Second homes give us a get-away from weekday life, and most times is a good investment. They also, however, present more of an insurance risk than your primary residence. The fact that you don’t physically occupy your second home as frequently puts it in more danger for theft, vandalism and easily undetected damage, like burst water pipes.
Most insurance companies place specific coverage limits to loss that occurs to a seasonal home. Typically limitations are placed on coverage such as vandalism, theft and water damage.
Here is an example one of our companies use for a Seasonal Unoccupancy Endorsement that specifically limits payment for water damage because of the severe damage that can result from freezing of pipes during the cold winter months.
"This endorsement outlines new terms of coverage for dwellings that are unoccupied, vacant or under construction between the months of October and March. Coverage for water damage, as described on the endorsement, is limited to a maximum claim payment of $10,000 unless the precautionary steps outlined are followed."
Typical precautionary steps required include maintaining heat at 60 degrees, shutting off the home's water supply, draining pipes and plumbing devices, installing a water alarm system or a combination of these steps. In the event of a loss, proof that the required precautions were in place is required for coverage of your claim.
Because the insurance contract you have is written for a specific stated risk and its related premium, any change in the occupancy of your home must be reported to the insurance company. At that time any necessary endorsements will be added and any requirements will be explained to you. It's crucial to be upfront with how you plan to use your home and communicate to your agent any change in your plans. Your insurance agent is your best resource to recommend the right coverage for your particular situation.