If you’re reading this, you obviously have access to a garage - but the question is, what do you keep in it and is it covered under your insurance?
As long as you have buildings and contents insurance, and your garage is within the boundaries of your property, your garage and whatever you're storing in there will usually be covered.
On 20 July, 2017, GoCompare asked independent financial researcher, Defaqto, how many of the 427 buildings insurance policies and 435 contents insurance policies listed on its matrix included cover for garages.
It confirmed that all insurers listed included outbuildings on the property and covered them as part of the house, while and 98% of contents policies provided some amount of cover for contents in the garage.
Let’s face it, for many of us garages are simply very useful places for storing the stuff you haven’t got room for anywhere else. So what’s in yours? And is it insured?
According to Jennifer Cooper, renovations expert and the blogger behind A Place To Call Home, a garage is a valuable asset that means different things to different people. “It provides a useful additional space not just to house your car, but can be plumbed to house a utility section including washer/dryer, fridge, a large freezer, and general storage,” she points out.†
“But equally, you can make your garage as plush as you want it to be. I know some people who adore their cars or motorcycles so much they’ve kitted their garage out with underfloor heating and carpet!”
According to a survey by Co-Op Insurance, in 2015, less than half of those with access to a garage actually park their car in it. Most people use it for storage, while almost a third have either converted or are considering converting it to provide more living space.†
While the majority of policies include cover against theft, fire damage and flooding for your garage, some insurers put a limit on it. For 88% of policies listed on the Defaqto matrix, this is between £2,500 and £5,000, but check your policy booklet. Your agreed excess will apply.
Garages can contain thousands of pounds worth of belongings, from power tools and golf clubs to washing machines and food-filled freezers.
Make sure you calculate the value of it all, just as you would with the rest of your house - if you under-insure, this could mean you get less than the value of your items if you have to make a claim. And if you decide the garage is the best place to use your new treadmill, don’t forget to add it to your insurance.
The GoCompare contents calculator can help you tot-up the value of your belongings.
There will be an item limit as well as a total limit for your garage contents. This is often around £1,500 but varies between insurers, so if you have an item worth more than this, make sure you tell your insurer.
However, you may find that they may refuse to insure certain items you've got squirrelled away in there - for example, snowboards, skis or waterskis.
Some insurers won’t cover you against theft if your garage is left unlocked - check your policy and make sure you have a good lock.
If you want protection against accidental damage, most insurers ask you to pay an extra premium to add it on.
Damage to a car while stored in a garage is generally covered by your car insurance - check your policy details to be sure.
Many insurers will ask for an extra premium for bicycle insurance, particularly for higher value bikes.
Some insurers expect customers to insure all pedal bikes collectively, while others require each to be listed and insured separately. Check the policy details to be sure. Remember, contents insurance will only cover your bicycle if it’s stolen or damaged at home - but you’ll be able to add extra cover to protect your possessions when you’re out and about.
Buildings insurance protects the structure of your garage, and other outbuildings, along with your home. As with contents insurance, there may be a limit to the cover provided for a garage, and your agreed excess will apply.
Make sure you include your garage in the rebuild costs for your home when you’re insuring. The Building Cost Information Services’ rebuilding cost calculator includes options for integral and detached garages.
As with all buildings cover, you won’t be able to claim for damage from wear and tear. Bristol-based builder Martin Caple advises "keep a close eye on garages with flat roofs as these have a limited lifespan and are particularly prone to wear and tear. If you haven’t kept your flat roof (or any other part of a structure for that matter) reasonably maintained, this might affect a claim."
It doesn’t matter whether your garage is integral or detached, as long as it’s within the boundaries of your property. If it’s part of a nearby block of garages, your insurer will probably still cover it as normal but you must tell them that it isn’t next to your home, otherwise you may invalidate any claim you make.
Keep a close eye on garages with flat roofs as these have a limited lifespan and are particularly prone to wear and tear. If you haven’t kept your flat roof (or any other part of a structure for that matter) reasonably maintained, this might affect a claim
Insurers may ask about the security of your garage, and by investing in better security you might even lower the cost of your premiums.
If you’re upgrading your locks on your property, don’t forget to include your garage. You can easily improve the security of up-and-over garage doors by adding garage door bolt or defenders, which can be bought from DIY, hardware and a range of other shops. If you have a pedestrian side door, you’ll probably be able to fit a mortice deadlock
It makes sense to include a smoke detector and burglar alarm in your garage, as with the rest of in your home.
Security lights can give added protection, particularly if your garage is detached so you’re less likely to hear an intruder trying to get in.