We’ve just rebuilt a garden office in the backyard, and I’m wondering if it’s covered by our householder’s policy or whether I’ll need specialist insurance. Let’s find out…
Your homeowner’s insurance policy should cover your garden office, with most policies providing up to 10% protection of your total policy limit. This means if your home is worth $300,000 you might receive up to $30,000 for damage to your garden office.
Let’s dive down into the subject of insuring garden offices in more detail, and discover what exactly is covered and what isn’t…
Do I Need Specialist Insurance For My Garden Office? (Or is it Covered in My Home Policy?)
Many home insurance policies do cover any outbuildings in the garden including sheds and garden offices.
This means your garden office will usually be covered for up to 10% of the total insured value of your property – so a policy covering a $300,000 home will usually allow $30,000 for a garden office as are considered part of the property. Many homeowners, though, don’t notify the insurer about the value of the building and its contents.
Your home insurance policy will cover any weather related damage to the garden office but the insurer needs to be notified about the value and the office’s contents prior to anything happening.
This is when it is important to understand exactly what coverage your policy provides and if there are any limits. If you’re not sure, talk with your agent so that you’ll know if additional coverage is needed.
Just as your home insurance policy covers other items in the garden, such as fences, patios and gates, your garden office should be covered. As the value of office equipment and materials will be higher than a standard garden shed, you need to talk with the insurer to determine if the garden office contents are covered, too.
Do The Contents of My Garden Office Need To Be Insured Separately?
Within the garden, there are items that can be moved. This can include patio furniture, potted plants and tools. These types of items are generally covered in the contents portion of the home insurance policy.
Immovable items, such as a shed, deck, or garden office are by definition static, so they are covered by the property insurance, but they may have different limits.
It is important to have a comprehensive inventory of the equipment in the garden office and their value. This is information that your insurance agent will need. If your home insurance policy covers the garden office, the inventory of equipment value may just need to be updated on the policy.
What Does My Home Insurance Policy Cover My Garden Office For?
If your home insurance policy covers the garden office, it will be protected from severe weather damage, fire, and theft. However, it will not cover items stolen when the structure is not secured.
Many insurers say that it is quite common for people to run into their homes for a few minutes and leave the office unlocked. In this case, the policy would not likely cover any stolen items.
Your insurer may also give you a higher quote and not insure the garden office due to its location. If there are large trees nearby, for instance, the insurer may consider this to present a higher level of risk. Location then becomes a point to be considered.
What Doesn’t My Insurance Policy Cover My Garden Office For?
Each policy is different, so you need to pay attention to the fine print and ask your agent to explain any sections that you don’t understand. As mentioned, theft of equipment when the garden office is not secured probably won’t be covered.
That’s why insurers want to know that there is a secure lock and/or security system on the garden office building.
While your home insurance policy may cover the garden office building for damage caused by severe weather, it is unlikely to cover the building or its contents in the event of a flood. This is particularly true if your home is in a high risk flood area. Additional coverage will be needed in that case.
If your home insurance policy covers the structure’s contents, you’ll need to have an inventory with values to ensure that the coverage is adequate. If there are high value items, such as computers or specialty equipment, you may decide to opt for additional coverage to protect them.
Also, talk with your agent about the policy limits to make sure that you have enough coverage to recover quickly from a disastrous event.
Do I Need Extra Liability Cover if I Meet Clients in My Garden Office?
You may need additional liability insurance coverage if clients are coming onto your property to meet in the garden office. The same is true if you have employees who are working on site. You’ll need to discuss this with your insurance agent.
Given the nature of your business and its activities, you may need to add business liability insurance. This is a specific type of coverage designed to work with business owners. The general liability policy protects the business and business owner in the event anyone is injured while on the property.
You home insurance policy does offer some liability coverage. With the frequency of visiting clients and the type of business that you run, your home insurance coverage may not provide enough protection. Your agent can provide you with enough information so that you can make the right choice for your business.
Specifically, you need to understand the limits to the coverage. If someone is injured on the property, the liability policy needs to address medical, as well as legal coverage. Without the right type and amount of liability protection, a business owner can lose their company if an accident occurs.
Does My Homeowners Insurance Cover Me For Working From Home?
You may believe at first blush that your home insurance policy will cover you while you are working from home. For the most part, this is true. However, there are considerations that you need to think about. Examine your policy so that you fully understand what is and isn’t covered.
If you are working for a company remotely, the coverage provided by your employee will cover any work related injuries in most cases. Many times, this will also cover damage to any corporate equipment you use remotely. If you do not work full time, however, this may not be available.
Equipment you use to do your job, including computers and copiers, may not be covered if they are damaged or stolen because they were used for business purposes. If your home insurance policy does cover business equipment, check the limits to ensure that you have enough coverage.
If during the course of your work, you handle sensitive client information, you need to talk with your employer to see if their insurance coverage protects you, too. This is because security breaches and leaks of information have become more common.
If you own your own small business, you may need to consider a business policy. Damage to a laptop due to virus or an information breach can put you at risk of a liability lawsuit. A business liability policy can provide you with the coverage to keep yourself, your business, and your clients safe.
Looking at the small print, it appears that our garden office is indeed covered by our standard homeowner’s insurance policy.
As I sometimes do see clients in my office, however, I’m definitely going to look at extra liability insurance to cover me in that context.
In my opinion, it’s always worth that little bit extra for complete peace of mind. 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >