Insurance Coverage: Protecting Your Other Structures
Many people may feel perplexed when they see the phrase “other structures” in their homeowner’s policy. Some may even feel contentious that their rates and premiums include a portion of the policy that they think they do not need. However, most people do not understand how this portion of their plan works or even what is considered other structures. Does Other Structures coverage include sheds, a detached garage, barns or fences? Does this coverage even provide enough monetary support to cover the replacement or rebuilding of any of these items? Other Structures coverage is more necessary than you might believe, and it is worth understanding in the event of damage or disaster.
Other structures coverage is a broad term that is meant to encompass a wide array of buildings and materials that make up your home and your property. For instance, sheds are a common element in many rural and suburban backyards, and these structures require a fair bit of upkeep and can result in significant expense if damaged. Most homeowner’s policies will cover the loss of a shed. Additionally, most policies will cover damage done to garages, both attached and detached, as they are considered part of the home. Beyond these two structures, the “other structures” portion of your policy covers other common structures as well.
- In-ground swimming pools
Barns, Fences and Driveways
Beyond common sheds, people are concerned with their ability to cover the damage or loss done to other structures and elements on their property that may not be as universal. For instance, barns are typically found in rural areas and not in cities; fences are not permitted in many subdivisions; and, driveways are not common in major cities and downtown areas. Despite these structures and elements not being universally relevant, each is covered under the “other structures” portion of most homeowner’s policies. Barnes will typically fall under the category of outbuildings, and fences and driveways are often considered common enough to be covered.
Extent of Basic Coverage
While a detached garage, sheds, and even barns are covered under most policies, it is important to note that the amount of coverage allocated to this portion of the policy may not be enough to cover replacement, especially after a major disaster. Often, a homeowner’s policy only allocates about 10 percent of total coverage to “other structures.” This means that if your property is insured for $250,000, then only $25,000 can be used to replace, rebuild or fix those secondary structures. Additionally, while some structures can be covered entirely, some elements, like driveways and fences, will only be covered at Actual Cash Value because these items have a value that depreciates with age.
If you are worried that the amount of coverage allocated to the replacement of a detached garage, sheds, or barns is not enough to cover the full replacement of these structures, you can look into increasing coverage limits. Most insurers will allow you to add more coverage for “other structures” for an increased price. While this is not essential for everyone, individuals with multiple outbuildings or garages with attached living spaces may find the added coverage necessary. At Smallwood Insurance we can help shed more light on the specifics of limit increases and current coverage limitations.
Personal Property Adjustments
While understanding your policy’s definition of “other structures” is beneficial regarding sheds, barns and detached garages, you may still have concerns about the contents of those buildings. Fortunately, most insurance policies cover the contents within structures under the personal property portion of your agreement. Personal property coverage includes all of your belongings no matter where they are stored. However, if you are concerned that the coverage limit on your personal property is not enough, most policies will adjust these terms, depending on your specific needs.
Whether you have a detached garage, multiple sheds, or a couple of barns on your property, the “other structures” portion of your policy has you covered. Granted, there are policy limits and valuation issues to be concerned with, but ultimately, homeowner’s insurance policies are equipped to cover your entire property and your belongings. Therefore, while some elements of your plan may seem confusing, do not allow them to become a point of contention. Insurance is not the enemy; it is security and restitution in the event of an unforeseen disaster. Need a second set of eyes on your current policy? We’d be happy to help, contact us today!