Matthew Ashton

Written by

Matthew Ashton

7 minute read

Updated 14th February 2024

Outbuildings are a part of your property, but separate from the main part of the home. These spaces can be used for a wide range of purposes, such as storage, workshops, or even garages. They can increase your property’s value but also bring additional risks. In this article, we discuss insurance for different types of outbuildings, and how to choose coverage that suits your personal needs.

By definition an outbuilding is:

‘A permanent structure used for domestic purposes within the grounds of your home which is not attached to the main building which belong to you or for which you are legally responsible’

The basics of outbuilding insurance

Outbuilding insurance is designed to cover any structures on your property other than the one that is your main home. These range from garages and sheds, to barns and workshops. On a standard home policy, outbuildings need to be declared as separate structures but within a high-value home insurance policy an outbuilding forms part of the main building definition, so long as it’s used for domestic purposes only.

When perusing through a high-value home insurance policy wording, pay careful attention to the definition of a ‘home’ and of an ‘outbuilding’. Typically, the definition of the home, as seen below, includes an outbuilding whilst the definition of the building gives specific commentary of what type of outbuilding is or is not covered. Some insurers are more liberal and only include a definition of the home – consult your policy wording.

Aviva Private Clients – Home and Building Definition

Home: Home means the main dwelling, other liveable dwellings and attached buildings at the residence listed in the schedule and owned by you.

Building: Buildings include utility pipes, cables, domestic underground and over ground tanks supplying or serving the buildings and within the grounds of the residence.

Chubb Masterpiece – Home Definition

House: House means the main dwelling and attached buildings including service pipes, cables and underground tanks supplying the main dwelling and attached buildings, at each location named in Your Policy Schedule

Covea Executive Plus – Home and Building Definition

Home: The private dwelling, garages, domestic outbuildings and greenhouses at the risk address(es) shown in the schedule.

Building: The home and its walls, fences, gates, hedges, permanent fixtures and fittings, alarm systems, driveways, paths, steps, terraces, patios, permanently installed swimming pools and hot tubs, ornamental ponds, fountains, swimming pool covers and accessories, hard tennis courts, solar panels and associated power-generating equipment, professionally fitted electric vehicle charging stations, wind turbines used for domestic purposes and service tanks all on the same site including the underground services, inspection hatches and covers all supplying your home.

Ecclesiastical Private Client – Home and Building Definition

Home: means the dwelling shown on the schedule.

Buildings: means the buildings at the premises which belong to you or for which you are legally responsible including:

  1. the home;
  2. fixtures and fittings;
  3. outbuildings;
  4. driveways, terraces, footpaths, walls, gates, hedges and fences;
  5. artificial playing surfaces, tennis courts, swimming pools and associated apparatus;
  6. domestic fixed fuel tanks;
  7. underground service pipes and cables, sewers and drains;
  8. aerial and satellite dishes and their fittings and masts fixed to the buildings;
  9. the following items fixed to the buildings:
    a. wind turbines for domestic purposes;
    b. solar panels for domestic purposes;
    c. photovoltaic panels for domestic purposes;
  10. bridges in excess of £50,000, land piers, jetties and excavations;
  11. natural or artificial:
    a. water courses;
    b. confines of any body of standing water including but not limited to:
    i. dams, reservoirs, culverts in excess of £100,000, canals, moats, rivers and lakes;
    ii. any man-made elements attaching to or forming part of such structures;
    unless more specifically mentioned in the policy or on your schedule.

GrovesJohnWestrup – Home and Building Definition

Home: The private dwelling, the garages and outbuildings used for domestic purposes at the premises shown in the schedule.

Building: The home, it’s decorations and tenant’s improvements including:

  • fixtures and fittings attached to your home (including radio and television aerials, satellite dishes, their fittings and masts and solar panels attached to the building)
  • fixed water tanks, apparatus and pipes
  • underground service pipes and cables, sewers, drains and septic tanks, and
  • permanently installed lighting, swimming pools, tennis courts, driveways, footpaths, patios and terraces, walls, gates, fences, hedges, fixed fuel tanks, professionally and permanently installed hot tubs, solar panels attached to your home and wind turbines used for domestic purposes only owned by you or for which you are legally responsible within the premises.

Hiscox 606 – Home and Building Definition

Home: The private residence at the address shown in your schedule including the building and the outbuildings and other structures at the same address.

Building: The principal structure at each address shown in your schedule, and the following items within the grounds of your home at the same address:

  1. items that are fixed to and form part of such structure;
  2. domestic fixed fuel tanks;
  3. solar panels attached to such structure and used for domestic purposes;
  4. underground service pipes, cables, drains and sewers that are attached to such structure; and
  5. walls, gates, hedges, fences, paths, terraces, driveways and patios
    a. that are attached to or immediately servicing such structure; or
    b. that are shared with outbuildings and other structures;
    which belong to you or for which you are legally responsible.
    We do not include within this definition any outbuildings and other structures or any
    structure, or part of a structure, used for any business activity other than clerical and
    administrative work or incidental farming carried out by you or on your behalf at your home.

You should ensure your outbuildings are covered by insurance, to protect you in the event of a fire, theft, vandalism, and certain weather-related damages. The coverage should also extend beyond the building to include contents. For example, a shed or garage may have tools that need covering by insurance.

It is essential to be aware of potential exclusions in your policy. These may include general wear and tear, gradual deterioration, or intentional damage. Also, certain high-risk activities that are carried out in these buildings, such as running a business or storing hazardous materials, might not fall under your standard coverage. 

Regularly reviewing and updating your home insurance is vital. This allows you to adapt your policy when you make significant changes to your property. Renovations, adding extensions, or acquiring new items for your outbuildings often mean making adjustments to coverage limits. Staying up to date guarantees that your insurance keeps up with your changing needs and the value of your property.

The other consideration is cover for contents within an outbuilding. Typical home insurance policies will only cover up to a certain amount within an outbuilding (IE £20,000), where a high-value home insurance product will cover you for the full sums insured of contents in an outbuilding.

Do I need insurance for my shed?

Whether you need shed insurance depends on several factors, mainly revolving around the shed’s total contents value, the cost to rebuild the shed and the risks it could face. Sheds are multipurpose spaces, with most homeowners using them to store tools, including bulky and often expensive equipment, as well as a range of valuable items that they have no space for in their homes. Getting the proper protection could therefore be crucial.

Start by calculating the value of the contents stored in your shed. If the collective worth is substantial, then adding it to your high value home insurance policy becomes a wise choice. You do this by increasing the total sums insured by the amount stored in the outbuilding.

When considering whether you need to insure your shed, you should take into account the fact that these structures are exposed to a range of risks that can compromise their structural integrity and the items inside. Although some have been adapted and can resemble small houses, they’re usually not as resistant to the elements as your main house. Review your current policy, or any new policy you’re considering, to confirm the extent of protection provided for sheds – and supplement it if necessary.

Take a look at the home and building definition examples above, it could be that your high-value home insurance policy automatically covers the shed.  

Do I need specialist insurance for a garden office?

Garden offices are rising in popularity, as more people are now working from home. To avoid taking up too much space inside the house, the garden shed can be adapted as a home office, becoming an ideal place to work outside of the home. However, this presents questions about insurance, and whether your regular home insurance adequately covers this modern addition to your property. Sometimes you might benefit from separate outbuilding insurance.

Your office may contain expensive electronics, furnishings, and important work-related equipment, requiring additional protection. Although devices such as laptops can be used for several hours without electricity, these outdoor spaces usually undergo building work to allow for electricity. Specialist insurance can offer coverage tailored to the risks associated with these structures, ensuring that your investments are protected.

The inclusion of a garden office can also impact your overall home insurance, as it may increase the total value of your property, influencing coverage limits. It’s advisable to inform your insurance provider about the addition of a garden office to check that your policy accurately reflects its current value. This transparency helps to prevent any gaps in coverage and ensures that both your garden office and its contents are protected.

If you’re using your garden office for personal business use only, IE you do not host any work meetings or have clients visit, then you do not need to declare any business use at the home. However, if you are using the garden office for client visits or work events, you will need to declare this to your broker and request for a business use liability extension to your high-value home policy. Depending on the type of work and frequency of client visits, most high-value home insurers will extend the liability cover.

Factors influencing outbuilding insurance needs

Insurance policies differ depending on individual requirements. The location of your property, whether urban or rural, significantly influences your outbuilding insurance needs. Additionally, climate and weather patterns, including proximity to water, play a crucial role in determining the risks that outbuildings encounter. Recognising these different factors highlights the importance of tailored coverage. 

Whether safeguarding against specific risks in urban areas or addressing environmental challenges in rural settings, high-value home insurance brings you peace of mind that your outbuildings are comprehensively protected against the different risks they might face.

Specialist insurance for outbuildings

Get in touch with our team of experts to ask us any questions about your project or garden outbuilding, and make sure that you have the correct insurance in place.

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Written by Matthew Ashton

I started working in the insurance industry in 2004. Four years later, I left to focus on theological studies, working as a youth worker and then as a ministry director in Seattle, USA. When returning to the UK, I had an opportunity to work for the late Andrew Marchington. I joined his firm as a sales advisor when it had around ten staff members. Within three years, I was Head of Ops with a staff team of over 30 people. After a chance encounter in 2019 with Rachel Living and Will Cooper, I co-started Stanhope to build a high-value home, luxury watch, and jewellery broker synonymous with trust. I love being with Donna, my wife, and four kids when not working, cramming in the odd row, or running when I can. I am fortunate to love what I do and consider it a blessing to grow the Stanhope brand.

Matthew Ashton

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