Published: August 2015
Q: We just built a new shed in our backyard, and we love it. But will it be covered by our homeowners insurance? What about all the stuff we're storing inside?
A: A shed will likely be covered, says Shelby Mobley, an Allstate agency owner in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. You’ll want to notify your agent about your new structure, of course, but most homeowners policies will cover buildings on your property that aren’t attached to your home, like a gazebo, shed or detached garage.
“It’s called other structures protection,” says Mobley, “and, typically, the [standard] coverage is for 10 percent of the amount of insurance you have on your home. So if your home is insured for $200,000, your shed and other structures would be insured for 10 percent of that, $20,000.”
An important thing to remember is that the figure is meant as total coverage for all of your unattached buildings, and even fixtures like fences. So if the addition of the shed now brings the value of your outbuildings to more than 10 percent of your standard coverage, you may want to increase the total of your homeowners insurance policy, Mobley says.
“It really depends on the cost of the shed,” she explains. “If you have a home that’s worth $200,000, and your shed is worth $20,000, then it may become a little dicey. You would definitely want to know the cost to rebuild it if it ever was flattened to the ground.”
The amount of protection you have for personal property, including items stored inside the shed, may also be derived from the amount of insurance you have on your home, Mobley says.
“Depending on your carrier, your base policy may include coverage for your belongings based on the amount of the amount of insurance you have on your home, and the coverage would not cost you any additional money,” she says.
Though, you may want to be careful about what exactly you store in your shed and consider what perils your policy covers. Outdoor equipment such as a lawn mower or gardening tools may be better items to store in a shed than, say, clothing or other belongings that might not hold up as well to humidity, insects or other potential risks that would likely not be covered by insurance.
Even for items that are covered, limits will apply. Talk to your local agent to learn about how your policy helps protect your structures and personal property from certain perils, and about its stated coverage limits.
To properly protect certain high-value items, you can purchase additional coverage that protects the specific item for its appraised value. “You would be smart to insure that separately,” Mobley says.
Bottom line, she says, “Enjoy your new building, but don’t keep valuables in your shed.”