Adding a deck to your home adds beauty, value, and usable living space. It’s a place to congregate, celebrate, socialize, and make memories.
Like everything else, though, your new or existing custom deck requires upkeep to maintain its integrity and safety. Even then, these outdoor structures are prone to damage from the elements.
What happens if your deck is damaged? They aren’t cheap to build or replace. Can your homeowner’s insurance pay all or part of your expenses if yours gets damaged? In most cases, yes…
Yes, that’s covered
Insurance coverage differs from company to company and state to state. Always check with your specific company or agent first to confirm what’s covered and what isn’t for your particular situation.
In many cases, decks are attached to the main house. As such, they are covered under the “dwellings” portion of your homeowner’s policy and have the same coverage as your house. What if your deck isn’t attached to your home but is rather located, say, in the middle of your yard surrounding your pool? In that case, the detached deck is typically covered under the “structures” portion of your policy instead.
Reread your insurance policy or speak with your insurance agent as a refresher on what your policy does or doesn’t cover. Most insurance companies cover unpredictable and unpreventable events, such as:
- Smoke or fire damage caused by lightning strikes, grills and barbecues, and electrical components
- Hail storms
- Snow, sleet, or ice damage or personal injuries (falls and slips)
- Motor vehicle damage
- Large objects falling: trees, rocks
- Injury to other persons
- Damage to plumbing, HVAC, and fences
- Collapse (sometimes)
Recently, insurance companies have started to put a cap or upper limit on what they will pay. It’s not uncommon for insurance to pay a portion or percentage while the homeowner pays the rest.
No, that’s not covered
Mostly, issues related to natural aging, disregard for maintenance, and man-made risks aren’t covered, such as:
- Water damage from neglect or age: mold, mildew, rot
- Termite damage
- Repairing aged boards
- Man-made water backups
- Natural shifts or sinking ground
- Collapse (sometimes)
Regular maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowner. Clean and seal your deck every few years to keep it in good shape and capable of withstanding time and Mother Nature.
*If collapse is deemed to be caused by neglect and improper maintenance or care, insurance may deny a claim.
If you have to file a claim, your insurance will send out an inspector to check out the damage. Your policy payout will depend on their findings and your coverage.
They may recommend repairing or replacing certain parts of your damaged property and pay accordingly. Or, they could find that the damage is too significant to remedy and recommend a total deck replacement.
Steps to Building a Safe (And Properly Insured) Deck
Follow the proper steps to ensure your decking project follows the rules and regulations to help it last for ages.
Step 1: Contact your city or county to inquire about building permits. You don’t want to get started with a project that isn’t safe, and you don’t want to finish only to find that it doesn’t meet safety standards and has to be torn down.
Step 2: Have the value of your home and your new addition appraised by a professional.
Step 3: Before starting your new build or expansion, call your insurance agent or company to update them about the new addition so that liability for accidents during construction is covered. Be honest in the appraisal value and coverage you need to avoid denied claims or being dropped by your insurance carrier. Consider basic coverage versus full-replacement costs coverage to hedge against inflation, and then talk with your insurance agent about the better option for you. Take photos of your home and deck before and after your build or remodel. Save as many receipts as possible from your deck project (even the furniture) to make filing a claim easier.
Step 4: Speak with a knowledgeable deck contractor regarding your decking needs. Here at SRI Decks in Denver, our deck builders stay up-to-date on the latest best practices and safety codes so we can make sure your deck is safe and durable. We can point you to a selection of longer-lasting hardwood varieties that hold up better over time and with less maintenance.
Be Sure You’re Insured
With a deck construction or reconstruction project, you want to ensure you have enough coverage to help pay for worst-case scenarios. Often, a deck is covered under the “dwelling” or “structures” portion of your homeowner’s insurance policy, but it never hurts to double-check.
If you are adding a new deck, remodeling, or improving an existing deck, let your insurance company know ahead of construction. Your agent can help you get the coverage you need for the improved value of your home.