Dwelling Insurance: What It Is and How It Benefits You

Dwelling insurance protects the physical structure of your home and is part of your standard home insurance policy. Coverage varies depending on the policy you choose.

Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit Insurance Writer
  • Co-hosts the Money Talks News podcast

  • MBA from Utah State University

Miranda is a financial writer and avid podcaster with nearly two decades of experience contributing to major outlets, including Forbes, The Hill, and NPR.

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Chris Schafer
Edited byChris Schafer
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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Updated March 13, 2023 at 12:00 PM PDT

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Chances are, you’ve heard of dwelling insurance as it relates to your homeowners insurance policy. However, dwelling insurance coverage isn’t the same thing as a homeowners policy. Here’s a look at dwelling coverage, how it affects your home, and how it’s related to your insurance.

What is dwelling insurance?

Dwelling insurance is part of your overall homeowners insurance policy. It’s mainly designed to cover the physical structure of your home. Sometimes, it’s called Coverage A in a standard homeowners policy.

Dwelling insurance might also cover permanently attached structures, such as your garage, porch, or deck. If there’s damage to your home due to certain covered perils (such as fire or tornado), dwelling coverage can help you pay for repairs.

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What does dwelling insurance cover?

Dwelling insurance is part of your homeowners insurance policy, and what it specifically covers depends on your policy type. For the most part, permanent fixtures in your home — including cabinets, windows, the roof, and wired-in appliances like your stove and water heater — are included in dwelling coverage.

One of the most common types of home insurance is an HO-3 policy. This well-rounded policy provides not only dwelling and personal property coverage but other structures coverage as well, for things like detached garages and sheds. Your dwelling insurance under an HO-3 policy will also provide coverage for damage caused by many perils, including fire, lightning, tornadoes, windstorms, falling objects, hail, vandalism, and theft.

A less-used type of policy, the HO-2, has more limited coverage and might not cover everything you’d see in dwelling coverage with an HO-3 policy. A special version of the HO-2 policy covers mobile homes, which aren’t always considered permanent structures. Also, if you have condo insurance, you need to pay attention to your HO-6 policy, which addresses the parts of the structure you own, rather than some of the common areas of the condo complex.

Learn More: Types of Homeowners Insurance: Which One Do You Need?

What isn’t covered by dwelling insurance?

In general, dwelling insurance doesn’t cover damage to personal belongings or the theft of personal belongings. However, most policies cover these in a different capacity, under Coverage C for personal property. You should also know that, while your foundation is usually covered, the land your home is built on isn’t.

Additionally, dwelling coverage doesn’t apply to every natural disaster, even if the event damages part of your dwelling. Earthquakes and floods usually require specific add-on protections for coverage. Other parts of the home, such as maintenance lines and sump pumps, aren’t covered by dwelling insurance. Detached structures, such as a gazebo, pool, or fence, also usually don’t receive coverage in a dwelling policy. You would need additional coverage for these.

Types of dwelling coverage

The nature of your dwelling coverage relates largely to the type of dwelling where you live.

Homeowners

In general, a dwelling insurance policy is based on your home’s replacement cost. You can also get a replacement cost policy that will cover the cost of construction materials, labor costs, and other items that might go into rebuilding your home. Actual cash value coverage can also help you repair or replace necessary materials — but these policies take depreciation into account, meaning your total compensation will likely be less than you originally paid for the item.

Important Information

It’s important to note that, in many cases, your dwelling coverage alone might not be sufficient to cover the cost of necessary repairs.

Condo

If you live in a condo complex, you need to understand the differences between your own condo policy and what the condo association’s master policy covers. There are dwelling coverage limits based on who’s responsible for which parts of your condo, the overall structure, and the common areas. Condo owners should know what’s covered and the maximum amount the master policy will cover.

Landlord

Renters typically don’t pay for dwelling coverage. They often get coverage for personal property damage and theft, but the landlord is usually responsible for the structure coverage for the rental properties they own.

If you’re a landlord, it’s important to understand how this works. Make sure you’re on the same page with your insurance company so you know what you’ll have to cover.

How much dwelling coverage do you need?

Insurance is designed to provide protection against loss. Whether it’s your home’s physical structure or you’re concerned about liability, insurance helps make the entire cost of a problem more manageable.

As you determine coverage, realize that your mortgage lender or financial institution might require basic coverage amounting to your home’s market value. However, you might need more coverage if you’re worried about things like how the replacement cost of your home might change later.

The limits of the actual policy are usually spelled out, so consider the descriptions of covered items, the coverage amount you want, the square footage of your home, and the contents of your home. Look at whether you would need to rebuild attached structures, like a porch, garage, or deck, and how much that might cost.

Finally, don’t forget to consider the loss of use you might experience and other risks, such as flooding and personal property coverage. Some of these might come with limits or be outside the scope of your dwelling coverage. Talk to your insurance agent about how to get the right amount of dwelling insurance in conjunction with other coverages.

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How to file a dwelling insurance claim effectively

If your home’s physical structure is damaged, you’ll likely want to file a claim to get help repairing or replacing some or all of the structure. The first step is to contact your insurance provider. Depending on the insurer, you might be able to do this through a website or mobile app or make a phone call.

Your insurer will ask questions about the situation and the damage. Try to be as concise as possible. Having pictures available will also greatly help the claims process.

Your insurer will also perform a loss assessment. To get the best results, you should document your home’s state before the event. Keep good records, understand the specific facts of the situation, and review your coverage to make sure you have what you need. A good rule of thumb is to prepare ahead of time with documentation so you can show that your home truly was damaged by a covered peril.

Learn More: Can I Cancel a Home Insurance Claim?

Dwelling coverage FAQs

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about dwelling insurance.

  • What is Coverage A in dwelling insurance?

    Coverage A is part of a standard HO-3 homeowners policy that deals with the actual structure of your home. It includes your floors, walls, windows, roof, plumbing, electrical, and certain appliances that are wired into your home, such as a stove or water heater.

  • Will homeowners insurance cover dwelling damage?

    Yes, in general, damage to your dwelling is considered part of your overall homeowners policy.

  • Does dwelling insurance cover water damage?

    Much of the water damage sustained in a home isn’t covered by your dwelling coverage. Structural damage due to burst pipes might be covered, but a sewer backup usually isn’t. Windstorm damage might be covered, but damage from flooding probably won’t be. It’s important to understand insurance terms and talk to your agent to ensure you get the right coverage.

  • How can you reduce the cost of your dwelling coverage?

    If you’re concerned about reducing your monthly premium, you have a few options. You can ask for discounts based on associations you belong to or from bundling coverages. You can also increase your deductible on your homeowners policy to get lower premiums. Finally, you can also compare quotes to see if you can find the same coverage at a more affordable rate with another provider.

Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit Insurance Writer

Miranda Marquit, MBA, is a freelance financial writer covering various markets and topics since 2006. She has contributed to numerous media outlets, including Forbes, TIME, The Hill, NPR, HuffPost, Yahoo! Money, and more. Her work has been syndicated by MSN Money, Marketwatch, Credit.com, and other publications. She has written about insurance topics for Clearsurance, HealthCare.com, and various other websites. She is also an avid podcaster and co-hosts the Money Talks News podcast. Miranda has a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Syracuse University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Chris Schafer
Edited byChris SchaferSenior Editor
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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