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You know your homeowners insurance policy protects you in case covered incidents like inclement weather and vandalism cause damage to your home. But you may be unsure about other structures on your property, including your fence.
Standard homeowners insurance policies include what’s known as other structures coverage. As the name suggests, it protects structures on your property other than your home, including your fence, shed, gazebo, and other detached structures. But other structures coverage doesn’t apply in all situations, so it’s important to understand how it works and when it’ll protect you.
Here’s what you need to know about home insurance coverage for fences:
Does home insurance cover fences?
Your homeowners insurance policy will cover damage to your fence that results from a covered incident, also known as a peril. Perils that a homeowners insurance policy covers include those in the chart below:
The part of your homeowners insurance policy that covers fence damage is different from the part that covers damage to your home. Dwelling coverage is the main coverage area of homeowners insurance, and it’s designed to cover damage to your home’s structure.
Fences are covered under your other structures coverage, also known as Coverage B. Other structures coverage protects any structure on your property that isn’t connected to your home, including fences, sheds, guest homes, gazebos, and detached garages.
For example, let’s say your home catches on fire and it spreads to your outdoor structures, including a fence. Not only would your homeowners insurance cover the damage to the home itself, but it would also cover the damage to your fence.
Good to know: Some situations are a bit less cut-and-dried. For example, if there’s a windstorm and your fence isn’t damaged by the wind itself, but your neighbor’s tree falls onto your fence, your insurance policy should still pay for the damage. But if your tree falls onto your neighbor’s fence, their homeowners insurance policy would pay for it.
Learn More: Personal Property Coverage: What It Is and How Much You Need
Fence damage coverage limits
Like other types of insurance, homeowners insurance has coverage limits — the maximum amount your insurance carrier will pay out for a claim. Homeowners insurance has different coverage limits for different parts of your policy. Generally speaking, your dwelling coverage amount is based on the replacement cost of your home. Other parts of your policy are based on the amount of dwelling coverage you have.
Other structures coverage is usually set at 10% of your dwelling coverage. So, if you have $300,000 of coverage for your home, your other structures would be covered for up to $30,000.
While this sounds like a lot, remember this coverage applies to all other structures on your property. No, it probably won’t cost $30,000 to fix a fence. But it could easily cost more than $30,000 to fix a fence and a detached garage or another structure.
When are fences not covered by home insurance?
While your homeowners insurance will cover a fence in many situations, there are some exceptions. Your homeowners insurance won’t apply if the damage is caused by a peril that your homeowners insurance excludes. Examples include:
- Wear and tear
- Pest damage
- Gradual water damage
Additional coverages to protect your fences
Your home typically has replacement cost coverage, meaning your homeowners insurance policy will pay the amount needed to rebuild it to its current form. But that often doesn’t apply to other structures, such as fences. Instead, insurance carriers deduct for depreciation, meaning the amount you receive may not be enough to rebuild the fence.
Depending on your insurance provider, you may be able to purchase a rider for your policy that gives you replacement cost coverage for your fence, just like you have for your home. This way, you’ll know you’re fully protected in the event that your fence is destroyed.
Other coverages to consider for fence protection include:
- Flood insurance: Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, so consider getting a flood insurance policy to protect your fences and other structures. You can purchase a policy through a private insurer or through the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Earthquake insurance: Earthquakes can topple fences. If you live in a high-risk area for earthquakes, it’s a good idea to buy earthquake insurance.
How to file a claim for a damaged fence
If your fence has been damaged by a natural disaster or another covered peril, you’ll need to file a claim with your homeowners insurance provider to receive reimbursement. Here’s how to get started:
- Document the damage. When you file your claim, your insurance carrier may want to see photos of the damage. Thoroughly document the damage so you’re prepared.
- File a police report (if applicable). If the damage to your fence was caused by vandalism or other criminal activity, file a police report.
- Contact your insurance carrier. The sooner you contact your insurance provider, the better. If you have a local agent, contact that person. Otherwise, call the insurer.
- Complete the claims form. Your insurance agent will ask you to file a claims form to officially get the ball rolling. You might also need to include photos of the damage.
- Meet with a claims adjuster. After you file your claims form, an insurance adjuster may visit your home to assess the damage.
- Get estimates from contractors. Once you know your insurance carrier will cover the damage, you can start shopping around for a contractor to do the repairs.
- Complete your repairs. Your insurance provider may send you or your mortgage lender a check for the damage, or it may send the check directly to the contractor after the repairs are complete.
Disclaimer: All insurance-related services are offered through Young Alfred.