Solved! Is My Garage Covered Under Homeowners Insurance?
The answer to the question “Is my garage covered under homeowners insurance?” is yes, for the most part. Under certain circumstances, though, your homeowners insurance may not extend to your garage or its contents.
Q: We had a huge storm last week, and a large branch came down from our old oak tree, just narrowly missing our garage. What would have happened if the branch had cracked the roof or damaged the siding? Is my garage covered under homeowners insurance, or do I need a separate policy to insure it?
A: That sounds like a close call! Even if that tree branch had landed on your garage and caused damage, though, your homeowners insurance would have likely covered the repair costs—assuming the garage is attached to your house. A standard homeowners insurance policy usually extends to the structure and contents of attached garages, covering the same perils outlined in a homeowners policy such as fire, storms, and theft.
You could be wondering “What if I have a detached garage? Is my garage covered under homeowners insurance then?” That’s where coverage limits can get a little murkier. In many cases, homeowners insurance will cover freestanding garages and their contents, but not for their full value. In fact, insurance policies often provide only a fraction of the total coverage amount to detached garages. There are several other exclusions that policyholders should also consider to be sure that a garage and anything stored in it will be properly insured if the worst should come to pass.
Homeowners insurance typically covers both the structure and contents of your garage—but only under certain circumstances.
Insurance policies can be very complex and densely written, leaving some policyholders to wonder “Is a garage covered by homeowners insurance at all?” In general, a homeowners insurance policy should also insure the garage and its contents. The same perils that are covered by a homeowners policy will likely also apply to a garage and its contents. With that in mind, which of the following would be covered by a homeowners insurance policy if it affected your garage: fire, hail, water damage, or theft? You would likely be insured for each of those incidents with a standard homeowners policy, with some limitations for water damage. Although homeowners insurance will typically cover both attached and detached garages, only attached structures will be insured for their full value.
Are garage doors covered by homeowners insurance too? Homeowners policies treat garage doors as part of the structure of the garage itself, so they often cover any damages that might occur. For example, homeowners insurance will usually cover the cost of repairing a garage door once the deductible is met if someone backs into it with a car.
Homeowners insurance often contains separate coverages for handling different types of possessions and assets. Dwelling coverage covers the home itself, “other structures” coverage insures other buildings on the property, liability coverage protects homeowners from legal liability, and personal property coverage insures a homeowner’s belongings. Depending on the construction of the garage and the nature of the peril, an insurance claim could fall under any one of these coverages.
Homeowners policies often include loss of use coverage as well, which reimburses policyholders in the event the property is rendered uninhabitable by a covered peril. For instance, homeowners insurance may pay for policyholders to stay in a hotel while repairs are made to their home after a covered event, such as a storm, damages their house. Is loss of use covered by homeowners insurance when it applies to your garage, though? In some cases, insurance may pay for parking fees or transportation costs if you’re not able to park your car in the garage following a covered event. It’s a good idea to review all of these coverages individually to see what exactly is covered and for how much.
Homeowners insurance generally covers your garage and its contents in the event of a covered event such as fire or hail.
Any diligent homeowner will likely want to know what is covered under homeowners insurance, especially in regard to the garage. The best homeowners insurance policies cover a wide variety of perils that can cause damage to a person’s property and their belongings, and that coverage will likely extend to the garage as well. If a fire breaks out and destroys tools, seasonal decorations, or other items stored in a garage, then insurance should pay to replace them. It will likewise provide coverage in the event that the entire structure burns down or is structurally compromised by a covered peril. Smoke damage is also frequently covered by homeowners insurance.
Many weather-related perils that are listed in a homeowners policy will apply to the garage as well. Hail, lightning, ice, and snow are often considered covered events in standard homeowners insurance plans. Does homeowners insurance cover garage doors too? In many cases, yes, the garage door will also be insured in the event that it is vandalized or damaged. Coverage should also extend to damage caused by the policyholder, so homeowners can file an insurance claim if they back their car into the garage door, although the deductible will be applied and the homeowner could see a rate increase as a result of filing a claim.
Homeowners policies are not limited to damage alone. Policyholders often wonder “Does homeowners insurance cover theft from the garage?” Depending on the exact terms of an insurance policy, garages will likely be covered for incidents of theft. For instance, if a burglar or thief breaks into a garage and steals a bike stored inside, then homeowners insurance should help cover the cost of replacement.
However, there are certain events and types of damage done to a garage and its contents that are usually not covered by a homeowners insurance policy, such as earthquakes or floods.
Homeowners insurance has its limits. A basic homeowners insurance policy will typically exclude coverage for natural disasters including earthquakes or floods, and policyholders who live in regions where hurricanes are common may be subject to a separate deductible for damage related to a hurricane. Anyone living in a floodplain will likely be required to purchase the best flood insurance policy for them when buying a home. The best earthquake insurance coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement to a homeowners insurance policy in earthquake-prone regions such as the West Coast, but homeowners may want to double-check that these policies will also cover their garage.
Hurricane insurance doesn’t actually exist as a stand-alone insurance product. Instead, insurance companies address the individual perils caused by hurricanes such as high winds and flooding. Homeowners may need to bundle multiple insurance policies together to fully cover their house, their garage, and their belongings in the event of a hurricane.
Termite damage and pest removal are two other common exclusions in homeowners policies. Garages can be just as—if not more—likely to experience infestations as any other part of the property, especially if homeowners use their garage to store food that might attract pests. Don’t expect an insurance company to pay for an exterminator or to repair damaged wood if a garage contains termites, ants, mice, or other pests.
Your homeowners insurance policy will not typically extend to your garage if you run a business out of it.
Running a business out of the garage can be a great way for aspiring entrepreneurs to get their business ventures off the ground without paying extra money on overhead costs. However, any business-related items stored in the garage will not be covered by a typical homeowners insurance policy.
The space itself may not be insured if it’s used for business purposes such as doing light mechanic work or running a doggy daycare out of the garage. Policyholders will likely need to purchase a separate business insurance policy to fully cover their belongings and property in those scenarios.
Whether or not your garage is attached to your home also determines the extent of your coverage.
The construction of a garage plays a big role in determining how much coverage is included in a homeowners insurance policy. Although homeowners insurance typically covers any structure sitting on the property, stand-alone buildings are treated differently than the home itself. Because attached garages are extensions of the home rather than separate structures, they generally fall under dwelling coverage. Dwelling coverage, also known as hazard insurance, protects the home in the event that it is damaged or destroyed. Mortgage companies typically require home buyers to purchase enough hazard insurance to pay for a complete rebuild of the house. If the property has an attached garage, then a policyholder’s garage will likely be covered for any peril that’s included in the homeowners insurance.
Does homeowners insurance cover detached garages too? Most likely, but insurance companies usually take a different approach to insure these types of structures. Detached garages may be covered as part of a standard hazard insurance policy under “other structures” coverage. This coverage extends to detached garages, tool sheds, gazebos, fences, and any other freestanding structures on the property. Coverage for “other structures” is typically limited to 10 percent of the dwelling coverage on a homeowners insurance policy, so it’s a good idea to thoroughly read over the insurance policy and ask the provider to clarify what the coverage limits are for a detached garage.
You may not receive the full replacement value for a detached garage or for contents that have depreciated in value.
Insurance companies will set their own terms and conditions regarding coverage for “other structures,” but they typically offer far less coverage for detached garages compared with attached garages. In many cases, separate structures are only insured up to 10 percent of the total coverage limit, but the exact figure will depend on the provider. For instance, a policyholder with a $400,000 homeowners insurance policy may only be able to claim a maximum of $40,000 for a damaged detached garage or its contents.
In addition, insurance companies may not provide full replacement value for stolen or damaged items that have depreciated over time. Many belongings stored in a garage, such as bikes, exercise equipment, and power tools, can lose their value if not properly maintained. As such, it’s important for the homeowner to consider purchasing replacement cost coverage, which insures the belongings for their full replacement value, as opposed to actual cash value coverage, which insures the belongings for their depreciated value only.
Your homeowners insurance won’t cover damage to cars parked in your garage —but your auto insurance likely will.
Although homeowners insurance broadly covers the contents of a garage, there is one notable exception: cars. Any vehicle parked in a garage, such as a car, truck, or motorcycle, will not be insured under a homeowners policy. However, auto insurance should cover any damages these vehicles might sustain while parked or stored on the property, but check with the insurance provider to be sure.
That being said, homeowners insurance will typically cover any belongings inside the car. For instance, if a burglar sneaks into a garage, breaks the window of a parked car, and steals a laptop from the backseat, the homeowners policy would likely pay to replace the laptop (less the deductible) but not cover the cost to repair the broken window.
That distinction can make a “backed into garage door” insurance claim complicated for homeowners. The door is insured through the homeowners policy but the car is covered by auto insurance. Policyholders may need to file two separate claims through their homeowners and auto insurance to recoup damages sustained to the car and garage door.
Your policy limits also dictate how much coverage you have on your garage contents.
Homeowners insurance policy limits set the maximum amount policyholders may receive if they file a claim for a covered event. But that doesn’t necessarily mean homeowners will be able to claim the full value of possessions that are damaged while stored away in a garage. Insurance policies may limit coverage for certain items, such as jewelry, artwork, antiques, and even golf clubs or other sports equipment. This is all the more reason to check the fine print of the policy or reach out to a representative to confirm the insurance plan’s details.
Despite those limitations, it’s a good idea to include the contents of the garage when shopping for homeowners insurance. Homeowners may overlook garages—in particular, detached garages—when considering what is covered by homeowners insurance and determining how much coverage they need. As such, they may not secure a high enough coverage limit to insure all their assets.
If you need more coverage for your garage and its contents, you could consider updating your homeowners insurance policy or shopping for a new one.
After going over the homeowners insurance policy and itemizing the contents of the garage, homeowners may come to the conclusion that their current policy doesn’t offer the full amount of coverage needed. If that’s the case, policyholders could reach out to their insurance company and see what it would cost to add more coverage to the existing policy. Otherwise, it might be good to consider shopping around for homeowners insurance that includes the right claim limits, coverage, and terms for the homeowner’s circumstances. It could be worth the homeowner’s time to look at a few quotes and see if there’s another plan that’s a better fit for their home, their garage, and their belongings.