What is other structures coverage?

The other structures provision of your home insurance policy covers most kinds of structures that aren't connected to your home. Learn how it works.

Pat Howard 1600

Pat Howard

Published January 16, 2019

Homeowners insurance protects one of your most important investments, your home, in the event that its damaged or destroyed by a covered peril. Your policy also includes coverage for structures that aren’t attached to your home.

This section of your policy, known as other structures coverage, or Coverage B, is included in every standard home insurance policy and covers everything from your detached garage to the protective fence around your property.

Like other coverages in your policy, other structures coverage has its limitations. For example, certain types of property – like a guest house that you rent out as an Airbnb, or a home office where you conduct business – may not be covered by your other structures coverage. However, you may be able to add a business or rental property endorsement to your policy to make sure you’re properly insured.

How does other structures coverage work?

A standard homeowners insurance policy defines “other structures” as such:

Structures on the “residence premises” set apart from the dwelling by clear space. This includes structures connected to the dwelling by only a fence, utility line, or similar connection.

That means connected garages or decks are covered by your policy’s dwelling coverage, while anything with distinguishable space between it and your house are covered by other structures coverage.

Your other structures limit of liability – the maximum amount your insurer will reimburse you for a covered loss – is generally about 10% of your home’s insured value. That means if your home is insured for $250,000, you should have $25,000 in other structures coverage.

What type of property is covered by other structures?

As we touched on earlier, whether or not additional structures are covered depends on what they’re being used for. If you operate a landscaping business out of your backyard and house plants and business equipment in a greenhouse, your business property may not be covered by the other structures and personal property portions of your policy.

Some standard policies may cover business property up to a certain limit, but coverage typically doesn’t exceed $5,000. To increase your coverage up to $10,000, you may be able to add a business property endorsement or an in-home business policy, which provide higher sublimits and more comprehensive coverage.

However, if the structures are for “residential or leisurely use”, they’ll most likely be covered. Some structures you should expect to be covered are:

  • Garages
  • Guest houses
  • Detached patios or dining areas
  • Gazebos
  • Fences
  • Mailboxes
  • Sheds
  • Construction materials and supplies related to the other structure

The one discrepancy we found was in-ground pools, as some insurers cover pools under the dwelling provision of your policy, and some under the other-structures provision. Above-ground pools are often covered by your personal property coverage.

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Other structures coverage limitations

Your other structures coverage protects you against many of the same perils as your insurance policy’s dwelling coverage, insuring you against fires, windstorms, lightning, and human-induced perils like theft. Perils generally not covered by your other structures coverage include, but aren’t limited to:

You should also be cognizant of your other structures reimbursement terms, which is the amount your insurance company pays you for a covered loss. Most standard policies reimburse you for your home’s replacement cost value – meaning depreciation isn’t deducted from your home’s rebuild costs – and you’re essentially given a replacement check.

However, other structures reimbursements can vary. Some policies reimburse you for the other structures’ actual cash value (replacement cost minus depreciation), and some pay you for the replacement cost.

In some cases, your reimbursement terms depend on the structure’s characteristics. For example, your insurer may offer replacement cost for structures considered “buildings” (like a garage or shed) and actual cash value for structures that aren’t building (like a mailbox or fence). Be sure to read the fine print of your policy to determine if you need to upgrade your claim reimbursement terms.

What if I don’t have enough other structures coverage?

If the built-in coverage amount isn’t enough, you may have the option to simply increase your other structures coverage limit. Some insurers may also allow you to upgrade your loss settlement provisions from replacement cost value to guaranteed replacement cost value, meaning you’ll be reimbursed even if the property damage exceeds your coverage limit.

Insurance Expert

Pat Howard

Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is an Insurance Editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in homeowners insurance. He has been featured on Property Casualty 360, MSN, and more. Pat has a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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