Insuring Your Second Home

Here comes fall, which along with winter and spring makes up the best time in the Desert! With that in mind, I’m devoting this post to second homes. If you can swing it and enjoy the same resort location year after year, second homes are great!

Insurance for second homes is sometimes a little tricky because they are unoccupied or rented part of the year which increases risk. But I’m sure we have a desert insurance solution! Here are some tips for keeping your premium down:

  • Use the same carrier for all properties. You’ll get a multi-policy discount and the carrier will be less likely to drop coverage in the event of a claim.
  • Use an independent multistate agency like Desert Insurance Solutions. Most direct writer agents can only do business in one state.
  • Extend your liability coverage from your primary home to your second home. This is usually less expensive than having separate liability in each place.

Consider a flood policy since you might not be home when water issues arise.
Once you have the proper insurance coverage, the main issue is protecting your homes from loss when you are away. One step many second home owners forget is to set up their alarm system for fire monitoring in addition to police. My house is with Desert Alarm and there is no extra charge for monitoring fire if you buy the $160 smoke alarm. Here are more tips on how to prepare your home for temporary vacancy.

Tips On Protecting Your Unoccupied Second Home

  1. Have someone check on it frequently (friend, neighbor, caretaker or concierge service).
  2. Plug in a simple wall timer for an interior light. Add a few alarm service signs to your front yard.
  3. Take pictures of each room’s contents. Don’t leave valuables such as jewelry.
  4. Check all systems: gutters, roof, weather stripping, chimney, flue, AC, gas, smoke alarm batteries, etc.
  5. Allow for remote access (e.g. key with neighbor) in case workers need to enter when you are gone.
  6. Secure exterior items. Leave AC on around 88. Leave some water buckets around to generate moisture. Leave interior doors open to encourage airflow.
  7. Unplug electronics. Turn off ice maker. Turn off interior water (be careful not to turn off irrigation).

If you have frequent renters in your second home let me know because you might need a landlord’s policy. Landlord insurance is more expensive than primary insurance because tenants aren’t as careful as owners. But landlord insurance might be less expensive than insurance on a vacant property, because at least somebody is in there.

Unoccupied means your house is furnished and being used, but nobody is there at the moment. Vacant means the house is unfurnished and is empty because of construction work or because you’re waiting for renters or sale. Many standard homeowners’ policies have a vacancy exclusion: if your home is vacant for over 30 days they can deny claims. So if any of your houses are going to be vacant for over 30 days for whatever reason, it is important to let me know so we can arrange for the right insurance.