Garage insurance

Garages were originally designed to house your car but many people use them for storage. The contents of a garage can add up to a significant amount of money in some cases so it is wise to be insured if something unexpected happens.

It’s not just the contents though, the physical building could be damaged and costly to repair or rebuild. If the garage is broken into and the door needs replacing, that does not come cheap.

In this guide we look at what you can do to protect your garage with insurance and what garage insurance covers.

What is garage insurance?

Your home insurance policy will usually cover the garage as well as your home and this is standard with most insurance companies, but not all. 

However, there are many things to consider to make sure you are adequately insured. There are also differences between insurance policies on what is covered and how much you can claim.

Home insurance covers buildings, contents or both. It is sensible to take out both building and contents insurance if you are a homeowner. In fact, anyone with a mortgage must have buildings insurance as part of their mortgage contract. 

Tenants who pay rent will not have to buy buildings insurance as that is the responsibility of the landlord. But it is wise to have contents insurance to cover you for loss or damage of your personal belongings.

Garage buildings insurance 

Buildings insurance covers the physical property. You should be covered for how much your home would cost to rebuild, including the garage. This is not the same as the value of your home or the price you paid for it.

The garage can be attached to the house or within the boundary of the property – usually next door to the house or within the garden.

For garages that are nearby the house but not within the boundary, some insurers will include it but others will not. If this applies to you, make sure you specify where the garage is in relation to your home when you make your application.

Garage contents insurance

Contents insurance will cover the contents on your home, and most policies will also insure the garden and outbuildings such as a shed or garage. However, there are limits on how much you can claim if items from the garden and outbuildings are lost, stolen or get damaged.

Some policies will only pay out up to £250 while others might go up to £5,000. Most standard insurance policies have limits in the region of between £1,000 to £3,000.

What does garage insurance cover?

You would usually expect to be covered for theft, fire and smoke damage, storms and flooding, earthquakes, subsidence, heave or landslip.

What does garage insurance not cover?

Vehicles: Although the original use for a garage was to park your car, home insurance including the garage does not cover your car or indeed a motorbike, or any other motor vehicles. This is because you must take out motor insurance on these vehicles. 

If something happens to your car or motorbike when it is in the garage, or if your vehicle is stolen, you must claim on your motor insurance.

Wear and tear: If your contents are damaged due to water coming in through a leaky roof, you probably won’t be able to make a claim. The leaky roof would be classed as ‘wear and tear’ which is not covered by insurance. You are expected to keep your property, including your garage, in a reasonable state of repair. 

Accidental damage: This is not always included in home insurance policies as standard but you can pay to have accidental damage added on. If you do this, check whether outbuildings, including the garage, are covered and the level of cover.

Other exclusions: Depending on the policy, this could include damage caused by wet or dry rot, mould, corrosion, damp and infestation.

Value of garage contents

You might be surprised at how much the total value of the contents in your garage adds up to, especially if you store expensive items in there. This could include power tools, golf clubs, gym equipment, garden furniture, a barbeque and garden equipment such as lawnmowers.

Some people have their washing machine or tumble dryer in their garage. Others have household furniture not currently being used in the home, a fridge, freezer and bicycles. 

Even if you do not store expensive equipment in your garage, smaller items could easily add up to a few hundred pounds. 

You should think carefully about storing items in the garage. Not only are they at risk of a burglary, extreme hot and cold weather can affect the contents of a garage, if it is not insulated. Heavy rainfall could result in flooding and you should also be aware if you are in a flood risk area.

You will have to tell the insurer about any items that are worth over a certain amount of money. For example, some policies will ask you to list anything worth more than £1,000 or £1,500 or more – it depends on the insurance policy.

Similarly, bicycles worth over x amount such as £350 or £500 might have to be listed separately. You may have to take out separate bicycle insurance for very expensive bikes.

Note also that standard contents insurance does not cover for loss, theft or damage away from the home. You would need bicycle insurance for that or personal belongings insurance, which covers you for loss, theft or damage of your belongings when you are away from home.

It is always best to tell your insurer about expensive items otherwise if they are stolen or damaged you may not be able to make a claim on them.

Garage security

Your garage must be secure and have a lock. If you are burgled, many insurers will want to see evidence of the break in such as a broken lock. If you leave your garage door unlocked you are likely to forfeit your claim and be out of pocket.

In addition, some insurers insist that bicycles are locked against a secure fixture within the locked garage – do read the small print of your policy.

Some insurance companies may bring down the premium if extra security is installed in the garage.

Fit a garage door defender

A garage defender is a security bolt that is fixed to the floor on up and over garage doors and is secured with a padlock. Other bolts are also available.

Install motion sensor lightening

If anyone walks past, the light will automatically switch on. If it’s a burglar, the light might act as a deterrent.

Fit a burglar alarm

Put a burglar alarm on the garage door so if anyone breaks in, the alarm goes off. This may put off the burglar and will alert you or your neighbours. If the burglar alarm is linked to a security firm, it can act immediately. 

Install CCTV

CCTV (closed circuit television) can be used as useful evidence by the police – and your insurance company - if your garage is broken into.

External garage door

If there is an external door on the side or back of the garage, you could add an alarm and motion sensor light there too for extra security. Make sure the lock is of a high standard and you can also add CCTV there as well.

Rented garage contents insurance

If you rent a garage away from your home, it is unlikely you will be covered by your home contents insurance. Often referred to as a lock-up garage, you would need to source standalone insurance for the contents of the garage. 

Some lock-up garages are on a secure site and the insurance could be included in your rental charge. If insurance is not included you should enquire about getting your own insurance.

If you own a garage away from your home, you should insure the garage building as well as its contents.

28 October 2020