Detached Structures

Written by Seamus McKale

Reviewed by Daniel Mirkovic

Updated June 21, 2024 | Published August 14, 2020


de·tached struc·tures | di-ˈtacht ˈstrək-chərs

Definition: Permanently installed structures that are separated from the dwelling by physical space.

I wasn’t sure if my shed would be considered a detached structure or not until I talked to my insurance provider.

The important points

  • Detached structures are permanently installed, but separated from the main building by clear space.
  • Detached structures have their own coverage within home insurance policies.
  • Coverage for detached structures is sometimes optional.

What are detached structures?

The main object of homeowner’s insurance is the dwelling. A dwelling (a.k.a. building) can be a detached house, a townhouse, a mobile home, or any similar structure that people live in.

The main structure on the premises is the dwelling.

Premises means everything within the property lines of the insured location.

What if there are structures aside from the dwelling on the premises?

Those structures are known as detached structures. Some insurance companies might refer to them as other structures, separate structures, or detached private structures. A detached structure is any permanently installed structure on the premises that is separated from the dwelling by clear space.

Home insurance policies cover detached structures separately from the dwelling. Many policies refer to it as Coverage B: Detached Private Structures.

Coverage for detached structures is sometimes (but not always) optional. The coverage limit for detached structures is commonly 10% of the dwelling coverage limit, with no option to remove it—even if you have no detached structures. For example: if a policy insures a dwelling for $300,000, the default coverage limit for detached structures would be $30,000.

Insureds can ask their insurance company to increase this limit if necessary.

At Square One, coverage for detached structures is completely optional. Customers who want to have it can decide what they want their coverage limit to be.

To keep things simple, we combined detached structures, fences, and landscaping into one optional coverage.

What is considered a detached structure?

The “detached” part of “detached structure” is easy to identify: If there is clear space between the structure and the dwelling, it’s detached. Structures without clear space separation are part of the dwelling.

Structures are things like garages, sheds, or gazebos. Some insurers consider fences or docks detached structures as well. A permanently installed object that’s meant to have people on or in it should be viewed as a structure.

There’s a fine line between structures and equipment.

Equipment can be permanently installed, but it isn’t always. Equipment refers to things like satellite dishes or permanent sprinkler systems, which are part of dwelling coverage instead.

If you have detached structures and you’re not sure about how they’re covered, ask your insurance provider or agent to clarify. Always check your own policy wordings to be sure about your coverage.

Looking for another insurance definition? Look it up in The Insurance Glossary, home to dozens of easy-to-follow definitions for the most common insurance terms. Or, get an online quote in under 5 minutes and find out how affordable personalized home insurance can be.

About the expert: Daniel Mirkovic

A co-founder of Square One with 25 years of experience in the insurance industry, Daniel was previously vice president of the insurance and travel divisions at the British Columbia Automobile Association. Daniel has a bachelor of commerce and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. He holds a Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker (CAIB) designation and a general insurance license level 3 in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.


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