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Homeowners insurance protects one of your most important investments, your home, in the event that it is 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 types of coverage 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.
Other structure coverage covers structures on your property that are detached from your home, including your fence, shed and detached garage
Your other structures coverage covers the same perils as your dwelling coverage, including fire, vandalism, and falling objects
Some home insurance policies reimburse you the actual cash value under other structures coverage (the shed or garage’s value minus depreciation), and some pay you for the replacement cost (meaning the value as though the damaged structure were new)
A standard homeowners insurance policy typically defines “other structures” as:
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 is 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.
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Other structures coverage is the part of your home insurance policy that covers the things that are on your property but not attached to your house itself. So if any of those are damaged by a covered peril, other structures coverage is the part of your policy that ensures you get money back to repair or replace them. Some structures you should expect to be covered are:
Detached patios or dining areas
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.
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 and vandalism. Perils generally not covered by your other structures coverage include, but aren’t limited to:
Wear and tear
Theft from property that is vacant or under construction
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 when your home itself is damaged — 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 buildings (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.
Does other structures coverage cover home businesses?
Whether or not additional structures are covered also 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.
The same is true if you rent out a detached guest house as a short-term rental, through a platform like Airbnb. Your other structures coverage may not cover damage to a structure that you’ve been using as a short-term rental, so you should look into a short-term rental endorsement or separate policy to make sure you’re covered.
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.
Pat Howard is a homeowners insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. He has written extensively about home insurance cost, coverage, and companies since 2018, and his insights have been featured on Investopedia, Lifehacker, MSN, Zola, HerMoney, and Property Casualty 360.
Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in auto and home insurance. She's been writing about insurance, finance and financial planning since 2018, and loves helping readers get the knowledge they need to make financial decisions with confidence. Her words can also be found on PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.
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