyday. But, just as mishaps and accidents occur at your primary home, a vacation home can present a number of risks that can be a financial disaster if left unprotected. But don't know where to start? No worries, an independent insurance agent can help you through it all.

Independent insurance agents can walk you through all the ins and out of vacation home insurance while shopping multiple carriers to get you the coverage, and price, you need. And that kind of peace of mind is exactly what you need whether you're at your vacation home, or not. But first, here's a bit of background info to consider.

How Do Insurers Define A Vacation Home?

Insurers classify vacation homes as being a second residence. It’s for this reason that insurers also refer to these policies as seasonal home insurance or secondary home insurance. Depending on the intended usage of the property, you may insure your vacation home in a number of ways.

First, if you regularly stay at your vacation home several times a year or for a prolonged period for a season, then having insurance coverage similar to a homeowners plan is the right choice. Second, for those that rent out their properties, having a rental policy that supplements 3rd-party insurers such as Airbnb’s Host Protection Insurance can minimize damages. And third, for those that leave their property unoccupied for long periods, having a policy in effect can avoid lawsuits if a person is injured on the property. 

Property Type

Your vacation home’s property features play a large part in policies being underwritten. For instance, if you live near a lake, you can expect higher premiums. The same goes for high-crime areas in an urban environment versus more remote locations. Speak with an independent insurance agent about your property features to adequately determine your insurance needs. From a cabin with a fireplace to a beachfront apartment, vacation homes vary in what’s typically covered in fine print. 


Amenities that you’ve added to your vacation home can present new dangers for your guests. Having a hot tub can create opportunities to hold you liable should an accident occur. Offering recreational vehicles on the property can be problematic, even if an unauthorized person takes it for a joyride. 


Where your vacation home is located plays a large part in which types of coverage.Your property may be located in a remote area without easy access to emergency services. Or, it may be near high-crime area. Insurers also take into account the vacation home’s susceptibility to wildfires, earthquakes, flooding, and more may require separate policies or riders.


If you plan to rent your vacation home, you should know that there are additional insurance requirements if you do it often. First, landlords must have vacation rental home insurance and/or require guests to have renters insurance built into their contract agreement. Second, realize that while Airbnb and other house-sharing platforms have their own insurance protections - such as Airbnb’s Host Protection Insurance (HPI) - there are limits and exemptions to these policies. 


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What Does Vacation Home Insurance Cover And Not Cover?

Here’s what vacation home insurance covers in most policies:

Coverage Definition Example
Dwelling Coverage Pays to rebuild or repair the physical structure of your home if it's damaged by a covered peril. This includes attached structures, such as a roof or a deck  A tree branch falls and damages the roof of your vacation home. 
Personal Property Provides protection for your personal belongings, whether they are damaged or stolen. Bear in mind that you would have to pay a deductible to make a personal property claim. Your entertainment center is stolen while your vacation home is unoccupied
Liability Protection Protects you when someone is injured on your property or believes that someone you committed slander/libel against them Liability coverage pays for legal defense fees and can pay damages if you're found to be liable up to your coverage limit. A guest trips on the dock of your lakefront house, causing them to have a broken leg and file suit against you for negligence.
Other Structures Provides coverage for permanent structures that aren't permanently attached to your manufactured home, such as a garage or barn. A storage shed collapses from strong winds and your tools are exposed to the weather.
Additional Living Expense (ALE) This coverage provides you with compensation up to your coverage limit for additional expenses if you are unable to live in your home due to a covered loss. You’re forced to live in a hotel until the smoke and fire damage is cleaned up in your home. 

Exemptions to Vacation Home Coverage

Here are just a few of the many limits and exemptions that insurers may place on vacation home insurance coverage: 

  • Insurance for Natural Disasters: Depending on where your vacation home is located, you should consider whether you’ll need additional earthquake and flood insurance. Most earthquake and flood damage is typically not covered by standard vacation insurance policies. Depending on how likely your home may be struck by a natural disaster, you can expect high premiums and even some insurers that will not insure your vacation home if it presents a significant enough risk. 
  • Expensive items: While most types of personal property is covered, insurers make exclusions for high-dollar items stored at your vacation home. For example, you may have to purchases specific insurance to cover recreational vehicles and equipment. Jewelry and expensive decorations are also generally exempt from most coverage - or, the coverage may be only limited to several thousand dollars for an item that may be valued at $10,000 and above. 

Every insurer offers different coverages, limits, and exemptions for their policies, so it can be confusing to determine which policy offers the best coverage. That’s where an independent insurance agent can explain the fine-print  and compare multiple policies simultaneously, giving you a broader sense of what coverage you qualify for. 

Why Can't I Just Buy A Home Insurance Policy?

Insurers typically define vacation homes as secondary residences, meaning that you spend a majority of your time at another location. This primary residence typically is insured with a homeowners policy, while a secondary home presents a number of risks that an unoccupied home can present. 

Insurers offer favorable vacation home insurance policies for those that already have a policy in effect. This bundling of coverage often comes with reduced premiums that separate insurers might not offer. 

If you want to learn more about vacation home insurance, speak with an independent insurance agent. Agents can offer ways for you to save on premiums while comparing multiple policies, making sense of which coverages are available, discounts, and much more. 

Will My Vacation Home Insurance Cover Family/Friends/Airbnb Renters?

Airbnb uses its own forms of insurance for renters and occupants. This is known as Host Protection Insurance and the Host Guarantee, both of which provide insurance for damages to a property or an individual. In the fine print, these insurance coverages are applied after primary coverage has been used. 

There may be exclusions in your policy for lending out your property for non-immediate family members and friends, but it’s rare to have a policy that explicitly includes a guest policy. Be sure to discuss how guests and different types of occupancy can affect your premiums with an independent insurance agent. Depending on how often you rent it out and the length of stays, you might need to notify your insurance company or purchase a separate landlord insurance policy altogether.

What Does Vacation Home Insurance Typically Cost?

Vacation home insurance is typically more expensive than most homeowners insurance policies. The reasons for these high premiums include:

  • Replacement cost value of the property
  • Deductibles 
  • The property is typically left unoccupied or vacant
  • Susceptibility to natural disasters
  • Access to emergency services 
  • Local crime rates
  • The home is usage as a rental property

Each of these factors plays a role in the greater likelihood of filing an insurance claim, hence the costs. To discuss your options, speak with an independent insurance agent to find out which specific factors affect your unique vacation home. Their expert guidance can break down the complexity of insurance in easy-to-understand terms so you know what you’re getting with your policy. 


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Our independent agents shop around to find you the best coverage.

Benefits of an Independent Insurance Agent

Independent insurance agents have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best coverage, accessibility and competitive pricing while working for you. Find an independent insurance agent in your community here.

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