If you’re like the average American, there’s probably a 50-50 chance that you don’t actually park your car in your garage. Many people use their garage for storage or as an additional workspace and park their cars in the driveway. There’s certainly no shame in that, but it sometimes means that you may be missing some items when it comes to your home insurance policy. Instead of treating your garage as a mere afterthought, make sure you give it its proper place as a valuable part of your home.
Unlike your car, which is insured on your auto policy (at least I hope you have it insured on an auto policy), the rest of the items in your garage need to be insured on your home insurance policy. However, for many homeowners, the fact that the items are somewhat out of sight means they might also be out of mind when it comes to insurance. When you are going through the process of establishing the values for your personal property on your home insurance policy, don’t forget items that are in your garage.
In certain homes, some very big-ticket items can be in the garage, such as a washer and dryer. My parents are big fans of keeping an extra refrigerator in the garage and some people also keep a deep freezer out there. All of these can add up to a lot of value that, if not properly insured, will result in a significant financial impact if there’s a loss or claim. If you tinker in your garage and use it as a workshop, you probably also have some very valuable tools and equipment. All of these items, in addition to various odds and ends in boxes (admit it, you probably have a bunch of those in the garage), should be considered in the personal property limit that you purchase on your home insurance policy.
Once you’ve properly accounted for your personal property in the garage, you need to give some consideration to the garage itself. Depending on whether or not your garage is attached to your home, there can be some different insurance implications. Attached garages are the easiest to insure as they are considered part of your dwelling coverage, which covers your house itself. However, if your garage is not attached, you’ll need to pay a little more attention to how your policy defines dwelling extensions. In most policies, the policy will cover other structures as long as they are located on your residence premises. This means your garage needs to be physically on your property to be included on your policy.
If, however, your garage is not permanently attached to your property, it will likely not be covered. For example, if you are using a portable shed-type structure to house your car and personal property, that structure is not considered to be an “other structure” as defined on the policy. You need to also keep in mind that if you use your other structure for any business purpose, it will be automatically excluded from the policy. While the use might seem very incidental, the effect can be significant. Before you do anything that can be considered a business use, read through your policy.
Your garage is an important part of your home and lifestyle. Make sure you don’t forget about it when it comes to your insurance policy.