Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Decks?

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Family gathered outside on backyard deck (Photo: @beachbumledford via Twenty20)
Decks are a high-value addition to your home. A deck extends your living space into the outdoors and provides a place to get together with friends and family in fresh air. But if something happens to your deck, does your homeowners insurance policy cover it?

Coverage depends on how the deck was built

If your deck is attached to your house, or if that’s how you plan to build a new deck, then it’s likely covered under the dwellings portion of your homeowners insurance policy. Most insurers outline coverage for any structure that’s attached to the house in a permanent fashion, and that’s how most decks are built.
If your deck is a standalone structure or is, for example, surrounding a pool in the middle of your backyard, it would be not be part of the dwellings section. It might be included under other structures, though, so even in that case you’d have some coverage.
The amount of coverage depends on your specific policy. It’s always best to find out and understand your coverage limits before suffering any loss.

Type of damage also affects coverage for decks

Is a deck covered for any type of damage? No, there certainly are limits to what’s covered. Homeowners insurance won’t cover things that are due to aging or maintenance such as replacing deck boards that are rotting. Nor will it cover natural shifting or sinking over time.
The types of coverage are defined in your homeowners policy and likely include circumstances like:
Sudden losses such as a tree falling onto the deck. Say the big oak tree in your yard is struck by lightning and comes crashing down onto your deck. It would be covered, just like if it happened to your roof itself.
Accidental fire damage from an out-of-control barbecue. Whether you’ve charred the siding along with a well-done steak or the firebox tips over onto your deck boards, accidental damage is typically covered.
Liability for injury from a slip or fall. Your neighbor delivers a casserole but slips on an icy patch on her way down the stairs. Your homeowners insurance policy is apt to include liability insurance for things like this.

What you should do if you’re building a new deck

Assuming coverage is never a good idea. Whenever you build something new on your property, you should follow the proper channels.
Get a building permit if required. Contact your city or county to find out if a building permit is necessary for a deck.
Have your home appraised. A big, beautiful deck can add tens of thousands of dollars to your home’s value.
Add it to your home insurance value. It might cost a few dollars more on your insurance premiums, but add any major renovations or projects so you have the right coverage amounts if something happens.