After my grandfather retired at eighty years old, he picked up the hobby of restoring antique John Deere tractors. It didn’t take long for him to take over the existing detached garage, build onto it, and fill it with tools and equipment. Soon, its value likely exceeded that of the home itself. He’d created the original He Shed.
Many clients’ properties include detached garages, gazebos, sheds, fences, swimming pools, or boat docks. These can be expensive to replace and can be protected under a special portion of a homeowners policy titled “other structures”. This coverage repairs or replaces structures other than the main home.
What Structures Are Covered?
Most homeowners insurance policies anticipate other structures on the property and provide a base-level coverage equal to ten percent of the home insurance value. Thus, if your home is insured for $200,000, a detached garage would be covered for up to $20,000. However, that amount can be increased as needed. In the case of my grandfather, he’d probably add another zero…
Your insurance company may provide a blanket coverage that protects all buildings on site, or they may list the structures separately along with individual coverage levels. However it is accomplished, ensure the appropriate values are included.
A note regarding contents
Other structures coverage protects the structure itself, but the contents are covered along with those in the home, under one lump sum. This bears a little explanation:
- Main Dwelling: Coverage for the main home.
- Other Structures: Coverage for other structures on the property not attached to the main dwelling.
- Personal Property: Coverage for contents, no matter where they are located.
Thus, add together the value of all contents contained in the home, in other structures, and even in offsite storage, ensuring their worth is protected by your policy.
Docks, Piers, and Boat Houses
Other structures can include docks, a boat launch, and similar constructions. Insurance companies address these items in a variety of manners, so ensure you clearly communicate their replacement value to your insurance agent and that the policy includes their cost. If you own a dock that can be removed seasonally, it may be considered contents and be covered under the personal property portion of the policy.
For a dock or pier to be covered by a homeowners insurance policy, it must be located on the same property as the primary residence. If not at the same location, the separate site must be added to the policy. A dock or pier rented at a marina cannot be covered because it belongs to the marina.
In-ground swimming pools can be protected under other structures coverage as well. The pool will be covered for the same perils as the home, however freezing is typically excluded. Therefore, ensure you drain the pool at the end of each season. Above-ground pools are usually considered personal property and their value is added to that portion of the policy. Liability is a concern for swimming pools and claims are frequent, but beyond the scope of this article. Ask your agent to ensure you are properly covered for all situations.
Other structures coverage is a valuable part of your homeowners insurance policy. However, it has limitations and I guarantee my grandfather’s garage-turned-repair-shop was grossly under insured. Review your policies on the client service portal or mobile app, or contact your Bankers Insurance agent. We will help determine your risks and advise how to cover them. Not a client of ours? Let us compete for your business! Each of our clients is assigned a personal insurance agent and provided their email address as well as a phone number that rings right on their desk.