Decks, Sheds and Other Structures: Homeowners Insurance 101
Homeowners need to prepare for the worst. A tornado can sweep through your property, uprooting trees and destroying your fences and sheds. A lit cigarette can accidentally cause a fire to overtake a detached garage, possibly with an apartment above. In these situations, the Other Structures Coverage portion of your homeowners insurance policy will pay for damages to unattached structures on your property, not your dwelling coverage.
What Is Other Structures(Coverage B) on a Homeowners Insurance Policy?
According to the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI), Other Structures Coverage is the part of your homeowners insurance that protects structures detached from the main dwelling on your property by a clear space.
Other Structures Coverage is Coverage B of your home insurance policy. It covers repairs, replacement or rebuilding of detached structures in the event of a named peril. Detached structures are not covered under the Dwelling coverage of your homeowners insurance policy, since they are not connected to your home.
Does Other Structures (Coverage B) Cover My Garage?
Yes, Coverage B (Other Structures) can provide coverage for some garages if your insurer doesn't prohibit coverage for these structures in its exclusions. Whether or not you receive coverage depends on the garage you own.
Detached garages are unattached structures that store vehicles away from the main dwelling. Before the 1970s, most homes had detached garages, and Other Structures Insurance coverage was a necessity. If you have a detached garage, consider buying Other Structures Coverage from your insurance company to protect it from each covered peril named in your home insurance policy. For instance, if your homeowners insurance covers hazards like a windstorm, your Other Structures Insurance would cover your garage for these issues, as well.
Attached garages store vehicles in an area inside a house or beneath it. IRMI says after the 1970s, architects stopped designing homes with detached garages because of decreased land availability. Once this occurred, Other Structures Coverage was no longer standard, since dwelling insurance could cover attached garages. You may consider skipping this coverage unless you own other detached structures like a barn, shed, fence, etc.
Is My Deck Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Other Structures Coverage may protect your deck depending on the type of deck you own.
Detached Decks: If a tree falls and destroys part of your deck, this coverage would pay to repair your detached deck.
Attached Deck: These decks are covered under the dwelling portion of your homeowners insurance policy.
What Does Other Structures (Coverage B) Cover?
Coverage B protects a variety of common structures on your property, including the following:
- Detached garages
- Swimming pools
- Detached decks
Other Structures Insurance (Coverage B) typically protects these structures from the same perils listed on your home insurance policy. These hazards include:
- Fire and lightning
- Windstorms and hail
- Civil unrest and riots
- Damages from aircraft or vehicle collisions
- Smoke damage
- Vandalism and theft
- Falling objects
- Freezing or weight of snow, ice, sleet
- Accidental water discharge/overflow or steam from pipes
- Damage from short circuits
- Sudden or accidental tearing, burning, cracking or bulging
- Volcanic eruptions
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Does Other Structures Coverage Protect Against Every Covered Peril?
No, this coverage doesn't protect your detached buildings from earthquake or flood damages. You must buy separate flood and earthquake policies to cover these events.
When selecting a homeowners policy, carefully review your Other Structures Coverage terms, limits and conditions. Some insurance companies have exclusions that prohibit coverage for some types of detached structures.
What Happens if my Homeowners Insurance Policy Doesn't have Other Structures Coverage?
Don't assume that your insurance policy automatically includes Coverage B. If you don't have it, and a fire destroys a detached garage, deck or shed, your insurer won't pay for the structure's repairs or replacement cost.
Review your "Declarations Page" or "Evidence of Insurance" to see if you have Other Structures Insurance Coverage.
Some detached garages have an apartment above them. If this is the case, buy high enough coverage limits to protect your apartment too.
How Much Coverage Do You Need?
What coverage limit should you buy to protect your detached structures? The premium you'll pay depends on how many structures you have on your property and their total value. This coverage usually comprises 10 percent of your homeowners policy's coverage.
If you own multiple detached structures, evaluate how much it will cost to repair, replace and rebuild unattached structures before signing up for a policy. Most insurers exclude detached structures from your dwelling coverage if a named peril destroys them. When selecting coverage, calculate the value of all unattached structures, including garages, sheds, fences, guest houses and other buildings.
Check Your Limits of Coverage
If you have $300,000 in dwelling coverage, only 10 percent of it applies to Other Structures Coverage, so you'd receive $30,000 in coverage. If your guesthouse costs $50,000 to rebuild after a named peril destroys it, you'll have to pay the remaining $20,000 out of pocket (in addition to a deductible), unless you raise your coverage limits.
If you're renovating an unattached structure, consider increasing your policy's coverage limits. It will ensure you have enough coverage to repair these structures if the worst happens.
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