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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Property Kept Outdoors?

March 11, 2019


Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Belongings Kept Outdoors?


When it comes to your homeowners insurance, you may be wondering if coverage extends to your outside property. While homeowners insurance covers many belongings kept outdoors, some items require you to purchase additional coverage. Before you invest in new outdoor amenities, check this list to find out what's typically covered.

Deck
Most insurers consider the deck of your house part of the main structure and thereby protected under Coverage A: Dwelling Coverage. Commonly covered perils include damage from fire, hail, storms, vandalism, falling objects, lightning, and snow. Additional coverage is necessary for protection against flood, water backup, earthquake, and mold. However, insurance won't cover damage from neglected maintenance or pest infestations. Keep your deck sealed and up to date!

Fence
Your homeowner's insurance will often cover damage to “other structures,” which include the replacement or repair costs of a damaged fence. Coverage will pay for fences in the event of a storm or vandalism, but things get tricky if the fence is located on a property line. This may be an awkward conversation with the neighbor on who has ownership.

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Fountain
In addition to gazebos and sheds, fountains and other water decorations are considered other structures in your homeowner's policy. Most providers don't have a coverage limit for specific outdoor items. Instead, the general 10% of Coverage A limitation applies to all outside structures. For belongings that exceed $5,000, homeowners are strongly recommended to obtain additional coverage.

Garden
Homeowners insurance usually helps replace plants, shrubs, and trees in your yard if they were destroyed by a specific peril such as a storm, fire, lightning, or vandalism. However, if a tree falls and damages a structure in your yard, it's unlikely that you will receive reimbursement for the tree. Instead, you'll receive payment for the damaged structure. Homeowners policies can include $500 to $1,000 in coverage to pay for the fallen tree removal. Damage to garden caused by snow, ice, hail, wind, pests, insects, and diseases are not covered.

Gazebo
Similar to a tool shed, a gazebo is also considered a “surrounding structure” and likely to be covered. However, the 10% coverage limit includes ALL of your detached structures and fixtures, such as a fence. If you have multiple structures in your yard, it may be worth considering extra coverage on Coverage B.

Greenhouse
Greenhouses used for personal purposes are usually covered under your home insurance policy. However, if you use your greenhouse for commercial purposes, you'll need a commercial insurance policy.

Grill or Fireplace 
On average, American household fires involving grills cause an annual $133 million in property damage. Because of the risks, fireplaces and fire pits might not be covered by standard homeowners insurance. However, structural damage caused to your home by a grill or fireplace would like be covered under your liability (eg negligence). Home insurance policies cover "stupid" but they are expensive claims to carry on your record. It's best to check with your insurance agent before filing a grill claim. (don't file small claims here)

Hot Tub
Hot tubs are subject to exclusions and limitations similar to pools. Although your policy may include certain covered perils for your hot tub and limited liability insurance, it's likely that you'll need extra coverage through an umbrella policy. Purchasing a hot tub can often result in higher home insurance premiums. However, by taking certain safety precautions with covers and locks, suction drains, and barriers, you can often help control the costs. Damage resulting from frost, wear and tear, or negligence is not covered.

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Patio Furniture
Personal property, both indoors and outdoors, is almost always covered by your homeowner's insurance. Policyholders usually receive reimbursement for any damage to patio furniture, unless damage is a result of negligence. Check your policy to find out if your property is insured for the replacement cost or actual cash value and what limits may apply.

Playset
Because playground equipment poses more risks than treehouses and trampolines combined, most insurance providers consider playsets, slides, and swings to be fatal attractions. Homeowners with playsets are advised to obtain extra coverage, or a personal catastrophe liability (PCL) policy to protect against unforeseen injuries.

Pool
Your homeowner's insurance typically covers two types of swimming pool losses. When your pool is damaged by a covered peril, such as a storm, falling object, or fire, insurance will help cover the repair costs. Above ground pools are usually included in your Coverage C: Personal Property coverage, whereas underground pools it can vary between Coverage A: Dwelling OR Coverage B: Other Structures depending on your carrier.

Your policy may also cover liability, in case a visitor is injured in your pool. Since owning a pool can increase your liability risk, consider increasing coverage over the usual $300,000 limit. A personal umbrella policy can extend the liability limits of your current homeowners coverage. Diving boards and slides can increase your liability risks further, or even make you uninsurable by some carriers, so it's advisable to ask your agent before finalizing coverage.

Screened Enclosure
Screened pool areas, patio cages, and carports are enclosures susceptible to wind damage. As a result, many insurers may not carve out damage to these kinds of structures. If your provider covers screened enclosures, you should be aware of the difference between attached and detached structures. A screen enclosure or carport attached to your house falls under Coverage A: Dwelling Coverage. However, detached structures are considered Coverage B: Other Structures and face limited coverage.

Tombstone
Grave-markers are considered personal property and your homeowners insurance will likely cover damage from fallen trees, vandalism, and other covered perils.

Tool Shed
Your tool shed is considered a “surrounding structure,” and is typically covered by your home insurance policy. Coverage B: Other Structures for surrounding structures is usually limited to 10% of the coverage limit for the structure of your house.

Treehouse
Not all insurance companies cover treehouses because of heightened liability risks. In some cases, your insurer will want to check the treehouse for safety issues before providing coverage. Depending on your provider, your treehouse may be protected, or require additional liability. 

Check Your Policy

Most homeowners insurance policies cover belongings kept outdoors, to an extent. Coverage partially depends on the cause and severity of damage. However, it's critical to check with an insurance expert to find out what limitations and exclusions apply to your coverage.

Hope that helps!

Are the gnomes covered? No one knows...

At your service,
Young Alfred

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