Updated: November 2015
Dwelling coverage, sometimes called "dwelling insurance," is the part of your homeowners insurance policy that helps to pay for the rebuilding or the repair of the physical structure of your home if it's damaged by a covered hazard. As you probably already know, there are a number of hazards that are not covered by many homeowners insurance policies. But, the good news is that the average homeowners insurance policy typically provides coverage for a pretty comprehensive list of potential incidents, both natural and manmade. Here's some information that may be helpful to you for learning what is likely covered under the dwelling coverage of your insurance policy, and some additional tidbits that will help you decide what kind of homeowners insurance policy is best for you.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are certain hazards, or perils, that are covered by most standard homeowners insurance policies. While the coverage can vary from state to state or from one geographical region to another, homeowners policies typically offer coverage for the following:
- Lightning strikes
- Damage caused by the weight of snow, sleet or ice
- Falling objects
- Aircraft damage
- Motor vehicle damage
While these hazards are typically covered, you should always check your own homeowners insurance policy to determine what it covers.
The average homeowners insurance policy does not cover floods, earthquakes, sewer backups or damage that occurs from a lack of maintenance. Talk to your insurance agent to find out what your options are to help protect your home from these additional perils.
Although a lot of people think of their "dwelling" as just the portion of their property that they live in, dwelling coverage can protect more than that. The dwelling typically consists of the home you live in plus any attached structures. What this means is that as long as it's attached to your house, your garage may also be covered under the dwelling portion of your policy. If any damage comes to it as a result of a covered hazard, the insurance company may cover the costs to repair it or rebuild it. Likewise, things you might not have thought were covered—like your deck or your front and back porch—may also be considered a part of your dwelling, if attached, and therefore may also be covered by the dwelling portion of your policy.
If you have a structure on your property that isn't connected to your home and that doesn't qualify as part of your dwelling — like a guest house, a detached garage or a shed in your back yard — it is likely not included in your dwelling coverage. You can look into getting additional coverage for these structures—sometimes referred to as "other structures protection"—through your insurance provider.
As always, take an inventory of your personal belongings to help make sure that the personal property coverage you have is enough to cover all of your belongings. If you own expensive equipment and it's damaged or destroyed by a covered peril, the amount for which your belongings are insured could mean the difference between taking a financial hit and bouncing back quickly.