One of the core coverages in a homeowners policy is called “Other Structures”. It’s a terrible name. What makes a structure “other”? How do you as a policyholder know how many other structures you have and how much insurance coverage they require? Don’t worry. We’re here to help.
white picket fence

Save Me Time!

  1. Other Structures covers damage to (almost) anything built on your property that is not attached to your house, e.g. detached garages, sheds, fences, etc.
  2. Coverage is typically limited to 10% of your policy’s stated replacement value for your home.
  3. If you don’t have any Other Structures, most insurers still make you buy the coverage.

The Rest of the Story

Other Structures refers to anything built on your property that is not attached to your home. This used to be a big deal when most homes had detached garages. You would want to be sure you had coverage for the garage so insurers offered Other Structures coverage. 

Now that most homes are built with attached garages, there is less need for this coverage than there used to be. In fact, for some people, you may not need it at all! 

Whether you need it or not, most home insurance policies make you buy other structures coverage equal to 10% of the replacement value of your home. Thus, if your policy insures your home for $500,000, you have $50,000 of Other Structures coverage.

What Counts As An “Other”?

Wondering how much Other Structures coverage you actually need? Let’s review some of the items that qualify as Other Structures. This is not an exhaustive list, so if you have something else you think may qualify, ask your agent.

  • Fences
  • Sheds
  • Gazebos
  • Detached Garages
  • Guesthouses
  • Pools (usually)
  • Swing sets or installed playsets (usually)

What’s with the “usually”? Some companies won’t cover items they perceive as dangerous. 

If you have any of these structures and you think it would cost more than 10% of your policy’s replacement value to rebuild them, you may want to increase your Other Structures coverage amount.

What Losses Are Covered?

Other Structures covers damage to…your other structures. This means physical damage by a covered peril. For example, if a tree falls on your fence, that’s covered. If the wind sends flying debris into your shed and punctures the siding, that’s covered.

What’s not covered? Natural aging of your structures. So if your fence is rotting or your swing rusts, that’s not going to be paid by insurance.

Also, liability losses are covered by your liability limit, not the other structures limit. If your child’s friend falls off the jungle gym and their family sues, Other Structures won’t apply. That will be covered by your liability.

And don’t forget your deductible applies to any losses, so, for example, a loss to your fence may not produce enough damage to be worth filing.

What If I Need More Coverage?

If you don’t think 10% is enough coverage, you can buy an endorsement to add more. If you have multiple other structures on your property, it is possible 10% of your home’s replacement value will not be enough coverage.

It is also probably a good idea in that case to let your insurer know which other structures you have to avoid any confusion if you do have a claim.

What If I Need Less Coverage?

You’re out of luck. Insurers won’t let you drop your Other Structures coverage. 

What if you live in a city where you have no yard? Still have to buy 10%. 

What if you have a $1M home and nothing more than a fence? You have to buy $100,000 of coverage for that fence. Crazy, right?

Why Can’t I Buy What I Need?

Because the insurance industry is very slow to change! 

Ideally, you would be able to buy a set dollar amount of Other Structures coverage that fits your needs rather than tie it to the coverage amount of your home. 

The (kind of) good news is Other Structures doesn’t cost that much. It should be less than 5% of your insurance premium. Still, nobody wants to pay for something they may not need.

What’s arguably more important than the cost is to understand what it’s for, so, if you have a potential claim, you can confidently know whether it will be covered or not.